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XDefiant Review: Ubisoft's Forgettable Shooter



The Xdefiant logo featuring a soldier in tactical armour and a yellow x in the background
Image: Ubisoft


In the crowded marketplace of first-person shooters, Ubisoft has launched XDefiant, a title that blends familiar FPS elements with a class-based twist. Despite its solid foundation and flashes of excitement, XDefiant largely mirrors its contemporaries, offering a gameplay experience that, while competent, doesn't particularly stand out against the giants of the genre. Lets dive into details in this XDefiant review.


 

Gameplay Mechanics


XDefiant positions itself as a blend between the fast-paced action of traditional FPS games like Call of Duty and the class-based dynamics of Overwatch. Players select from various factions, each representing different Ubisoft games like Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, and Far Cry. These factions bring their unique abilities and specialisations to the battlefield, from stealth operations to brute force assaults.


The game modes are standard fare for the genre, with zone control, escort missions, and team deathmatch leading the charge. While these modes are executed well, thanks to responsive controls and well-designed maps, they don't venture far from the established norms.


The inclusion of Ubisoft-themed environments adds a layer of novelty, but the gameplay within these zones often underwhelms with its lack of innovation. Map design deserves a nod for both its aesthetic flair and strategic layout. Maps are tailored to encourage a blend of short skirmishes and longer, more tactical engagements. Verticality plays a significant role, giving snipers and those with long-range weapons a chance to shine, while tight corridors and cluttered urban environments cater to the chaos that submachine gun and shotgun users thrive in.


In addition to weaponry, each faction not only differs aesthetically but also offers unique "ultra abilities" which are special abilities that can turn the tide of battle. These abilities range from defensive buffs to lethal area attacks, echoing the "hero shooter" mechanics seen in other games. While this introduces a tactical layer, balancing these abilities within the fast-paced gameplay has been a challenge, leading to occasional frustrations and perceived imbalances. The interplay between different faction abilities and the traditional shooter mechanics is intriguing but requires more polish to achieve the seamless integration seen in more established hero shooters. This aspect of the game does provide some memorable moments when the combinations work well, offering a glimpse of what XDefiant might evolve into with further development.


XDefiant enters the market at a time when countless other shooters are vying for player attention with new mechanics and innovative features.

XDefiant enters the market at a time when countless other shooters are vying for player attention with new mechanics and innovative features. Ubisoft’s decision to stick with a familiar formula feels safe but also a bit uninspired. The game includes a battle pass system, which has become an industry standard for maintaining player engagement and driving revenue. While the battle pass offers a range of cosmetic items, its presence feels more like a necessity for the business model than an enhancement to the player experience. 


 

Weaponry & Customisation


XDefiant boasts a robust weapon loadout system that allows for deep customization, from assault rifles to sniper rifles, each complemented by a plethora of attachments and skins. The firing range and welcome playlist offer new players a good introduction to the mechanics, but the thrill of weapon grinds and unlocking new attachments quickly plateaus. Despite the depth of customisation, the actual impact on gameplay can sometimes feel muted. The fast-paced nature of most matches means that the subtle differences between a heavily customised weapon and a standard issue can be lost in the non-stop action. This aspect might appeal more to high-ranking players who can appreciate and exploit these finer details.


The ultra abilities and cooldown-based skills of each faction attempt to spice up encounters but often result in predictable exchanges that hinge more on timing cooldowns than strategic depth. This aspect makes the game less about raw FPS skill and more about managing abilities, echoing the class-based approach seen in other competitive shooters.


 

Graphics & Visuals


The inclusion of Ubisoft’s various game universes adds a layer of fan service that is particularly appealing to longtime followers of the company’s franchises.

Graphics is where the snowdrop engine shines. Visually, the game is nice, with character models and environments that show the Snowdrop engine's capabilities. Yet, even with solid graphics, it lacks a distinctive aesthetic that sets it apart from the likes of Apex Legends or Modern Warfare. The inclusion of Ubisoft’s various game universes adds a layer of fan service that is particularly appealing to longtime followers of the company’s franchises. Seeing factions and elements from Splinter Cell, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs interact in a shared space is a novel idea that initially excites.


However, the novelty of these references wanes quickly, as they do not significantly impact the core gameplay. The thematic mash-up feels more like a superficial branding exercise rather than a deeply integrated feature that enhances the gameplay in any new or interesting ways.


 

Results


While not exactly a call of duty killer, XDefiant is competent as a first-person shooter and has moments where it genuinely feels like a good time. However, it does not offer enough innovation or distinction to rise above the competition in any significant way.


Ubisoft has crafted a game that meets industry standards but fails to exceed them

For players new to FPS games or those who are die-hard fans of Ubisoft’s franchises, XDefiant may provide enough entertainment to justify the hours spent. However, for those seeking a breath of fresh air in the competitive shooter scene, this may not be the title to hold your breath for.


Ubisoft has crafted a game that meets industry standards but fails to exceed them, resulting in a shooter that feels like just another contender in an already crowded arena. In sum, while XDefiant pulls all the right triggers, it ultimately shoots blanks in an industry battle where innovation is the key to victory.


6.7/10

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