Tom Clancy’s post-biological warfare shooter The Division hit beta last week, giving us a small dose of what to expect from the highly anticipated 2016 title. Does the game live up to the hype thus far? Well, the problem with games generating a lot of buzz are expectations tend to reach peak levels and it’s hard to live up to that promise. The Division from what I’ve seen has the potential to be a stand-out game but it’s not at all what I was expecting. That being said, it’s a great RPG infused shooter that brings something fresh to the table.
Story – Will You Be Bored To Tears?
The Division takes place in a dystopian future where terrorists successfully deployed a weaponized virus that decimated New York, wiping out most of the population in the process. The event known as ‘Black Friday’ sent humanity spiralling into chaos leaving people to fend for themselves — we all know how that turns out. Its up to a bioterrorism response team called The Division to help salvage whatever is left of humanity while taking out the not-so-kind folks. Tom Clancy has always been a phenomenal storyteller by creating bleak fictional situations but in a relevant time where it’s entirely possible for it to happen. The Division really plays on that sense of fear that at any moment our cushy world could end, raising questions such as ‘How would society handle no central government?’ — the answer being ‘not so well’.
Gameplay – Does it stack up?
The Division is above all else a cover based shooter — there’s little room for heroics here. If you’re the run and gun type, you will find yourself at the receiving end of some serious hurt. Enemies can soak up a lot of bullets, with basic enemies taking ten or more shots to kill. This is very much about strategy and positioning on the battlefield, also flanking when necessary.
“It’s hard to judge a game on it’s graphics in the beta stage before the final coat of polish is applied but this game so far is pretty.”
In this open world there are other players trying to make their claim on New York. You will end up exploring areas known as Dark Zones (DZ) that are places to do side missions and collect gear. Other people are doing the same and it’s completely PVP, so when you see other players they might choose to open fire on you and steal your gear. When you kill other players you will be labelled a rogue and it serves as a warning to others that cross your path. This is a great mechanic because it instills a sense of paranoia and mistrust in a world that would be rife with it in a real scenario. Groups of rogues tend to band together and pick on unsuspecting victims, if you fill your bag with loot it’s important to return to your base and unload because you can easily lose it by running into the wrong people.
Customization – How Will You Survive?
For a game relying on heavy RPG mechanics, it’s unfortunate that the character creation options are so limited. You can choose preset faces and skin colors but beyond that you’re only able to customize the hairstyle, markings, and accessories. This is a small gripe but when you’re in a world with other players it’s nice to be able to differentiate yourself. There are, however, many options to outfit your characters abilities. You will be able to choose from three different skill trees:
- Medical – Support based skills
- Tech – Offensive based skills
- Security – Defence based skills
The beta granted us access to a few skills under the medical and the tech tree. Additionally, you will be able to invest points into separate talent and perk trees. These are locked until release but from the look of it, you will be able to fine tune your agent to suit your style of play.
Your hero isn’t the only thing you will be upgrading, you’ll also set up a base of operations that becomes a hub for selling and upgrading your gear. Here you will find crafting stations, merchants, NPC’s who provide missions and situation boards to locate side activities. The base can be spruced up by upgrading three different wings, and the appearance changes along with them. As you upgrade, the surroundings will appear cleaner and more advanced while unlocking additional perks and skills.
Click on through to page 2 to get our final verdict.