Last weekend was the Open Beta for The Division. Last weekend was the The Division Open Beta. We spend our weekend roaming the streets of New York to see what it has to offer. After playing for many hours trying every aspect and exploring every nook and irradiated cranny, we have a pretty good idea what the game is about. We’re addicted, we want more, and here is why..
After a short cutscene, you get dropped right into the abandoned city of New York. A massive viral outbreak has destroyed everything we ever thought of the Big Apple. You, as part of the operation known as The Division are send in to find out what happened, assist the people still in the city and clear out any and all possible threats remaining. The story is simple enough but shows enough options and promise to be enough to carry us forward. The voice acting for the most part is good and the characters interesting enough to care for them. Only the future will tell if it will all hold their ground upon, and possibly far after, the release.
But of course, the Beta isn’t so much ment to show you the story as it is to show off the gameplay.. and gameplay is good! The game plays much like any other third person shooter. The bread and butter really comes down to your talent of aligning the sights and pulling the trigger, but for those who want to, it can be so much more. Dozens of different abilities to choose from, all with multiple perks, weapon parts and stats to tweak and items to manage. Even though it’s all simple enough to grasp most of it in a single glance, it should provide enough depth to keep the game entertaining even after many hours. Overall the game shows many similarities with GTAOnline, Mass Effect and most addictively, Diablo where every piece of new loot might be a small upgrade and every box, mission or action will lure you with the promise of your next item. Be it armour, a weapon mod or maybe even vanity gear!
Story and missions
There are two main mission available in the Beta and for the most part they are set up very nice and entertaining and add just enough challenge to be fun but are not frustratingly difficult. Without spoiling to much about the missions, both missions showed us bits on what we can expect from the missions in the full game. For the most part you just go through area after area clearing baddies from behind chest high walls, but the settings and environments show quite a bit of difference. From working your way up in a big building to descending into the depths of an irradiated enemy base. We’ve seen only a few different types of enemies and two ‘boss’ characters. One not much more then a stronger version of the default guys and equipped with a LMG. The other however had quite a unique look and even an interesting weak point. Though both were not a particular high point, it once again showed promise for the full release.
In the Beta, a lot of options are not available. You can only select the lower tier abilities, only upgrade a small part of your homebase can be upgraded and there are only a few main and side missions available. They did however cleverly leave everything visible in your menu hinting at the myriad of things to do. Find and collect Data-logs, the modding and crafting of weapons and gear and upgrading you base. All sound like interesting and rewarding side stuff to do while you enjoy the main portion of the game. How it all works out and how interesting and addicting it will be in the final product remains to be seen, but all in all, we’re very excited.
The Dark Zone
During the development Ubisoft boasted a lot about the Player vs Player area called “The Dark Zone”. It’s a contained section of the city where players can actually kill, and steal from, other players. The action in there is a bit different from your straightforward deathmatch though. Upon entering the zone, you can still kill and loot computer controlled badguys like in the rest of the game, but instead of gaining the item when it drops, you get a bag visibly attached to your backpack and in order to claim your reward, you need to extract it. To do this however, you need to call in a chopper during which you broadcast your location to all other players in the zone. Killing a person carrying a yellow loot pack will enable you to steal it. You will however get flagged for being a rogue agent which in turn will mark you as a morally free kill for other players! Our experience is that most players refrain from just killing others for loot and mostly teaming up to all extract their own gear. However, the possibility that you can get shot and killed by other players and thereby losing your newly found reward is a constant threat making for some incredibly tense moments.
We had an amazing time with the beta and are very, very excited for the final product. Sure, some things might be even better if addressed, but nothing was bothering us enough to expect anything but an awesome experience in the ruined city of New York. How much content the game will offer and how much of that addictive Diablo-style replayability will be in there will determine if this game will be just a good game to play once or that one game that’ll keep you and your friends busy for hours and months on end.. we are severly hoping for the latter!