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XDefiant is courting the anti-SBMM crowd with its latest update on matchmaking

XDefiant is really trying to win Call of Duty players disgruntled with its current matchmaking system.

A player fires their rifle in XDefiant
Image credit: Ubisoft

We’re just days away from the release of XDefiant, Ubisoft’s free-to-play shooter that’s been in development for what felt like ten years. The game recently, finally, for real this time, locked in a release date of May 21.

In the lead-up to launch, the developer has been sharing new information about what players can expect on Tuesday, including a look at the game’s approach to matchmaking.

Matchmaking, which existed as a background element in every competitive game in existence, became something of a battleground in recent years with the rise of ultra-competitive YouTubers and Twitch streamers.

Being the most popular shooter, Call of Duty is where most of that noise is generated. With every new release, the same people make the same complaints about the game’s supposed strict skill-based matchmaking (SBMM). Their argument is that this sort of skill-based system should not affect casual playlists, because it prevents them from being able to play casually.

From the beginning, XDefiant - an otherwise perfectly serviceable hero shooter - has positioned itself as something of a break from that; an answer to the prayer’s of all of those aggrieved Call of Duty players. In a new blog post, Ubisoft clarified its stance on the controversial topic of matchmaking, and how it’s going to work at launch.

Did you play any of the previous XDefiant tests?

“We know this is a hot topic in the FPS space, and in-keeping with our commitment to transparency we have put together some details for you,” the post reads.

The bottom line is that XDefiant does not utilise SBMM in its casual playlists, as Ubisoft believes “casual playlist[s] should be fun and no SBMM is the way to do that.”

“Frankly, skill-based matchmaking means every casual game is repetitive - constantly repeating matches that are just as stressful and matched as ranked,” the post goes on.

In Casual Play - which is the only bracket available at launch - matchmaking will prioritise latency (ping) and attempt to group people from the same regions together, where possible. Ranked Play, on the other hand - arriving post-launch, will have a rank level structure that will only matchmake players within a certain range. Ranked matchmaking will take into account latency and region, of course, but will wait longer to find players of similar skill levels.

Here’s the list of factors casual matchmaking considers, in the order of priority.

  1. Latency: Prefers similar pings.
  2. Avoided Players: Restricts matchmaking between any players currently avoiding one another through muting.
  3. Party Size: Prefers to match parties against parties of similar size.
  4. Region: Prefers players from the same region/language.
  5. Input Device: Prefers players using the same input method.
  6. Platform: Prefers players using the same platform (PC, Xbox, PS).

At launch, XDefiant will have five playable factions (four available immediately), five modes, 14 maps, and 24 weapons with more than 44 attachments. The maps are split between Arena modes (ten), and Progression modes (four). The game launches in a preseason state that will last six weeks, after which the first season will begin, with each season lasting three months.

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