I'm sure most of you are aware that this weekend is the Beta for Tom Clancy's The Division and today I want to bring you my review of this Beta! Firstly I would like to say that by the very nature of a Beta, this is not the finished product that will go on sale on March 8th. Without further ado, let's get stuck in!
First let's look at the combat of The Division, this is an area of the game that some people will like, and others not so much. I fall into the latter camp, I think it stems from the very nature of a Third Person Shooter, you don't get a close look at the guns while shooting. For me this means that even when you pick a new improved weapon up, it feels almost like the same gun you just stopped using, but with better stats. I think that basically sums up the combat, and to an extent the game, it is very statistic focused, as long as you are using gear that maximises your attack stat you will be fine. That being said the recoil on some of the weapons is absurdly high, though this is something that I think may be confined to the Beta, because once the full game is out you will be able to better customise your weapons as well as generally get better quality weapons which may handle the recoil to a better degree.
Ubisoft has somewhat of a track record with showing a gameplay demo at E3 on a very high end PC that runs amazing graphics, and while the downgrade with the Division isn't as bad as something like Watch Dogs, it is still there. However I think the graphics are perfectly fine, and some of the weather effects look very nice. No, it isn't how the world looks that is the problem, it is how it feels where the problem lies for me. The world feels baron, now this may be what they were aiming for, to capture the semi-apocolyspe vibe, but in my opinion the world just feels like it is there to have some scenery to pass on the way to your next objective. I have found no pleasure what so ever to just walk around the City and see what happens, because nothing does happen. There have been too many occasions where I have clicked L3 to sprint, and just held the analogue stick in one direction for a minute and a half while I run down long streets with deserted cars dotted around, but too few enemies. Although some of the buildings can be accessed, the vast majority can't which means that I felt like I was running past bland facade after bland facade. The colour palette used is something that doesn't help the situation, with most things being very dull colours, one thing that really struck a cord with me was when I was looking down the people I follow on Twitch, and I could instantly tell who was playing The Division because the thumbnail of the stream was largely grey, unless they were in the map; which is similarly devoid of most colours. This may be something unique to the are we have been given in the Beta, though I suspect that is not the case!
The story is something I can not comment on, due to the fact that we are given one mission to play in the Beta(which I rather like as it doesn't really spoil anything for the full release). The RPG mechanics in The Division is one place where is seems to be rather good at, with a detailed inventory and customisation options for the appearance of your clothes. One of my slight concerns is that there are only a small number of perks to unlock, though they do seem to be unique from each other, I worry the range may stifle the game in the long run. That being said, there are things called Talents, that we aren't allowed to look at in the Beta, so there may be more options to delve into there!
I'd like to finish of my review by talking about the Dark Zone, this is the area where PvP(Player vs Player) is enabled, and all of the loot you may collect(from some still present AI) must be extracted. By calling in an extraction helicopter you show up to all players near by, and you are given a 90 second timer in which you must defend the place the helicopter will collect your loot. This is a fun mechanic that gives a feeling of threat from other players that is lacking in other games. However although most of the mechanics implemented in the Dark Zone all work well, the fact that people can go "Rogue" by shooting other players takes most of the fun out of it. I would seriously warn anyone from going into the Dark Zone either solo or even with one friend, because I have already come across numerous groups of four players(the maximum in a party) whose sole intention is to go Rogue and collect loot that other players have earned. I know that this is kind of the intention of the Dark Zone, but I really, really didn't enjoy my time in there, even when I was in a full group of four people(we chose to not go Rogue). This experience wasn't helped when I came across someone who I can only assume was either hacking or glitching, as when they entered their "Last Stand" position, they could move at incredible speeds to the point where we couldn't even sprint after them to catch up. My dislike of the Dark Zone wouldn't be quite such a problem for the game as a whole if it weren't for the fact that Ubisoft have been hinting that most of the End Game content will be within the Dark Zone, therefore this will not be a game for me. Even if there is End Game content outside of the Dark Zone, the whole game feels to bland and empty to warrant my picking it up on March 8th. I want to know what you all think of the Beta, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter!
