It was hard not to get excited for Tom Clancy’s The Division when it was first announced way back at E3 2013. With it creeping up to 3 years since that date, I have found my enthusiasm for the game has waned. Regardless, when I received news that I would get some hands on time with the closed beta I was eager to finally see how the game has turned out.
If you are unfamiliar with The Division, it mixes third-person shooting with the role-playing elements, unique online integration and an open world. While this in itself is sure to garner attention, for me the setting is what really captured my interest.
The game takes place in New York city which looks stunning. Due to a virus outbreak, the world has begun its descent into anarchy. You play as an agent from an organisation known colloquially as The Division tasked with restoring order to the chaos that has befallen the city.
The beta itself featured a couple of story missions and a handful of side missions. The first mission involved establishing a base which seems to be a major feature of the game. The base is however rundown and missing a few key people needed to help get some facilities up and running.
The next and final mission in the beta is to go rescue a doctor by clearing out a building. Unlike the first mission, you have the option to search for other players online to complete the mission together. You could also repeat the mission again if you so choose.
The gameplay seemed all around solid giving off a bit of a Destiny vibe both in combat and the online integration. While the game can be played for the most part solo, it is very much an online multiplayer game at its core.
This plays into skills which are divided up into three different classes. These skills provide you with either an offensive or support ability that can be equipped to two different slots. The more players you have, the more abilities your squad can use.
The gameplay heavily focuses on cover based shooting. Moving into and between cover is extraordinarily smooth. The shooting mechanics is as you would expect from a third-person shooter.While the guns themselves were standard, you are able to modify them. Using modifications, you can change various aspects of the gun such as the skin, muzzle and optics among a few others. From my limited time with the game, I didn’t feel that the modifications changed the guns significantly. I will however reserve judgement until I can explore this system at final release.
While you aren’t forced to share the main part of the city where the story takes place with other players, you can choose to join up with your friends or other random people online at any time.
Outside of this main part of the city is an area called the Dark Zone which acts as a quasi-player versus player area. This zone is supposed to be where the virus hit hardest and has consequently resulted in an everyman for himself environment.
This area is essentially a loot fest. In order to keep the items you acquire, you must take them to an extraction point and get them extracted. Kill someone else with loot though and you are free to take it. While this sounds like things will turn vicious amongst players, from what I witnessed people tend to play nice and actually help each other out. The few times when someone turned on someone else, other players around the area quickly took them down.
While the beta did much to impress me, I did have some concerns. Most major of which is the amount and type of content that will be available. Of the content available in the beta, there seemed to be a big focus on replaying missions again, running around in the Dark Zone as well as completing resource gathering side missions called encounters. While these were okay to fill the time, if the game relies heavily on these components I could see myself being dissatisfied.
With an interesting premise and solid gameplay shown off in the beta, I am looking forward to finally seeing how everything turns out when it releases on 08/03/2016. There will be an open beta before launch so you will not have too long to get some first-hand experience with the game. For more on Tom Clancy’s The Division stay tuned to shanethegamer.com.