XDefiant Launch: Fun Shooter Despite Issues

XDefiant: Ubisoft’s New Free-to-Play Shooter Launches with Matchmaking Issues, but It’s Fun

After multiple delays, Ubisoft’s competitive shooter, XDefiant, has finally launched. While the initial release has encountered some expected matchmaking issues, the game offers a fun and engaging experience for players, particularly those who are nostalgic for the fast-paced action reminiscent of classic Call of Duty titles.

XDefiant character using a cloaking ability during a match
Image Credit: Ubisoft

Launch and Initial Matchmaking Problems

XDefiant, Ubisoft’s latest free-to-play shooter, officially debuted today, aiming to carve out a space in the crowded competitive shooter market, dominated by the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield. As is often the case with high-profile game launches, XDefiant has not been without its hiccups. Players have reported encountering significant matchmaking issues, with many finding themselves sitting in empty lobbies for extended periods before being greeted by an error message stating “playlist doesn’t exist.”

These matchmaking woes are not uncommon in the early days of a game’s release, especially one that has garnered significant anticipation and a large player base trying to access the servers simultaneously. Ubisoft has been quick to acknowledge the problem, providing updates and assurances that they are working to resolve these issues. As of 1:30 PM Pacific time, there has been noticeable improvement. I was able to join a few matches, and the game ran smoothly on my slightly older RTX 2070 Super—a relief, as competitive FPS games often demand high performance and low latency to ensure a fair and enjoyable experience.

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Gameplay Experience and Initial Impressions

Having had the opportunity to play XDefiant during its beta phase, I approached the full release with a mix of skepticism and hope. The game has been marketed as a throwback to the fast-paced, twitchy gameplay that characterized early Call of Duty titles, appealing to the “MLG pro 360 no-scope” crowd—players who thrive on high-intensity, highly competitive matches. This style of play, often referred to as “sweaty,” involves rapid reflexes, precise aiming, and a deep understanding of game mechanics.

Despite my initial reservations, XDefiant managed to impress me with its balance and design. The game strikes a delicate balance between competitive depth and accessibility, making it enjoyable for both hardcore players and those who might not be as dedicated to the competitive shooter genre. One of the standout features is the game’s approach to skill-based matchmaking (SBMM).

Skill-Based Matchmaking (SBMM) in XDefiant

In XDefiant, skill-based matchmaking is notably absent from most casual playlists, with the exception of an introductory mode designed to ease new players into the game. SBMM aims to pair players with others of similar skill levels, ensuring that each match is challenging but fair. This system has been a topic of controversy in the gaming community, with some players arguing that it homogenizes the experience and leads to longer matchmaking queues.

In XDefiant, the absence of SBMM in casual playlists means that matches can vary widely in terms of player skill levels. While this can lead to some unbalanced games, it also provides a more diverse and dynamic experience. The current matchmaking speed, despite being slow, does not seem to be directly impacted by the lack of SBMM, as queues remain lengthy. However, I haven’t found myself being overwhelmed by highly skilled players, which is a relief. This balance might shift as the player base evolves and more casual players drop out, but for now, I am content with the lack of algorithmic matchmaking.

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Factions and Abilities

One of the unique features of XDefiant is the inclusion of factions, each providing unique abilities that add a layer of strategy to the gameplay. These abilities include cloaking suits, healing devices, and deployable shields, among others. Initially, I was skeptical about these additions, feeling that they might detract from the game’s focus on pure competitive shooting.

In practice, however, these abilities offer a fresh twist on the standard shooter formula. They are reminiscent of the utility items and killstreak rewards found in Call of Duty but are integrated into the game in a way that feels distinct. Cooldown timers and ultimate abilities add a tactical element to matches, forcing players to think strategically about when and how to use their abilities.

While these abilities initially felt out of place in a game that otherwise aims to strip away the excesses of modern shooters, they have begun to grow on me. The factions add variety to the gameplay and allow players to tailor their playstyle to their preferences, whether that means focusing on offensive capabilities, defensive tactics, or support roles.

Pre-Season Launch Content

For its “pre-season” launch, XDefiant offers a variety of content to keep players engaged. There are several casual playlists available, providing different game modes and maps to explore. Additionally, a “preview” of the ranked mode is available, giving players a taste of the competitive ladder that will come with season one.

One aspect that caught my attention is the inclusion of a premium battle pass right from the start. While battle passes have become a common feature in modern multiplayer games, offering a progression system that rewards players with cosmetic items and other non-essential bonuses, XDefiant’s battle pass focuses solely on cosmetic items and XP boosters. This ensures that players who choose not to purchase the battle pass are not at a competitive disadvantage, maintaining a level playing field for all participants.

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Graphics and Performance

From a technical standpoint, XDefiant runs exceptionally well, even on older hardware like my RTX 2070 Super. The game’s graphics are crisp and clean, with a focus on performance rather than high-end visual fidelity. This is a smart choice for a competitive shooter, as smooth gameplay and low latency are far more important than graphical flourishes in ensuring a fair and enjoyable experience.

