Andy Schuette has been gaming ever since he could hold a SNES controller in his hands and has been loving every minute of it. He's the funniest guy he knows, and the least funny guy everyone else knows.
The end of January and beginning of February had the Internet, specifically Twitch and Uplay, abuzz with excitement. This clamor was brought on by the playable beta for Ubisoft‘s third-person MMORPG The Division. Initially slated for only the weekend of Jan 28-31, with the first day being an Xbox One exclusive, the powers that be decided to extend the beta until Tuesday Feb 2. That said, here’s my SITREP from my time on the ground.
DISCLAIMER: all information gathered for this preview was done so through the beta, not a full version of the game. Also, introductory story spoilers for those who’d prefer to wait until The Division‘s final release.
As the newest agent of the Division, you find yourself gearing up after a weaponized virus was unleashed on New York City. With all the of commotion over Black Friday sales, people were out en mass as the attack came upon them, allowing for quick spread and even quicker devastation of the (now once) great metropolis. As a Division operative, it’s your job to help in any way the city needs you. In the case of the beta’s available missions, you must first establish a base of operations.
In order to create a place of refuge as well as a space to prepare for your numerous jaunts out into the broken city surrounding you, you must build up three major stations within the base: medicine, defense, and technology. Unfortunately, the only available quest line available in the beta is to work on the medical wing – and I use the term quest line very liberally, as there is really only one thing to be done for them.
While ensuring the safety of civilians wandering in the anarchy, you have a lot of beautiful scenery to take in. No, not in the sense of calming beaches or colorful forests, but how deteriorated New York looks in the glorious Snowdrop Engine is a sight to behold. But as we all know with any games, books, or people, they don’t simply stand on good looks alone.
On the surface, The Division is a third-person cover-based shooter. For some players – myself included – some shooters that have you constantly seeking obstacles to dive behind can get old pretty fast. One good thing to come out this mechanic, however, is an emphasis on realistic bullet damage. Rather than eating lead faster than Skittles and still tearing the enemy a new one, your body in-game can handle as many bullets as your body can in real life: not many.
While you are being suppressed behind your cover of choice, you can fight back with the weapons found on either enemy bodies or sold to you by the kind merchants back at base. Though the game is set in third-person perspective, scoped weapons still give you the option to aim down the sights in order to see the look of surprise on your enemy’s face as you reach out with a high-caliber hello. If your firearm of choice doesn’t have a scope already handy, you can choose one (and a bunch of other attachments) to customize your loadout to your liking.
Shooters nowadays usually have a pretty universal control scheme to help people know how to play from the get go (after all, why reinvent the first-person-shooting wheel?). The Division follows most of these general rules, but has one glaring default control to make mention of: in the vast majority of cases, players hold their pinky on the Shift key, which is usually mapped for sprinting, and to quickly move down to CTRL or C in order to crouch down. Rather than giving this general control (in a cover-based shooter no less), CTRL, by default, causes you to do the exact opposite and vault over the obstacles that stand before you. Obviously, you have the option to change the controls to a setup that suits your style of play more efficiently, but the preset being the complete opposite of what I would have intuitively guessed bothered me, maybe more than it should have but I’ll let you figure out your own feelings on the issue.
Then again, I suppose this is what betas are for.
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