XDefiant: Eight tips to help you master the competitive ladder in Ubisoft's shooter

By Diego Nicolás Argüello, Contributor

XDefiant is a new free-to-play arena shooter from Ubisoft, with online matches pitting players against each other in classic modes like Team Deathmatch and Domination. Where it differs? XDefiant is also a mashup of some of Ubisoft's most noteworthy universes.

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to see renditions of the Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Ghost Recon, Watch Dogs, and The Division series battling against each other, XDefiant provides an exhilarating answer. You're free to select and switch between these Factions during matches, making use of their distinct abilities to counter the opposing team's strategy on the fly—and it makes an immediate difference in how XDefiant plays.

The Echelon, for example, can expose the location of nearby foes with the Intel Suit ability, or turn themselves almost completely invisible with the Digital Ghillie Suit. Their passive trait makes it so they don't appear on enemy minimaps, while the Ultra ability, Sonar Goggles, hands you Sam Fisher's powerful Third Echelon 5.7 pistol and lets you track enemies through walls.

Each Faction has its strengths and weaknesses, especially since you can only select one active ability at a time. Strategizing is key to emerging victorious from every match—you can't rely on mere first-person shooting skills alone. As such, here are eight things you should know before playing XDefiant.
XDefiant Guide 11

You have to unlock DedSec

If you're a Watch Dogs 2 fan, then it's worth mentioning that the Cyber Attackers (part of the DedSec Faction in XDefiant) aren't immediately available when you start playing. In order to unlock these characters, you can either purchase access with XCoins (a premium currency) or complete a Major Challenge. The latter route, while free, requires you to earn 700,000 XP in XDefiant.

Thankfully, there are a few ways to tackle this task. Obviously you'll want to play as many matches as you can, but it's important to stick to the objective as well—defending capture points, taking down foes, tagging along with the target during Escort matches, and so on. Even seemingly small actions such as headshots or using your abilities properly (like blocking damage with shields) will earn you bonus XP.

There are also Daily Challenges to tackle, which can range from healing allies to earning a certain Match Score using a specific Faction. On average, you can obtain over 20,000 XP per day just by completing these challenges, and they shouldn't take a ton of time, especially if you were planning on spending your evening playing XDefiant anyway.

If you're curious, here are the abilities of the DedSec faction:

  • Hijack (Ability 1): Hack enemy-deployed abilities and make them your own.
  • Spiderbot (Ability 2): Deploy a Spiderbot that will target and stun the nearest foe via face hug.
  • Lockout (Ultra Ability): Disable enemy HUDs, minimaps, and abilities in the affected area.
  • Fabricator (Passive Trait): After a device is deployed, the Fabricator prints a new one.

XDefiant Guide 7

Flanking is key

Whenever I was bested during my first few XDefiant matches, it was almost always due to an enemy player flanking me. Depending on the match type you're playing, you'll either be trying to stay in one place at a time or running from point A to B repeatedly. Unfortunately, both of these situations are easily hijacked by a foe who goes off the beaten path and finds a secure spot to flank.

Once this clicked for me, I started using that strategy against opposing teams, trying not to stay in a chokepoint for too long and opting for alternate paths instead. There's always a ventilation shaft or a side-room that is largely ignored and can be used to surprise folks, giving your teammates a chance to gain leverage from the opposite side.
XDefiant Guide 10

During Escort missions, the Blitz Shield is your friend

The Phantoms Faction (from Ghost Recon) offers the Mag Barrier ability, which is useful for blocking enemy fire and explosives in a specific area. That said, if you're playing Escort mode, then their Blitz Shield is an even better option.

If you're on the attacking team and tasked with protecting the target, who is constantly moving, then a shield that allows you to stay mobile as well makes for a great tool. As long as you follow the target, you'll be able to protect your teammates and serve as a tank of sorts for as long as your shield remains active. If any enemies get too close, remember that you can use your melee attack for a shield bash. Just watch out for grenades.
XDefiant Guide 3

Experiment with your loadout

After you've selected your Faction and your active ability, you'll be prompted to pick between a number of pre-made weapon loadouts. Some of the combinations are quite decent, and you can experiment with them during your first matches to get a feel for the different weapons.

That being said, it's key to spend some time before or after a match creating your own weapon loadout. There are quite a few different combinations worth trying—Light Machine Guns, in particular, pack a huge magazine and don't have an impact on your speed. Remember that there are weapon-specific challenges as well, which you should keep in mind, especially if you've been using the same loadout for a while.
XDefiant Guide 6

Keep moving

There are quite a few abilities that will reveal players' locations in XDefiant. Camping isn't that useful unless you have a plan—like staying in a corner and using a shield, for example, or playing as the Echelon Faction and remaining invisible until somebody shows up and you can strike without being noticed.

But whenever you're in doubt, just keep on moving. As I mentioned before, you're likely to either be exposed or flanked if you're not careful. Surviving longer in XDefiant means you must avoid becoming an easy target.
XDefiant Guide 1

The Incinerator Drone is great for people who do take cover

If everything else fails, go ahead and use the Incinerator Drone. Part of the Cleaners' toolkit (from The Division), the Incinerator Drone flies a straight line in front of you, setting the ground and everybody in its path on fire.

Needless to say, having a fire debuff is something everybody wants to avoid, as it can be a silent killer. The Incinerator Drone can be a great way to not only damage enemies in cover, but lure them out of their spot if they see the device coming toward them, giving you a perfect chance to take them down. I also found the drone useful when storming into zones during modes like Domination. Enemies will likely be distracted by its presence while you and your teammates press forward.
XDefiant Guide 2

Focus on the beginner playlist first

Yes, there are ranked matches in XDefiant, but keep in mind that it's highly competitive. If you're only just starting out and are still figuring out your favorite Faction and loadouts, the Welcome Playlist is a great place to start.

I never had to wait more than a couple minutes to find a match, which is always good. In addition, the Welcome Playlist makes it so you won't see anybody with a level higher than 25. You're likely to reach that level fairly quickly if you're consistent, but in the meantime, you'll get more than enough experience across XDefiant's different match types to know what to expect once you jump into ranked playlists.

You can also select match types individually, if you want to play anything in particular. Just keep in mind that those mode-specific hoppers are outside of the Welcome Playlist, so you might bump into higher-level players.
XDefiant Guide 9

Remember to use the environment for traversal

XDefiant might not make it immediately obvious, but there’s quite a bit of traversal possible if you know where to look. Whenever you’re roaming around a map, keep an eye out for yellow markers on the environment. These can be as simple as a piece of cloth on top of a fence, and indicate that you can jump over the object in question.

Sure, it sounds simple, but considering there aren’t any mechanics like wall running, you'll want to use every shortcut you can find to either reach objectives faster or flee from danger on a whim.

XDefiant is available now for free on the Epic Games Store, and features crossplay with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.