Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Nicolas Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org
The PC and console beta of Tom Clancy’s The Division became available the weekend of Jan. 29, and provided gamers with a look at the upcoming online-only, open world third-person shooter from Ubisoft. Having been delayed twice since its initial slotted release in 2015, fans are eager to finally have a chance to test out the game. I did just that to see if The Division lives up to its expectations.
The game captured my attention immediately with its opening sequence, including a disclaimer that the player’s introduction begins slightly after the official start of the game. I found myself in a helicopter with another division agent, the official name for the soldiers in the game, and the entirety of the right side of her face was covered in bloody bandages.
Moving beyond the opening sequence, the setting of Ubisoft’s newest IP is interesting and captivating. I found myself falling in love with an uncivilized New York, surrounded by countless abandoned cars littering the streets and trash and body bags full of dead New Yorkers lining the sidewalks and subway.
The entrancing yet disturbing allure of the setting can sometimes clash with the core of any good video game — the gameplay and mechanics.
A few hours into the beta, I had acquired a marksman’s rifle from a dead enemy. Loot — ranging from guns and armor to clothing — was dropping from the hordes of enemies. I also had a sniper scope with an added 12 percent increase in damage if I got a headshot.
During a side quest, I got the opportunity to ambush a group of unaware enemies. Taking aim with my rifle, I got a headshot on one with its back turned, causing 2,000 points of critical damage. His only protection was a hoodie and a baseball cap, but he stumbled, barely alive, and somehow still alerted his comrades of my presence before I gave him one final shot in the head.
I found it to be rather frustrating to see an enemy, who should have undoubtedly gone down, taking a literal hail of bullets and still being able to remain standing. It completely broke my immersion in the game.
Besides the occasional bullet-sponge enemy, the combat was actually quite smooth and enjoyable, as long as you like third-person combat. The cover system worked as intended, functioning similarly to previous third-person Tom Clancy shooters. Additionally, the extra abilities from skill trees were fun and enjoyable.
A problem I ran into later in the game was that the enemy AI often fluctuated from being smart and well-thought out, throwing out grenades to flush out your position or flanking you, to downright idiotic, standing in the middle of the firefight with no cover and running straight at you with melee weapons.
The best part of The Division was that it actually felt like a role-playing game, with upgradable skill trees and statistics the player could into account when outfitting their character. At the same time, however, much of the RPG element, including perks and talents to equip to your player, was locked in the closed beta.
A major selling point for The Division was its player vs. player component entitled the Dark Zone. The Dark Zone is the most contaminated area of New York City and is closed off to all but division agents, or other players. This is where you can get the best gear and loot from the game, but the real draw is the high-risk, high-reward scenarios the Dark Zone includes. There’s a chance of losing the loot drops if they aren’t extracted fast enough. If you lose them, your character may die.
This concept leads to some rather intense standoffs with other players also looking to extract their loot. There’s always the possibility that they’ll simply kill you and take yours. There is some solace in the fact that killing another player results in the killer going rogue, which garners them a bounty on their head. If you stay rogue long enough, a server-wide manhunt begins for you.
The Division has the potential to be a massive success with its refined characteristics, but as it stands, the game needs work if it’s going to be differentiated from other games in the same genre.
Gamers who didn’t have a chance to play the closed beta might get a chance to play during the open beta later this month, according to some popular rumors.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is set to officially release on March 8, 2016, for PS4, PC, and Xbox One.