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XDefiant Review: Overwatch Meets Call of Duty in Ubisoft’s Theme Park Shooter

Ubisoft; PC, PS5, Xbox


Ubisoft’s new free-to-play arena shooter, XDefiant, is easily summarized: it's a blend of Overwatch and Call of Duty, or perhaps Apex Legends and Counter-Strike. While it may not be an innovative game, it works remarkably well.


Xdefiant a cross of Overwatch and The Division
Xdefiant comes to KGK

XDefiant pits teams of six against each other in familiar game modes like Occupy, where players capture sequential control points, and Domination, where they hold three points simultaneously. The bright, cartoon-like visuals and compact locations evoke a homicidal theme park. The Escort mode, where one team guides a robotic vehicle through the map, is so reminiscent of Overwatch that you'll experience frequent déjà vu. The distinct character classes, or factions, are more akin to Overwatch’s heroes than Call of Duty’s interchangeable soldiers.

Despite this, the gunplay, featuring recognizable modern assault rifles, submachine guns, and shotguns, is more in line with Call of Duty. CoD veterans will recognize weapons like the M16, AK-47, and P-90, alongside an XP system that allows players to unlock new gun parts and items through gameplay achievements and challenges.

The game’s feel oscillates between its genre counterparts. The combination of three-lane and circular map designs ensures constant enemy encounters, creating dramatic choke-point battles. Fast-paced and aggressive, the action is enhanced by an ability system reminiscent of Overwatch, providing each faction with special offensive, passive, and ultra abilities. You'll encounter napalm drones, electromagnetic barriers, and stun-bots in the midst of realistic and demanding shootouts. The weapons feel authentic but are inaccurate until you unlock enhancements like optics and grips.


XDefiant’s environmental traversal is a minor drawback. Unlike Apex Legends, where any scalable object can be climbed, XDefiant restricts climbing to marked surfaces, reducing fluidity and athleticism. Additionally, while the game encourages team play, most sessions devolve into lone-wolf scenarios typical of a Call of Duty public server.

What sets XDefiant apart is its integration of Ubisoft’s game universes. Players can choose factions like the flame-weapon-wielding Cleaners from The Division or the healing-focused Libertad fighters from Far Cry 6. The maps also draw inspiration from Ubisoft franchises, such as the snowy Manhattan streets of The Division’s Dumbo or the hi-tech offices of Splinter Cell’s Echelon HQ. This creates an experience reminiscent of a violent Ubisoft-themed Mario Party.

For a free game supported by a Battle Pass and a cosmetic-only store, XDefiant is an impressive release with significant future potential. Though it lacks innovation, it offers a distinct Ubisoft flair in a crowded team shooter market: slick, instinctive, and flamboyant, with combat akin to Rainbow Six at five times the speed.


Those seeking a fresh take on Overwatch 2, Call of Duty, or Counter-Strike, and who appreciate Ubisoft’s franchises, will find many hours of enjoyment in XDefiant’s fast-paced, XP-driven gameplay.

 

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