Over a million people have played the XDefiant beta

Ubisoft’s upcoming 6v6 shooter XDefiant is doing pretty well for itself in closed beta. According to the publisher (opens in new tab), it’s attracted a million players so far. For a while, it was even beating Modern Warfare 2 on Twitch, although viewership has fallen off as the beta has gone on—it’s got about 12K viewers (opens in new tab) as I write this.

For some FPS players, the free-to-play XDefiant could be the faster, twitcher alternative to today’s Call of Duty games they’ve been waiting for—an exciting new stage for the production of quickscoping highlight reels. As I observed earlier this week, there’s a direct connection to older CoDs here: XDefiant is being produced by Mark Rubin (opens in new tab), the producer of the first two original Modern Warfares, and recently got some praise from Robert Bowling, who also worked on those games. Bowling called XDefiant (opens in new tab) a “refinement” of what CoD used to be.

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It’s not purely a Call of Duty-like game, though: There’s a Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch-ish escort mode, and special abilities that don’t all have CoD gadget analogues. One faction’s ultimate is a flamethrower.

My Xperience with XDefiant’s closed beta has definitely been sweatier than my usual experience in today’s Modern Warfare 2. There’s no skill-based matchmaking in casual XDefiant matches, so the scoreboards typically have 30-plus kill monsters at the top followed by the rest of us under-20 scrubs. I’ve had some frustrating games where I get disintegrated from a different angle after nearly every spawn, but also some pleasant streaks of my own. Very brief streaks, but fun.

I’m digging the colorfulness of XDefiant’s maps—there’s a goofy tech company, a zoo, an Old West-themed set—especially as compared to Call of Duty’s wartorn misery. Otherwise, I’m not especially attracted to XDefiant’s cast of Tom Clancy graffiti rebels, but maybe it’ll grow on me, and aspects like the UI are bound to change post-beta.

This closed beta ends April 23 at 11 pm Pacific, so there’s still time to give XDefiant a try if you can get in before then. You can register on the official site (opens in new tab) for a chance to participate, and players who are already in the beta may be able to invite you, as well. (I used my invites already, sorry.)

XDefiant doesn’t have a release date, but I’d expect it to come out some time this year, perhaps in “open beta” form.

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