13 Tips For XDefiant, Ubisoft’s New F2P Shooter


XDefiant, Ubisoft’s new, Call of Duty-like free-to-play shooter, has been out for about two weeks now and I’ve spent a lot of time playing it. I’m not an expert. I don’t claim to be one. But I do think I can offer some tips for both new players and vets about how to play better while also having fun and helping your team.

Hit the practice range

While you might want to jump right into the action of XDefiant, I recommend all players hop into the game’s practice range. Here you can test out the various weapons in the game, get familiar with controls and how XDefiant feels, and even spot possible teases for future seasons.

Stick to the “noobs playlist” at first

XDefiant offers up a “Welcome Playlist” for players under level 25, and I recommend sticking in here for a while so you aren’t matched up against high-level players with more unlocked gear, weapons, and attachments. Once you feel comfortable with XDefiant and have unlocked some stuff, feel free to check out the normal playlists before reaching 25, but don’t feel pressured right at the start to hop in with everyone else.

Feel free to use the pre-made classes

Like Call of Duty, XDefiant lets you create custom classes made up of different weapons, explosives, and attachments. But early on, before you have a lot of stuff unlocked, I recommend using the game’s pre-made classes. These come with some stuff already unlocked and let you progress towards earning new attachments and weapons, too.

Switch to your pistol to run much faster

Anyone who has played CoD or other similar shooters likely knows this already, but you should switch to your pistol when you need to get across the map quickly. In XDefiant you run really, really fast with a handgun out and it can help you cross some of the bigger maps in seconds. But…

Don’t always sprint

I get that sprinting is fun and fast and feels good. I get it. But I recommend you don’t sprint all the time. Sometimes it’s better to be walking around a corner instead of running as you can quickly pull out your gun and aim down sights (ADS) to take out a foe. I love to go around corners slowly while snapping into ADS right as I clear the wall, as it usually lets me ambush other that are players hopping or sliding around.

An image shows characters from XDefiant.

Image: Ubisoft

Try out different factions

XDefiant’s big hook is that it contains different factions from various Ubisoft-published games, like Splinter Cell and Far Cry. These factions all offer different abilities and passives, such as the Ghost Recon Phantoms and their extra health. You should play around with all the factions and their various abilities to get a feel for how they play and which ones you prefer.

Change factions based on the map and mode

Don’t feel like you have to stick with a faction forever. They operate more like heroes in a hero shooter and you should be switching between them depending on the map, the mode and the current situation.

For example, when I play Escort, I tend to pick the Ghost Recon Phantoms faction and use the blitz shield to push the objective forward. But when I play Hot Shot—a Team Deathmatch-like mode—I usually pick a Third Echelon aka Splinter Cell character so I can use the intel suit to help my teammates (and myself) pinpoint enemies as they run around the map.

Once you find a weapon you like, focus on it

As you use different weapons, you’ll progress through various firearm challenges—like getting 20 headshots with a rifle. These challenges often unlock new guns to play around with and you should check them out.

But once you’ve tried some and found a few you like, I suggest focusing on those weapons while playing matches. Doing this will help you level up your guns quicker and earn new attachments. Sure, feel free to shake things up if you need to, but by using a small selection of weapons you’ll quickly unlock more attachments to make them even better.

Vote on a map!

It’s hard to spot, but while waiting for players to join and the next match to start, you can actually vote for the next map. This option is somewhat hidden on the right side of the far-too- busy-looking lobby screen. Often I’m one of the only people to vote, letting me decide what maps to play and which ones to avoid. I love democracy!

A screenshot shows the map voting screen as seen in the XDefiant lobby.

Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Remove modes you dislike from matchmaking

While you can just pick a mode and play that and only that, XDefiant offers the option to create a custom playlist and pick which modes you want to play and which you want to avoid. Take advantage of this to avoid modes you hate or just don’t enjoy, while focusing on modes you like and do better in.

Just keep in mind that you might need to wait longer for matches if you choose to include fewer modes in your custom playlist. However, in my testing, this never delayed things for too long.

Use fire and spider drones to counter shields

I’ve seen some players complain that the blitz shield is too powerful. And the first time you encounter one of these mostly bulletproof shields it might seem broken. But there are a few ways to counter them. You can use firebombs if you pick the Cleaners faction to burn the shield carrier. You can also use the spider-drone if you’ve unlocked the Dead-Sec (Watch Dogs) faction, too. Sticky grenades are also useful for taking out an annoying shield.

On smaller maps try using a shotgun

I don’t see a lot of players using shotguns in XDefiant and I get why. The shotguns in this game don’t have great range and on many maps, you’ll lose in medium-range firefights. However, on maps like Arena which are smaller, shotguns can become deadly murder machines capable of wiping a team in seconds. Give ‘em a shot!

Please, remember the objective

This isn’t a game about kills. This is a game about playing the objective. Please, do that. Standing back at spawn and not pushing the escort payload forward doesn’t help anyone but the enemy team. You can still snipe, but try to take a moment to spawn with an SMG and run forward to push the objective, too.

Now that you have some useful tips and tricks, feel free to hop into XDefiant out now on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC. But please don’t use the tips on how to break shields against me, a player who loves my armored blitz shield and uses it all the time to rack up objective points. That wouldn’t be very nice.


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