The highly anticipated title, Tom Clancy’s The Division, launched its closed beta this past weekend exclusively on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Fortunately, I was able to scratch the surface of the upcoming Shooter-RPG-MMO hybrid, as I gained entry into Ubisoft’s beta and participated in the available campaign mission, a handful of PvE side missions and PvP.
You begin The Division as a Strategic Homeland Division agent and you are immediately tossed into an extremely bleak and snowy New York City, which is in the midst of a pretty nasty viral outbreak. The environments are admittedly depressingly grim, but that’s kind of what you would expect from a catastrophe of this level, right?
Civilians wander the streets in desperation, and it’s actually rewarding to be a good guy in The Division and help those who are in need of assistance. When you aid a civilian in need, you are rewarded with experience points and an item drop. There’s also no shortage of enemies to kill and scavenge.
The level of attention to detail within The Division’s NYC environments is astonishing, however, the in-game graphics do not look nearly as polished as they first appeared in their E3 footage. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still pretty, but this is another example of games being teased with unrealistic stunning graphics. In addition to this, The Divisions’ user interface is equally useful and aesthetically pleasing, adding to the overall visuals of the game.
The character abilities available to unlock within the beta were pretty basic, but again this is just a tease of the full game’s offering. Users we able to unlock abilities and skills by upgrading the Medical, Tech, and Security wings of their safe house.
Upon unlocking the first safe house, you can clearly notice an abundance of abilities and more items to unlock, however these options were restricted in the beta. The four abilities offered were: Pulse - to detect nearby enemies, a Sticky Bomb - which was easy to aim but weak in damage, a Ballistic Shield, and First Aid - which allows you to heal yourself and friendlies within a small radius.
Tom Clancy’s The Division closed beta allowed you to play missions solo or as part of co-op squad of up to four players. The level of difficulty also seemed to increase with the more people you added to your squad. I wish there was an option to trade gear from player to player, but I’m guessing microtransactions will come into play eventually.
Instead of the team-based multiplayer modes which are common in shooter games, Ubisoft presented us the Dark Zone — a contaminated cesspool of savages and great loot. When you enter the Dark Zone, you are submitting yourself to a dangerous PvP environment where everything you loot is contaminated and must be sent to an extraction point. Once you send your gear off by helicopter to be decontaminated, you are free to roam around for more loot and enemies.
Players can choose to work together or allow NYC to turn into a hostile Lord of the Flies situation. If you are killed with your pockets full, people can take all your goods and Dark Zone keys. The Dark Zone keys hold some of the game’s most prestigious gear — or so I’ve been told — I always died with my keys in hand while looking for a Dark Zone loot crate. Shame.
My biggest complaint about the Dark Zone was the lack of objective. It was mainly loot and kill, and I would’ve liked to have seen some activities mixed in with the PvP chaos. I ran around for a really long time trying to kill enough enemies to increase my Dark Zone level, which is separate from the regular campaign levels and currency.
I devoted several hours each day to the beta. I played and replayed missions solo and with friends, and the game ran smoothly and with very minimal loading screens. No freezing, crashing or buggy issues. Ubisoft has taken a lot of flak over the past year for rough and buggy game releases, therefore I believe it was wise to take the extra time with such an ambitious title.
So, final opinions?
Smooth hybrid shooter with a solid foundation, but since most options were locked in the beta, the full game needs to have a variety of missions and enough content to keep players coming back. The tiny taste of The Division was addicting, and I wanted to grind levels beyond the level 8 beta cap.
I expect Tom Clancy’s The Division will receive a highly successful launch when the game releases on March 8.
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