5 Key Differences Setting XDefiant Apart from CoD: Biggest Changes Explained

avatar-user Ava Reynolds 2024-05-23
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While some would have you believe XDefiant is merely a Call of Duty clone, that sells Ubisoft’s new FPS short. There’s far more to the new multiple franchise-spanning shooter than first meets the eye. Three years on from its initial reveal, and effectively a ground-up rework later, XDefiant is finally upon us. Ubisoft’s new shooter brings in elements from a range of popular Tom Clancy-inspired gaming IP as well as introducing fresh features to the FPS genre that’s long been dominated by one series in particular. CoD has been Activision’s cash cow for decades now, with the juggernaut showing no signs of slowing down on the road to Black Ops 6. But for those claiming XDefiant is just following in CoD’s footsteps as a knockoff FPS, they’re missing the mark on what Ubi’s new title adds to the genre. Here we’ve outlined five of the biggest differences setting XDefiant apart from CoD.

No SBMM in XDefiant

First up, arguably the biggest standout is the lack of Skill-Based Matchmaking (SBMM) in XDefiant. SBMM has been a contentious topic, especially in the CoD community, for many years now. Intending to match players of equal skill together, the system has come under fire for diminishing the ‘fun’ factor of earlier FPS titles. Every game can become extremely sweaty, rather than having a mix of all skill levels in the lobby. XDefiant does away with the trend of forcing SBMM on even its casual playlists. While the separate competitive mode will still match you against players of relative skill, non-competitive modes simply drop you into any available lobby, regardless of the skill factor.

XDefiant is Free to Play

call-of-duty-infinite screen

Unlike Call of Duty, which releases a new full-priced title annually requiring players to spend a significant amount each year, XDefiant stands out by being completely free to play. Ubisoft's shooter is designed to be accessible to all FPS enthusiasts, allowing anyone to jump in and enjoy the game without any monetary investment. This key difference means that fans can indulge in their favorite genre without the financial burden associated with CoD. Moreover, XDefiant is designed to receive long-term support, ensuring players can enjoy continuous updates and improvements without being pushed towards purchasing a new game every year.

Movement is Different in XDefiant

Movement is also a little different in XDefiant. While still a traditional, boots-on-the-ground FPS, there are a few unique features not present here. Take, for instance, Tactical Sprint. While the faster sprint option has become a staple in CoD games since Modern Warfare 2019, it’s intentionally been overlooked here in XDefiant. There’s the regular movement speed, then your sprint, that’s it, no third option. Similarly, when it comes to your stance in combat, Ubisoft has intentionally limited the options there too. Going prone in CoD opens the door for all sorts of snaking and character model detection issues. In XDefiant, you’re only able to crouch, there is no option to lay flat on the ground.

XDefiant Does Away with Killstreaks

Killstreaks have long been a staple of the CoD franchise, to the point many other FPS titles have followed suit over the years. Though in XDefiant, they’re nowhere to be found. You won’t earn any airstrikes for going on a tear, nor will you end the match with a devastating nuke for a 25-spree. In XDefiant, it’s your Faction character’s abilities that influence the course of a match, rather than killstreaks that change the flow of a game on your behalf.

XDefiant Harkens Back to Black Ops 3

Black Ops 3 dog

Back when the original Overwatch was winning Game of the Year awards in 2016 and dominating the zeitgeist, almost every other shooter on the market looked to copy its success in one way or another. Even pre-launch, the OW Beta and all its surrounding hype saw Treyarch adding hero abilities, of sorts, to Black Ops 3. Specialist abilities allowed for unique mechanics to shine, be it boosting your speed, spawning decoys, or even reviving yourself. Abilities like these have long been gone from the CoD series, but that’s where XDefiant stands out, returning to this older formula.

Each character in XDefiant not only loads in with a unique ability on cooldown, but also an Ultra ability (effectively an Ultimate from Overwatch). Gunskill purists are sure to have a field day ripping into these, especially at the higher levels of competition, but these abilities are a unique feature that helps distinguish XDefiant from Activision’s juggernaut in 2024.

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