XDefiant doesn’t have skill-based matchmaking (sort of), and that’s what makes it great

Ah… skill-based matchmaking (or SBMM for short) – one of the evergreen hot topics in the world of online first-person shooters. You either love it or hate it, or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle like me. Ubisoft’s latest XDefiant title doesn’t feature it, interestingly, and it’s actually quite refreshing.

What is skill-based matchmaking (SBMM)?

Let’s start with the basics: skill-based matchmaking (or SBMM, as it’s most commonly referred to) is a mechanic that puts you in online lobbies only with people from similar skill as you. This skill level is largely determined by the game’s leveling or progression system. But if you’re on a lucky streak and win several games in a row, it could also knock you into lobbies with more skilled players. The inner workings (or should I say secrets) behind skill-based matchmaking remains a bit of a mystery a mysteryleading to heaps of internet speculation.

The ethos behind this system is that it leads to more balanced lobbies for everyone – both the competitive, high-level players looking for “sweaty” (competitive) lobbies, as well as more casual players who don’t want to get annihilated every game just because they haven’t religiously played for the past few. months Countless online shooters use SBMM – from Fortnite to Call of Duty to Overwatch.

What’s so bad about skill-based matchmaking (SBMM)?

But as with most online discourse, skill-based matchmaking also generates many criticism. This comes mainly from high level competitive players and streamers who, having leveled much faster than the average player, get frustrated just by being paired with other similarly high level players. The row times because these pressure groups become longer, especially as a game dips in popularity, as the sweat (read: difficulty) of these lobbies continues. This does constantly challenging games, removing the opportunity for high-level players to dominate lower-level players and, presumably, easily generate content.

Why XDefiant not having SBMM is a refreshing, if not bold, choice

Screenshot of Pro Game Guides

Ubisoft’s decision to ditch skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) in its latest free-to-play shooter XDefiant is certainly one of the game’s main talking points online (along with server issues and bad registry recording). Some might interpret this choice as the developer trying calm down those advanced players who are really just looking for a walk in the park. And those people could certainly have a point. But in my eyes, there is two main reasons why XDefiant not having SBMM is a good thing (at least for now).

Unranked has no SBMM, while Ranked has SBMM

First of all, it’s only XDefiant’s Unranked mode (which you should think of as Quick Play) that doesn’t have skill matchmaking. Its ranked mode, which is currently in trial run, does has SBMM. This makes perfect sense to me as it gives players a choice. That is, unranked is for casual players who want to dive into games as quickly as possible, get a few rounds in, maybe level up some weapons and factions, and not get destroyed by sweaty players streaming on Twitch. Meanwhile, Ranked is for those more competitive players looking to improve their skills against real shooters. This is all the more reason they are paired against high-level players, giving them the challenge and high-pressure environment they so deeply crave.

No SBMM is a true representation of a game’s gameplay – warts and all

But the biggest reason why it’s so refreshing that XDefiant doesn’t feature any SBMM (in unranked) is that it forces players to reckon with the a real playing landscape surrounding the game. The fact of the matter is that there will always be low-skilled and casual players as well as sweaty professional players looking for a challenge. And believe it or not, there are very solid players who sit somewhere in the middle – knowledgeable about modern FPS games but who don’t play every day, willingly returning to the game every couple of weeks or months to see what’s new and what could work better (or worse)—gamers like myself.

Having a high skill level or showing fancy skins or cosmetics as well not necessarily equal to be a great player. In my countless years playing online shooters, I’m surprised at how many great teammates or punishing opponents display skills and talents that transcend the mere numbers and stats on their profiles.

Humans are complex and nuanced creatures, therefore countless other factors affects someone’s performance in a competitive online game. These range from levels of focus, reflexes and response times, hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, stress levels and amount of sleep. Luck is definitely a factor as well. I can’t tell you how many winning streaks I’ve had just because it seems to be my lucky day. I may have played poorly or even thoughtlessly, I may have even ignored the goal, and yet somehow I still won. Chance is a mysterious force. Sometimes it’s better not to question it.

The lack of SBMM forces these three separate camps to face each other – for better or for worse. It is important to remember that this reality will not exclusively result in advanced players ruining players who are just starting out. Yes, this will definitely happen. But sometimes, an advanced player might just want to enjoy more casual game once, relieving them of stress and the perceived need to constantly grind. And sometimes a low level player will thank the heavens for having a very skilled player on their team, helping them out. to break soul crushing losing streak. The low-level player might even complete some tough challenges in the process, level up some crucial weapons and start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A few successful games thanks to stronger teammates might give them the confidence to keep playing and further refine their skills.

The success of any SBMM in XDefiant depends on the future of the game

Above all else, Ubisoft’s choice to skip SBMM from XDefiant is unquestionable bold one – perhaps deliberately designed to stimulate discourse and controversy in the online sphere. Its success largely depends on how the player base of the game is growing and develops. Hopefully, the more casual players come to the game, the more balanced things will continue to feel. But if Ubisoft’s post-release support falters and disappears, and only sweaty pro players are left, then I can definitely see how this game could become punishing for those just dropping in for a casual match.

All I know is that I’ll be sticking around XDefiant for the time being. The game streamlined modes and presentation, fast pace nature, and solid shooting feel invigorated by the avalanche of Call of Duty content, endless new game modes and an ever-changing meta. Sometimes you just can’t keep up.

Wondering if your PC can handle XDefiant? Then be sure to check out All XDefiant minimum and recommended PC specs in Pro Game Guides.

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