Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you most likely heard about The Division, which is one of the most hyped-up Ubisoft games in a while. The game was first announced at E3 2013, where Ubisoft stunned everyone with the trailer’s amazing graphics. Reportedly, the game has been in development since 2012, and this year, on March 8, it will finally be released.
The Division is an open-world, always-online third-person-shooter and RPG hybrid, similar to Destiny, in which the players control an agent belonging to the Strategic Homeland Division, after a virus was planted in dollar bills, which led to a smallpox outbreak on Black Friday. This led to an end of civilization in New York, with rebels attacking and destroying everything. As a member of The Division, you have to save the innocents, while trying to restore order and discover the truth behind the outbreak.
This weekend, Ubisoft started the Open Beta for The Division, which is available for free to every Steam/uPlay user on PC, and to every Xbox One and PlayStation 4 owner. Now, we know that the Internet was in love with the game ever since it was first announced, but is the beta actually good?
If you’re looking for a game with a beautiful environment which is full of detail, then you will enjoy The Division. Although its map is quite small, as the base game only includes downtown Manhattan (an extremely faithful recreation, to be fair), it contains some outstanding attention to details, and a lot of building interiors to explore. The Division’s physics system is also stunning, as everything behaves in a realistic manner.
However, you might find the gameplay…lacking. At least, that’s how things are in this beta. The gameplay for the first hour is a cycle of going to the indicated waypoint, shooting at enemies, talking to someone, then going to another waypoint. The combat system is also extremely bad for a shooter. Sure, you could argue that because it’s a shooter with RPG elements, it’s hard to nail it, but that point is irrelevant when we’ve had games like Borderlands leading this niche since 2009.
That being said, the combat system is awful: enemies are true bullet sponges, with some taking several magazines of powerful assault rifle bullets to finally die. It’s even worse when you shoot a normal bandit several times in the head and he’s still able to shoot back. The cover system is also a bit clunky, especially when you have to turn corners, but it’s usable. It’s a wonder how a game which was four years in development couldn’t nail the gameplay at the very least.
The RPG elements, on the other hand, are quite well-implemented, with each player having two active abilities at once. You can use those abilities to give you an edge in battle. For instance, if you’re pinned down, you can deploy a portable riot shield which should allow you to find a better position.
Although the game’s main story mode is tedious and boring, the PVP experience is extremely fun, with players having to fight in the Dark Zone. As soon as you enter the Dark Zone, you are both hunter and hunted: you can open fire on any player you see. The objective in the PVP mode is to capture equipment dropped by the military, which is extremely powerful. Once you pick the equipment up, you need to extract it from the Dark Zone by chopper before it is truly yours, as dying will drop the item, making it fair game again. The Dark Zone has a completely separate ranking system: your rank is influenced by killing/being killed, and killing other players will mark you as a killer so others know to thread lightly around you.
The Division Open Beta is available this weekend on Steam, uPlay, Xbox One and PS4, and the game will be released on March 8, 2016.