Tom Clancy’s the Division has been one of the most anticipated game titles for the past few years, since the first gameplay shown during e3 2012. The then truely next-gen looking game took every one by surprise by its bind bending visuals and painstaking recreation of the post apocalyptic winter wonderland that was New York city. Fast forwarding to 2016, the craze has seemed to have died down a little, what with the continuous delays and the rumor of the graphical downgrade. Despite all the negativity surrounding its final release, Ubisoft the publisher decided to release a beta that would help them to iron out the bugs and get some much needed feedback from the community so that they could escape the recent fiascos that have been the Watchdogs and Assassin’s Creed game releases.
Even though its a beta, we would be wrong not to comment on the visuals of the game, what with the initial hype surrounding the game’s visuals and the consequent talks of a downgrade, its difficult to shy away from this aspect. To put it simply, the Division would be one of the best looking games ever, when it actually comes out(March 8th). From the bokeh effects of its menus to the volumetric fogs surrounding the rotting city streets, the game looks one of the most beautiful and atmospheric recreations of post apocalyptic recreations of New York city, I have ever seen. The last game that comes close is Crysis 2, but it would look aged compared to the prowess of the Division and Snowdrop engine. Even the HUD and the map is designed in such a manner as not to detract from the visual experience, yet giving relevant information in the process. The only minor downgrade are the damage textures, which looked amazing in the initial demo. There are a few minor bugs, like the snow suddenly starting to fall as you approach a source of light where there was none only seconds before, but expect them to be ironed out in the final game. The performance is OK, a single GTX 980 manages a respectable 55-60 constantly, but the lower end and previous generation cards suffer a bit, but we are not judging it based on the beta.
Since this is the beta there is almost no story to speak of and we jump straight into the gameplay section, there is a single player/coop mission lasting about 20 mins though.
You can create your own character and the system is quite flexible, giving you options from different ethnic groups and a vast range of facial settings and equipment to choose from. You can upgrade your character, with a skill tree system. You are dropped in a relatively small area of the map to explore and shoot at! There will be a lot to discover in the final game. The Division is a 3rd person cover-shooter with multiplayer and RPG elements, and it takes its RPG name seriously, more so than any Tom Clancy game we have seen in the past! The control responses are tight and so are the shooting and cover mechanics. There is a “Dark Zone”(PvP area), this is supposed to be the more contaminated areas in the map, where anyone can shoot anyone, and shooting someone without them shooting you first makes you rogue, its quite fun, but beware, you will die a lot, and also inevitably the best loot can also be found in the Dark Zone! It is also possible to shoot the wrong person by accident and become rogue yourself without wanting to, and brings a new element into the tried and tested multiplayer elements of other games. There are also some random encounters that will keep you occupied when you are tired of dying, they consist of helping other Division agents out, killing mercenaries etc. There is a dynamic loot system, dead enemies drop loot and they are colour coded with respect to their rarity, grey is normal, green is uncommon, blue is rare and so on! It is fun to play, but it still remains to be seen how the single player/coop story would pan out compared to the tight and fun multiplayer!
The Division Beta was pretty fun, from its nice atmosphere and visuals to the fun but unpredictable Dark Zone to its character customization, it is all indicative of the final product being great. If you were stoked for the game from the beginning or were cautious of Ubisoft games due to their terrible releases of late, fear no more, and wait for March 8th when the final game is out. If this was not on your radar then we would recommend giving it a try!