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XDefiant’s missing “central narrative” is the game’s secret weapon

With Splinter Cell, Watch Dogs and more in XDefiant, the game's content could be overwhelming. It's lack of a story is a good thing, according to Ubisoft.

XDefiant story lore ubisoft

XDefiant has a tall order to navigate, as it houses the worlds of Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, and more together. Competitors like Modern Warfare 2 can rely on Call of Duty lore to underpin everything, but Ubisoft executive producer Mark Rubin explains to The Loadout why he believes XDefiant’s strength lies in shedding any kind of commitments to story altogether.

“What’s been fun about managing all these Ubisoft IPs for XDefiant is that we don’t have a central narrative defining what we can and can’t do,” Rubin clarifies. A crossover as ambitious as XDefiant may seem like it warrants an MCU level of storytelling, but that isn’t the endgame in sight. Rubin believes it’s a chance “to celebrate and enjoy those IPs to the fullest. We can have different IPs show up in the game in different ways.”

Deploying each of the XDefiant factions similarly to Overwatch 2, players can jump between classes from franchises like Watch Dogs or The Division at a moment’s notice.

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By not tying them to any kind of dedicated narrative, Rubin says that “when it comes to making factions, we want to bring a strong spirit from that game and what those characters can bring […] when you’re using the Echelon faction from Splinter Cell, and you’re launching your Sonar Goggles Ultra, and double-tapping people with Sam Fisher’s Five-seveN pistol, it’s intended to celebrate that brand.”

The Ubisoft banner still has plenty of games to pull from for the future. Your hopes of an Assassin’s Creed-themed faction aren’t dead in the water just yet. XDefiant maps like Times Square prove that frantic battlefields from The Division can work to the game’s favor. Rubin won’t say what exactly which franchises are coming through the XDefiant Year 1 roadmap, but he expresses that “we still have so many fun brands to choose from. So it’s going to get better and better every season as we add more content.”

XDefiant story ubisoft

Aside from the game’s lore, getting the game to feel exceptional is at the forefront for Rubin: “We are developing in a genre that has a plenty of players – the Arena Shooter genre. There are a lot of players in this space who are very mindful of the subtleties and nuances that are in an FPS game […] we are working to make sure that the core experience is top-notch.”

Rubin adds that “this includes controls, balancing and live performance.  These are areas that will be scrutinized by players if they do not live up to standards, so these are the areas that we’re currently putting a lot of our efforts into.”

While you’re still waiting for something concrete on the XDefiant release date, even with FPS rivals like Modern Warfare 3 on the horizon, Rubin also tells The Loadout that XDefiant being a ‘Call of Duty killer’ isn’t at the top of his priorities.