I have spent the past weekend playing The Division beta, which proved to hold a decent amount of content. Labeled by the gaming community as a Destinykiller, the game does follow a lot of the same archetypes as its counterpart; a “shared-world”, RPG elements, and loot-based combat. While neither of these games are true MMORPGs, they capture a similar feeling. Comparisons can be made between the two, but The Division is very much its own game. Fundamentally it is very different and much of that stems from its approach to combat.

It has been a while since I have played an online third-person shooter, and it feels very refreshing. Combat is largely tactical and cover-based so there are different strategies you and your teammates can use to take down enemies. There are two story missions to complete in The Division beta, which demonstrate mission structure and overall gameplay. They give a good idea of how the combat feels, which can be very challenging at times. If you are not in cover, you won’t last long. The game warns you of this immediately and it proves to be true. The actual narrative aspect of the story has been removed for The Division beta, so no plot details are revealed.

the division dark zone

I completed the story missions in about an hour, which is a good amount of time for a beta. They can also be completed at higher difficulties for increased loot. There are a lot of various things to do to occupy your time. I found the cover system to be a bit clunky and at times the camera angle would throw me off of my intended target. Sometimes I felt like my character was “stuck” on certain cover and found it hard to transition into other cover. This became frustrating when I died and had to replay through waves of enemies. I just felt like I did not have total control of my character.

The Division is heavily based in team tactics, and it should be played with companions. Playing solo was manageable, but the game became much more fun with a couple of reliable teammates. For those who do not have readily available companions, there is a matchmaking system built in for different tasks. Running and gunning will get you killed quickly, so improvising a plan of attack with teammates will prove to be very beneficial. The AI enemies utilize cover in an intelligent way, though they may try to charge or flank you. There are multiple things to be aware of when engaged in a firefight, so it is a necessity to play smart and cover each other.

the division god cant save you

After completing the story missions, you are free to explore the world, upgrade your equipment, and complete “encounters.” These are simple missions which revolve around extracting hostages, eliminating targets and disabling enemy hardware. There are a number of these offered in The Division beta and they are a good way to grind out gear and gain some quick experience. To be perfectly honest, most of the time encounters felt like chores to me. It doesn’t seem like players will be spending a ton of time completing them, but they are small scenarios worth finishing in the early levels. They also add some detail to the world.

When completing encounters and side quests, I came across some cool environmental storytelling and “ECHO” sequences. Your player’s smartwatch utilizes available data to create 3D holograms of past moments in the area. Now you can see exactly how a conversation played out or where said persons were standing. It makes for interesting storytelling and they are used to add context to the world or to spark a new objective.

the division echo

I quickly grew tired of repeating missions and encounters in The Division beta. I found them to be pretty dry and unexciting, but some of that may be improved in the full game. Once you have completed a lot of the basic missions and side quests, you’ll want to move onto the best part of The Division: the Dark Zone. This is a closed-off area where PVP is enabled and the AI enemies are stronger and more efficient. What makes this most fascinating is the dynamic between players. Loot is far better in the Dark Zone, but it is a dangerous place to be. You’ll want to work with other players to take down the AI enemies, as they can be overwhelming to deal with on your own. All gear obtained in the Dark Zone is contaminated and unusable until it is “extracted”.

There are designated extraction zones throughout the Dark Zone, but actually getting your gear safely on the helicopter will take some coordination. Extraction zones are populated by players looking to decontaminate their loot as well as those who are looking to steal loot. Killing another player will result in a “rogue” status which marks a bounty on your head. This bounty will disappear once a timer runs out, but will increase with every kill. With that being said, solo players will not survive long in the Dark Zone. Even those who help you fight off enemies may later betray you. Nobody’s intentions are crystal clear, making the Dark Zone the most intriguing aspect of the game.

the division mapIf you go in with a team that you absolutely trust, you will have the best chance of stepping out of the Dark Zone with good gear. It is very important to have people watching out for you and covering your back. Great strategy can be applied here as it is hard to tell who is working together and who is rogue. Using this anonymity to your advantage will help create confusion, making surprise attacks easier to execute. As of the beta, combat within the Dark Zone is a bit of a free-for-all; nobody quite knows what they are doing. With evolution from The Division beta, the Dark Zone community will grow and there will be legitimate threats to look out for. It will be very interesting to see what strategies will be implemented and how teams work together.

