XDDefiant Review


XDefiant’s core modes offer some passing fun in a competitive multiplayer arena shooter, but Ubisoft’s latest attempt at a slice of the lucrative esports pie feels half-baked. Core modes such as Practice Mode and Ranked Queue are blocked by construction tape at the time of writing. This makes a tedious battle pass with head-scratching progression decisions and standard weapon-based leveling systems the only material way to reward you for playing or doing well beyond a single match. And with questionable netcode and missing core features and modes, even compelling hero shooter-like abilities and minor tweaks to the run-and-gun formula invented by Call of Duty, which requires a low time to kill, don’t make me want to go back to XDNiepokorny.

Ubisoft’s crossover shooter couldn’t have chosen less compelling objects to play with in sets. While each of the five factions currently in the game adds a frosty approach to the gameplay, they’re not exactly the superstars you think of when you hear Ubisoft. Instead, players enter arenas as unknown characters from Ded Sec (Watch Dogs), The Cleaners (The Division), Libertad (Far Cry), Echelon (Splinter Cell), or The Phantoms (Ghost Recon); there is no Sam Fisher or Dani Rojas that you might recognize or get excited about picking because you liked their game. Each faction has three playable characters (two or more of which you must unlock in each faction), but they have no differentiating features apart from some cosmetic elements.

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Combat is fast-paced, with a low time to kill to make every shot count, and almost non-existent respawn timers that constantly push you back out of the gate to chase down your target and raise your K/D ratio with a hyper-realistic arsenal of weapons and devices. The standout here is XDefiant’s selection of 14 maps, each boasting plenty of cleverly laid out lanes and bottlenecks, with open areas and tight corridors in various places to encourage and reward different playstyles.

Getting enough kills in one life unlocks a frosty ultra ability that helps your team in battle and gives you extra kills or extra time to complete your goal. This is where things start to change from the familiar: Ultras, along with a less powerful but still useful secondary skill and a helpful passive skill, vary depending on the faction you choose. Each faction is based on an organization or group from a different Ubisoft property and has its own set of specializations and skills. You can switch between them at any time during the game, allowing you to adjust your strategy depending on the task at hand.

Let’s say you’re playing Domination, but the other team has a sniper in perfect line of sight who can take out you and your teammates one by one, preventing you from capturing the point. Setting up one of the Wights’ magnetic barriers can support absorb some of the sniper fire long enough for your team to gain a firm foothold and return fire. However, while these abilities may be tactical, XDefiant’s basic setup isn’t enough to encourage you to play strategically instead of simply rushing to your goal and trying to beat the enemy team to a draw until you hit the point limit.

However, this express game doesn’t always feel right. XDefiant netcode and hit detection are incorrect; I can’t tell you how many times my game registered a shot at an opponent as a hit, only for it to kill me, only for the game to tell me he had full health after I got knocked down. Even with a wired connection and the best ping in the lobby, I found myself shooting through walls while moving and even dying while hiding behind cover that should have covered my entire body.

It’s only been a week since I first installed XDefiant, but I don’t think I’d miss it from my tough drive. While the gameplay is enjoyable enough at its core, the gameplay is sterile compared to most other shooters – including free ones – with even basic modes like team deathmatch and free mode, or features like a ping or skill-based system nowhere to be found matchmaking. The maps are obviously well-made, but they have no rank to aspire to, no daily missions that require me to play ten full matches, and very little of what you’d expect in a battle pass. I don’t see why this game would gain any advantage over others, other than the fact that it’s free.

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