I have to admit that The Division has held my interest ever since I first saw some of its gameplay footage at E3 in 2013. With the open beta that concluded this past Sunday, I wanted to share my opinions and experiences with the game, and if it is one that you should keep an eye out for in early March when it releases.
For starters, The Division is going to be an interesting blend of tactical third-person shooting with MMO elements. Taking place in a New York that has been devastated by a biological attack, I managed to find a character model I felt would suit the kind of rugged survivor that I liked in the pre-made designs. However, it looks like players are going to get a chance to fully customize their character at the start of the game, so, I’m really looking forward to making my badass Andrew.
Once I made my guy, I was launched straight into a cutscene that shows how players are going to end up in the starting hub for division agents. I’m sure that a lot happens before this, but very little is really explained during the beta and I’m hoping it’s going to be as exciting and intense as it comes off as. When loading in, players are given a very basic tutorial on how to survive the wasteland that New York has become, and I was actually glad of how simple it was. It gave me the impression that Ubisoft is confident that players can figure a lot out on their own instead of having to hold your hand.
Now, while the tutorial was very basic, there does seem to be a lot of hand-holding in terms of getting around the city. The HUD felt a bit crowded with some needless information, such as a constant orange line that would constantly show you where to go. It just didn’t feel like I was encouraged to explore the city unless it was an open area, and even then, I felt discouraged to branch off of my little path. Sometimes you would have to go through buildings, which was amazing and almost claustrophobic, but too many were mysteriously inaccessible. I know that I may be asking too much in terms of wanting a game to let me really explore, but too many buildings felt closed off for no reason.
Missions in The Division were a lot of fun despite only being a small handful were available. While they started off as a “go here, kill these guys, get back,” each one had unique turns and challenges. Because I was playing solo, I really had to keep an eye out for enemies that were trying to flank me. The A.I. felt somewhat smart as well, using a combination of attacking and flanking strategies to keep you pinned down while other enemies would lob various grenades in your direction. I died a decent number of times, but each time didn’t feel like it was unfair; I just hadn’t played smart enough or used my cover efficiently.
As well as using a variety of firearms, each player gets access to abilities in three different trees with a variety of uses, such as deploying a turret to attack enemies, getting a ballistic shield for protection or setting off a pulse that identifies hostiles throughout the terrain. While each tree doesn’t seem to be extensive, the fact that you can modify each one will definitely give you a reason to do side missions and quests.
Lastly, there is the Dark Zone where all of the best loot is available and players are able to kill each other if you feel like doing so. Going in for the first time was terrifying and the general feeling of paranoia never really leaves. Visibility is reduced in this area and all enemies are a lot stronger. On top of surviving this, you always have to wonder who has their crosshairs on your back. Every time I ran into other players, guns were trained as we passed each other until we were clearly out of sight. On top of this, if you choose to kill another player you are labeled as “rouge” for a certain amount of time and can be seen by EVERY player in the area. I took the opportunity to join up with a small group to hunt down rogues to make sure that they couldn’t get away with their ill-gotten goods, and I am convinced that it’s going to be a solid system to limit player killing.
I had a great time with The Division and am really looking forward to its March 8 release date. Stay tuned for a review when it comes out!
Featured image and screen shots courtesy of Ubisoft.