XDefiant review: A fun but mixed bag of clashing ideas 

Four Characters from Ubisoft franchises pose together

XDefiant is a free-to-play first-person shooter from Ubisoft that our review finds is occasionally impressive with its snappy gameplay, but also baffling with its decisions on class abilities and game balance.

Ubisoft has created an arena shooter that brings in characters and maps from different Ubisoft properties. The game is fast and reactive and offers quick action, but a couple of odd decisions dent the fun. 

Developers are chasing an arcade shooter like Call of Duty and have mostly succeeded in replicating the fast-paced action in that franchise. However, perhaps reflecting how different each included Ubisoft game franchise is, gameplay also suffers from many conflicting ideas. 

XDefiant isn’t just taking Call of Duty-like arena shooter gameplay and running with it; it’s also adding a touch of Overwatch. Like a hero shooter, XDefiant also introduces class abilities, which are in dire need of better balance. 

In theory, the abilities do add to the variety during a match. But they’re mostly useless in action especially when a gun is way faster and typically more effective. So are its snappy and satisfying shooter mechanics enough to keep the game afloat? This XDefiant review answers that very question. 

The Good:

  • Fast and responsive shooting mechanics.
  • Maps and weapons feel good and play differently.

The Bad:

  • Abilities and weapons need much better balance.
  • Some expected game modes are missing.

Review details:

Platforms available: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Official release date: May 21, 2024

Shoot first, ask questions later 

One thing XDefiant nails is its shooting. Fans of Call of Duty games would feel right at home in this free-to-play shooter. The fast-paced competitive shooting action is present in full here. The responsiveness is thanks to how the weapons handle and feel during firefights. An AK-47 behaves like a classic AK, hitting hard but taking skill to tame its recoil. 

The weapon selection here is the typical “military shooter” affair. Players can expect regular, real-world guns in XDefiant; nothing is whacky or out of place. A shotgun hits the hardest at close range, an assault rifle is suitable for mid-range combat, and the sniper rifle is great for everything.

XDefiant overpowered its sniper rifle. It can easily one-shot an enemy regardless of where they are hit. So naturally, veterans have figured this out and are sticking with the weapon almost exclusively for now. There is virtually no camping in the game. Most players prefer to get into the action fast.

Weapons can be further customized to suit a given play style. The basics are covered here: attach magazines, scopes, attachments, and the gun feels and plays differently. The variety of weapons is good, which can help longevity. Players need to level up a weapon with frags before unlocking most attachments. The gun progression felt a little slow, especially compared with Call of Duty, but it’s bearable.

XDefiant has some excellent maps. Each map is multi-layered, with plenty of hidden paths to take. There are shortcuts, choke points, long lanes for sniping, and quality arenas on the maps. These maps are taken from Ubisoft games. The one from Watch Dogs 2, a Google HQ knockoff, is a highlight offering plenty of opportunities to attack head-on or plan ambushes. 

It feels like an Ubiverse in here

The good gunplay is paired with class abilities, which on paper sounds great but our XDefiant review shows mixed results. Sure, some abilities like the temporary wall hack are great, but others like a team heal are disappointing. The imbalanced nature of the abilities makes some classes much more desirable than others. 

Characters from Splinter Cell’s Echelon faction can become invisible to gank unsuspecting enemies. Their other ability is sonar goggles, which lets players see the enemy units through walls. As a result, playing time during our XDefiant review found that each match has more Echelon members than anyone else by far. 

The game has four factions, with the fifth one that can be unlocked by paying or gameplay. Libertad from Far Cry 6 is the medic class, providing heals to the whole team or themselves. The Ghost Recon folks here are tanks, deploying shields and barriers. The Splinter Cell agents are stealthy, and The Division members are good at crowd control. 

A character from The Division 2 fires a gun

These abilities need severe balance changes. Some are nearly useless, while others are overpowered. The DedSec clan from Watch Dogs especially feels short-handed with hacking-based gameplay. The spider drone automatically tracks and disables or stuns enemies, which is fantastic. The other ability lets players hack enemy deployables and has a particularly short range, so it is hard to pull off, mainly when enemies can shoot faster. 

With only five modes at launch, XDefiant also lacks some standard FPS modes like team deathmatch. Leaks are coming in about more modes, and potentially the Assassin class from Assassin’s Creed. But those later developments don’t help the game today.’s bottom line: XDefiant is a fun and responsive free-to-play game with strong core gameplay, but its imbalanced abilities distract from the fun. 

Rating: 7/10

Author image

Written by Bilawal Bashir

Bilawal is a software engineer who loves video games, comic books, and anime. But he will never love pineapple on pizza. In over two decades of gaming, he has only broken two controllers. His work has also been featured by TheGamer and WhatIfGaming.


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