My first impressions of The Division based on the limited time I did play of the beta are rather positive. The combat system is fun and engaging with enemies teaming up and attacking in waves. The main negative though from the beta was how empty it feels. Yes there are various civilians going about their daily lives trying to survive the cold but for the most part unless you decide to actively engage enemies or traverse to mission locations nothing will happen. It’s up to you to find and locate trouble it won’t come to you. So considering this why did I enjoy it so much?
The various enemy types and ranks requires dynamic combat. On the fly it’s up to the player to change their approach on how to tackle the threat. Depending on the enemies weapon and Armour there’s a need to adapt your own style to nullify them. Also witnessing a flame thrower exploding from an impact to their gas canister is really spectacular.
Entering and leaving cover is effortless and seamless in it’s transition as is the flow from cover to cover. The game is clearly built around that mechanism and it works perfectly. Being an action game I was tempted to just go straight to using a controller. After all the game is also on consoles so my thought was that the developers would favor the controller. But.. I thought what the hell lets see how we go with the keyboard/mouse combo and it’s been spot on. The controller has been untouched all the way through my play-through of the beta. Ubisoft have definitely put an effort into the game for us PC folk.
Extra XP can be earned towards your next level up by helping civilians from hostage situations to simply handing over your health bars and health packs when they are in need. If you wait to long they make snarling remarks and walk off in disgust. Gave me a slight smile as I was about to hand over what I had but I was just making quick notes. I found this added level of detail to the populations personalities rather intriguing.
Obviously being a beta there is a limit to how far you can explore and there comes an expectation that all will not be perfect with the game as it’s not a final release. The emptiness feeling of the game may be resolved by the time of release and any other bugs cleared up. I personally only encountered one bug, which unfortunately was bad enough that I had to quit my session. I was simply walking along a wall next to a car when I fell between the two. No matter what I tried the screen would simply shake as though it can’t decide which way to go. In the end the session was closed as I was unable to escape the abyss I was encased in.
Since that moment a couple of hours have passed and no further incident. I went on to help JSF soldiers during a street battle and tackled an underground morgue mission where I had to re-engage the electricity by switching on junction boxes and repairing circuit breakers whilst overcoming waves and waves of enemies. I reached the end (or so I believe) when a warning appeared explaining no checkpoints past this stage. So I’d tackle more waves of loony’s hell bent on destroying me when out of nowhere I come across a huge guy wielding a flame thrower. My health was not high at this point and out of health packs. I have to announce I became his latest victim. With my impending death and having to restart from the beginning of that room. I decided to finish my session and not repeat the scenario simply because when the game does finally release in full I’ll have to do it all over again anyway. So I decided with the few hours I’d played I had seen enough to make me slightly intrigued and cautiously optimistic about the game.
I’m sure a lot of people experienced the public beta for themselves whether it be on the PC, Xbox One or PS4 but for those that didn’t take part rest assured the game at this stage looks beautifully crafted from the graphics, textures and environments to the core gameplay.