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XDefiant is successfully filling a classic Call of Duty-shaped hole

The closed beta of Ubisoft's new free-to-play shooter is already finding a welcoming community.
XDefiant Ubisoft

Ubisoft recently launched a closed beta for its upcoming, free-to-play first-person shooter, XDefiant. The game mixes together several fictional gun-toting factions based on Ubisoft game franchises, and while it was met with some cynicism in its original reveal, the closed beta has certainly turned much of that sentiment around.

The most commonly-heaped praise is in regards to its more traditional approach to a competitive multiplayer FPS, with many players comparing it to the heyday of Call of Duty in the 2000s, during the Modern Warfare era. XDefiant is described by Ubisoft as a ‘fast-paced arcade shooter’ and a ‘love letter to fans of classic arena shooters,’ and while we originally drew mental comparisons to Quake and Unreal Tournament, it seems like it touches on a more contemporary idea of ‘classic’.

Read: XDefiant throws Ubisoft factions together in a free-to-play shooter

The game does feature modern gameplay ideas, such as class-specific abilities and highly customisable weapons, but the core shooting action, time-to-kill, and approach to matchmaking have all gained favour amongst its audience – especially due to the lack of skill-based matchmaking, which remains a point of contention for shooter enthusiasts.

The arrival of XDefiant also comes at a controversial time for the Call of Duty franchise, which has had to cope with catering to an increasingly broader audience over recent years, at the cost of alienating those who favoured its more traditional approaches. Recently, the Warzone variant of the series has also been the subject of criticism for its optional, paid cosmetic items that give players an advantage.

Former Infinity Ward developer, Robert Bowling, who was considered the public face of Call of Duty in its Modern Warfare (2007) and Modern Warfare 2 (2009) prime, has even spoken up in support of XDefiant‘s approach.

XDefiant is legit,’ he said on Twitter. ‘It’s not a knock off of what COD is, it’s a refinement of what Call of Duty WAS. COD made a choice to move away from it’s roots and origins, it’s expanded to be an “everything shooter”. XDefiant knows what it is and does it well.’

In a crowded market full of free-to-play video games aspiring to prove themselves worthy of your precious free time, a vocal and positive community sentiment can mean the difference between enjoying longevity, or closing down servers in a year or two. Ubisoft has seen both sides of the coin – tactical competitive shooter Rainbow Six Siege has enjoyed almost eight years of success, while Hyper Scape was shuttered in less than two.

XDefiant will enter a Closed Beta phase on 13 April 2023, which will operate on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Those interested can register on the XDefiant website.

Edmond was the founding managing editor of GamesHub. He was also previously at GameSpot for 13 years, where he was the Australian Editor and an award-winning video producer. You can follow him @EdmondTran