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Platform: PC

XDefiant Review

A notable new entry in the shooter arena

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It must be great to be a younger game fan these days. Back in the early part of this decade, and indeed this century, the only free games you could get came with viruses, as demos on paid magazine CDs, borrowed from friends or rented from Blockbuster. But these days, not only has the free-to-play landscape grown incredibly large, it offers nearly the same quality of experience as the premium titles in terms of gameplay and presentation. Inevitably, such high level of quality began to eat into the paid games market, and forced some franchises to offer something similar. Despite being massive hits, PUBG, Counter-Strike, and even The Sims eventually went free to play in recent years; while others such as Overwatch 2 and The Finals launched as free to begin with. While many genres have experienced this shift, and new entrants have tried to claim the crown of premium game franchises, few dared to go after Call of Duty. The juggernaut shooter seemed too big to tackle – and they beat competitors to the punch anyway, by offering the free Call of Duty Warzone. But the fast paced, enclosed maps classical multiplayer remained unchallenged – until now. With XDefiant, Ubisoft is squarely targeting the CoD audience in hopes of giving them a free to play alternative.


XDefiant is a multiplayer first person shooter that pits two teams of 6 players against each other in a variety of small to medium maps, with a typical selection of objectives. Before jumping into the online play, there is a training arena available where you can complete a few different challenges to practice your aim and get a feel for the weapon handling. The guns control fairly well, and definitely have a very light feel to them, without much sense of impact – but having said that, they are still satisfying to use. The movement also feels light and snappy, although there is noticeable awkwardness with vaulting and jumping. There's not the same sense of constant sliding and diving as recent CoD games, so the action is a little more comprehensible.

The arsenal includes a typical selection of SMGs, rifles, LMGs, and a few snipers. Secondary pistols are also offered, along with a choice of a few grenade types, such as sticky and sensor mines. Loadouts are easily stored and renamed. All weapons have an individual level, which is increased by using them in battle. As guns level up, you unlock new attachments for them in a linear fashion. Unlike CoD, the attachment selection is fairly manageable and there aren't a ton of choices. Attachments also have fairly clear benefits and drawbacks, and there are some that have few or no negatives, making the system actually worthwhile – also unlike the recent CoD games where everyone runs guns naked because the attachments had too many negatives.

While the action may feel familiar, the game's style and visuals are expressively Ubisoft. Just like fighting game mashups, XDefiant is a combination of a bunch of the publisher's franchises coming together. Alongside your weapon loadout, you also get to select which class to play as – there are Cleaners from The Division, Echelon from the Tom Clancy universe, Phantoms from Watch Dogs, and Libertad from Far Cry. Similarly to CoD Black Ops specialists, or the hero classes of Overwatch, each class has a few special abilities. There is a passive ability, a super-ability that charges over the course of the game, and two cooldown-based abilities that can be used decently frequently. Players get to select which two medium-use abilities they want to bring into battle, adding a little extra variety. The class selection is independent of your weapon loadouts, and there is no difference in movement.


The classes are fairly diverse and offer different ways to play. Cleaners have an ability to send out a drone to light enemies on fire and explode at the end, and they themselves can just run into the enemy group and spread flames. Echelon class can remain hidden from enemy minimaps, and can activate a ping to temporarily reveal enemies through walls. Their ultimate ability lets them go invisible and pick off enemies with a powerful silenced pistol. Phantoms are more defense based, with ability to drop a shield barrier, have increased pool of health, and wield a bulletproof shield. Lastly, Libertad are support focused, with abilities centered on health recovery for themselves and their teammates. You can switch between classes at any time during a match if things are not going well, and synergizing with the team can be important to winning. The question of balance does remain – such as someone wielding a sniper rifle and going invisible as Echelon, which can be a source of annoyance – but there are no major meta issues at launch.