Thanks for reading,
I have put around 35 hours into Fallout 4 so far, which for most games would be enough to do a full review, however Fallout 4 is so massive and filled with features, that I don't feel that I am in a position to do a full review yet. Also I am yet to finish the main quest line, which I always try to complete before my full review, this note aside here is my review in progress for Fallout 4!
This game is huge, let me just that straight away, there are places, people and activities that I will never see because of how big this game is, but that is okay. No matter how much you play, whether it be a few hours, just finishing the campaign or even getting 100% completion, every second you spend with Fallout 4 has been masterfully crafted. That may sound like an overstatement, but it really does feel like everything has been taken account of, there are many styles of play you can opt for, all of which can probably be catered towards in the massive perk list. Every character you speak to feels like a three dimensional person who may or may not have a hidden agenda. This leads me onto one of my very few complaints with the game, the conversation options sometimes don't fully represent what you are going to say, the epitome of this is the fairly frequent option to simply give a "sarcastic" answer. I know there is a PC mod that shows you the full line of dialogue you will speak, and that might be too much on screen at once, but I would like to know more about what I'm going to say. Returning from previous Bethesda games are companions who will follow you around, make judgements on your decisions, maybe fall in love with you, or the opposite, and perhaps most importantly they can be traded with to take a load of your Junk!
Next let's take a look at the combat in Fallout 4, all in all this is much better than I was expecting, I thought the focus of the game would be on the story and RPG elements, and while they are still focused on, so too is the combat. My only problem with it is that there feels like there is no auto aim what so ever, which is probably what the PC players like, but on console that is not my cup of tea. Especially when taking into account that certain types of ammo can be rather scarce, in the early hours when I was getting used to the lack of auto aim, I would waste a lot of ammo simply by missing shots. One part of the game that I was not expecting at all was unique weapons, there are tens of these weapons, that are a guaranteed drop form certain types of enemies. On top of these unique weapons there are Legendary weapons which either drop from named enemies or Legendary variants of normal enemies, these spawn randomly and with varying consistency depending on your difficulty, and these drop a random piece of Legendary armour or a weapon. The weapon modification system was something that I ignored for the first 20 hours or so with the game, but then I realised just how amazing the system is. If you pick up a weapon from an enemy with a modification on it, you can remove it, and put it on another weapon for very few materials. There are different grips to put on some of the weapons which make the weapon either a pistol or a rifle, there are different barrels to change the damage, accuracy or range. Ammo modifiers to change the kind of ammo that weapon takes, and also magazine modifiers which change the ammo capacity as well as reload speed. Then finally there are optic modifiers which mean you can change the sights on you weapon to suit your needs! This is a very deep crafting system that adds loads of options for customising your favourite weapons.
I want to start wrapping up my review in progress for Fallout 4 by taking an overview of the story, don't worry I will not mention any specific of the main story, just how they are laid out and my thoughts on it in general. Firstly I would like to say that I am really enjoying the campaign, the only other Bethesda game I've played is Skyrim, and the main story in this is much better than Skyrims in my opinion. It feels more succinct and focused on a single goal, one which I have very much rallied behind. It's not just the main quests which have impressed me, but the amazingly detailed side quests as well, there have been quests that I might not have experienced simply by annoying a certain character at a certain time. You explore characters in more detail, with the side quests where you might need to help them, though sometimes the details you learn about them aren't that good! There are quests which can be picked up simply by standing near a guard while they talk about hearing about a bandit camp, and how there is a reward for clearing them away. There are radio stations which are only available to tune into in certain locations which can lead on huge quest lines, most notably one of the faction quest lines is started this way.
There you go guys, my review in progress for Fallout 4, all in all I am having one of the best gaming experiences you can have. Everything has been well crafted, there are tons of mechanics to get into, all of which have been fully fleshed out, it feels like a well refined Bethesda game, and that is the highest compliment I can give it! Check back soon for more coverage of Fallout 4, and other games including Just Cause 3, Uncharted Collection and The Division!
Thanks for reading,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!