Tom Clancy’s The Division Beta – First Impressions

Platforms: PS4, Windows, Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft Massive
Publisher: Ubisoft

Let’s just say I’ve been quite excited about this game and I’m interested to see how it turns out. But please be aware that I’m basing my thoughts on the experience during the Open Beta, which is approximately two hours in length. While this is still Beta, this is most likely what the final release on March 8th, 2016 will resemble.

So what exactly is the game about?

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a third-person MMORPG(FPS) with “survival elements”, although really there aren’t any. It takes place in the fallen city of New York as you fight through aggressors and the common enemy, the virus. The virus is what caused the world to go into complete chaos and destruction and it’s up to you, the player and other Division agents to locate and investigate the source of the virus.

The game plays on one of our greatest fears as a Civilisation, which is to have our basic necessities crippled or cut off by a virus. It’s an interesting plot but for an MMO, I don’t see how the game can last very long because there doesn’t seem to much room for expansions and there will be some DLC or expansion later down the road.

Usually in MMOs there’s a story that offers more because of otherworldly creatures and the ability to explore different worlds. This also allows for more additional storylines to be explored as well. But I just can’t see the game lasting very long in terms of the main story because once you find the source of the virus, then what? What if we don’t even find the source and we just keep going and going, well then that would be a little tedious if you ask me. Unless the virus is from an otherworldly planet, which I hope isn’t the case! We’ll just have to see which direction is goes.

One of the best things about this game is that there are going to be no microtransactions! Well at least that’s what we’ve been told. All I can say is….take that Bungie!

“The short answer is no, we don’t have microtransactions, period.”

How does it feel?

As I said earlier, it’s quite difficult to gauge how the game will feel at end game because it get’s a lot more difficult at the level cap.

“It gets a lot tougher and obviously you can still find and craft much better gear and equipment. Your tools are things that will continue to improve as you find more loot. Your avenues for improvement are not dead just because you hit the max level.” – Magnus Jansen from Ubisoft Massive

This is something I’d expect any MMO to have because I’d want my character to progress further after max level and to get stronger as I work through different challenges either solo or with others (up to four)! Talking about solo and group play, things scale depending on how many people you have on missions with you.

“The size of your group decides what we throw at the player at any given time.” – Magnus Jansen from Ubisoft Massive

I was very excited about the game when it was announced and from playing the Beta, it’s as good as I expected however I saw no other players while I was out in the world. I only saw players at the very first playable area and in the first base that you get to and I had hoped that you could come across other players.

The combat was really fun! I felt like I was trying to survive in unknown territories, even though the world is familiar (New York). It’s all about cover, otherwise you’ll die very quickly! Even if it’s just a barrel, you need that barrel. Tell that barrel to cover you! You’ll be using cover so much that it’ll be your middle name. This is especially important during boss encounters, which can be quite challenging. If in doubt, always go for the head (for critical damage) or gas canisters (which some NPCs carry) that explode when they take enough damage.

There are both friendlies and enemies in the world so you need to be on alert when you’re exploring unknown areas, which is what an open world game should be about. Also, some enemies are difficult to spot because of the weather, so at times you have to careful where you blindly run off to. This is where strategy somewhat comes into play.

Is there a Class system?

“We definitely want people to play roles. But not class in the sense that it’s something you pick for your character that’s fixed and you can’t change it.” – Magnus Jansen from Ubisoft Massive

Having no fixed classes is a good thing, even for an MMO because you can decide to play as any role you want and you can alter the direction of your character’s role as you progress! For example if you just want to focus on Medic skills, then that’s entirely up to you, or maybe you want to have a mix of Tech, Medic and Security skills. In the Open Beta, you’re able to get a small taster of what the early skills in these skill trees but with the level capped at 6 during the Beta, you can’t really get a real understanding of how the higher level skills will work. It’s still fun to launch sticky grenades as traps and to manually explode them! The First Aid skill seems a bit overpowered because it only has a 45 second cooldown and it heals for a lot.

The Talent tree isn’t available on the Open Beta so I can’t really comment on it, which is a shame as I’d have liked to see what kind of skills you can get with them.

Not once during the Beta did I run out of ammo and I wasn’t even close to running out. Perhaps ammo consumption is balanced for longer fights? This isn’t something you can fully understand until you get to higher levels. Ammo can be fully restocked at checkpoints, bases and from fallen enemies, but not always. In addition, weapons and consumables can be obtained as loot from enemies. The more difficult the enemy, the better the loot.

You can go for a stealthier approach with silenced weapons, traps i.e. sticky bombs, launching sticky grenades that you can set off from afar, within the time limit since they only last for approximately 15 seconds. This is probably the direction I’d go because I absolutely love stealth in games (if it’s done well).

Does it look good?

On High-Ultra settings the game looks fantastic and obviously not as good as it did back at E3 which is expected. The weather adds to the atmosphere and because of this, the world feels alive and deadly. Coming across wandering survivors is a nice reminder that there are people still trying to survive through the chaos that is New York. If you’re so cold hearted, you could end their lives if you so wished. But this is something I just couldn’t do during my experience on the Beta as it was just too damn sad!

Overall?

From the small amount of time playing the Beta of Tom Clancy’s The Division, I had a hell of a time. I can’t deny that I enjoyed it because the combat and exploration is just really satisfying! I have no idea how the end game will be, which is something I’ll keep my eye on as the game fully releases. It could be another Destiny, which I hope doesn’t happen. But as I said, the game seems to be stable and very enjoyable from what I got from while playing the Beta.

Be sure to check out the first 2 hours of the Open Beta for the story missions and a bit of exploration below!

Score: Non-existent since it’s a Beta!

Let me know what you think of what you’ve seen or heard of Tom Clancy’s The Division so far!

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