During my time with the game, I encountered few performance issues. The game maintained a steady frame rate, and there were no significant instances of lag or stuttering. This level of optimization is crucial for a competitive FPS, where split-second decisions can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Community and Player Experience

One of the aspects I appreciate most about XDefiant is its community focus. Ubisoft has been active in communicating with players, addressing concerns, and providing updates on the game’s status. This level of transparency and engagement helps build a positive relationship between the developers and the player base, fostering a sense of community and shared investment in the game’s success.

The initial matchmaking issues, while frustrating, are being addressed, and the developers have shown a commitment to improving the player experience. This proactive approach is essential in maintaining a healthy player base and ensuring the game’s long-term success.


Overall, XDefiant has made a strong impression despite its initial matchmaking hiccups. The game offers a nostalgic yet fresh take on competitive shooting, blending elements of classic Call of Duty gameplay with new mechanics and features. The absence of skill-based matchmaking in casual playlists provides a dynamic and varied experience, while the inclusion of factions and abilities adds a strategic layer to the gameplay.

The game’s graphics and performance are solid, even on older hardware, and the community-focused approach of the developers is a positive sign for the future. While there are still areas that could be improved, such as matchmaking speed and the integration of abilities, XDefiant provides an enjoyable and engaging experience for both casual and competitive players alike.

As XDefiant continues to evolve, I look forward to seeing how the game develops and grows. With a strong foundation and a dedicated player base, Ubisoft has the potential to create a standout title in the competitive shooter genre. For now, I’m having a great time with XDefiant and can’t wait to see what the future holds for this promising new game.

XDefiant FAQs

General Information

Q: What is XDefiant?

A: XDefiant is a free-to-play, competitive first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft. It combines fast-paced multiplayer action with unique faction abilities.

Q: When was XDefiant released?

A: XDefiant was officially launched on 21 May . It had undergone multiple beta testing phases prior to its release.

Q: On which platforms is XDefiant available?

A: XDefiant is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

Gameplay and Features

Q: What are the main gameplay modes in XDefiant?

A: XDefiant features several casual playlists and a preview of the ranked mode. The game includes various modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, and more, tailored for both casual and competitive play.

Q: What are factions in XDefiant?

A: Factions in XDefiant are groups that provide players with unique abilities. These abilities can range from cloaking devices to deployable shields, adding a strategic element to the gameplay.

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Q: Does XDefiant use skill-based matchmaking (SBMM)?

A: XDefiant uses SBMM in its introductory playlist, but most casual playlists do not use SBMM. This allows for a more diverse range of opponents, though it can result in unbalanced matches.

Q: How does the battle pass work in XDefiant?

A: XDefiant features a premium battle pass that offers cosmetic items and XP boosters. The battle pass does not provide any gameplay advantages, ensuring a level playing field for all players.

Technical Issues

Q: What should I do if I encounter matchmaking issues?

A: If you experience matchmaking issues, try restarting the game or checking Ubisoft’s official channels for updates. The developers are actively working to resolve any server-related problems.

Q: What are the minimum system requirements for XDefiant on PC?

A: The minimum system requirements for XDefiant on PC are:
– OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
– Processor: Intel Core i5-4460 or AMD FX-6300
– Memory: 8 GB RAM
– Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon R9 380
– DirectX: Version 11
– Storage: 50 GB available space

Q: How can I report bugs or technical issues?

A: You can report bugs or technical issues through the Ubisoft Support website or the in-game reporting system. Providing detailed information about the issue will help the developers address it more effectively.

Community and Support

Q: How can I stay updated on XDefiant news and updates?

A: You can stay updated on XDefiant news and updates by following the official Ubisoft social media channels, subscribing to their newsletter, or visiting the official XDefiant website.

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Q: Is there a community or forum where I can discuss XDefiant?

A: Yes, XDefiant has an active community on various platforms, including Reddit, Discord, and the Ubisoft forums. These are great places to discuss strategies, share feedback, and connect with other players.

Q: How can I contact Ubisoft support for help with XDefiant?

A: You can contact Ubisoft support through their official website, where you can find options for live chat, submitting a ticket, or browsing the knowledge base for solutions to common issues.

In-Game Purchases

Q: Are there microtransactions in XDefiant?

A: Yes, XDefiant includes microtransactions for cosmetic items and battle pass purchases. These items do not affect gameplay and are purely for aesthetic customization.

Q: Can I earn in-game currency without spending real money?

A: Yes, XDefiant allows players to earn in-game currency through gameplay, which can be used to purchase certain items and cosmetics.

Q: What types of items are available for purchase?

A: Items available for purchase include character skins, weapon skins, and other cosmetic enhancements. These items do not provide any competitive advantage.

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