After 12 days with more than one million participants, The XDefiant Closed Beta is officially over, giving our team plenty of thoughts and perspectives to talk about as we look towards launch. In short, it was fantastic to see how positively the Closed Beta was received. As a former competitive player who is now part of the Ubisoft San Francisco studio, seeing thousands of tweets and interacting with players from this perspective was amazing. To see so many players engaged is a testament to our commitment to transparency with our community. It was a rewarding experience.
That being said, the team is aware that there is much more work to be done between now and launch. After all, the overall objective of this Closed Beta was to continue receiving feedback from players, and to make the necessary adjustments based on that feedback.
There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to the XDefiant Closed Beta, but below are my key takeaways after 12 days of gameplay:
Connecting with the Community
Before we dive into the game itself, I have to shout out how players were vocal on social media about their experiences in playing XDefiant for the first time. This was an eye-opening experience for me, coming from the developer side. There was a time when I provided feedback to developers after playing a game. Today, this is a game that I helped create. So to see the reception coming from fans on social media, particularly when it came to features that I helped develop, was extremely gratifying. As a player, I can’t recall another time when I felt like we had an open dialogue with developers. Being able to engage with other players and discuss aspects of our game balance gives me a lot of optimism that we already have a strong relationship with our newfound community moving forward. It’s something I’ve always wanted, both as a player and now developer.
In the final days of the Closed Beta, all abilities, weapons, and the DedSec faction became unlocked for players, allowing them to fully experience what XDefiant had to offer. When this happened, we were able to look at how players were using weapons and faction abilities, and discover what was too strong, what was too weak, etc. The feedback from players turned more into two-way dialogues about what should be changed once players got to play the full XDefiant experience. The team is already discussing how to balance all aspects of our gameplay, so things still feel fun, but fair. It’s a task that I’m personally excited to take on.
Enjoyable Modes – Particularly One Mode, According to Fans
When the Closed Beta started, we only had Casual game modes available to play. It was interesting to see feedback from players who mentioned how different our modes were. Once Ranked play was activated, players then got to see how Ranked play presented different rules and variations. It was always the studio’s plan to activate Ranked in the latter half of the Closed Beta, so while players were playing casual, it was funny to read everything that they were asking for, because they eventually saw it in Ranked (e.g., two rounds in Escort, two rounds in Zone Control, set rotations and zones in Occupy). This now has us thinking about the idea of installing aspects that were in Ranked onto Casual as well. As a team, we’re always striving to help make these modes as fun as possible, and these are nuances that we will discuss as we continue to improve the game.
One particular mode we saw fans particularly enjoy was Hot Shot. This is a mode that’s our unique twist on Team Deathmatch. Although XDefiant doesn’t have Team Deathmatch at the moment, seeing the way players were playing Hot Shot didn’t necessarily match how we were playing it during our internal tests. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It was a blast to observe, actually. Players loved becoming a super soldier with super-fast movements and ADS speed. Watching how players were playing Hot Shot showed that we were on track when it came to create a mode that players hadn’t seen before.
Players Wanna Party
One of the big topics I saw from player feedback was about parties. Parties are considered a core aspect of Ranked play that will be activated once the game is live. Unfortunately, we were not at a place to include Parties as part of Ranked play during the Closed Beta, so when Ranked went live, players were only able to play solo. We understood that the feedback was going to be mixed, since players couldn’t party up. But activating Ranked was necessary for us, because we still needed feedback from players, and we wanted to show the community what we continue to work on, despite activating a version of the game that’s still considered a work in progress. That being said, I’m really excited for players to see the game once everything is ready to go, so they can see what a true XDefiant experience looks like.
Libertad was a very hot topic when it came to player feedback because of how strong they were – potentially stronger than they should be. As designers, we want to ensure that the factions that are used bring a fair and balanced experience to the players.
It was also interesting to see in the early stages of the Closed Beta that the Cleaners weren’t getting as much love as I anticipated they would. I started off using the Cleaners and found at times that I was the only one using them in matches. But toward the end, Cleaners began to trend up after more players started trying them out and using their Ultras. Once players got to learn more about the Cleaners’ abilities, they started to realize just how good they can be. And that was nice to see toward the end of the Closed Beta.
When it came to DedSec, there’s a tiny learning curve as players start to figure out how to use the hijack ability, how the Spiderbot works, and what the Ultra does. DedSec is an extremely useful faction once players know how to use them effectively. And honestly speaking, with the Closed Beta lasting just 12 days, that’s not enough time for players to truly learn how good a faction like DedSec is – especially since they were locked at the beginning. This goes for any faction. Twelve days is a short amount of time to learn about all the factions, especially when a player sticks to one faction for the majority of the time. So in that sense, that gets me excited for when XDefiant is live and players will have the time to get to know each of these factions, their abilities, their traits, and how they interact with each other. There are a lot of great balance aspects to our gameplay that every faction has a different take on. It was nice to see a mini version of that during the Closed Beta, but I’m really looking forward to when we are live to see how players will utilize all our factions.
There were montages being made in the Closed Beta! Seeing the positive reception when it came to sniping in XDefiant was a pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t expect this to be a huge topic at all. Our scopes are very much work-in-progress. So seeing sniping get so much love – maybe a little too much; maybe we’ll have to look at that – was really awesome to see. Because by launch, when our snipers are at a place where they should be aesthetically, that core feeling will strengthen even more. Seeing so much love for something that’s still under construction is a unique feeling. To add to that, I think it really emphasizes that we're innovating but hitting those nostalgic features that players miss and love – and I think seeing old-school quick-scoping montages was a small testament to that.
With the Closed Beta in our rearview mirror, the team is back at work fixing bugs and updating the game based on player feedback, especially when it comes to balancing. We also have features that we didn’t include in the Closed Beta that we plan to polish, so when we go live, we have a game that our players and community can be proud of. We plan to continue and consistently add new content and features and support this game long-term, not only at launch.
We wanted to create a game that had that old-school arcade-style feeling. And for a lot of players, XDefiant brought a lot of nostalgia, which is something you don’t typically say about a new IP. The reception has inspired our team to continue improving the game, which will be our focus from now to launch and beyond. We thank everyone for participating in the XDefiant Closed Beta, and we will be back soon.