From Beta-Hater to Believer
Let me be the first to say I was not impressed by The Division’s Open Beta, I was not blown away by what some have dubbed “The Destiny Killer”. Not that Destiny needed any help killing itself, Bungie made sure to keep that game on life support and bled it dry as long as it could, but that is beside the point. The open beta didn’t sell me over as quickly as some for a few reasons: I felt the skills were bland, I had no idea what the Talent or Perk system entailed since it was not accessible, and also had no idea what the crafting system would be like since it was locked out. Now that I got to spend some solid hours playing the full game (shout out to a stout Gamestop trade in deal) I can say that my view on the Division has changed for the better.
First thing I want to get out of the way is being a launch Ubisoft game means yes, there were bugs. I had to restart the game 5 times before I was able to “complete my activation” for my Agent. Nothing game breaking but my frustrations grew each time I held down the square button to complete it. My frustrations quickly faded as I was able to jump into the game after the setup. The Division is a good looking game, the world is overflowing with personality and atmosphere. You really get the sense that New York was in total chaos as this virus broke out on Black Friday. Stores are looted save for a few items on the shelves, cars litter the road ways, ambulances and emergency vehicles are left abandoned and messages such as “help us” are sprawled on the sides of buildings. I wanted to just run off and go explore this version of New York, but alas I had missions to do and XP to earn. After about an hour in Brooklyn doing a few missions that show you the basics of the cover based shooting, I was able to jump to Manhattan where the real game begins.
It is here where you are really able to start molding your character into your own because in The Division leveling up doesn’t grant you new skills or abilities like traditional RPGs. Instead those are tied to your Base of Operations, and as you do missions you unlock more and more talents and perks for the 3 skill paths. Medical grants you healing based skills, Tech is geared more towards damage through gadgets, and Security is leaned towards supporting your team with cover and protection. Now you can focus solely on the Tech Wing of your Base if you want your agent to be like Batman in a firefight and toss out high tech gadgets, but you would be missing out on the extra Medkit perk hidden away in the Medical Wing missions. This feature was mostly locked away in the Beta since we were only allowed the basic R1 and L1 skills, but the depth of the Talent and Perk system is exactly what I was looking for in this type of game.
- “Skills” are the abilities of The Division; a pulse showing enemy locations, sticky grenades and a ballistic shield are the most basic Skills. Further down the line you can unlock bigger and more useful upgrades, such as healing grenades, a turret for chokepoints or cover that buffs damage you deal while reducing incoming damage. You can also use “Mods” to change what these skills do as well, add a regen ability to your heal grenades or make your turret self-destruct to take out a group of enemies around it.
- “Talents” are equip-able options that can add different traits to your Agent , such as giving you a damage boost when you are in critical health or automatically reloading your main weapon if you get a kill with a sidearm. At first you can only equip one but it appears as you level up your agent you can unlock more and more slots to equip Talents to.
- Last there are “Perks”, which act as more passive abilities to the not as exciting but still crucial aspects of the game, for example carrying an extra medkit or adding more storage to your backpack.
This whole Skill-Talent-Perk-Mods system is vastly expanded upon from the Beta, its depth and customization is exactly what this kind of game needs and what impressed me the most as I dug more and more into the menus.
Speaking of customization weapons and appearance can be customized to your liking provided you find the loot. Suppressors, Scopes, Grips, Underbarrels, Weapon Skins, laser sights and more are all up for grabs from enemies and chests scattered throughout New York. Crafting is also another avenue of loot that wasn’t available in Beta, and while no means deep it is a welcome addition. With Crafting Agents can dismantle their outclassed or insignificant gear, and then in turn use the dismantled materials to create new weapons, armor or clothing. It is yet another option to attain what you want, and that isn’t a bad thing. Now I was critical of the enemy AI in the beta, but it seems in the full game they are a bit more refined. During my first few hours only one enemy with a bat ran blindly past me, the others seem to make a B line right to me behind cover and proceed to beat me down like a gang initiation. During the Hard difficulty mission I noticed more enemies flanking me and my squad, forcing us to call out positions and out flank them. It appears Hard might be the way to go for a more tactical and rewarding experience, both gameplay and loot wise. It is a good thing the cooperative play is so seamless and easy also, in my experience I was able to go back to my home base while my squad was still out exploring New York. No more “everyone has to go to The Tower cause one person needs something” type of situations.
I feel like I have barley scratched the surface of The Division and it’s world, I have a lot to unlock, a lot to work towards and I have not even stepped one foot inside The Dark Zone. The customization of my Agent, from the cosmetics to my Skills and weapons feel at home in this type of loot and shoot game. I also really like that The Division gives the player many different types of options for customization, whether it is guns, armors, clothings or your skills, talents and perks. Giving players options and different paths for those options, like crafting, is never a bad thing in a game like this. So stay tuned for our full Review soon, and also be on the lookout for our buddies at the Jacked In Podcast, they will be doing a special Division Themed Podcast soon.