The action takes place across maps that are also styled from those Ubisoft franchises. There's a map set in a few blocks of a snow covered New York, inside a mall, a map with a crashed plane in the jungle, and so on. The visual variety is appreciated, and each map represents its franchise well. Target acquisition feels solid and we didn't observe any issues with characters blending with the environment. The design of the maps is also fairly good, with obvious lanes, but also good flanking opportunities and elevation changes. Spawn locations are mostly fine, and you won't often get caught out by a nearby enemy. Across these maps is a typical selection of multiplayer modes – Occupy is King of the Hill, with an objective area that moves around the map and points are awarded for team that held this zone the longest; Domination is a three-zone capture and hold objective; and HotShot is Kill Confirmed, having to pick up bounties that defeated enemies drop. The other two modes are linear progression-based, with Escort asking teams to help a robot move across the map by standing near it, and Zone Control challenging teams to capture zones in order. All of the offered modes are designed as expected for a modern multiplayer shooter, and function without issue. Notably, all modes are objective based - there is no straight Deathmatch or free for all.

The matchmaking seems solid, and it's quick to find matches. There are a few prebuilt playlists that include specific modes, but you can also make your own and play your favorites only. Players have the option to turn cross play on and off with console players, as well as match based on input type (controller or mouse). The introductory playlist is the only one that features skill based matchmaking, and after a few hours of play, we did end up at roughly 1:1 K/D and some nicely competitive close matches that came down to the wire. Other playlists do not feature SBMM, so you may end up in some lopsided results. There is a ranked mode as well, but it's currently in beta.


While XDefiant successfully imitates the traditional CoD style multiplayer for no upfront cost, it does still need to drive player engagement and monetization. In typical F2P fashion, there is a Battle pass system that lets players earn free rewards, alongside a paid tier that offers even more visual customization unlocks. You can get new character skins for each faction, weapon skins, and post-match screen character animations. There is already a new faction, DedSec, that can only be unlocked by either paying, or grinding for a decent amount of hours. The game does seem to be more oriented towards long term play, with progress in the Battle Pass feeling quite slow, as does leveling up your weapons and getting new attachments. There are daily, weekly, and long-term objectives to go after to help expedite your profile experience earnings, but it still feels slothful.

The game's free to play nature also means the technical foundation is a little more shaky than premium titles, at least for now. Launch week saw some connectivity issues, but those have been mostly ironed out. The game has a lot of loading screens, while getting in and out of matches and forming lobbies, where you can't even browse your loadouts. There are some minor glitches that happen with animations, and there is no kind of death-cam, leaving you often unaware of where the killing blow came from. The UI could also use some improvements, with the menu system somewhat confusingly laid out and some button placements in questionable locations. At least the game performs well, pushing 200fps on mostly high settings, and no hitching or teleporting in multiplayer. Some could also argue that this mishmash of Ubisoft franchises ultimately leaves the game without much of an identity - and that's somewhat true, as you get lots of tonal differences between the characters, their often generic and poor voice lines, and the different map locales. And yes, the game's title also doesn't do it any favors.


Ubisoft are no strangers to trying to challenge the status quo, nor are they afraid to support their games in the long term. They have found success with Rainbow Six Siege and even For Honor, both of which have been going for years. But on the other hand, the likes of Roller Champions, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction, and Hyper Scape have had very limited success and short lifespans. It's too early to tell if XDefiant will fall into the former or latter category, but the foundation here is solid. Will it grow enough to put a dent into the core CoD multiplayer audience and become a viable alternative, or be a mere distraction before the next iteration of that shooting franchise? Time will tell, but it's always good to have competition in the marketplace.

Our ratings for XDefiant on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
A mix of Ubisoft worlds are well represented, but does leave the game without much identity as a whole.
Solid gunplay helps elevate a familiar multiplayer design. Maps are fairly well balanced, character classes perhaps less so.
Single Player
A practice range is available
Not much innovation in terms of modes or progression, but everything comes together smoothly.
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700X
GPU: AMD 6700 XT 12GB
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

No issues, though loading times are frequent, menus could be improved, and there are occasional visual bugs.
XDefiant is a solid multiplayer shooter that may not surpass the leaders of the genre anytime soon, but it proves to be a notably alluring, free alternative.
XDefiant box art Platform:
Our Review of XDefiant
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
XDefiant is ranked #1113 out of 1988 total reviewed games. It is ranked #19 out of 42 games reviewed in 2024.
1112. TopSpin 2K25
Xbox Series X
1113. XDefiant
1114. Golf Peaks
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