One of the most highly anticipated games of this year is finally due to release this coming Tuesday and expectations are high. The Division was originally revealed back in 2013 and fans have had a long wait to get their hands on with the full, finished product. Having said that, Ubisoft have held 3 play tests now with a Closed Alpha test, a Closed Beta test and an Open Beta test. It’s fairly uncommon for a game to undergo this many beta tests before the full product and it’s unclear whether the purpose was to stress test the servers or to drive up hype for the game.
On the 3rd of March Ubisoft Massive revealed that there wouldn’t be pre-release reviews due to the online-centric nature of the game and the difficulty in replicating the live environment, as opposed to a simulated one. Some may recall this same thing happening with another online-centric game called Destiny that itself is being heavily compared with The Division. Due to the MMO aspects of the game, developers have a hard time simulating how populated the live environment would be come full release to the masses.
Writing on the official Ubisoft blog, the corporation explained:
“The Division was always designed to be a seamless online experience, giving players the option to play solo or group with fellow Agents to tackle missions and infiltrate the Dark Zone as a squad. Thanks to the feedback and participation of a record-setting 6.4 million players in the beta, we know many of you took up arms with others and saw first-hand how The Division’s unique gameplay experiences were brought to life by a large and active player population.
Since it’s impossible for us to populate the servers in a way that would adequately replicate playing The Division on launch day, reviewers will start playing the game along with everyone else when it’s released on March 8 – after the servers go live officially and globally at 00:01AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). We anticipate there may be some impressions posted online within the first few days of launch that were based on experiences with The Division Beta, and we look forward to seeing streams, videos, and opinions that provide accounts of final, in-game conditions.”
Ubisoft’s reputation has taken a turn for the worst in recent years and many within the industry have taken to being wary of Ubisoft titles and as such it’s a fair response from some gamers that the lack of pre-release reviews could spell trouble for The Division. As someone who got hands on with The Division throughout all 3 closed and open tests, I can personally verify I had very few network issues in my time with The Division and my most serious issue occurred in the Open Beta test. You see, I was already a few hours deep into the Open Beta and when I was running through the Madison Field Hospital mission on hard difficulty to attain higher-end gear, network issues kicked in right before the boss and I experiences severe lag/connectivity issues that resulted in the loss of all my progress in the mission.
For a game that is so reliant upon online features, it truly could be make or break if the game suffers from similar network issues at launch since it’s proven this can seriously damage a games reputation. Whether it be Halo: The Master Chief Collection or, more recently, Street Fighter V which also featured network issues at launch, such issues leave a bad taste in people’s mouths and for a new IP like The Division, it could be harmful. However, would reviews even point out issues like this? Street Fighter V still received glowing reviews from major sites despite its lack of content and network issues so perhaps we shouldn’t be too reliant on reviews anyway.
Now, a lot of people might argue that people should wait for reviews and wait a day or two before jumping on this game which is a fair argument. After all, there’s no immediate reason that you’ll need to buy the game day one or pre-order the game. However, with a game like The Division with all the pre-order incentives and the desire to start the quest for loot, it’s understandable that some might find it difficult to resist the temptation.
It remains to be seen whether The Division will have a stable launch but I certainly hope it is since I’ll be jumping in on the action as soon as the servers go live and I sincerely hope that network issues are kept to a minimum as I’ll be looking to progress as much as possible within The Division come Tuesday.
How do you feel about the absence of pre-release reviews for The Division and do you think the game can be trusted? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.