Technology XDefiant interview: The origins of Ubisoft's crossover shooter

XDefiant interview: The origins of Ubisoft’s crossover shooter


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After being low on the radar for some time, Ubisoft’s XDefiant has emerged as one of the promising new games. The company recently added the title to its fiscal year 2023-24 release schedule, meaning it’s likely to be released in the coming months. GamesBeat had the chance to speak with CeeCee Smith, XDefiant’s director of live operations, about how the game took shape during the development cycle.

Smith told GamesBeat that Ubisoft was planning to create a shooter that could take more direct advantage of player feedback. “We knew we wanted to make a 6v6 arena shooter that relied on and evolved on player feedback. That’s something that games we’ve worked on in the past haven’t really been able to capitalize on – because it’s been that annual iteration timeline in the past. Now, especially now that we’re a free-to-play, more in that games-as-a-service environment, we have the opportunity to do that now.

XDefiant’s main conceit is that it’s a crossover between some of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises. Splinter Cell, Far Cry, and The Division are some of the franchises represented. Smith said: “Looking at all the different IPs that Ubisoft has, I think it made sense to us, ‘What if we took The Division’s Cleaners and gave them a flamethrower ultra?’ Once we looked at it in that holistic way, it came together.”

The future of XDefiant

During the closed beta, Ubisoft iterated the game in response to player feedback, continuously rolling out new fixes for the issues. Patrick “Aches” Price said in it a postmortem post that the community found new and interesting ways to play and that the popularity of certain factions exceeded what the company expected.

“We wanted to make a game with that old-school arcade-like feel. And for many players, XDefiant brought a lot of nostalgia, something you don’t usually say about a new IP address,” said Price. “The reception has inspired our team to continue improving the game, which will be our focus from now on through launch and beyond.”

Naturally, we asked Smith about XDefiant’s future plans. She said that the developer is currently planning to improve the basics of the game based on player feedback. “It’s about being open and looking at it from a full view… We’ve already made big changes to the game based on player feedback, and hopefully we’ll continue to do so.”

Smith couldn’t confirm future factions, but she added that the company is also adding other stuff from Ubisoft’s franchises through in-game maps. She also said the game is a love letter to Ubisoft’s biggest franchises, especially since it removed the Tom Clancy branding. “Removing the Tom Clancy name opens up a whole range of opportunities for us to reach other IPs like Watch Dogs. It was a huge opportunity for us to expand.”

XDefiant will likely make an appearance at Ubisoft’s Summer Forward event, which will take place next week.

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