With XDefiant around the corner, many competitive FPS players are eager to see what Ubisoft’s take on the classic arcade shooter has in store. While ranked is expected to be included with the launch of season one, the competitive scene is still finding its footing. Several key aspects of competitive play are still a little foggy, such as whether pro play will be 5v5 or 4v4 and what game modes will be in the pool. However, one important question has been a hot topic in the XDefiant competitive community: Will there be restrictions on what guns and equipment can be used in ranked and competitive play?

Many comparisons have been drawn between XDefiant and Call of Duty due to the significant overlap within their communities. Call of Duty’s approach to this issue has been to maintain two separate rulesets to appeal to both the competitive and casual playerbase. Regular game modes like quickplay are unrestricted and allow players to utilize the full sandbox, while “CDL” (Call of Duty League) playlists prohibit most guns and equipment.

Some argue that this approach promotes a culture of laziness in regard to balancing, and the vast differences make it difficult for casual players to transition into competitive modes. Regardless, one will notice that this method is not used by any other mainstream competitive FPSs, games instead have uniformity between all modes as to what guns, items, and abilities are allowed, with seldom exceptions. In addition to the more restrictive playlists however, the COD competitive community takes it a step further and routinely establishes many GAs (Gentleman’s Agreement) to not use other guns, items, and recently even movement techniques and key binds. For other top FPS esports such as Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, Apex Legends, and Halo Infinite, restrictions or GAs are incredibly uncommon, and the case could be made that the greater variety of weaponry makes the esport more entertaining for spectators. The latter two have had a couple instances of GAs against power weapons like the Kraber or Energy Sword, and Siege, Ubisoft’s only other competitive FPS, does feature a ban phase which allows each team to ban one map and two operators, but all of these examples are a far cry from the draconian state of COD’s competitive scene.

Whether or not you agree with restrictions or GAs in Call of Duty, and whether the developers are to blame, it is important to note that there will still be substantial differences between XDefiant and COD. This is because of factors such as the greater variety in types of engagements, stemming from the vast array of faction abilities available at launch, which will only increase over time. For this reason, it is important that the traditional restrictions from COD are not carried over into XDefiant’s competitive play haphazardly. For instance, LMGs are always left out of CDL modes, but they could prove to be an important asset in XDefiant. The energy shields brought by the Phantoms will require a sustained amount of fire to deplete. If these shields are prominent at high levels of play, then perhaps LMGs could offer the ability to quickly deplete shields and continue to push without having to disengage to reload. Many more interactions like this will be unique to XDefiant and prospective competitive players should be cautious of making any GAs without considering the larger picture of how the full sandbox can be utilized to balance itself.

Patrick Price, or ACHES, one of the developers working on XDefiant, and one of the most prominent professional Call of Duty players of all time, has plenty of experience with restrictions and GAs, and has voiced his opinion multiple times on live streams and X.

As of right now, players can expect the full sandbox to be available at launch in ranked and competitive play. For those of you coming to XDefiant from Call of Duty, it is important to remember that this is a different game made by a different developer that is intended to have a long life cycle and will not be replaced by a sequel after a year. Whatever is in store for XDefiant, there are many of us eager to get our hands on the game and enjoy a breath of fresh air in the FPS genre.

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