Much anticipated, and much delayed are two terms that I would feel accurately apply to Tom Clancy’s The Division from Ubisoft(herein referred to only as The Division). It feels as though this game was announced ages ago and it is only now that a much larger mass of us are getting some hands on time. So, how was it?
Remember this is only a beta, I repeat a BETA. I’ve seen the chatter online about how the game doesn’t look crisp, has clipping, bad frame rates, blah, blah, blah. With this being a beta, the code we are playing is likely months old and many revisions have been done to address the issues listed previously and certainly many more. Let us focus more on the experience overall rather than pick at faults that may likely, or perhaps not, be gone.
From the beta, we get understandably very little more about the story. There is only one story mission that basically gives you a small taste of the game play by having you rescue and secure a high value asset. This gets you some experience playing the game but little more. There are also some very limited side missions that didn’t appear to lend much to the main story, rather they seemed to be more about flushing out what is going on now and previously in the city of New York.
There are two open-world areas for players to explore, the PvE Zone and the Dark Zone. First let’s look at the PvE Zone. The area in the beta is more confined than that which is likely to ship with the game. When you pull up a map and look, you can see much more space than you can access. If you try to do so your screen goes red and you are “advised” to turn back. This is the area where you can do main and side missions of the game. You can also wonder around looking for loot crates and other items. Only AI combatants can be hostile here, so even if you do run across another player you need not worry. The beta left a lot to be desired in this area but not without potential. The size of the map was lass an issue rather than the lack of activity given the absence of missions and sparseness of AI confrontations.
Then there is the Dark Zone. Where as players were safe from each other in the PvE Zone, you don’t know if you’ll be safe in the Dark Zone. Not only are there higher level AI combatants, any player can turn against you. Why? Loot, the Dark Zone has the best loot. This area can be the most rewarding and exciting area but it often turns to the most frustrating. If you find loot or get a drop from a kill, you have to extract it via helicopter and this is when things can be the most contentious. I found that playing alone, I was often and regularly killed by groups of two or more players running together to steal loot. If there is not some type of balance adjustment, solo players like myself will quickly lose interest in the Dark Zone and the game itself.
At this point, may I reiterate that this is a beta. Having played the Destiny beta(yes, I hate the comparison but there are parallels as well as differences) and seen how much it changed from the public beta to the final release I feel that there is still time to make some necessary changes to improve The Division. Unfortunately, I don’t have any suggestions on how to balance out the Dark Zone so that solo players aren’t constantly getting f*&%ed by roaming packs of rogue agents but losing your loot and XP is going to drive people away.
If you are looking to get into an RPG shooter, then keep this one on your radar. Unlike Destiny, this game is outright stating it is and RPG as well as building the systems to do so. Some things we didn’t get to see in the beta, like skill trees and crafting, will hopefully hit home with RPG players.
Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester
A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.