Tom Clancy’s The Division has flitted in and out of my gaming radar since it was first announced at Ubisoft’s E3 conference back in 2013. An open-world multiplayer shooter with RPG elements set in life-like New York? Hell yes! We haven’t seen or heard much about it since it’s debut announcement, but that only served to crank up the collective gaming anticipation. As the release date inches closer, Ubisoft unleashed a demo to those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what’s in store: The verdict? So far, so good.
Centered in Xbox Canada’s sprawling booth over at this year’s Toronto Fan Expo (and not to mention part of Ubisoft’s kickass demo lineup), I got a chance to try it first hand. As I shuffled in, I was paired up with two others and a game “coach” to make our team for the “Dark Zone”, where the game’s (potentially) competitive multiplayer will happen; and such a fitting name for where we were.
The “dark zones” are abandoned quarantined areas scattered across New York City where the virus still runs rampant, and the potential for hostility and betrayal are high. What’s really cool about their PvP mode is that these zones are found within the same world as the campaign; meaning you simply need to ignore warning signs and jump over the barricades and you can battle it out for good loot. What I meant earlier by it being “potentially” competitive is that you can either work as a team or betray others to reach the end goal, all while taking out volatile AIs. The mission available in the demo was “Extraction” where you retrieved a piece of technology and needed to have it air-lifted by a helicopter to have all traces of the virus removed before you could use it. Though we were many different teams of three who could have worked together to have our own goods extracted, we did what was expected of human beings: instantly opened fire on each other and became universal enemies. Whether you betray a separate team -or your own teammates- you become marked as “rogue” (a hostile player), which makes achieving your goal infinitely harder. It seems that Ubisoft knows the extent of human fallibility since it only made the game more exciting when playing as a rogue player. At one point, I gave up on the mission entirely just to shoot everyone in my vicinity. The perks? Looting other players (or AIs). But I didn’t get far at all; I kept dying over and over. They’ve seemed to include a fine balance between playing as a team, and succumbing to one’s competitive nature. Teamwork is essential, and I learned that the hard way.
But it’s not just the hope for loot that messed with my mind, it was also the mind-blowing graphics. When they stated that they wanted to recreate a realistic New York City, they weren’t kidding. While I didn’t get to explore much, just the dreariness and hostility exuded in the dark zone was enough for me to be weary of everyone. I honesty can’t wait to see the details and precision of the city once the full game comes out. Environments set the mood, and Ubisoft so far has proven that.
As for game-play mechanics in this third-person shooter, movement and gun control were smooth and intuitive. A crucial aspect of battles is taking cover, ducking behind various objects scattered around the area. You can either peak over (or around) to shoot, vault over to move around, or stage a full-on attack. Since it was a demo, I couldn’t tinker around with different guns, or abilities, but those options will be available for the game’s release. Some of the abilities I saw were sticky bombs, health packs and turrets. I also had three weapons; a main, a secondary and a handgun.
While I had fun roguing it up trying to complete my (self-induced) impossible mission, the game felt somewhat unpolished. I had a few hiccups here and there (such as my character stopped being able to move, so I kept getting killed over and over, prompting a reboot of the Xbox One). The mission was a bit confusing, especially once everyone decided to ditch teamwork and engage in full-on warfare, and rogue players kept popping up. While it was really fun, it made working as a team really hard. Thankfully, each set of three players had a coach who guided us. But keep in mind that this was only a demo – showcasing a tiny slice of what’s to come in March 2016. Though it may be frustrating to have the release date pushed back, there’s great potential in the game and the more time Ubisoft has to work out the kinks, the better. Either way, we’ll have Rainbow Six Siege to occupy our selves with until then.
If you’re at Toronto’s Fan Expo this weekend, make sure to pass by Xbox Canada’s booth to test it out for yourself and receive a beta code.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is set to release on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC.
Girls on Games was invited by Ubisoft Canada to Toronto to attend Fan Expo 2015 and get an insider’s look at their upcoming releases. They graciously provided the team with travel and accommodations for the length of our stay.
The opinions expressed in the above article are that of the author, and have not been effected, edited or dictated by Ubisoft Canada’s involvement in any way.