I did a couple missions in what’s the “safe” zone, and some free running play as well, spending about 5 hours with it. My thoughts, below.
For those of you who don’t know the story behind The Division, New York is under lockdown due to a virulent plague like bug, called “The Dollar Flu”. You have to fight against looters as well as Cleaners, the folks who want to burn out the contamination. Literally. With Flamethrowers.
Tom Clancy’s the Division. Before it gets overrun with griefers and PvP clans. Which actually will be part of the fun, since that’s restricted to the Dark Zone.
There’s a base building aspect to the game, as you scavenge for supplies to keep your base up to date and able to help supply you. There are three wings, the medical wing, the Tech Wing, and the Security Wing. Doing missions of the appropriate type will award you supplies which you can use to upgrade each wing. To start off, you have to find staff for each wing, and that took me into Madison Square Garden to rescue a doctor who the gangs were making treat their patients, and into a vast subway system to get the power system for the area rebooted and set up properly.
This game punishes “lone wolves” and rewards team play. I set up with several groups and found if we all clustered up, we became targets for being picked off all at once (especially by the Cleaner’s flamethrow-wielding enemies.) However, if we spread out and covered for each other (you can rock and roll very quickly through a clip, necessitating a reload), you could catch enemies in the cross fire. And that was key, especially in the subway, as one of us needed to carry a power supply unit up several flights of stairs. Having someone you trust to cover your back is key.
Oh. That trust thing. This game is going to cause many thrown controllers and even keypads and mice, as we get into the “Dark Zone”. The Dark Zone is basically a no-rules area where anything goes. Well, if you shoot your fellow agents without reason (and “because I wanted their stuff” counts as without reason), the folks back at base will still take the stuff they were carrying, and credit you with the rewards, but they will also put a bounty on your head that other agents can cash in by shooting you down. So it comes down to.. “Who can you trust”. Again… Lone Wolves will be cut out of the herd and slaughtered by packs of people working together, so this game’s key is finding a crew you can work with, and you can trust.
After about five hours of gameplay, I’m really digging the story and the gameplay so far, and I have a request in for a review copy. I’ll definitely be reviewing this if I can get my hands on a press copy. The beta runs through early tomorrow morning.