Ubisoft’s free-to-play shooter XDefiant, aka Ubisoft’s Expendables, will launch in May

By admin May5,2024

Good news, people whose day-to-day lives are woefully short on blingy Clancified squad-murdering. Ubisoft’s elusive free-to-play shooter XDefiant finally has a release date, 21st May 2024. Or at least, that’s when the preseason launches, providing six weeks of access to the modes, maps and factions from last month’s server test.

The above headline comparison aside – which I think you can spin positively, given that the Expendables is actually quite a successful film franchise – XDefiant is sort of Ubisoft’s Smash Bros. Like a toddler wilfully taking toy soldiers from different boxes while the shop owner looks on seething, it smooshes together factions from other Ubisoft shooters including Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Ghost Recon and Watch Dogs, pitting these hardened headpoppers against each other in arena-based combat with some MOBA-ish passive or active abilities and ultimates. I’m not sure if there’s a plot explanation for this splicing of supporting fictions. I hope there isn’t. I really don’t want to have to write about an Ubisoft multiverse or similar.

The preseason comes with five modes – Domination, Hot Shot, Occupy, Escort and Zone Control – and 14 maps. On the factions front, you’ve got Deadsec from Watch Dogs, the Cleaners from The Division, Libertad from Far Cry, Echelon from Splinter Cell and the Phantoms from Ghost Recon. I struggle to tell them apart at glance, because characters in Ubisoft shooters have long since disintegrated for me into a leathery rainbow slurry of rad gasmasks and camo underwear, but each faction suits a different playstyle – Deadsec are hackers, obvs, while the Cleaners are damage-dealers.

Once the preseason is past, we can look forward to one of those “seasonal cadences” of content drops at three month intervals, spanning weapons, maps, events and a new faction. Ah, I’m just old and snobbish enough to remember when “cadence” was a word we used for poetry and oratory, not regular deliveries of virtual assault rifles. In total, the game’s first year in the wilds will introduce another four factions, 12 weapons and 12 maps.

Ollie tried XDefiant last year and pronounced himself diverted but not thrilled. “The gunplay was decent,” he wrote. “The movement was serviceable. The matches were fast-paced, and the kills were satisfying. I had fun! But when I stopped and thought things over, I realised it’s the fun I could have with any other shooter out there.” Still, perhaps the game will find its own identity once it’s in the hands of the baying public. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not rushing to sign up, but the inclusion of the Cleaners has made me curious about what’s going on in The Division these days – I couldn’t bear the loot grind in that game but the Dark Zone maps are fun.

By admin

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