Over the weekend, I managed to sit down and relatively relax with a spot of Tom Clancy's The Division. Now, not being that big a fan of MMO shooters, or FPS's in general actually, I was a bit hesitant to dive in. But I owed it to myself to, because this game had piqued my interest all the way back at E3 2013 and had continued to up to this point.
So I played, and played, and played and didn't stop until the sun went down and came up again. Do you want to know what I learned about The Division?
1. The Graphics Are Sublime
Thanks to OutsideXbox for the vid!
When roaming the beta's story mode location in relative peace, as the sun peeks out from the top of New York's snowcapped skyscrapers, you can't help but feel a little lift in your heart akin to when Gandalf returns ("at the turn of the tide") with the Rohirrim to take on the blinded and shocked Uruk-hai hordes surrounding Helm's Deep near the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
That was a bit of a long winded analogy, but trust me the lighting in this game is resplendent. As are its darker moments. Seeing your footprints appear in pockets of snow was also wonderful, as is the little orange icon that leads you to your destination. Some may think that is annoying and condescending, but I really dug it.
But in saying all of that, the map design doesn't bring anything new to the genre. If looked at in a different light, The Division could be a Watch_Dogs mod. But a very pretty one at that.
2. Paragon or Renegade?
I went in fairly blind to The Division, which is a tactic I employ for games that I really, really love the sound of. So when I learned that you could actually run around as a rogue agent and take down other agents instead of pesky rioters, I was very excited.
Seriously this adds a whole other element to The Division, kinda like when a player infiltrates your Dark Souls game. You will feel the full stress of fear when a group of rogue agents decide to chase you around the map, and all of your hard earned crap goes bye-bye. It happened to me and it will happen to you.
3. Playing Offline Isn't As Boring As You'd Think...
I'm not a fan of MMOs, or that big into online gaming full stop. I'm more of a couch co-op kinda guy, which sucks in this day and age. But what really got me with The Division was how much there was to do in its story mode.
With its usual mix of main missions, side missions, encounters, NPCs demanding things from you, chests to locate and weapons and gear to mod, there's enough here to keep me well occupied for a while. Though I can see it getting a little bit stale after a while. But that's where the PvP Dark Zone and future updates come in!
4. ...But Playing With A Team Is So Much Better
This game shines when it's opened to allow for some MMO funs. I managed to hook up with a friend of mine and jump into the beta and – even though I earlier professed my nonchalance with online gaming – had an absolute blast.
In its current state, The Division feels solid with hardly any lag and no insane, game breaking bugs like what we saw when Star Wars: Battlefront had its open beta. I was only booted to my PS4's home screen once!
5. Seriously, The Dark Zone Is Amazing
I know I've already mentioned it a few times throughout the article, but the Dark Zone is absolutely phenomenal, and this is after roughly 10 hours with the beta. There are still so many little hooks and secrets hidden away behind the beta wall, and all the better for it.
The Dark Zone will test all of your skills, and if you're new to the game, you will need reinforcements to back you up. Otherwise you will incur the wrath of more experienced players. And there will be swear words. Also, there are so many surprises to be found especially being crammed into a space with hundreds, or thousands of other players. Songs will be sung of your valiant efforts in the DZ.
6. Leveling Up Feels Powerful
Like you can almost feel the power surging through your veins. Your agent and their weapons will tear through lower ranked enemies with ease upon reaching your new level, and you will pose a serious threat to stronger goons. And, boy, I tell you it is satisfying.
And the game's three different skill trees are brilliant too. Ranging between tech, medical and security, each tree has distinct abilities that are well conceived and ridiculously helpful amidst the heat of battle. Let's just say I have time for the ballistic shield.
Check out the E3 trailer breakdown:
All in all, don't take my word alone. Try the game and see how you feel. But in a market where open world games are ten a penny, and are starting to feel a little bit over-saturated, The Division will stand victorious atop Sandbox Mountain.