If we’re being honest, I’m terrible at just about every video game genre there is. I simply don’t have enough time to put in the practice. Yes, I know that making time is important, but welcome to the real world, where the demands on your attention seldom go away just because you wish them too. A shortage of time has had other consequences where my gaming life is concerned. I simply stay away from role-playing games. At least, that was the plan until The Division Beta happened.
Let’s back track a little, I love the role-playing game genre. I like the idea of putting myself into a game and building a character similar to the real life me. Dragon Age Inquisition was the first console RPG that I played, but not the first title in the genre ever. Star Trek Online and I have a long and abusive relationship. Pokemon Crystal got me through school and bullied for a bit. It took me the equivalent of 5 days and 6 hours to finish Dragon Age Inquisition. To be clear, that’s without downloadable content. Hours of content is great, but I need an exciting story.
The Division, from what I could tell of the beta and what I’m learning about it now, has both. A biological weapon has turned New York City into a ghost town. The Strategic Homeland Division, a government entity of last resort, has been activated. Create your character and save the world, you know the drill.
At least, I thought I new the drill before playing the beta. First, The Division is probably one of the more attractive role-playing games I’ve seen on the Xbox One. There’s some motion blur caused by resolution trickery that developer Massive Entertainment is using, but nothing that ruins the hyper detailed recreation of America’s most populous city. I trounced around in the snow for a while, exploring the immediate area around Madison Square Garden looking for the hotel I’d stayed at during Microsoft’s Devices Event back in early October.
Before I could find it, a group of enemies found me. The cover system in this game turns what could have very boring into something interesting and thought provoking. Surviving an encounter – even a random encounter – takes planning. You look around for abandoned cars and elevated platforms to give you the advantage. You seamlessly dash from area to area, giving you a proper view of the action and your opponents. I ducked into a faithful recreation of what I’m sure was an Apple Store, then walked into the back ally and climbed over a fence. A little sun peaked out of the clouds that the game’s dynamic weather system had dreamt up.
I emerged from that alley on the side of where my squad was attacked. With their cover positions flanked, the enemies didn’t put up much of a fight after that. (I’d argue they were already outgunned on some level. Who really wears a thin hoody, flosses with a bandana face mask and turns their gun sideways as they shoot? Massive might have gotten a little to “street” with some of the character design)
I picked up whatever items and ammo they’d dropped and proceeded to activate the limited number of wings I could create at my headquarters by rescuing a doctor. I looked around to get a feel for how skills and mechanics work in The Division. The different wings help you unlock technology and gear that you can count on in a firefight. Only a few of these have been revealed so far, but the drone is probably my favorite. I suspect the expandable shield will be other’s favorite.
Back on the street now, I was ready to try the Dark Zone. The Division will feature story content, but online gameplay is weaved into it. Proximity voice chat lets you hear other agents as you get close to them. This is especially important in The Dark Zone, where you must venture to get the game’s most prized items. The areas are a no-man’s land, left vacant by the military when it pulled out. Other players in the Dark Zone can choose to form mutually beneficial partnerships, or kill you and take the items that you just earned. It’s player on player combat in its most lethal form right before an extraction. Naturally, someone shot me and took some items.
The cover mechanics are what got me interested in The Division, but I stayed for everything else. I enjoyed the beta the more I played it. I enjoyed it so much that I had paige aiden Media’s office manager add it to the list of content The en is purchasing this year for review.
I can’t wait until this game launches. I absolutely, can not wait. Now all I have to do is decide which platform to purchase The Division on.
The game debuts on March 8th on Xbox One, Windows PCs and Sony’s PS4.