Unfortunately I haven’t had the privilege of playing any part of the closed Beta of Ubisoft’s The Division on both Xbox One and PS4 from this past weekend but in my opinion it’s probably left gamers with more questions than answers.
Now my first concern is that it’s Ubisoft. Unfortunately they have garnered a reputation for pushing out games that perhaps require more polish and trying to patch at later date. With a game that will be so reliant on server connections to demonstrate seamless transition between local play and online areas, I am a little anxious to see if they can pull it off without a hitch.
Its nearest competitor or comparison would be Destiny which took 2015 by storm, wrestling away some of the cult CoD following who had grown despondent with the content being churned out from its annualised franchise. The concept or narrative for The Division is one which will appeal to many gamers but I am concerned that it may just churning out stuff which players may or may not be looking to get away from. Progressing through a post-apocalyptic esc New York which has been ravaged by a computer virus, your mission is to help restore civilisation. By following the story missions will be able to develop upgrades to skills and equipment as well as re-populating New York City by unlocking “zones” such as medical wings within your home area. Sound familiar Bethesda?!
As mentioned previously, The Division’s closest comparison will be with Destiny, with raids into the “Dark Zone” being seen as the cousin to its raiding missions to gain more loot (Vault of Glass etc). But the ace which The Division has up its sleeve is the concept of betrayal. Deciding you want to take all the loot collected on your run leaves you the option of taking out your raiding party or other players. Choosing the ‘Dark Side’ (excuse the pun) means that you become marked as a “Rogue”; highlighting your position on the HUD for all players in the “Dark Zone”, turning the session into a type of bounty hunter mode. This is The Division’s most interesting point. Up to that point everything feels a bit flat- granted it’s only from snippets of Beta gameplay but it doesn’t seem to be bringing anything revolutionary to the current generation of consoles (and maybe it’s not mean to be?).
From feedback on streams and online videos, it seems that some criticism has been leveraged towards how the game looks and feels environmentally. Other concerns are also that due to the “virus”, vehicles have become inoperable meaning there is a lot of running around to get to places; and in a game which is made nearly to scale of New York City; you better get your Fit Bits out!
The overarching issue ultimately lies with how Ubisoft are looking to market their game and their reluctance to label the experience. On the surface you would think from a business standpoint you want to maximise your attractiveness for players of different genres, and with its RPG, MMO, PvE and PvPvE elements, it could be argued that The Division could end up leaving its audience divided.
Managed to get on the Beta? Let me know your thoughts @MeteCritic
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Until next time, keep it on the OOL