I will be the first to admit I had my doubts about the newest entry in Ubisoft’s line of Tom Clancy games. The Division was going down the path of games such as “Watch_Dogs” or “Evolve.” It was at too many E3’s, there were multiple delays and something just appeared to be off.
Luckily though, after a brief, yet satisfying seven hours in a decrepit and broken down New York City, “The Division” is by far one of my most anticipated games of early-2016.
Here are my impressions of “The Division” open beta.
Always Better with Friends
Through my experience, “The Division” is much more satisfying while playing with a group of people. While I still enjoyed running around NYC by myself, the missions were that much more satisfying when I could coordinate with my friends. And trust me, you are going to need some backup. On normal, the story missions in the beta were fun and challenging enough while giving players an inside view of places such as Madison Square Garden or beneath the city streets. But when pushed to the hard difficulty, the romp through one of New York’s most hallowed grounds became an intense bought with smart NPC’s that required coordination and communication with my teammates, especially when it came to the boss fight. When successful though, this is when “The Division” shinned and made me want to come back for more.
Gimme the Loot, Gimme the Loot
After the first hour or so, it becomes very obvious that “The Division” is influenced by many other RPG’s and MMO’s that came before it. While the core gameplay is extremely solid and fun to play, it is going to be the loot that keeps players coming back for more. After I had successfully gone through the available story missions, my attention turned to finding as many blue and purple items as I could. This became especially true when my posse and I started to explore the Dark Zone.
You Thought Darkness is your Ally?
My experience in the Dark Zone, “The Division’s” player vs. player vs. environment area, was by far the highlight of my handful of hours. Playing with my aforementioned group of friends, we got to run around the streets, fighting off groups of NPC’s and taking whatever loot that was dropped, just like outside the Dark Zone. While that was fun in and of itself, the tension really began when other players started to appear. One needs to always be on their toes in the Dark Zone as other gamers are always skulking around and while a player can emote a sign of friendship or surrender, you never know what the person behind the controller is actually thinking. These unknown motives led to intense standoffs, especially around extraction zones, where players have to send up their loot in a helicopter to be able to “decontaminate” it and be able to use it later in the game. There were times when one wrong move started an all out firefight and while it was frustrating to lose out on those coveted pieces of equipment because our group was stabbed in the back, it was that much more exhilarating when my squad would emerge successful. The Dark Zone is one of the most exhilarating and refreshing pieces of multiplayer I have experienced in awhile and I am ready to play more in the actual game.
A Light in the Dark
With this gen of gaming (see what I did there), games are expected to have an even higher standard of graphical fidelity and “The Division” does not disappoint. The lighting and shadow work is simply awe-inspiring. Whether it be a burning barrel on a dark, deserted street-corner or the sun beaming through the towering skyscrapers, the lighting breathes a sense of realism into this disturbing version of New York City.
Because Ubisoft Massive does such a masterful job lighting the game, it in turn illuminates the spectacular amount of detail found on the streets. Much has been made of the attention to detail Ubisoft Massive has put into the game to recreate New York City but to see it put into practice is another thing entirely.
There were many “wow” moments that stuck out to me while walking through the streets. When looking down in the puddles, one can actually see the reflection of what is going on in the game world. Other moments came when interacting with the world such as shooting the tires out on cars or having doors slam shut when you run to them for cover. These may seem like little things, and they are, but this attention to detail made me feel more immersed in the world and made me want to explore even more.
Ready For More
While there will always be naysayers, “The Division” beta did exactly what it set out to do. It calmed the sea of people who had doubts while giving us just enough content to keep gamers engaged while also not showing too much of it’s hand. While I still have some hesitations, such as what will the story be like or will there be people who “break” the Dark Zone, I can confidently say that I will be roaming the streets of a diseased New York City when the game finally drops this March.