As the closed beta for Tom Clancy's: The Division comes to an end this evening I thought I would offer my thoughts on how the game plays so far. Being a closed beta, of course, a lot of content was unavailable to use such as the crafting station and certain areas of noth the map and base of operations. What was on offer overall though I found very impressive.
As a reasonably loyal Destiny player (I took a long break just before TTK came out) I was hoping/expecting this game to be some stiff competition for it on the Xbox One/Playstation 4. I wasn't disappointed as once the full game is released I fully expect this to match or potentially be better than Destiny, as Bungievision seem to falling apart at the seems at the moment, but more on that another time.
As expected, being a closed beta, the PVE section of the game was pretty limited to one story mission and a few side missions, so I will keep this part pretty short. The main story mission, set in a hospital, sees you trying to rescue a doctor who has been captured by rioters to heal their wounded. Whilst I found it great fun clearing this mission a few times to boost my level (the max being 8 for the beta) I found the AI to not be the sharpest tools in the shed and more inclined to be licking windows.
Some classes of AI, e.g. snipers will use cover and peek, but most of the time you will find that the majority are just out in the open running in a straight line towards you just soaking up your bullets, with the only trouble coming when there were a lot of them rushing at once and trying to pick them all off before they're on top of you. I would hope that Ubisoft would look at this and tweak the combat styles of some of the other AI classes so that they perhaps flank or use cover more to avoid every mission becoming a rinse and repeat, just with a different backdrop.
Even with this, the hard mode for this mission sees all enemies become purple and yellow health bar enemies (the tougher ones to kill) which does provide a slight challenge to most players as getting caught out in the open unprepared is not an option. Here, they will put more holes in you than a teabag. Of course, with the higher risk, comes greater reward and better loot.
Now I'm sure the part most of you are here for is The Dark Zone. Which is the PVP element to the game. This is the part of the game which essentially could put it in a different Division (see what I did there?) to Destiny. The Dark Zones are open world PVP sections of the game where the best loot can be found. Going it alone is very hard going so I would recommend finding a reliable group of people to team up and do this with. You have a separate level to your overall level for this section of the game which allows you to use better gear that you buy/find in this location. Extraction points are both incredibly fun and incredibly frustrating at the same time, for all the right reasons. Extraction Points are the only way of getting that gear that you have just retrieved out of the Dark Zone and into your stash for later use.
To start an extraction you must first call in a helicopter using a flare and then wait an agonising 90 seconds before the lazy b*****d turns up. When he does turn up you then have to secure your loot bag to the rope that drops out and then wait another 10-20 seconds for the loot to finally be airlifted from your location. This is equally fun as it is frustrating as getting killed as the rope descends and losing all your loot is devastating at times but holding that area and securing your precious Specialised Marksman Rifle is very gratifying as you know that once you leave that area you have your brand new shiny gun waiting for you back home.
The zone itself has a very DayZ feel to it, in that it's quite an open world and you trust absolutely noone. Choosing your confrontations is wise in this environment as you never know who may be hiding around the corner waiting to take your precious loot. Most of the time I found the non-hostile agents to actually be quite dosile and just politely wave at you and move on. This could just be because they're genuinely nice people or probably more likely have a load of lootstrapped to their back and don't want to lose it in a firefight. In a group, you feel indestructible at times, picking off the people trying to extract their loot and stealing it for yourselves.
Doing this however, makes you Rogue Agents which places a bounty and a timer on your head and also alerts other players on the map to your location. Survive this timer, and gain a lot of Dark Zone credits (currency used to buy gear from vendors). If you die however, you lose Dark Zone XP and whatever items you may have collected in your time there. Many a time cunning players have taken a shot at us and ran away around a corner, in a rush of blood thinking hes the only player, we have ran after to him to find two groups of his friends waiting for us... suprise motherf****r!
A few times I did go in alone, and when you have secured your tasty piece of loot from an AI boss or from taking down other players it all of a sudden becomes a very dark and untrustworthy world while running to that extraction point. You round every corner in complete fear of a mob of rogues coming and taking your precious gear. My advice, if you're alone call in that chopper and get out of the area. Doing so will take you out of the firing line and allow you to watch and see if any other players come in to the area looking for you.
All in all, I expect this game to be right up there with the best that the consoles have to offer at the moment. I'm sure when the open beta comes out, there will be more content for us to get stuck in to. I for one, can't wait for this to be released.
Thanks for reading,
See you next time