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If you never get an easy opponent in XDefiant, you’re the easy opponent, suggests producer

A somewhat unusual feature of XDefiant is the absence of skill-based matchmaking in its casual playlists (except one introductory playlist). That means that, unlike many of today’s other competitive multiplayer games, the new free-to-play shooter doesn’t try to put you into matches with similarly-skilled players unless you’re playing ranked, so you should face the full spectrum of skill levels, from beginners to MLG pro types.

It follows, then, that if it always feels like you’re the least-skilled player in your matches, it just might be that you’re one of the least-skilled players overall—sorry to say!

XDefiant executive producer Mark Rubin didn’t directly say as much, but made the point when he replied “This!” to a comment from YouTuber Xclusive Ace, who pointed out on X that “if you literally never find easy enemies, that’s just a sign that you’ve got a lot of room for improvement.”

It is possible to have a streak of bad matchmaking luck in XDefiant—say, by repeatedly facing grouped players while on teams of randos—but the point Rubin is making (by way of Xclusive Ace) is that there isn’t a secret SBMM system at work giving streamers easier opponents, or any other hidden gears designed just to make specific people do well and others feel bad.

“That’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” the producer told one player who accused him of putting “some kind of script” in XDefiant that somehow makes certain players harder to kill.

I like that Rubin doesn’t validate every emotion or criticism directed at him and XDefiant. He thinks the map spawns are good, not bad, for example; I don’t really have an opinion on the spawns myself, it just seems like a good sign when a game’s lead is willing to express strong feelings about what does and doesn’t work rather than issuing blanket ‘we’re listening’ statements in response to every criticism. At the same time as he’s acknowledging valid complaints about XDefiant, Rubin’s been complaining right back about players.

Regarding the great SBMM debate, the boring answer is probably that it has merits and downsides that are game-dependent, and so isn’t universally good or bad. It can feel like an impossible thing to talk about at all, though, because it’s hard to tell the difference between complaints about genuinely poor matchmaking and conspiracy theories made up by frustrated players.

I’ve definitely had a bad enough time in a shooter that I was coming up with theories of my own—it’s extremely demoralizing when it suddenly feels like all your opponents are John Wick—but it’s funny that SBMM still manages to take heat in a game that mostly avoids it.

Despite never being matched with easy opponents myself—which surely doesn’t mean anything about my skill level—I’ve been enjoying XDefiant, and Jake has also had fun with it.

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