in a world of gaming flops, can xdefiant finally be what players want
Image Source: Ubisoft

In a World of Gaming Flops, Can XDefiant Finally Be What Players Want?

Dubbed the "CoD Killer," XDefiant has hype built high, but the industry has lowered our expectations.

It’s the grim reality of every new gaming release for players to feel hesitant at launch. You never know which bugs you may encounter, server issues you might run into, or what account you’ll have to make just to get in a game. So often, games launch with high promises, and with XDefiant finally here, it’s fair to have some of the same concerns.

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A Tough Past

While that might sound pessimistic, you’ve got to consider some of the reasons these concerns are valid. Take Payday 3 for example. The first two games in the series were bangers in the eyes of the players. Their cutting-edge features created unique gameplay, so hearing about a third game was exciting.

payday 3 key art lab
Image Source: Starbreeze Entertainment

At launch, players were far from praising the developers. Instead, players were left frustrated from making an account to get onto the servers, only to find those servers not functional. The developers removed fan-favorite features from the previous games and the backlash was intense.

Part of the problem lies with this feeling that developers are content releasing unfinished games. The first instance of this that stands out was Assassin’s Creed Unity. It immediately drew criticism for its bugs and unpolished feel, and it was too late by the time the devs fixed it. No Man’s Sky evolved similarly, but it found new life long after its launch, like Cyberpunk 2077.

In any case, it seems like developers release more and more unfinished games that aren’t what was promised. Sure, they can be fixed with feedback after the fact, but I would prefer a game to launch late and complete rather than be frustrated by a game that shouldn’t have launched yet. For this reason, I feel like XDefiant is in the best position possible to be exactly what players want.

Will XDefiant Deliver?

To say that XDefiant has the advantage of looking at history feels naive. The same can be said for Call of Duty, but as we’ve seen from recent releases, developers don’t always learn from their mistakes. It’s easy to claim that this game will be better than games in the past, but that’s not always the case.

XDefiant spider drone screenshot
Image Source: Ubisoft

Take the issue of Skill-Based Matchmaking (SBMM) for example. Call of Duty players have been vocal about their displeasure with the system, and the issue remains an active problem for the community. Activision has had plenty of opportunities to implement or even acknowledge the change, yet with each release SBMM remains.

XDefiant’s executive producer Mark Rubin gave insight on SBMM before the game’s release. He said, “I think it creates a stale experience… you keep playing against the same exact type of player, you lose out on all the fun variety that I think a lot of the old-school shooters had.”

It’s not to say you can’t have fun playing Modern Warfare 3, but Rubin summed it up perfectly. You get two matches where you can perform well, but they’re followed by a wave of games with players on another level than you entirely. When you finally get into a match where you can perform well, there’s no drive left to keep playing.

XDefiant’s Welcome playlist does use SBMM, but if you choose any other non-ranked modes, the setting will no longer apply. This allows for a direct comparison between the systems, letting players feel the difference. They can also use the comparison to fine-tune the system further down the line.

xdefiant phantom sniper screenshot
Image Source: Ubisoft

XDefiant should also be at an advantage because they’ve had so much input from the community. The betas and playtests have offered players hands-on experience to get a feel for the game, and the developers have made it a point to listen to the criticism.

It also benefits from following the new trend in the Battle Pass format. XDefiant’s first season isn’t Season 1, but it’s a preseason, like MW3‘s Season 0. This Preseason should serve as the first test to see if the developers take input from the players and apply it to the game.

So far, from what I’ve played it’s been a blast. Am I any good? Not in the slightest. However, the more I play the more I want to improve. While the first few hours got a bit hairy because of the servers, overall XDefiant feels like the modern arena shooter I’ve wanted other games to be.

The impressions are positive from browsing community posts and reviews, with a few kinks that should be worked out. For now, it’s only a matter of time until we see whether or not Ubisoft can put its money where its mouth is, or if player complaints will fall on deaf ears.


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Author
Nick Rivera
Nick Rivera graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 studying Digital Media and started as a Freelance Writer with Twinfinite in early 2023. Nick plays anything from Halo to Stardew Valley to Peggle, but is a sucker for a magnetic story.