In recent years, my enthusiasm for first-person shooters has waned compared to how it used to be. Games like Battlefield 2042 and the reboot of Modern Warfare 2 lost their spark much faster than their predecessors. As someone who has always cherished the genre and enjoyed the thrill of playing matches with friends, it was disheartening to see the magic gradually fade away. However, a glimmer of hope emerged when I got the chance to play the beta for Ubisoft’s upcoming free-to-play first-person shooter, XDefiant.
Intrigued by Ubisoft’s approach to the first-person shooter genre, I jumped at the opportunity to play the open beta after it was announced at the 2023 Ubisoft Forward event. From the moment I dove into the game, I could sense the distinctiveness that Ubisoft had infused into XDefiant. It aimed to distinguish itself from other games, offering more than just a traditional first-person shooter experience, but is it worth playing?
“There is a load of content for players have plenty of content to keep them satisfied when the game launches.”
The XDefiant Open Beta gave us a preview of what we can expect when the game’s official release date arrives. At launch, players will have the opportunity to select from five classes, all of which will be available on day one.
The Cleaners, known from The Division series, specialize in area denial. Phantoms from Ghost Recon excel in point and crowd control. Echelon, originating from Splinter Cell, specialize in stealth and flanking tactics. Libertad from Far Cry fulfills a supportive and healing role. Lastly, DedSec from Watch Dogs focuses on hacking and disrupting enemy players.
Additionally, the game offers an extensive array of content, including 24 weapons, 44 attachments, and 14 maps, ensuring players have an abundance of options to keep them engaged and satisfied at the game’s launch.
XDefiant introduces several noteworthy elements that caught my attention. Naturally, the inclusion of factions from various Ubisoft franchises is quite a distinctive feature. Another significant aspect is the introduction of map voting, a feature notably absent from recent Call of Duty and Battlefield games. XDefiant once again empowers players to select their preferred battleground, acknowledging that certain maps may be more desirable than others. This fantastic option enhances the overall gaming experience and caters to player preferences.
“XDefiant looks to bring first-person shooters back to form by giving players the feeling of an arcade-style shooter.”
One of the standout features of the gameplay is its emphasis on faster-paced combat, varying from slower, realistic tactics. This return to the roots of classic shooters is a welcome addition, as it recaptures the essence that made those games truly great. Gunfights in XDefiant feel swift and seamless, reminiscent of the exhilarating encounters from the early days of Call of Duty. Notably, when examining the factions, it becomes apparent that each one offers two distinct variations of each class.
Essentially this means that at launch, the game will have over 10 different classes for players to use. Ubisoft has also confirmed that the game will feature persistent lobbies, a beloved mechanic that older FPS players will appreciate and remember fondly. Although, there are a few standard quality-of-life missing from the shooter.
“It can be a feel-good moment to be recognized for achievements during the match.”
One area that I believe could benefit from improvement is the flag placements in the Domination mode on certain maps. It appears that the positioning of the “B” flag can sometimes heavily favor one team. For example, on one map, the central flag is located in a downed airplane, providing one team with a direct path to capture it. On the other hand, the opposing team has to climb to reach the flag, resulting in a disadvantage as they can easily be fired upon from above. This aspect should be examined and tweaked to create a more balanced experience.
Another observation I made is that the “Play of The Game” clip at the end of a match is absent in XDefiant. While it may be considered a minor addition, it can be a feel-good moment to be recognized for achievements during the match. Furthermore, the game lacks kill cams, which can be a divisive feature in shooters. However, implementing them would allow players to study their opponent’s tactics, counter their strategies, and identify hackers — or yell at the screen, and call better players, “Hackers”.
Nevertheless, these features and elements do not ruin the core gameplay experience for me. They can be introduced gradually over time to enhance the game’s authenticity, reminiscent of the original FPSs that we used to enjoy playing. I look forward to future updates and developments in XDefiant and what Ubisoft has in store for us.
“The content will leave players with plenty to work towards and earn throughout their time with the game.“
There will be four seasons per year, and a 90-tier battle pass accompanying each season. In each season, there will be a new faction introduced, as well as three new weapons, and maps. With the amount of content, players will have plenty to work towards and earn in XDefiant.
Overall, XDefiant looks like a promising addition to the shooter genre and is definitely worth playing. As someone that is losing touch with the modern evolution of first-person shooters, it feels as if classic fast-paced shooters are returning.
XDefiant is releasing on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows in Summer 2023. It is available to wishlist now.