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XDefiant is fantastic - but can it last with a new Call of Duty on the horizon?

I'm having a grand ol' time with XDefiant, but whether or not it can hang around in the long term remains to be seen.

XDefiant
Image credit: Ubisoft

I'm having a brilliant time with XDefiant. I must admit that I wasn't particularly sold on the game prior to its release. Didn't play any of the early access periods or betas, didn't do any press previews or anything like that. Given how hectic and packed this time of year is with brilliant games, I decided to just boot it up and give it a bash when it dropped, like everyone else did. I must say it's a darn good effort - but I'm not sure how long it'll keep kicking.

I need to stress straight away that these fears don't stem from anything the XDefiant team has done. The game appears - at least to someone putting in two or so hours in every evening - to be well balanced, fast-paced, and a loving send up of many of Ubisoft's modern franchises. These worries stem entirely from exterior factors: namely the impending release of a new Call of Duty, and the rough industry environment as a whole.

Let's start with Call of Duty - as that's the obvious big obstacle to long-lasting success for any fast-paced arcadey FPS right now. It's no secret that a big AAA release can suck the oxygen out of the room for its competitors. Just look at the slew of otherwise cool games that were swallowed up by the attention maw of Baldur's Gate 3, Elden Ring, and so on. This effect is felt more keenly when a giant release in the same genre as your game comes out. MMORPGs with a keen and dedicated audience see sharp decreases in playercount when a new expansion for World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy 14 drops. It is a reality of the live service lives that these releases lead.

For FPS games, this hasn't been so much of a problem due to the fact that the big hitters have been sleeping at the wheel for the most part. Battlefield has, uh, seen better days. Call of Duty too - with its last release dissapointed both casual and competitvely inclined fans. This, paired with Warzone having its ups and downs, resulted in this nice little period of fresh breathable air for underdogs to enjoy and thrive in. It was during this time that The Finals initially popped off, and we even saw games like BattleBit Remastered have time in the sun.

But, like most games of this nature, the spotlight eventually moved on. Newer games, promising fresher twists and following an ever-shifting tide of player requests come out and folks want to give them a go. The Finals, another game I had a good time with, has reportedly fallen below expectations in its second season. BattleBit still has a loyal community and remains dope, but one that pales in comparison to its initial explosive release. In this space where free games keep coming out, the players are used to touching down, having a go, then moving on.

It's therefore hard not to see the same coming to XDefiant - especially when the next competitor set to tempt players away is none other than big daddy Call of Duty. In this galaxy of FPSes it's perhaps the one series with the strongest gravitational pull, able to jerk teenagers and dads alike into its orbit like a Funko Pop stand, a hot barbeque, or Frosty Jacks. There is good news on this front though! For what it's worth, Ubisoft has been quite good at maintaining support for its multiplayer games. For Honor is still kicking (thank god - it's one of the best games they've made in my opinion), and that game isn't exactly the most popular game of all time. As long as the game isn't *super* old, like Far Cry 3 or Assassin's Creed 2, you should be good for a while.

But there's also the state of the industry as a whole, namely the savage battle for people's time and money. XDefiant is packed with cosmetic DLC and a battle pass - the standard package these days when it comes to multiplayer games. I do hope that it finds its crowd and that they're able to pour enough money in for it to stay viable, but if you look across the wasteland of the past few years and the other numerous decent games that have fallen by th wayside (or been shut down entirely) it's hard to sit here with a smile and say that XDefiant will certainly be fine. They've slapped on a shotgun and a cool Echelon skin, but are running into an absolute blender.

So if you're curious about the game right now - give it a go. Try it out, and throw them some cash into it if you feel so inclined. Regardless of how exactly the future of XDefiant plays out - right now is the honeymoon period when everyone is giving it a go and having a good time figuring everything out. Who knows, you may even decide to stick around for longer than you expected.

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