Skip to main content

Here's how XDefiant aims to improve on Call of Duty's multiplayer

X-Copy Pro.

The closed beta for Ubisoft’s Call of Duty clone-alike XDefiant has just gone live and you beta believe I’ve already had the chance to examine the game! In my preview video above, you can expect to see PC gameplay that I captured during an hour long hands-on session as I talk about 13 ways that XDefiant aims to improve on Call of Duty's multiplayer.

There's 15 minutes worth of footage in the video, which shows off XDefiant's Faction-on-Faction action across a handful of the game's multiplayer modes and maps, so pop it on and stare in wonder at my below average FPS skills!

When three Factions go to war a point is all that you can score.

For those of you who hate video though (at least play it on silent while you read and keep me in a job, you monsters!), I've distilled the video script into a few paragraphs which you can find below, and these will give you a good idea of how the closed beta handles and what you can expect to see in it.

First up, let’s cover the basics. Xdefiant is a purely PvP, 6v6, FPS game that features five playable Factions that have been pilfered from across Ubisoft universe. XDefiant will be free to play on launch, it will be crossplay between all platforms (although console players will not be matched with M&KB players unless they are in a cross platform party with friends) and it’s a free to play game that will introduce a new each season every three months. Each new season will include a new faction and characters, new maps, new weapons, new events, new cosmetics and a new battle pass. Blimey, that sounds like a lot of work...

Despite some differences which I’ll go into later, when it comes to gameplay feel and speed, XDefiant really does nail that COD-like vibe down to a tee. This shouldn’t really be a surprise seeing as the studio making it has been formed by some ex-COD alumni, such as Ex-Infinity Ward Executive Producer, Mark Rubin. Honestly, if you’re a fan of Call of Duty multiplayer, you should feel pretty much right at home here in terms of movement and shooting and, even though the early hands-on was my first time playing the game, it really felt like I had played it before. It was simple to pick up and get into and it took me no time at all to learn the basic mechanics surrounding each Faction’s special abilities.

XDefiant comes with 14 maps at launch and most of them a bright, vibrant and interestingly designed. So why Ubisoft gave me this boring shot of a building as one of its five measley press assets is beyond me.

Apart from accurately copying the feel of a Call of Duty multiplayer match though, how does XDefiant aim to improve on it? Well, for a start, XDefiant's mini map features red dots for enemies. These red dots show up whenever an enemy fires their weapon so old school COD-heads will be as happy as a pig in poop to hear this news.

The addition of Skill Based Matchmaking (SBMM) in casual matches is another new change that angered Call of Duty fans but, according to an Insider Sessions Q&A for XDefiant, only Ranked matchmaking will be based on rank. Casual matchmaking will be based on ping rather than skill, but casual teams will be balanced out after the lobby is made based on hidden matchmaking rankings so that each team has a fair chance to win. Ubisoft are probably not going to please everyone with a decision like this but it seems like a nice middle ground to me.

Also confirmed in that Q&A is the fact that lobbies in XDefiant will stay together at the end of each match, which is something that experienced during the preview. However, if you want, you can create your own custom playlist with multiple modes. If you do that then you will re-matchmake after every match, something that should give players the best of both worlds.

The final big ‘want’ from Call of Duty fans is map voting, something that Mark Rubin also confirmed in a tweet from February. This is something I did not see happening during my hands on, although I was playing exclusively on the beginners only 'Welcome Playlist', so either it's coming later down the line as an update or it just doesn't feature in that playlist.

This is a screenshot from the Escort mode that takes place on one of XDefiant's four linear maps. I didn't get to play that mode though because the Welcome Playlist kept putting me into Occupy and Domination matches only. When the servers weren't kicking me out randomly that is...

As I mentioned in a snarky screenshot caption above, XDefiant will feature a generous 14 Maps at launch. Most of these are inspired by Ubisoft games like Splinter Cell, The Division and Far Cry 6 and they have two set layouts depending on the game mode you’re playing. Maps for Domination, Occupy and Hot Shot modes have that classic, arena shooter, three lane structure to them, whilst maps for Escort and Zone Control modes feature a more linear design.

The thing that really separates XDefiant from Call of Duty though is the Factions who, as I mentioned earlier, are based on characters from previous Ubisoft games. At launch there will be 5 Factions available, each with their own unique abilities, passives and ultras, although the Dedsec faction from Watch Dogs 2 will need to be earned before you can use it. I won’t go into specifics on each Faction's unique traits here, but you can check them all out in my video at the top of this page.

Finally, there will also be 24 Weapons and 44 attachments available at launch, which you can also unlock, along with new skins and customisation items that can be earned in a special rewards track for the beta.

And that was a fairly quick look at XDefiant! If you're in the mood for more details, do check out my video above and, if you fancy giving the closed beta a go for yourself, it runs from April 13th (today!) until April the 23rd (not today!) and you can register to participate in it here.

Read this next