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XDefiant: Behind the scenes with Ubisoft Saguenay team

At the core of XDefiant’s thrilling action are Ubisoft’s legendary worlds and factions, not to mention the brilliant minds from Saguenay!  

We’re shining a spotlight on Ubisoft Saguenay’s hefty contribution to the development of the action-packed, first-person arena shooter. Meet three of the creative forces behind the game: level artist Bianca Brassard, audio designer Francis Gagnon, and level designer Guillaume Lavertue.  

They’re talking about everything from their collaboration with lead studio Ubisoft San Francisco to what makes a stellar FPS map, and the pride they take in crafting a game like XDefiant. Let’s dive in!

For starters, could you tell us a bit about Ubisoft Saguenay’s role in XDefiant’s development and what you personally bring to the table?  

Bianca Brassard: Our squad collaborates with the San Francisco studio on XDefiant. We’re all about crafting maps, 100% made right here in Saguenay. On a personal note, I’m the level artist for XDefiant, working hand in glove with the level designer to make sure our environments are as eye-catching as they are fun to play in. 

Guillaume Lavertue: You bet! My gig as a level designer is to dream up maps that fit XDefiant’s gameplay using all the elements to engineer some spicy combat scenarios. 

Francis Gagnon: And I’m the guy making sure your ears are as happy as your eyes. As the audio designer, I handle everything from echoes to ambient noises, not to mention each sound made by the various objects in the game. I also make sure every grunt, gasp, and sign of exertion or fatigue sounds just right. The voice acting happens in Toronto, but I’m the one making sure it all comes together perfectly in Saguenay. 

How’s the teamwork with the lead developers of the game in Ubisoft San Francisco?  

FG: It’s a blast! They’re all super cool and hardworking. We’ve synced up with their time zone, and our English is getting pretty darn good!  

GL: Totally agree with Francis! They’ve got a crew of top-notch level designers who are real pros at competitive gameplay. They showed me the ropes when I hopped on board, and I’ve got to say, this is the smoothest co-dev project I’ve ever been part of. The distance between our studios is practically non-existent, and their sense of humour? Top-tier! 

Ubisoft Saguenay has had a hand in designing a bunch of XDefiant maps. What’s that like?  

BB: Our team’s got all the talent we need to whip up maps. We’ve got artists, level designers, modelers for environment design, concept artists, two audio designers, two special effects artists, and two lighting artists to set the mood. Together, we play a significant role in the final look and feel of the maps.  

From concept to final delivery, each map is a huge undertaking. Each one’s a new challenge, and we’re always learning, always upping our game. And you can bet that shows in the quality.   

What, in your opinion, makes a multiplayer FPS map truly great?  

GL: With a competitive game like XDefiant, clarity, fairness, and balance are key, plus it’s got to have lots of opportunities. And let’s not forget that it must be visually appealing. Nobody wants to run around a drab map that has boxes and containers everywhere! 

BB: Spot on! A map should be interesting to look at, but never at the cost of gameplay. It’s important that art and design complement each other. In the end, the map has got to be fun. Players should feel at home, moving smoothly and finding the right spots to take cover. And it’s got to be fair play for both teams, all game long.  

Let’s go back to XDefiant. Is there a Saguenay-crafted map that you’re especially proud of?  

FG: I’ve got a soft spot for Attica Heights, which is straight out of Ghost Recon. It’s got this immersive vibe that I’m really proud of! Plus, it’s got this cool symmetrical thing going on that’s not obvious at first glance, which makes playing on it a unique treat. 

GL: I’m going to get a little cheesy here, but I’m proud of all our maps! They’ve all got a piece of our team’s heart and soul. Many juniors honed their skills on these maps, pouring tremendous effort into making sure they are top-notch quality. 

BB: When we were piecing together Attica Heights, I was in modeler mode. Usually, that means focusing on objects, but I got to dive into architecture instead. Now, when I look at the map, I see all my hard work staring back at me, and boy, does it feel good. I can’t deny that it’s my favourite.  

Any insider tips or tricks for the XDefiant players out there?  

GL: Keep one eye on the mini-map for enemy positions. Stay mobile to dodge headshots, hug those walls, and make the most of your cover. And remember that flanking can be your secret weapon on linear maps. And team up diversity is your friend in this game!  

BB: Players, you’ve got five factions, 14 maps, a bunch of game modes, and a whole arsenal of weapons to play with. All this can have a major impact on your experience. My two cents? Don’t hold back — try everything! And every now and then, take a minute to soak up the scenery. In a fast-paced FPS like XDefiant, it’s easy to overlook the artistry. But go ahead and show the art team some love, even if it costs you match or two. Trust me, it’s worth it! 😉 

Feel like jumping into the arena? Discover the frenetic pace of XDefiant right now! More interested in behind-the-scenes action? Join the Ubisoft Saguenay team! 

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