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,
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!