As of right now in The Division beta, many players are trying a “hit-and-run” strategy. A player attacks to get rogue status, then runs away to create a chase. These chases can go on for a long time since it is very difficult to keep up while aiming and shooting. Whether you are in pursuit or the one trying to escape, it’s a very thrilling ordeal.

the division combat

It is unclear how long until the loot pool dries up and players become bored with Dark Zone combat. There are rumors of a raid in the final version of the game. That would definitely something to look forward to. Overall I enjoyed The Division beta, but a lot of it felt very empty to me. I didn’t find the combat to be fantastic, but I liked the idea of the game. Like Destiny, I believe The Division will be a work in progress. I found the world of The Division to be pretty uninteresting, but there is some real depth and promise to the Dark Zone.

The Division beta did not grab my attention and left me unsatisfied, but I anticipate the full game to have far more diverse content. The game will need to receive regular updates in order to stay fresh and relevant. My prediction is that a lot of the Destiny community will go over to try The Division, but it will not last. Destiny will outlive it. The Division launches March 8 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

  • Chewy Minshew

    Click bait title. The author summarizes by saying he enjoyed his time with the beta, and throughout the article is optimistic about experiencing the finished game. But, it got me here, so mission accomplished?

  • Brian O’Blivion

    I started the beta last night, got sucked in and didn’t snap out of it until 11am. I have no interest in multiplayer, so I didn’t touch it, yet the beta me rapt all night. I am definitely looking forward to the full release.

  • Masqias

    Your conclusion reads like something written by a 12 year old

  • Jarron Robinson

    “Overall I enjoyed The Division beta”. In the VERY next paragraph, “The Division beta did not grab my attention and left me unsatisfied”. Hard to rely on this article for opinion accuracy.

  • Dozer

    “Labeled a Destiny-killer by the game community.”

    Say what? That is the first time I have ever heard those two words, ‘Destiny’ and ‘killer’, put together when word of this game and Destiny comes up for compare and contrast reasons. While I definitely have heard people say, for instance, something similar to this…”The Division is what Destiny should have been,” (at vanilla launch of Destiny.)

    I think you just fluffed up the topic (Destiny-killer) as a sort of “hook/ attention grabber”…and hey, that’s cool, I get it; better(?) hooks == more viewers, ratings, etc.

    While I despise how stale and boring Destiny has been since day one (no story, horrible loot system, no crafting depth, and on the list goes), I would never claim TD as a “Destiny-killler,” because… Destiny_is_already_dead. Bungie shot themselves. Suicide.

    Nothing needs to try and kill anything that is already dead.

    *edit: Oh yeah, one more note here… It’s not “Destiny” but rather “Destinky.”

  • Jericho Wolfe

    Destiny only became a decent game from its advanced DLC Releases & Updates, as the original game was also boring from launch and I think the same will apply with The Division. It has the basis to be a really good game but I’m not sure we will get to see that from launch and rather later updates based on what its community wants and DLC releases. The important thing is that there is enough decent ground work put into the game that the developers can work on.

    We have to get used to the idea that games like the Division need time to grow to become a great game and that experience will unlikely come straight from the game on release day

  • Schroeder

    100% disagree with you. The Division has a much grander world to explore, and the expansion content is clearly laid out. The content available is early game content that constructs your working base, but that’s it – you’re not really building it up and theres an additional 22 levels of content according to what some say about the cap. Destiny got good with Taken King, but it also flared out fast. 5 weeks after it came out the community immediately died off and only players that enjoy Crucible stick around. Since Bungie is incapable of supporting their game with frequent updates, The Division stands to crush it. I loved Destiny but The Division is significantly more interesting as a launch product and long-term gaming investment with so much end game stuff yet to be revealed.

  • Bigjoe275

    Destiny will out live it. I’ve stopped playing destiny 3 months ago. And now bungie is asking me why I stopped playing. No it will be the other way around. Ubisoft took notes of bungie fails and will definitely deliver. As long as ubisoft and massive LISTEN’S unlike bungie. They will succeed Destiny out lasting The Division. Well we’ll see 6-12 months from now to see how it really stacks up to destiny.

