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Tom Clancy's The Division Beta - Preview

After many delays since its announcement in 2013, January 28th to February 2nd, people who pre-ordered The Division (or some lucky individuals that were on a long waiting list) got access to a closed beta for The Division. As this is a beta, it is entirely possible that any and all grievances or admirations can be changed. The version of the beta I got to play was on Xbox One.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the graphics have had a bit of a downgrading since The Division's initial reveal. This is unfortunate, but I suppose it's to be expected considering the developer/publisher. Besides this, the graphics actually were still quite impressive. The Division really benefits from having a day/night cycle and this is mostly evident during nights and early morning.

As the sun rises, sun rays pour out from between buildings and, at night, snowflakes begin to fall and even a small blizzard will sometimes roll in. Although, it's still a shame to think that the graphics could have been much better if there wasn't a downgrade.

Textures are a bit of another story. Character models are decent, and textures on clothing look good, but environment textures all look flat and dull. And, besides sun rays in the morning and headlights in blizzards, the lighting is pretty flat overall. It's as if more work was centered around one aspect of graphics than others. There also appears to be a character customization feature allowing the player to create his or her's desired face, but the beta limited this into a few default choices for male or female.

Some of you may roll your eyes when I say that The Division is a cover based shooter, and that's understandable. The cover based shooting is, admittedly, rather dull. There's a lot of cover so you can flank and get around the enemy, but all encounters are usually the same. Run up to a group of enemies, take cover, shoot, change cover, shoot, win, repeat. It's standard and doesn't do anything to reinvent the wheel of this sort of gameplay, but there is one flaw that ultimately hurts the entire side of gameplay.

You can not crouch or go prone in The Division. This is absolutely unacceptable for a game that touts itself as a more tactical focused shooter. Without crouching, stealth is no longer an option (even though you can still equip your guns with suppressors) and it's too difficult to coordinate a team that can only stand around and get shot unless they tap 'A' to take cover. Perhaps not being able to go prone is acceptable, because not all third person shooters let you do this, but not being able to crouch is not.

As well as being able to take cover, you can also climb on top of cars and other large objects to shoot down at enemies, but you'll just be standing on top of said object looking like an easy target since you can't crouch or go prone. Just don't expect the tacticality and player interaction that can be found in other Tom Clancy games like Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon.

Something that surprised me right off the bat is that guns have actually weight to them. It didn't feel like pulling the trigger on cap guns. Weapons also sounded fairly accurate as well. The Division also claims to be both an MMO and an RPG. Both of these elements are really simplified. You can team up with a small group of players, but you won't see huge groups of people like you would in other MMO's like WoW. The Division does have RPG elements. You can choose perks from three different tiers, but it's very simple. Almost to a negative point.

The Division is also loot based. Meaning that enemies will drop weapons and items. In the PVE (player vs enemy) areas, enemies won't always drop worthwhile loot. You will have to go into the PVP (player vs player) area known as "The Dark Zone" to get good loot. Inside The Dark Zone, you have a completely new level system and a brand new form of currency to use at Dark Zone vendors. The Dark Zone is actually pretty interesting. You can either choose to team up with other players to hunt down enemy NPCs and get loot from them, or you can choose to either go solo or team up to kill other players to steal their loot. The only catch is that the loot is infected with a virus so you have to call an extracting helicopter to take your loot from you whilst in The Dark Zone. You are a huge target while waiting for it.

Like previously stated, all grievances and admirations can all be changed in The Division's official release on March 8th. Yet, overall, The Division still hooked me and got me very excited to play it when it finally is released. Some things like not being able to crouch and go prone are borderline unacceptable, but here's hoping that is fixed for it's release. Let's just hope that The Division is worth the long wait from it's 2013 announcement in March 2016.


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