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The Division E3 2015 Hands-On Preview


The Division E3 2015 Hands-On Preview

The Division feels like a Frankenstein of a bunch of different borrowed ideas from other popular games. It controls like many other popular third-person shooters but has RPG-like character customization and abilities. Sprinkle in some MMO-like open world mechanics and you have quite the stew. Honestly, it’s too early to tell if it works or not, but The Division is definitely trying some new things that are worth keeping an eye on.

Its shooting is third-person and cover-based. The way characters move and shoot feel similar to how Nathan Drake moves in Uncharted, but with a little less fluidity. In the demo we played at E3 2015, our loadout which featured abilities, weapons, and armor, were preset. However, in the full game you’ll be able to gain experience, level up, and customize your weapons and armor.

Myself and a teammate were dropped into what is known as a Dark Zone. Dark Zones are open world areas where players and AI enemies can all interact, and either help or hinder each other from completing their objectives.

After blasting through some AI enemies, we eventually came across a rare piece of loot. In order to actually keep and equip it though, it needed to be extracted first. This was done by heading to a centralized location and holding a point long enough for a helicopter to come by and take it for us. However, somewhere else on the map, there were other groups of players doing the same thing we were. They also needed that extraction point to get their loot.

The Division

Dark Zones are where the action lives in The Division.

This is a dilemma that could go one of two ways. Players can either work together to hold down the area and each take turns extracting their loot; or make each other’s lives more difficult by attacking each other while attempting to steal each other’s loot. The latter was the more popular choice in my session.

When you choose to attack another player character that is not acting hostile, you are marked as going rogue for a period of time. This gives other players a heads up that you’re someone to watch out for. Also, your respawn timers are dramatically increased, making life more difficult for you, and increasing the risk that if you are killed, that you’ll lose whatever loot you’re carrying.

The urge to just be a jerk and player kill everyone is strong, but cooperation is probably safer and in your best interest if you can find a way to make it work. The way this is set up could lead to some very interesting, player-driven online experiences. One game could have a friendly group of people cooperating to explore and defeat the AI together. That same group could then get interrupted by a more experienced team that wants to disrupt everything. Or it could just be a complete free-for-all which is what I experienced and kind of expected.

It’s refreshing to see how The Division wants to let players dictate how games play out instead of funneling them down a preferred path. Hopefully Ubisoft continues to flesh this out even further before release and The Division winds up being worth the long wait.

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