XDefiant Devs Say Any Ubisoft Game Could End Up In The FPS

Maybe this panda will one day kill you in XDefiant? - Photo: Kotaku / Christian Petersen (Getty Images)
Maybe this panda will one day kill you in XDefiant? - Photo: Kotaku / Christian Petersen (Getty Images)

Could Rayman or the Panda from Just Dance show up in XDefiant? I asked executive producer Mark Rubin and creative director Safy Saada about that, how they decide on which Ubisoft games to add, and all the work that goes into taking characters from one franchise and smashing them into XDefiant’s fast-paced FPS world.

Ubisoft’s recently released online shooter, XDefiant, might at first glance look like Call of Duty or other similar shooters. But one of the big differences between XDefiant and other games is the inclusion of characters, maps, and cosmetics from other Ubisoft-published and developed franchises, like Ghost Recon and Far Cry.

For example, the game’s launch season—dubbed Season 0—adds DedSec hackers from Watch Dogs into the game. I asked why those silly computer nerds were the first to be added to XDefiant.

“When you look at all of our factions, you’ll see that each of them have a specific core archetype, whether it’s defense, healing, or fire damage,” said Rubin. “We wanted to make sure we had that core group available to the player. With DedSec and their disruption archetype, they really fit into that unlockable layer of factions to add.”

Why bad guys from The Division are in XDefiant

Currently, the game has five factions: Libertad from Far Cry 6, Phantoms from Ghost Recon, Third Echelon from Splinter Cell, The Cleaners from The Division, and the previously mentioned DedSec from Watch Dogs. It’s a strange line-up of characters, for sure, so I asked what Ubisoft and the XDefiant devs are looking for when deciding on who to add to the game.

“First, we look at what we want to add gameplay-wise,” said Saada. “Once we identify the archetype we’re looking for, we look to see if that can be filled through the Ubisoft IPs that we have.”

Saada also says that the team tried to include things that players weren’t expecting because the surprise can add more fun to XDefiant. This is why The Cleaners, bad guys with flamethrowers from The Division, are in the game.

“Everyone has played as a Division Agent, but nobody has ever played as a member of the Cleaners until now. Giving players those types of unique opportunities played a role in having the Cleaners [in XDefiant],” said Rubin.

And this idea of trying to surprise players with unexpected factions is also applied to the rest of the game.

“Is there something iconic we can take from other [Ubisoft] games and create new features from it? This all plays a part in the decisions that are made,” said Saada.

Oh and if you, like me, were wondering why XDefiant includes characters from a now-defunct Ghost Recon game, it all comes down to finding unique and “specific” abilities that add new archetypes to the FPS.

“We chose the Ghost Recon Phantoms over any other game/faction because they had specific and iconic abilities that fit the archetype we wanted for them,” said Saada.

How weird will things get in XDefiant?

Of course, I had to ask: Will XDefiant ever add Just Dance characters to the game? Or maybe Rabbids? Some previous leaks, which have so far proven to be true, seem to indicate that these wilder inclusions might be coming in the future. And according to Rubin, nothing is “off the table” when it comes to what could show up next in Ubisoft’s big, new CoD-like FPS.

“That’s one of the most fun things about our game—that mosh pit of Ubisoft IPs. I would say that there really isn’t anything off the table,” said Rubin.

“But again, it has to fit into the mechanics that we built. But other than that, we can do anything. For us, the whole point of having all these different factions is to celebrate those IPs. Anything we can do, whether it’s through a faction, a map, skins, or weapons, anything that we pull from other games is really a celebration of those games. And that, to me, is what really stands out about XDefiant.”

Stay tuned as we’ll have more from our interview with Ubisoft about XDefiant, including the devs’ thoughts on bunny-hopping, balancing a live game, and how the team makes its fan-favorite maps.

XDefiant is out now on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC. Its next season starts on July 1.

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