The Division has manage to build a hype around itself for a long time and still keep it up, something that really shows how Ubisoft Massive seems to be on the right track. When I finally got some hand on time with The Division this autumn I walked away with almost no hope left for the game, I was struck by how not fun that demo was. This made me opt out from the closed beta completely, but now that the open beta has come and gone, I know I made a huge mistake opting out of the closed beta. I also know that the last piece of hope from the multiplayer demo that autumn came true, it did turned out to be a demo that really had little to do with the product about to be released.
I downloaded and started the open beta with that bitter taste in my mouth that I was going to play these boring standard multiplayer matches with a rundown graphics that the demo had, instead I got the chance to experience something completely different. One thing that sadly still stands as a disappointment of some sorts is the visuals. Having been fed these beautiful teasers and trailers from the beginning of the hype train, till what we have now, is a let-down. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks really amazing and is by far one of the best looking online experiences. But the picture of how the game first was presented is so imprinted in my mind that I was hoping for much more. This goes all the way from the high graphical input down to the small details and the weather system which isn´t really close to what they initially showed us. IN the end though, graphics isn´t everything and on the gameplay side, the beta showed us that The Division is here to make a mark. It should be noted that I played on PC.
Single player experience
While The Division comes with a single player part which is playable in coop, the open beta only let you explore two story missions and some more open activities. This is where I noticed the Destiny feeling so many have been talking about since the closed beta. But while there are similarities in the mission design, where you move through a building of some sorts and end up with a boss fight that gives you the big loot. I actually found that The Division in this beta manages to get my interested in the story missions and how well they where woven with the overall story and lore of the game.
While the open activities that popped on the map felt pretty uninspired and repetitive, even here I felt that they suited the world which the game takes place in. Most importantly of all, the two missions and the few open activities made me really curious on how the game will develop when I level trough it. Both in terms on how the main story will unfold, but also how these open activities will play a part in the base building, and how that will affect the map.
The Dark Zones
While the single player and coop part does awaken an interest in me about the full game, it won’t be the part that keeps the game going, and not the part it will be remembered for. The PvP in The Division which is done in The Dark Zone is where this game shines and what probably will keep me playing it long after its release.
While the open beta only gave me a small taste of what the PvP offers in terms of loot and confrontations. The core concept is that you move into this area where there are NPCs to kill and chest to open where you receive your loot, and then have to summon a helicopter from extraction to be able to get your hands on the loot. But in this area you are free to engage every player and take their loot, which creates a dynamic that we know from games such as DayZ where you really do not know who to trust. Killing another player will make you turned red on the map for everyone to see and they are free to kill you for an amount of time without being pinged themselves. This opens up for so many possibilities where you can roam the zones as bandits, trying to stay alive while killing everyone before having their loot extracted. Or you could go vigilante and hunt every player killer. The possibilities for some great role-playing experience are huge here, and are what separates the game from other online games.
Not really like Destiny
There has been a lot of talk since the closed beta that The Division will be similar to Destiny and falls into similar traps or that it could be a Destiny-killer in terms of how it will take players from that game since it is doing similar things. But after this open beta I cannot agree with any of them, this is not a Destiny-like game at all. While there are elements in how you tackle the single player and coop missions which are somewhat similar to Destiny, the same can really be said for any shooter out there with coop missions and some sort of progression.
The Division have progression system that most likely will differ greatly from that of Destiny and is more of a role-playing experience then the classic shooter progression that Destiny do have. You still have a focus on loot and getting the best guns and armour, but the weapons for example are highly customisable with scopes, magazines etc, which makes it possible for you to create your unique weapon.
While there is much to say about how The Division isn´t even close to the same game or traps as Destiny, and therefore will not be a killer of it. The last part to discuss is the PvP, which will draw two completely different types of players. While Destiny is an team or solo based shooter down to the core, with game modes well known from other shooters and a face pace gameplay found in other FPS. The Division’s PvP is more of a survivor/RPG experience where you either work together with other people or shoot them in the back to escape with their loot. These two games give such a different experience that they will live side by side and not really competing with one another.
Looking forward to the release
Finally taking the time to sit down with The Division beta has made me go from “I don’t care” to “Why can’t it be March 8 today”. While the beta mainly focused on the PvP part of the game, it gave us some small hints on what we can expect from the story and single player experience. I am really intrigued by where the PvE is going even if PvP is where this game will shine and where it will stand out from the masses. I no longer have any doubts that this will be a game that fails at launch, and while I am seeing some Destiny tendency, I don’t see how it will fall into the same trap or even be a Destiny killer in anyway. What the beta let me experience was a great RPG experience from a third person shooter view with a PvP that will draw people from both the survivor genre and from other third person shooter games.Related: Beta, Open Beta, Preview, The Division