Monday, February 1, 2016

Tom Clancy's: The Division - Together We Rise! or Divided We Fall?

Title: Tom Clancy’s The Division™
Genre: Action, Adventure, Third Person Shooter
Developer: Massive Entertainment
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Mar 8, 2016

My Rating: 7.0/10.0 Average C

The BETA Test for Tom Clancy’s The Division™ took place on January 28, 2016 - January 31, 2016. I happened to participate in the closed BETA and unfortunately, it was not up to par with my expectations. Although the brief story mission regarding the Memorial Field Hospital drew me in, I was rather uninterested in anything else. I only enjoyed speaking to Kandel after she was rescued about who might be responsible for the weaponized virus.

After you've completed the ONLY available story mission for the first time, you can opt to replay it again on a higher difficulty (which, to me, seems extremely repetitive, monotonous, and reminiscent of Destiny's Raids). Even though this is just the BETA, which doesn't provide enough to really give us a glimpse at how good the rest of the campaign will be, I felt that it was quite "cut-and-dry" in that there was little else to do except wander the Dark-Zones and streets of New York aimlessly. I did manage to complete a virus scan time trial, as well as a side mission for Faye Lau, which is to locate her lost sister, Heather Lau using an "echo" or security surveillance camera information from the cloud, but it felt commonplace and rather dull.

The Dark Zone plays almost exactly like the regular game environment. You are still exploring the area, still looking for additional items and gear to add to your inventory. Occasionally, players run into AI opposition that respawns in certain areas periodically. These enemies are tougher to take down, and thus, their drops are of a higher quality. The only noticeable difference is that these zones become highly contested areas of player versus player combat.

In order to actually use these rarer pieces of gear and weapons, players must make their way to extraction points within the Dark Zone to have these items “decontaminated”. These items are stored in a yellow haz-mat bag on the player once obtained. Once a flare has be shot, the helicopter transport is signaled to arrive. In the meantime, enemy AI is being drawn to the flare and the player(s) defending that position until the chopper comes. Once it arrives, the players put all of their gear onto a rope and send it up. At any point, players can "go rogue" and attack one another to steal loot. Those that do can gain much more experience and "Dark-Zone Dollars" by doing so, but for every kill the rogue agent gets, the higher the bounty rises on that player's head.

"The Seven Deadly Wins" From Left to Right: Delgryn, Valcrith (Me), and TheLoanSurvivor
Often, while patrolling the streets, players can encounter civilians in need of aid. If they happen to have what they're asking for on hand (medkits, water, food, etc), they can offer to give it to them. Not only will the player earn some easy experience points, but these non-player characters (NPCs) will usually drop some sort of reward, often in the form of a new customization item.

I felt that at times, the PvP was a tad one sided, so I tried to avoid engaging with other players and while I myself didn't shoot anyone, one of my teammates made judgement calls that I did not particularly agree with (as you have a lot to lose by going rogue). Irritably enough, I lost quite a bit of experience as I was gunned down after my friend decided haphazardly to shoot up some other Division agents in order to steal their stuff. So, needless to say I wasn't thrilled with the notion that the group leader or any member of the group shooting others causes the whole team to go rogue.

While my playthrough was fairly short (upwards of two to four hours), I got a pretty decent feel for what this game will be like long term. I was rather disappointed in that for such an expansive open world environment, it's not well-stocked with enemies, and the enemies that you do encounter don’t have all that much variety. On the positive side, there are almost no loading screens, no lobbies, and the game looks appealing on a graphical scale.

Regrettably, I no longer have any profound interest in this product. If anything (and perhaps most ironically), Ubisoft has somehow managed to make me more invested in getting my friends involved with Destiny: The Taken King.