The discourse surrounding skilled-based matchmaking (SBMM) has long been one of the hottest topics in multiplayer gaming, and its place in XDefiant has been no exception.
Given some have been viewing Ubisofts’ arena shooter as the “Call of Duty killer,” it seems there’s been a natural spotlight on whether or not XDefiant’s implementation of the feature is as strict as CoD’s has been in recent years—a move that, for many players, has been seen as a ‘con’ by the Activision developers.
Does XDefiant have skill-based matchmaking?
XDefiant does have SBMM, but only in ranked play, as mentioned in a developer blog post in Oct. 2022.
Unlike CoD, XDefiant does not use SBMM in casual playlists. These are instead based on players’ ping and connection to opponents. Once players join a casual lobby in XDefiant, however, the teams are said to be balanced based on a “hidden” skill value so that “each team in a match has a fair chance to win.”
From no SBMM to pre-game map voting and an old-school mini-map, XDefiant features a plethora of gameplay design choices that many in the CoD community have seemingly been calling for. Perhaps at the forefront of this development is one of the leaders of the XDefiant team, ex-Infinity Ward executive producer Mark Rubin.
Last year, Rubin posted a Twitter thread explaining why they are “NOT a fan” of SBMM.
“Ranked exists for a reason,” Rubin wrote. “To give players who want to push themselves competitively a place to do so and be rewarded for it. But when it comes to Casual play I don’t think this is the right experience.”
Contextualizing player skill as a value that translates to a bell curve, Rubin emphasized that the key to a great casual experience in their eyes is being able to have a variety of experiences from match to match, not pub stomping. “I want to play against players better than me and I want to feel proud of being one of the better players in a match. And I feel SBMM takes away that variety and makes me play the same match over and over again.”
As such, expect XDefiant’s usage of SBMM, or lack thereof, to remain as it is for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, XDefiant does also feature a “Welcome” playlist only newer players who are under a certain level can queue to “ease in and get acclimated” quickly.
About the author
Ralston joined Dot Esports as a freelance writer in February 2023, and covers everything from VALORANT, Call of Duty, and Apex Legends, to NBA 2K and trending releases. His all-time favorite video games include NBA 2K11, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) and Halo 3. A class of 2020 alum of California State University, Long Beach, he graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Finance.