XDefiant Closed Beta: First Impressions

Written by Vince Abella

XDefiant did not leave anywhere near the best first impression with its initial marketing that felt like it was trying way too hard with its style. Now it feels like they’re marketing it as a COD-killer esports title. After playing a good few hours on the closed beta, the game definitely doesn’t feel like it can take down a juggernaut like COD, but it has the potential to be fun for a little while. 

The only way to really describe the game as a whole is just fine. It feels good to get kills, especially with an extremely quick TTK. What attempts to separate Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy multiplayer title from the rest of the genre is… nothing. It uses the same class system Call of Duty has with perks reminiscent of earlier titles and heroes with abilities that would instantly remind one of Overwatch and Black Ops 4. All in all, the game does absolutely nothing unique other than using Tom Clancy as the backdrop. It just does everything you’ve seen before decently well.

While these kinds of games can be hit-or-miss with their popularity, one thing that shouldn’t be hit-or-miss is the hit detection. Shotguns and snipers feel fine and are easily the most rewarding, but none of the other guns quite feel right to use. Hit detection feels weird and sometimes when you hit a shot you feel that you hit, it just doesn’t connect. This issue is one that I have shared with a friend who also tried out the beta, and while it doesn’t outright ruin the experience, it does sour it. None of the guns seem to have any weight to them either, and though kills are satisfying, hit detection issues are bound to disturb anyone. There aren’t as many weapons as one would hope as well, with there being no full auto pistols and only two marksman rifles.

The roster of classes comes from previous Tom Clancy franchises, with some filling the roles of assault and others filling the roles of the medics. It all follows the basic fundamentals, feeling reminiscent of Black Ops 4’s operators with one grenade, one special and one ultimate ability. None of them are particularly memorable or flashy, and it is particularly annoying how if one uses it and conveniently dies right after, all that hard work waiting for it to load up just gets nullified. The abilities are powerful enough but fail to leave any lasting impact other than being just a tad more powerful. Medic classes are not as useful due to the extremely quick TTK, while the flamethrower is an incredibly popular and powerful weapon of choice for players from the hours I played.

The map design is also rather all over the place, with the game’s gunplay feeling like its smoothest when in smaller areas and locations and some areas being fun to shoot around in, but falling apart when it comes to the larger locations. The gun balancing doesn’t help, with snipers being easy to use to handle longer distances, and as such, one can easily be taken out without so much as a chance to spot the enemy, as I have experienced as both the recipient and dealer of such pains. Each area is a location from each franchise, and some are distinct like the Nudle map from WATCH_DOGS2 but others are rather generic. The maps aren’t overly horrendous, and most of them are good fun, but otherwise, they leave little in the way of any real creativity or imagination. The rooftop and server room maps are nice as they feel well-crafted and smooth to move around in, but the street and snow areas are a bit too large to be comfortable in. 

The game modes present are few, but fun, though this limited number would be a point of contention for some, consisting of Domination, Occupy, Hot Shot, Zone Control, Escort. All of these game modes don’t provide anything new, but on their own, they are fine enough. They all function as one would expect, from the static points of Domination to Escort’s moving goal to follow. In some of these modes, it doesn’t help how easy it is to camp out at a spawn area and get quick kills. There have been numerous cases of me spawning in and immediately getting shot by someone nearby, though this annoyance is mitigated by the thankfully quick respawn timer.

Ultimately, at the heart of all these problems is a feeling of having played this game numerous times before, having been done better by other titles. If one desires the earlier COD style gameplay mixed with hero shooter tropes, this game is one to look out for, but there are just too many issues and a feeling of being incredibly generic and basic, a desperate cry for an eSports game to presumably take over mainstream media from Ubisoft in light of Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch, and ultimately doesn’t carve out a niche unique enough to make it stand out in an oversaturated crowd of shooters, but is fun enough to hop in on every now and then for a match or two.

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Vince Abella

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