Developer: Massive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC
Tom Clancy’s The Division – Preview
First announced at E3 2013, Tom Clancy’s The Division’s release date is creeping closer and closer. In order to get people hyped again after a very long period of waiting, there was a closed beta weekend for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. We had the chance to check it out and look at the state the game was currently in.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is set in New York City after a virus was planted onto banknotes and quickly swept the whole country on Black Friday. The government soon failed and the country went into chaos. You’ll play as a part of “The Division”, a force of agents to combat the threat of the outbreak. The Division’s job is to try and prevent the fall of society and turn New York City back into a functioning city.
The closed beta starts you off with action right of the bat. You’re inside a helicopter and something seemed to have happened to you and your squad as one of them is heavily wounded. You’re dropped off at Hudson Piers, where you’re shortly briefed as to what is going on. It’s all a bit blurry as to what is happening right now, but that’s probably so the story wouldn’t be spoiled for everyone. Camp Hudson is the first base of operations you’ll meet, it’s a camp where you can see other players running around as well, which doesn’t happen in the city itself unless you’re in a party.
Your first quest is to establish a base of operations inside the city, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. The building you’re supposed to conquer is filled with enemies however, you’ll have to best them in order to move on. This and some random encounters on your way to the building give you a nice introduction to how the game is played, since it isn’t a First Person Shooter as many people expected.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is in fact a third person shooter, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. It helps you out a lot with various aspects of the game like cover and it’s a nice change of pace from the usual FPS’ we see floating around everywhere. The controls and mechanics themselves are quite easy to get the hang of, and the game will give you tips when you’re making a new character.
Of course you have a couple of tools at your disposal in order to restore peace in NYC. You have a primary weapon, secondary weapon and a handgun. You aren’t limited as to what you can use as primary and secondary weapon, you can even use two shotguns if you want to. The game has a nice variety of guns already: shotguns, fully automatic assault rifles, burst assault rifles, snipers, sub machine guns, light machine guns and more. It’s up to you to find out what fits you best as you fight both AI and other players. Another tool you can use are skills: you have medical, tech and security skills. During the beta, you could use the Pulse which reveals enemies around you, an AoE heal, a sticky bomb that you can remotely detonate and a riot shield. There will be more skills in the finished game, 4 per “tree” which makes a total of 12 skills. Each skill also has a couple of modifications that can be put on it to customize them even more.
In order to unlock these modifications, you’ll have to do some PvE or Player versus Environment. In your base of operations, you have a medical, tech and security wing. Collecting materials in the world and bringing encounters to a good end will give you points which can be used to upgrade these wings, which in turn unlock modifications for you to use. Furthermore there’s talents and perks but these weren’t available in the beta.
The world itself was quite big in the beta and it will only get bigger in the full release, as not everything was made accessible yet. You can roam around the streets of New York for hours and still find new stuff as you dig deeper into detail. There’s also a limited amount of side quests and encounters you can finish, as well as one story quest which helps you unlock a pharmacist for your medical wing in your base.
Finishing side quests or encounters will not only reward you with materials, but also with gear and experience. As The Division is also an RPG, you have gear slots which you can fill up with gear. There’s a couple of rarities, each rarer and better than the previous. The gear has three main stats: damage, health and skill power. Gaining experience will reward you with levels. As of now, levels don’t have a lot of use except for an extra skill slot and gear purchases, but surely this is where the perks and talents will come into play.
Enough about the PvE, let’s talk PvP! The Division has a very unique PvP system which hasn’t been seen a lot before. The “Dark Zone” is the place where the virus hit the hardest and it’s pretty much a war zone out there. All the gear you find will be contaminated and will need to be extracted in order for you to be able to wear it. You do this by extracting it with a helicopter or running to one of the entry points to the Dark Zone. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The Dark Zone isn’t only host to you and NPC’s, but also other players. You can attack anyone you want in the Dark Zone, which is a great way to obtain loot.
However, attacking and killing other players also brings danger. Once you do enough damage to another player, you’ll go rogue. Everyone close to you will see that you’re marked as rogue and they will get rewards for killing you. These rewards are Dark Zone currency, Dark Zone ranking and of course the loot you took from another player and haven’t extracted yet. Going rogue comes with a timer, so as long as you don’t kill more players and won’t get killed, your rogue status will fade off after a while depending on what rogue stage you were. Once you’re rogue stage five, a manhunt will be called upon you and all players on the map will see where you are. You’ll have to survive for five minutes if you want the rogue status to fade.
The Dark Zone is a lot of fun as you can go alone or with a party. If you don’t have anyone to play with, the game gives you an excellent matchmaking system to help you out. However, the Dark Zone also has some annoying things to it. If you attack a player, you won’t get marked rogue right away, this means you could shoot a person once without getting marked, scaring the other player which will make him shoot you and mark him in the process, then you can kill him and reap the rewards. This was a very annoying aspect of the Dark Zone that will hopefully be addressed.
As of now, Tom Clancy’s The Division was an awesome game to play. It offered great graphics, good mechanics and awesome map design. The Dark Zone is extremely fun if you play in a team and you can easily roam for hours without realizing you’ve been there for so long. There is also quite a bit of content to chew through, but there are concerns that the focus will be more on PvP than PvE which will scare off some people who are looking to play the game casually.