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XDefiant — Nailing the Arcade Fundamentals?

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Fingers crossed…

Hold up! Don’t like reading? Watch instead…

XDefiant had their final beta last week leading up to launch and everyone’s talking about how it won’t be the Call of Duty killer.

They’re right.

But if you think this game is just going to be a one-off attempt to enter a populated market, you’re wrong.

XDefiant isn’t going to go the way of Hyper Scape.

Let’s address the elephant in the room with XDefiant.

The name is so derivative it borders on offensive. It sounds like a generic video game advertisement you’d see in a Simpsons episode.

Visually, it’s good to see color in an arcade shooter again.

However, the wide array of soulless characters and their complete lack of visual cohesion unironically trigger a disgust response.

True story: When I played the first open beta months ago, I had no idea what XDefiant was — I didn’t pay close attention to any of the promotion. It was just a new arcade shooter to try.

The game was fun but the character designs were rubbing me the wrong way. I didn’t understand why they all looked so different.

I accidentally stumbled into the Factions menu after playing for a couple of days and saw the logos of other Ubisoft games.

It took me a few seconds before it clicked.

That’s how generic XDefiant is. There is nothing noteworthy or remarkable about its art design at all.

With that said, gameplay trumps everything.

The most recent open beta for XDefiant showed tangible proof that the developers are headed in the right direction.

If you played the first open beta, then you remember movement and shooting feeling a bit janky.

That’s a big no-no when it comes to arcade shooters.

This recent beta felt a lot smoother — especially the sprint, slide, jump-combo, and mantling — but movement still has a ways to go. The momentum factor you feel in games like Apex Legends and Call of Duty is the gold standard.

Turning in this game can feel a bit stiff and the number one complaint coming from the player base is the base speed.

Personally, the Hot Shot mode’s Bounty speed felt great. Something between that and what we have now would be perfect. Currently, your character feels like they’re plodding through the environment. Agility is the key to any good arcade shooter — Call of Duty, Apex Legends, Quake, and Unreal Tournament all prove this.

XDefiant’s shooting is already set to beat Call of Duty multiplayer for this simple fact: Consistent damage modeling.

When I shoot an enemy’s torso from 15 feet away with an M4 and do 20 damage, I want to shoot another enemy’s torso from 15 feet away with an M4… and do 20 damage.

We all know what Call of Duty is doing with hitboxes, damage, and armor in real-time. Unpredictable damage modeling is the death of a good arcade shooter experience.

At their best, arcade shooters feel like rhythm games. You don’t have to visually confirm your enemy going down to know when they should die — you just know. Your muscle memory gets so used to timing based on distances, loadouts, and hitboxes that you start playing ahead of the immediate threat.

I can see XDefiant getting to that flow state of an arcade shooter.

It’s still a pain in the ass to track in this game, though. But that can be fixed with the devs smoothing out animation and the player base just getting better.

Unfortunately, though, that won’t be enough.

If you haven’t seen the viral video ExoGhost posted on his Twitter, there’s only so much animation smoothing and “It’s a skill issue, bro“-ing that can be done.

Eventually, if XDefiant wants to succeed as a competitive, free-to-play arcade shooter, the devs are going to have to bend the knee to the ‘roller crowd.

As an exclusive keyboard and mouse player, I have to say it: XDefiant needs to increase aim assist.

It might be funny to watch ‘rollers realize just how much Call of Duty is holding their hands, but arcade shooters live and breathe on console adoption.

There’s a reason Rainbow Six Siege has its player cap and it’s because it’s unplayable with a controller — the same goes for Counter-Strike and Valorant.

If XDefiant wants legs, it has to give ‘roller players their training wheels back.


If you have any doubt about XDefiant playing the long game, look at what Ubisoft has done with Rainbow Six Siege.

They’re capable of not screwing up a good thing. And that’s a good thing for the arcade shooter crowd.

We all need XDefiant to succeed.

See you on the battlefield and as always, stay cool, gentlemen.

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