XDefiant is slick and enjoyable, but hardly a genre-defining masterpiece

XDefiant is slick and enjoyable, but hardly a genre-defining masterpiece

author image Wahid Sami |

July 5, 2024 at 6:30 PM BST

Free-to-play shooters are a dime a dozen these days. But what if, instead of yet another hero shooter or mil-sim, we got a chaotic blend of both, seasoned with a dash of Ubisoft flavour? Such is the ambitious recipe for XDefiant, Ubisoft’s latest FPS contender. But this eccentric combination also leaves us stranded with a question: does it create a delicious dish, or leave us with a confused palate?

XDefiant throws players into a "ubiverse" where operatives from various Ubisoft franchises like Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege and Division clash in a vibrant, arena-style setting. It's a bold concept, but the execution feels somewhat akin to assembling a puzzle with mismatched pieces.

The core gameplay leans heavily on Call of Duty. Fast-paced action with a low time-to-kill keeps the adrenaline pumping. Movement feels fluid, and gunplay is satisfyingly weighty. However, this frenetic pace clashes with the class-based system inspired by Overwatch. Unique abilities often feel wasted in the blink-and-you're-dead firefights.

The game’s objective modes like Domination and Escort are familiar territory, but fail to truly innovate. Thankfully, the well-designed maps, with diverse layouts and verticality, manage to keep the action fresh. However, Ubisoft opted for a more cartoonish flair over gritty realism in terms of the artstyle, which might be a turnoff for some.

Despite its shortcomings, XDefiant does have a glimmer of potential. The free-to-play model is a welcome addition, offering a low barrier to entry for new players. Ubisoft's commitment to post-launch support also gives hope for future improvements. Balance tweaks, additional game modes, and fleshed-out character abilities could truly elevate XDefiant from a confused genre mashup to a unique and competitive contender.

So, is XDefiant a genre-defining masterpiece? Not quite. It stumbles in its attempt to blend established formulas, and lacks a distinct identity. Yet, the core gameplay loop is undeniably fun, and the potential for growth is undeniable. If Ubisoft can address the disconnect between its core mechanics and class system, XDefiant could evolve into a must-play free-to-shoot experience. For now, it's a decent shooter with a promising future, but one that needs some time to find its own voice in the crowded battlefield.

Sami is a contributor at The Daily Esports.