It’s tough trying to crack the free-to-play shooter market, but Ubisoft is having a good go at it with XDefiant.
It’s partly because it feels like a celebration of some of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises. This is a team-based shooter, pitting two teams of six players against each other with a variety of objectives. For the most part, they’ll be vying for control of objective points, but more modes are set to be added post-launch. And while the action is strong enough in itself to draw in players, the fact that there are maps and factions that will be familiar to those who have played and loved Ubisoft titles over the years might be be its biggest asset.
XDefiant currently has five factions for players to select, and don’t worry, teams can be mixed – you all don’t have to settle on just one faction. Essentially they’re classes; while they all have access to the same basic weapons and abilities, they each have some special tricks up their sleeves.
From The Division there are the Cleaners, clad in fire-resistant suits and ready to flambé their opponents with advanced tech such as a fire-spewing drone and a powerful flamethrower. And the Ghost Recon series is represented by the Phantoms, who look menacing in their tactical gear and prove to be that when unleashing their electro-scattergun that’s devastating at close-range.
Next up is the Libertad, who Far Cry 6 fans will be all over. These freedom fighters may not look all that tough in their fairly casual gear, but their special medical backpacks can give them a considerable health boost for a while. Meanwhile, for those more into stealth, there’s the Splinter Cell-themed faction Echelon, who can turn invisible for a short period and make use of advanced goggles to reveal enemies on the map. And finally, Watch Dogs 2 is represented by Dedsec. These tech experts can make use of the iconic spider bot, and also lockout competitors from using their special abilities for a short while.
If you have a favourite franchise, chances are you might gravitate to the faction that represents it here, but it pays to try them all. It’s fun being all sneaky as an Echelon agent, for example, but it’s also a blast charging up your Ultra as a Phantom before activating it and blowing enemies away with reckless abandon for a short while. Each faction has its own passive, too, and while they all have their strengths and weaknesses, none particularly feel overpowered, which is good to see.
Having spent some time playing XDefiant, we can see ourselves having a good time with it when it launches. We like the maps we’ve seen, each being large enough to give players breathing room, but small enough to keep the action focused. But what really sold us was the fluidity of it all. It’s easy to move around, the time-to-kill feels finely tuned, and when you do die, you don’t have to wait too long to respawn. It’s simply enjoyable to play, which is important for a title like this.
When XDefiant does launch later this year, it will be available on consoles as well as PC, and will feature a bevy of content. A closed beta for XDefiant begins today, which features 14 maps, six modes and five factions, as well as 24 weapons and 44 attachments for you to customise them with. And so you can expect at least that in the final product. More content will be added post-launch, too. It will be intriguing to see what new factions are introduced, what with Ubisoft having so many franchises to plunder. We just hope there’s an Assassin faction at some point.
If you want in on the closed beta for XDefiant that begins today, you can register for a chance to do so. The closed beta even has a rewards track, with goodies to be earned that will carry over to the full game. In any case, while many will groan at the idea of yet another free-to-play shooter, we think XDefiant might just have some legs. It all just depends on that important post-launch support, but we’re hopeful.