The final Division beta has come and gone. This weekends open look at the game brought us some new enemies, a bunch of new loot, a new skill tree, and some adjustments to the Dark Zone based around the feedback received in the previous closed beta.
On the surface the experience was the same. We load into the game via the same cut-scene as the previous beta, the starting zone was the same, but we soon got into some new features and content not seen before. We got to take a look at the Tech skill tree, and take part in a new mission focused around an all new threat. There were new weapons to find, and a new instance to take on. We spent a good amount of time in both betas and ran into things we liked and some we didn’t, here’s what we found.
The combat in the Division is fun and fluid. Enemy AI take cover and do their best to flank and use grenade and abilities on you, presenting a tough challenge even for full squads. Speaking of squads, composition your team with a variety of different skills and abilities is essential if you want to succeed against some of the tougher challenges.
Although the tank/dps/healer trinity is an old shtick, it works in the Division because there are no hard lines between the roles. You can be a healer with a bit of tankiness, a tank with some DPS traits, there’s a lot of room to mix and match the skills, talents and perks on each of your agents.
Customization is another strength of the Division. There are 3 pools of options you can sue to customize your agents, skills talents and perks. While each has a tree that you can follow, you’re not locked into one right off the get go. You can mix and match to create a truly unique combination that fits your play style.
Weapons have just as many options to be customized. You can equip your weapons with scopes, clips, laser sights, and other attachments that increase stats like accuracy, damage and critical chance.
If you’re a fan of story and side quests, then the Division will not disappoint. Run up to your nearest activity board and sync your map to it and it will be filled with side quests to complete and areas of interest. Along the way you’ll also run across some holograms and audio recordings of events that unfolded during the collapse. Some of them can be quite haunting, and they really add to the atmosphere of despair that the city gives off.
The Dark Zone is one area of the Division we had to include in both the Good and the Bad categories. When it works, it’s one of the most unique and fun experiences I’ve had in a game in recent memory.
Risk and reward are a part of everything in the Dark Zone. Do you go rogue and get try to steal other players loot? If you do you get a giant target on your back, but if you don’t what’s to stop someone from jumping you and taking your hard earned loot? It’s a fun concept that works sometimes, but doesn’t others.
This could just be a symptom of the beta, but the enemies encountered in the Division get very repetitive very fast. Not only do they all look exactly the same, there are about 4 different varieties of enemy. You’ve got your charging baseball bat wielding melee guy, the hard hitting sniper, and the standard assault class.
Of course there are elite versions of all these guys who come with a different colored health bar, but the combat is essentially the same except it takes more bullets to kill them. Hopefully the full game has a lot more range in it’s bad guys, or things could get dull very quickly.
Getting to the bad guys can also be a bit of a challenge. There's a quick travel system in place in the Division, but it’s only available to major landmarks like your home base and certain instances. There wasn’t even one available to the entrance of the Dark Zone, the most popular destination during either beta. Yes, having the player run to their destinations adds to the immersion in the game, but if it deters you from taking part in some of the game’s main activities is it really worth it?
The Dark Zone in concept is a fun one, but at times it feels like it’s missing an overall purpose. Maybe that’s because it’s trying to be a hybrid of the two systems most games traditionally separate, PvP and the PvE.
The fights against the tougher NPC enemies feel like every other fight in the game, and the PvP is hit or miss depending on who happens to be in your server. That, and all it takes is one bad batch of players to start camping the extraction points, and there’s not a lot you can do in the Dark Zone at all.
Maybe adding in some instanced areas within the Dark Zone that contain more diverse boss fights would make it more interesting and give you a sense of accomplishment and challenge that grinding the same old mobs only with yellow health bars just doesn’t do.
Of course the flip side of it being a bit of a neutral experience, means it’s essentially a blank slate. They’ve already started by adding more enemies to the Dark Zone, here’s hoping they don’t stop there, and add something truly unique and challenging.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Tom Clancy's The Division Game Page.