XDefiant’s Closed Beta Lessons 2023

The XDefiant Closed Beta ended after 12 days with nearly one million participants, giving our team lots to discuss as we prepare for launch. The Closed Beta’s reception was great. As a former competitive player working at Ubisoft San Francisco, seeing thousands of tweets and interacting with players was amazing. Our community transparency is shown by so many gamers participating. It was satisfying.

However, the team knows there is much more to do before launch. After all, this Closed Beta was meant to gather player feedback and make required changes.

After 12 days in the XDefiant Closed Beta, here are my main takeaways:

Community Engagement

Before we get into the game, players shared their first-time XDefiant experiences on social media. Developer-side, this was eye-opening. I gave developers comments after playing games. I made this game today. So seeing fans’ social media reactions, especially to features I helped develop, was rewarding.

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I can’t remember another period when developers and players communicated. Engaging with other players and discussing game balance gives me hope that we have a good relationship with our newfound community. As a player and developer, I always wanted it.


In the last days of the Closed Beta, players could unlock all skills, weapons, and the DedSec faction to fully experience XDefiant. This allowed us to examine how players used weapons and faction powers and determine what was too strong, weak, etc.

After playing the whole XDefiant experience, player feedback became two-way conversations about what should be altered. The team is debating how to balance all areas of our gameplay to keep it interesting and fair. I’m excited to do it.

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Fun Modes—Especially One

The Closed Beta only contained Casual game types. Our modes’ differences were interesting to players. After Ranked Play was activated, players saw its different rules and variations. The studio always planned to activate Ranked in the latter half of the Closed Beta, so while players were playing casual, it was funny to read everything they were asking for because they eventually got it in Ranked (e.g., two rounds in Escort, two rounds in Zone Control, set rotations and zones in Occupy).

This makes us consider adding Ranked features to Casual. We’re continually working to make these modes fun, and we’ll explore these intricacies as we enhance the game.

Fans loved Hot Shot. Our take on Team Deathmatch. Although XDefiant doesn’t have Team Deathmatch, players’ Hot Shot playstyles didn’t match our internal tests. That’s OK. Observing was fun. Super soldiers with ADS speed were popular. We were on track to design a new mode by watching users play Hot Shot.

Party Players

Parties dominated player response. Ranked play will include parties once the game launches. When Ranked went live, players could only play solo because we weren’t ready to add Parties during the Closed Beta. Since players couldn’t party, we expected mixed feedback.

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Despite activating Ranked, we needed player feedback and wanted to show the community what we’re working on. However, I’m excited for players to experience a true XDefiant game once it’s ready.

Faction Use

Libertad’s strength—possibly greater than they should be—made player feedback a big topic. We want factions to give players a fair and balanced experience as designers.

In the early Closed Beta, I was surprised to find the Cleaners not receive as much love as I expected. I used the Cleaners alone in matches at first. After more players tried Cleaners and Ultras, they started to rise. Players realized how good the Cleaners were after learning more about them. That was nice at the end of the Closed Beta.

DedSec’s hijack ability, Spiderbot, and Ultra need a small learning curve. When used properly, DedSec is a powerful group. Since DedSec was locked at the start, the Closed Beta was only 12 days, which wasn’t enough time for players to fully appreciate the faction. Any faction. Twelve days is not enough time to learn about all factions, especially if a player stays with one group.

That makes me excited for XDefiant, when players can learn about each faction’s abilities, traits, and interactions. Our gameplay has several wonderful balance elements that each faction views differently. I like seeing a mini version of it during the Closed Beta, but I’m excited to see how players use all our factions when we go live.


Closed Beta montages! I was pleasantly surprised by XDefiant’s sniping welcome. This surprised me. Our scopes are evolving. So seeing sniping get so much love—maybe too much—was amazing. When our shooters look well at launch, that basic feeling will grow.

Seeing so much love for a work-in-progress is fantastic. To add to that, seeing old-school quick-scoping montages was a subtle reminder that we’re innovating while bringing back historic elements gamers appreciate.

What’s Next?

After the Closed Beta, the team is fixing bugs and balancing based on player feedback. We’ll polish elements we didn’t include in the Closed Beta so our players and community will be proud when we launch. We will support this game beyond launch with additional material and features.

We wanted a retro arcade game. Unlike most new IPs, XDefiant conveyed nostalgia to many players. Our team will focus on developing the game till launch and beyond after hearing the feedback. We’ll be back soon.

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