Written by: Liam Brand
Amidst the constant pandamonium of this year’s FanExpo, I was luckily able to squeeze in some time to demo what has been my most highly-anticipated games for over a year now: Tom Clancy’s The Division.
I was among one of three teams of three players as I was filled into a private, boarded off room to finally get my hands on this game. Once my teammates and I had been dropped into the Dark Zone, captured a weapon stash, and defended an extraction point from enemy players in an incredibly tense battle, I was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised by what I experienced in my 15-20 minutes with The Division.
The Division plays exactly like you would expect it to. It’s solid shooting and cover mechanics function very similarly to 2012’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
While neither of these games’ mechanics never quite exceeded the norm for third person shooters, The Division feels especially satisfying. Continuing the Ghost Recon comparison, the gadgets are where The Division really shined. The tracer mine let me blast enemies behind cover from a safe distance, and the auto turret had my back while waiting to extract.
The teamwork element of The Division was a noticeable highlight of my demo as well. Though I imagine the game wouldn’t be as interesting just playing solo, being able to work together with a squad of two other players in the same room as me made The Division feel like an authentic teamwork experience. Our objective was to extract our rare, valuable loot without one of the other teams killing us and preventing our getaway.
Even though we weren’t playing for keeps, I got so caught up in the tension and chaos of the scenario that I was determined to stay alive at all costs. I can only imagine how well situations like these will translate to the full game, it’s definitely what excites me the most about The Division.
The Bad (and Ugly)
The negatives I noticed during this demo were unfortunately so glaring that it really interfered with my otherwise positive experience with The Division. When The Division was first revealed, it boasted some of the most impressive visuals I had ever seen along with the promise that the final game would look as it did in the demo.
Furthermore, Ubisoft even released a trailer entirely focused on the revolutionary new Snowdrop engine that enabled them to achieve the visuals that they had. As many fans noticed, Ubisoft’s E3 2015 demo showed a significantly downgraded version of the original, and the version I played was downgraded to the point of being one of the worst-looking games I’ve played in recent memory.
Combine this with a framerate that frequently dipped to a crawl, and my demo was practically unplayable at times. Fortunately, Ubisoft still has plenty of time to iron these issues out, but it is still concerning that the game hardly works after all this time.
I have faith in The Division, but I also feel like my concerns at this point are legitimate.
Ubisoft plans to put out a closed beta by December of this year, and I hope the public will experience a much more improved version of the game I played, because if not, many players will understandably be discouraged about the final product.
If things go the other way and Ubisoft manages to clean up The Division, then I wholeheartedly believe that it will be the unbelievably fun post-pandemic MMO that everyone expects it to be.