The Division *early* impressions

New York has fallen. An unknown virus, distributed via money bills during Black Friday, has caused widespread casualties and forced the government to lock down the city. In the face of disaster an elite group of people is activated to take control: The Division. Ubisoft’s latest game has proven to be very successful for them and is making news this week. Is it good?

My experiences in the Beta went from ‘meh this isn’t worth it‘ to ‘this is becoming interesting quickly‘ as I played more, and that’s before even understanding much about the game’s high level content and mechanics. Although not in my ‘purchase radar‘ originally, I am fortunate enough to have friends who were looking forward to it from the start, and they offered to pay for half of the game to help me get in. So here I am… or rather here I’m waiting to be. Allow me to explain.

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The Division is one of those games that allows you to play the game before the entire client is done downloading (I’m playing on PS4), so I could start my adventure when the client was about halfway done. You start in Brooklyn (which serves as the tutorial/starter area) where you’re giving your first few directives, do your first few tasks and enter your first dungeon strike mission… all after fighting an incredibly annoying laptop boss (that was thankfully nerfed this morning). Once you’re done you are invited to join the rest of the team in Manhattan, which is the game’s main area. Catch is, unless the game is 100% downloaded, you can’t enter Manhattan. I am stuck in Brooklyn until the game is done downloading, which will hopefully be tonight. Still, I made the most of my time by completing my tasks, doing the mission in the hardest difficulty I could activate and walking *really slowly* through the zone and taking in the view. Because The Division looks really good.

Snow falling and gathering on your clothes, graffiti on the streets painting an apocalyptic scenario, a base of operations that is basically an apartment-turned-HQ. The scenario presented does its part to put you into an almost deserted Brooklyn that suddenly stopped working. Few people walk the streets confused, cars are left where the owners left them, lights are on with the Christmas season. The Division does not disappoint.

Gameplay is slowly getting me. As a man used to Destiny‘s gameplay, The Division feels quite different, but it’s solid. I’d venture saying it feels better than Uncharted‘s gunplay – first thing that came to mind when it comes to comparisons, since both games are essentially third-person cover-based shooters. Guns feel different from each other, which is a plus, even if I’m not at the point where I can get perks on weapons.

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The first Mission – essentially a matchmake able dungeon – was pretty intense. Lots of enemies that come at your relentlessly! Some lunge at you with bats while others stay at distance while showering you with bullets. One thing that has been mentioned about the game is that its enemies are ‘bullet sponges’ (meaning they take a lot of bullets to kill) and I must say it’s true, though it doesn’t bother me. If it worked differently (more realistically) encounters would be over quite quickly, no room for strategy.

This is the taste of The Division I’ve gotten, but there is so much more. The Beta gave a glimpse of areas beyond the bridge and your main Base of Operations, as well as the different wings of that building that you’ll have to upgrade to make your character stronger. And this is what’s exciting about the Division as a new game: there’s a lot to do still. Perks, stats, weapon and gear ‘bonuses’, multiple difficulties and currencies, and the game’s Dark Zone – a PvP end game hunting ground – are all awaiting me beyond the gigabyte-gate.

I am very much looking forward to it!

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