The Division: Decision
So as many of you are well aware, the Division has been live since yesterday(Thursday for the XBONERs) and I have played it enough to give my impression. I will fully admit that my hype surrounding the Division was rather low. It looked like a Destiny-esque cash grab with little to nothing in the way of content, or meaningful gamplay. Seeing the beta on Xbone had me equally under hyped, with graphics looking mediocre and gameplay which didn’t really scream innovative. However after downloading the staggering 26GB beta, I felt it necessary to put in at least a little game time. Friday morning came along and I decided to jump in.
Right off the start, the cover system/mobility reminds me of a less refined gears of war style. A simple press of the “a” button sends the player into cover and allows for bouncing between cover relatively fluidly. Unlike Gears, the cover system suffers in nuances, such as shooting position, which seems to jump from right-left-right based on body position, while intuitive, this can be rather frustrating in firefights where micro movements can throw the players aim off enough to die. It also suffers from occasional stickiness of cover, like most 3rd-person shooters. Aside from these complaints, the cover system handles very fluidly. Movement is responsive. Switching weapons on the fly is quick and easy. Aiming feels good and accurate. Taking cover provides a necessary tactical advantage over players and AI alike. As I mentioned I was reminded of Gears by the combat, which I like, as in my younger years I was quite the Gears fan.
The story is pretty groan worthy. You’re some kind of specially trained agent, or something. The only available mission “Hospital” tasks the player with entering Madison Square Garden to rescue a doctor who has been taken hostage by a group of “rioters”. Typical MMO fare. Go to specific location, walk through area fighting enemies which grow gradually stronger until end boss is fought, gather loot then move on. Characters appear to be rather bland and flat, but there is not much in the Beta relating to ‘story line’. The AI is not much to write about, in some instances enemies take cover, but at other times run blindly at the player.
The city looks beautiful and is interesting, and I would say epic to explore. Running down streets to see miles and miles of buildings stretch out before you adds to the experience. The Weather also stood out to me. My first snowstorm in the Dark Zone was actually insane. It added so much to the gameplay and immersion. With the falling snow, visibility was severely decreased, creating heightened stress on where other players could be lurking. My only real complaints regarding the world is distinctiveness and lack of loot. The map could benefit from having more noticeable landmarks, specifically the Dark Zone. While I am well aware of the “landmarks” on the map… They lack visual distinctiveness which makes map reliance necessary. There also seems to be a limited amount of buildings to go inside, which takes a bit of adjusting to after coming from the Fallout 4 everything can be explored gameplay. The area that shines the most is the loot and ability powers. Both reminded me of playing Borderlands… And I LOVE BORDERLANDS
The game shines when multiplayer occurs. Playing solo is enjoyable, but playing the Division with friends ramps everything up. The Dark Zone is the area this most shines. Running the area solo leaves you feeling alone and far more passive. Throw a few friends onto a squad and this thinking quickly shifts into more aggressive territory. Suddenly you have allies and backup in what is a rather harsh and forbidding environment. You hunt as a pack, picking off stragglers, looting and extracting. The rogue agent adds a nice risk reward paradigm to the game play of the Dark Zone. I will mention that it seems heavily skewed in the favor of non-rogue agents, which I hope is addressed for launch. The game should have a nice balance between risk/reward, as of now going rogue is mostly suicide unless you use an out of bounds exploit. Note that going Rogue means you will be hunted, creating a kind of mini Evolution style meta game within the zone.The payouts should be increased substantially for rogue agents, making the idea of “getting away” with it more appealing. I don’t wanna sound overly harsh, but I genuinely like the concept of rogue/non-rogue play, it just needs to be refined more. The pvp elicited questions like Do I gun down this guy for his gear? Should I go rogue for the last 50 I need to buy that blue piece I am so close to? All of these questions are asked while playing.
I had no intentions of purchasing this game prior to the Beta, however my experience with the game changed my mind. Maybe I am suffering from the current lack of new games, but the loot, Dark Zone and overall stability of the game caused me to put down a preorder for the game. If you are looking on PC, there are a few shops that are offering discounts on the game so check it out.
What did you think of the BETA? You drop a preorder? Am I actually insane for enjoying it? Let me know in the pit below.