Ubisoft's New CoD-Like FPS Is Good, Free, And Doesn't Take Up 200GB

Image: Ubisoft
Image: Ubisoft

First announced in 2021, XDefiant is finally here following delays, name changes, and a borked launch. While the game had a rough journey to release, it’s out now and that means we can finally play Ubisoft’s new free-to-play Call of Duty-like online shooter featuring multiple characters from different Ubisoft franchises, like Far Cry and Ghost Recon. And the good news is that XDefiant is a mostly solid, well-made, nice-looking, and fun arena shooter that isn’t bloated and slow like modern Call of Duty. Even better, it won’t take up 200 GB on your hard drive.

It’s practically impossible to talk about XDefiant without mentioning Call of Duty. The games share a lot in common and it’s clear that Ubisoft wants this new free-to-play shooter—out now on consoles and PC—to compete with Activision’s juggernaut military FPS.

Ubisoft isn’t the first publisher to try and take on the beast that is Call of Duty, but its approach isn’t just to be a carbon copy of modern CoD (but free). Instead, XDefiant strips back a lot of the digital bloat and annoying nonsense—like multiple game installs and extra modes—that have made Call of Duty into a hard-to-parse disaster for newcomers or returning players. This simplifying of the CoD formula applies to gameplay, too.

Fast and deadly

Maps in XDefiant are smaller than a lot of modern CoD playgrounds and are built around objective-focused game modes. This helps funnel you into action and keeps XDefiant feeling fast and exciting.

Also helping to keep the speed up is how quickly you move in XDefiant. Pulling out your handgun makes you run like a world-class sprinter, and you can slide and hop around the map like a bunny being chased by a hungry wolf. Characters in XDefiant are extremely nimble and responsive, reminding me more of how Call of Duty played during the Xbox 360-era of the franchise. Time to kill is also a bit higher than in some other modern shooters, giving you a chance to escape or turn around to fight back.

Outside of combat, XDefiant sports a handful of modes, a dozen or so guns, some attachments, and abilities, and that’s it. You can create custom classes using characters from other Ubisoft games—like the rebels from Far Cry 6 who specialize in healing, or Splinter Cell agents with invisible camo—but this process is pretty streamlined.

I didn’t feel overwhelmed by options, and while future updates and seasons will add more, XDefiant feels designed to be easy to hop into and have fun. And I appreciate that.

Small is good

This may seem weird to note, but a big advantage XDefiant has over so many other modern multiplayer shooters is the digital footprint of the game. On my Xbox Series X, XDefiant takes up just over 30 GB of space, which isn’t tiny, sure, but compared to Battlefield 2042 (90+ GB) and Call of Duty MW3/Warzone (130+ GB), it’s pretty small. You likely won’t have to delete a few games just to install XDefiant, which is nice in 2024.

At this point, XDefiant has laid down a solid foundation for an online FPS. Combat feels snappy and fun, the maps are well made and look nice, and the game isn’t too big and feels focused on keeping players in the action and not in menus. What’s here is solid and I’m excited to play more.

Image: Ubisoft
Image: Ubisoft

However, the key to XDefiant’s success is now up to Ubisoft and its developers. Today, games like this can’t just launch and be done. XDefiant will have to get fresh content at a regular pace—like new maps and characters—to have a chance against the Fortnites and Call of Dutys of the world.

I can’t see into the future—if I could I’d not be writing about games for a living. My lack of clairvoyance means that I can’t tell you if a year from now XDefiant will be doing well and getting new content or if Ubisoft fails to keep the game active and it dies.

I hope that XDefiant has a long future ahead of it. The game is good and I’m happy to have a modern arena shooter back in my life that isn’t bogged down by battle royale nonsense, too many modes, or massive installs. But only time will tell if XDefiant succeeds, or if it joins so many other games that tried and failed to compete with Call of Duty.


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