XDefiant finally has a release date, and it's just a couple weeks from now

XDefiant promo art - three XDefiant soldiers and an XDefiant robot dog charging at an enemy
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

It's been a long time coming, but the big day is finally almost here: Following a weekend-long stress test that ran earlier this month, Ubisoft's long-awaited free-to-play FPS XDefiant is set to launch on May 21.

XDefiant was announced in 2021 and it didn't go especially well: The initial response, right down to the silly, stylized title, was so negative that Ubisoft mashed the brakes on the whole thing for almost a full year, later emerging reworked branding a decidedly more "tacticool" attitude. A well-regarded open beta and  multiple delays followed, but a promised stress test in April went ahead and Ubisoft was apparently satisfied by what it saw.

The XDefiant launch will begin with a "preseason" that's slated to run for six weeks with five factions, 14 maps, and five gameplay modes: Domination, Hot Shot, Occupy, Escort, and Zone Control. There will also be a "ranked mode practice playlist," with 4v4 competitive matches in Domination, Occupy, Escort and Zone Control.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Once the preseason is done, XDefiant will roll into a "seasonal cadence," with new weapons, maps, events, and a new faction planned to be added every three months. This is what the year one roadmap looks like:

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The goofy name and overall vibe set initial expectations low, but beta tests in 2023 fired hopes that it might actually be, well, good. Some of that arises with dissatisfaction with the current state of the online shooter scene, but former Call of Duty creative strategist Robert Bowling described XDefiant on Twitter as "a refinement" of what CoD used to do so well back in the original Modern Warfare era. "COD made a choice to move away from its roots and origins, its expanded to be an 'everything shooter,'" Bowling tweeted. "XDefiant knows what it is and does it well." PC Gamer editors Tyler Wilde and Morgan Park enjoyed their time with it too.

Whether XDefiant has the juice to find an enduring place among shooter fans is an open question, but Ubisoft has had some luck quietly filling those niches: Rainbow Six Siege is the obvious example, but For Honor and The Division 2 are also ticking along nicely, years after launch.

XDefiant will be available on PC from the Ubisoft Store.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.