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XDefiant Review

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There isn’t a noticeable shortage of first person shooters on the market, especially those that focus on the PvP arena. Every game in the genre has a multiplayer mode – Destiny 2 has the Crucible, Call of Duty is famed for it, and even the Battlefield games have had a crack. Well, now Ubisoft have decided they want a piece of the pie, and have plundered their back catalogue to bring a whole bunch of characters together to have a fight – the result is XDefiant. 

Ubisoft have decided that the best way to enter this market is with a free to play title, and thus that is what they have unleashed! But don’t worry, you can spend a great deal of money if you buy into the microtransactions that are in place (or should they be macrotransactions?). Anyway, let’s go and see what is offer, shall we?

XDefiant review 1
Ubisoft’s free-to-play shooter

The presentation of XDefiant is very much like that of Call of Duty, just with Ubisoft’s iconic characters all meeting up for a fight. There are a variety of game arenas, with multiple routes through each one. The game is presented from a first person perspective, and while the archetypes of the characters that you can play as and shoot at are quite restrictive, they are quite nicely drawn and designed. It does seem like much of the artwork focus has gone into the guns, as each one can be viewed in close up, modified extensively by using the weapon and levelling up. New stocks, barrels, magazines and a whole lot more can be unlocked for each one, and this is proper gun porn right here. 

Sound of the game is also very good, with the usual booms and bangs as we throw grenades and shoot at enemies. And of course, there are some shouted comments that all shooting games go with. You know the kind of thing – “grenade out”, “I need healing!” and so on. The guns themselves sound great, from the roar of a sniper rifle to the fast purring of a silenced SMG; they all sound as good as any other game I’ve ever played. 

Now, the gameplay itself and when you start a game, the first thing you have to decide on is which faction you want to play as. You could choose the Cleaners from The Division 2, complete with their fire based weaponry. You could be an Echelon agent, from Splinter Cell, and their intel gathering abilities help to reveal enemies on the map. There are also Phantoms, from the Ghost Recon games, complete with the ability to help keep the team safe, and the Libertad freedom fighters from Far Cry 6 are another choice. It never ceases to amaze me that the denim jackets of the Far Cry crowd are as good at stopping bullets as the body armour worn by the Phantoms. . Lastly we have DedSec, from Watch Dogs 2, who are currently locked away behind a paywall, which I have been unwilling to pay for, so I couldn’t tell you what they can do, sadly. You can unlock the faction by playing the game, but you will need to amass 700,000 XP, and given how ridiculous that number is, it will take a serious amount of time. 

XDefiant review 2
Super intense

Factions have different abilities, each of which is to be explored and tested to find one that suits your playstyle. My current favourite is Echelon’s Intel Suit, as it reveals enemies on the map when they come near, allowing you to get the drop on them. Blocking damage with the Phantoms, healing with Libertad, or using a flamethrower as the Cleaners, all have a place. And as each character has an ultimate ability that can be charged up, the course of the game can be changed by using them at the right time. 

The gameplay itself has taken a large leaf out of Overwatch’s book, all whilst copying the homework of CoD. There are different types of games available to play, like Escort, where we have to shepherd a payload through enemy territory to an objective by staying near it, and trying to eliminate enemies who want to stop us. You’ll play this mode as both attackers and defenders, and this is quite good fun, if a little Overwatchy. 

There is also Occupy, which very much feels like a Battlefield Conquest game, but with a moving zone that has to be held – some very intense battles can be fought over the zones, believe me. And then you’ll find Domination, which involves fighting over and holding three fixed points on the map. The final two modes are Hotshot, which involves picking up tokens dropped by defeated enemies, and finally Zone Control, which is a bit like Rush in Battlefield – attack and defend two points, and if they are destroyed, more open up and so on and so forth. 

With a large variety of maps to fight these modes on, there is a good mixture of map and mode that means that each game of XDefiant is usually different from the previous ones. 

XDefiant review 3
Tons of variety from multiple IPs

The actual gunplay feels like CoD on steroids – run and slide everywhere, never stop moving, make sure you have eyes in the back of your head, and prepare a large vocabulary of swear words before playing. And you know how shotgun sliding became an epidemic in Destiny 2? Well, here it is de rigueur – if you don’t keep moving, someone will slide around the corner and ruin your whole day. It is all too fast and chaotic for me and my creaking reflexes, but when I complain, my 13 year old son, who is an unholy terror in these types of games, tells me I need to “git gud”. And I’ve tried, but jumping, sprinting and sliding is just too much.

But that’s not to say that XDefiant isn’t enjoyable (even for an old man) and the actual gunplay has a nice feel, and modifying the weapons to make them work for you is a great touch.

XDefiant is an accomplished entry in the multiplayer space. There are lots of weapons, lots of customisation opportunities and lots of different skill sets to choose from, and that means you will find a loadout that suits. As long as you can stay calm (the controller has nearly gone through my TV a few times) there is fun to be had. Just not relaxing fun!

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Looks and sounds good
  • Lots of choice
  • Gunplay feels good
Cons:
  • Time to kill seems very short
  • Extremely fast, lots of sliding means you can never relax
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 21 May 2024 | £Free
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Looks and sounds good</li> <li>Lots of choice</li> <li>Gunplay feels good</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Time to kill seems very short</li> <li>Extremely fast, lots of sliding means you can never relax</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 21 May 2024 | £Free</li> </ul>XDefiant Review
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