Back when we first saw The Division at the end of Ubisoft’s E3 2014 conference, everyone was in awe at the first impression. The gameplay combined the tactical formula of the Tom Clancy franchise, MMO-like open world mechanics, and RPG character customization. That’s the kind of game that has just about something for everyone.
As time has gone on, it has only become clearer that The Division is going to rely pretty damn heavily on co-operative play, and the demo at EGX 2015 only further reinforced this. In the demo, myself and two others were put into a team and each given a character with specific abilities and weaponry. Ubisoft was quick to point out that this was not to be the case upon the game’s release, and every weapon, gadget, and ability would be open to everyone regardless of their character. In other words, no character classes.
Once the demo booted up we were told to progress into an area known as a Dark Zone. Dark Zones allow players and AI enemies interact and, more than likely, do battle. There is however, the option to complete your objectives in a more peaceful manner. In our demo, that did not occur, and we took down a couple AI enemies before reaching an interesting piece of loot.
Loot is incredibly significant in the world of The Division, but to actually be able to use it in the game, the package (a little yellow bag tied to your bag), had to be extracted via helicopter. We were then told to jump a fence and head into the ‘PVP Zone’. This was where the real fun began and where The Division‘s heavy reliance on teamwork and tactics began to shine. Cooperation with the other human groups in the world could be beneficial to all, allowing us to extract our loot with little resistance. Each group could help protect the extraction point for one another while the loot was secured. Alternatively, players have the tempting choice to kill the other group, steal their loot, and get double the rare items. Of course, battle commenced.
The combat and character movement are fluid and immersive. Having taken pointers from third person shooters already out on the market, such as Gears of War, The Division has fine tuned a control style that suits the game perfectly. Vaulting over barriers, taking cover behind crates, and sneaking around corners all worked perfectly. While I only had three different weapons, each had a distinctive different feel to it and were preferential for different combat styles.
Jumping into the PVP area from the Dark Zone was a completely seamless experience; there were no loading screens and no jutter as the game transitioned between the different game modes. As mentioned, The Division has taken a lot from other Tom Clancy games. Running in on your own all guns blazing tends not to have the desired effect, and therefore does not come recommended. Instead, communication with the other members of your team, flanking the enemy, and planning out your attacks has a much better chance of success. Consequently, The Division is not going to be for everyone. If you enjoy the fast-paced action of say Call of Duty or Battlefield, The Division’s gameplay may feel a bit jarring. However, for the tactical espionage fans out there and those looking for a fresh experience, The Division is definitely one to keep an eye on.
The Division will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on March 8, 2016.