So I got my hands on The Division Closed Beta this past weekend; and I ended up spending most of my awake time playing the game for the past 3 days. This preview should have come out Monday, but with the beta getting extended for another day, I decided to justify my procrastination by playing even more of the game on an office night.
Bottom Line: No Regrets.
The Trailer Vs. The Game
The Division is beautiful. Even in a winter setting the colors of New York pop out. The Division map which made all the splash when it was first shown at E3 2 years ago, has lost a bit of its visual fidelity though. It’s definitely not what was shown at that event, but I have owned consoles for most of my life, and I can live with that. Rant aside, The Division is still very pretty, wind effects, snow, random parking lights. All those pixels are crammed together to create stunning visuals.
The Shooting Vs. The RPG
Gameplay wise The Division is a lot like Army of Two and Gears Of War. It’s a third person over the shoulder cover based shooter. And just like any other game in this genre it sometimes offers very awkward shooting angles. The cover mechanics though are simple and easy, in fact I think The Division has finally sorted the biggest problem of cover based games: How to move between covers. The solution needs to be experienced to be believed and is so intuitive that you think why it wasn’t done before.
There is no denying that someone who has played Destiny would feel at home in The Division, however there are some important differences.
Most of the game, or at least whatever was available to us in the Beta revolved around hostage missions, defending buildings and random encounters with vagabonds and/or people in need. The meta game itself is based around loot which offer better armor, better gear and of course better weapons. The gun that I started off with had a recoil of an ancient cannon, but I am lead to believe this will improve as I get weapons. The inventory system is a little complicated, but only because its something we are not used to visually. By the end of day 2 I was running tabs and swapping stuff as quickly as possible.
The Multiplayer Vs. The Single Player
After the initial mission available in the BETA was completed, I moved into the Dark Zone, the PvP area of the game. There were no matchmaking options or game mode for me to mess around with, so I basically roamed around a lot. Most of the times I ran into enemies which were better armed than me. These I shot some bullets at and then ran away as fast as I could. Sometimes I would run into another player, which would almost always turn into a chicken game of who shoots first.
There is nothing like a Mexican stand-off between 5 random dudes armed to the teeth standing around in a circle waiting for shit to hit the fan.
And Believe me you don’t want to shoot first in the Dark Zone. Because if you do, you get marked as a bounty for all the other player in the Dark Zone. Its like being hunted by the hounds of god; and it’s not a great feeling. In many ways it felt a lot like Day Z but not as pathetic. It may sound like I didn’t enjoy the multiplayer, on the contrary I actually enjoyed it. There is nothing like a Mexican stand-off between 5 random dudes armed to the teeth standing around in a circle waiting for shit to hit the fan.
I never actually made it out of the Dark Zone alive, but I have heard tales of people surviving a full 1 and a half-minute after they have called for extraction. I salute such players and promise to add my name to that elite list soon.
The Division Vs. Destiny
Hearing about the game, and watching its gameplay, comparisons with Destiny are natural. Indeed, the shared world, the emote, and the RPG elements mixed with shooting; sounds a lot like Destiny. There is no denying that someone who has played Destiny would feel at home in The Division, however there are some important differences. Like the option of building a base from scratch in The Division. Or the ability to just stroll out into the game world from your hub without having to spend 30% of your gaming time “In Orbit” (seriously Destiny). Or the fact that missions don’t teleport you back to your base when your done. Or the Jumping Jacks, something you can do right away in The Division.
I enjoyed my time in The Division. I would have enjoyed it even more if I was a part of a team. While I hold my verdict until the game actually comes out in March, I think I have more good things to say than bad ones at this point. And for Ubisoft, that’s saying a lot. If you have anything to add, we have a pretty lonely looking comment section below. Show it some love.