With the much anticipated Division Beta wrapping up, opinions of the game are starting to flow but overall seem to be leaning toward the positive side. I myself had a great time in the beta for the most part, despite running into some of the more popular bugs that people were experiencing, like being killed by invisible players and audio cut outs.
First impressions of the game world would be impressed. The city looks great and feels like something terrible sept through it. Abandoned cars litter the streets (you can shoot out their tires!) with rats and the occasional feral dog skittering between them.
The weakest point in the whole environment would have to be the NPC civilians roaming around. Not only do they stumble around a set path, you can empty an entire clip into them only to have them slowly shamble away while asking you what your problem is. I know we’re supposed to be the good guys, but when I come across an invincible civilian being robbed by a completely killable bad guy it doesn’t make me want to help them out (would an average Joe intervene if superman was being robbed?).
Combat and the Army of Hooded Bad Guys
This brings me to the bad guys themselves, or should I say the bad guy. Again it’s the beta, but they could have thrown in a couple more enemy models in for the sake of variety, unless “hoody with a hat pulled down” was a raging fashion trend before the world ended.
Despite their street thug appearance, the enemies can be pretty wily. They will take cover and lob grenades and even try to flank you if you don’t keep an eye on them. They can also be pretty good snipers, so be sure and use the cover system liberally.
Combat in the Division is fun and rewarding (who ever did the headshot sound effect, well done). Rewarding not only from the satisfaction you get when your squad flanks and takes out a group of NPC’s or other players, but rewarding in that sweet, sweet loot you will always be chasing. And although it’s a cover based shooter, it doesn’t have the clunky feel that some have when you’re not in cover. You can roll to quickly dodge fire, run, and hurdle over objects at a pretty decent clip.
You get a variety of gadgets and abilities at your disposal which you can use to take on one of the traditional “trinity” MMO roles of the Tank, DPS, or Medic, or you can just combine them into some sort of hybrid you want to play. It’s a game that emphasizes teamwork in the combat, but gives you enough flexibility with the skills and weapon combos that you can play by yourself if you want.
The Dark Zone is a whole other beast than the story area. Just walking into it puts you on edge because at best you’ll run across someone who will just maybe try to kill you, at worst you’ll get stuck in the cross fire between tough NPC’s and a rampaging mob of rogue agents. The buddy system goes a long way in the Dark Zone, if you don’t have one stick to the shadows and avoid eye contact.
The rogue system is an interesting concept that works well within the story and in really making it a tough decision on whether it’s worth it or not to kill that poor solo player just farming NPCs. Unfortunately going rogue in the beta was a little too rewarding, giving what felt like much larger amounts of Dark Zone dollars than you would get if you played the nice guy farming the NPC’s. Not that it should be nerfed into the ground, but a slight reduction to make both options more or less equal would be welcome.
Extractions and Standoffs
The second main mechanic of the Dark Zone is the extraction process, which is essentially the main source of conflict in the game. When you collect a piece of gear in the Dark Zone it has to be extracted. The extraction process involves signalling a helicopter to come pick up your goods at one of the pre-defined extraction locations. The thing is, everyone in the sector gets notified that you’re trying to extract something.
Every time I went to extract something it turned into a tense standoff where everyone stayed semi-hidden while waiting for the chopper to arrive and then tried to attach their gear to the rope as quickly as possible and then scurrying away. Sometimes it would end with an incendiary grenade into the group of players trying to extract, others would stay peaceful but still be tense. It’s a fun mechanic, but it really does favor those who are teamed up (you can easily camp an extraction point and kill solo players for their loot).
Let’s not even mention the bright yellow bag that gets placed on your back when you collect even a single piece of loot in the dark zone. It might as well be a target.
There’s not a lot to say about the PvE in the Dark Zone, it’s pretty straight forward. Run to a known area where NPC’s spawn, kill the NPC’s and hope that they randomly drop a good piece of loot. I’m not sure what they could do to spice this up a bit more other than having some sort of world bosses or possibly random events like Destiny, but it felt a bit lacking.
Overall I had a pretty good time playing the Division, although I will say that I was paying with a full squad of friends the entire time and that definitely made a big difference in my enjoyment level. That being said, the game does offer lots of opportunity for the solo player to make his own way if they want, so if you’re looking for a game that’s team based, but not restrictive about it, then the Division may be worth checking out.
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