  • mechlord

    i have these kind of reports. from what you write, the game DID get you attention and you liked it. Yet you state otherwise and give no explanations. which is it?

  • LarZen

    The Division Beta — A satisfying Experience

  • Courtney Robert-Earl Johnson

    Funny, I had the exact opposite of your post.

  • carl mendez

    Hit and run rouge? rank one rouge pays 185 DZ cash and if you die you lose 400+ on death and on PC those hit and run rouges ended up backing themselves into a corner or running into a crowd of 6 or more players.. this article was nothing more than the opinion of somebody who played the beta alone for a few hours then called it quits

  • harborwolf

    It’s a beta….

    The way the Dark Zone works is going to be something that keeps me from buying this game as opposed to a reason I DO buy it.

    I collect a bunch of loot and then some loser and his friend jump out of nowhere as I’m about to ‘extract’ it and I die and lose points. Or someone ‘goads’ someone else into becoming rouge and then blasts them with 8 other people.

    I can’t stand game dynamics where scumbags are rewarded, and that’s EXACTLY what this game is aiming to do with this dynamic. Unless they fix it somehow I definitely will be sticking to Destiny

  • I am loving the game, i expected more from the AI though, but they are just following simple mathematics, just like destiny, they will always be in the same place everytime. One beta that kept me screaming for more was Hitman, the AI is much better, even though they still remain in the same places with every try, but there is a lot going on with them. If i had to choose who gets my money in march, I would have to say both

  • JC

    I enjoyed it. The beta content probably took a few hours to complete (not rushing, but not taking your sweet time) and then I spent the most time in the DZ which was pretty damn fun for pvp.

  • SaltyJohn

    The complaints you had about the controls can be fixed by going through the options menu.

  • GuruChaz

    I don’t think anyone should have said it was a “Destiny killer” because, frankly, I wouldn’t really want to be associated with Destiny…at least the release day version of it. The Division has different elements and way more interesting missions. I found it fun for the most part, especially if you group with a friend or play solo or play in a 4 person team. The only 2 problems I recognized were:

    1. Sometimes voice chat would break up or not work while in the Dark Zone. It would cut in and out and we would have to go to Playstation chat and not even sure proximity chat works while in PS chat.

    2. While in the DZ, if you threw a turret down, it would sometimes target friendlies and shoot them in the back causing you to go rogue. It didn’t happen all the time but on occassion. It got confused.

    Hopefully, Ubisoft will fix these issues but the game has been fun to play. I do agree that I would wait for release day reviews unless you are just dead set loving the beta.

  • B.

    I played through the Division Beta the entire weekend on the Xbox One, got 41 out of 43 Intel resources available, including all the Echos.
    There was not an Echo in the Subway as pictured.
    If this is a screen shot of what you played, then you had a different Beta than I and my friends did.
    Besides, it was a Beta event. A short little snippet of gameplay with a limited amount of sidemissions.
    I have a feeling there will be much more in the full game, considering how large the map is.
    The only complaint I had was running everywhere. Would it kill the game to add motorcycles for a little faster travel other than the map fast travel option?

    • Captain Trep

      I was thinking the exact same thing for motorcycles.

    • JC

      Then people would be pissed at all the walls and other road blocks that’d make driving too hard. Plus, driving a motorcycle on snow/ice is just a poor decision to begin with lol

      • B.

        It’s a game – snow and ice really shouldn’t matter consider the level of tech the agents have.
        Secondly, there are few locations that required you jump barricades to proceed in the beta. Almost all the streets where clear enough for motorcycle traffic.
        Me and buddies joked about Segway Gun Platforms.

  • Tim Barrett

    “The Division beta did not grab my attention and left me unsatisfied, but I anticipate the full game to have far more diverse content.”

    You think? Sorry but this is an awful review

    • pulpetti

      +1

  • DarthDiggler

    Any given beta is not going to have a great deal of content. IMHO you completely miss the mark when you commenting on the lack of content which resulted in content becoming boring. That is the nature of the beast with betas.

    Your remarks about gun play and the cover system is relevant but it sounds to me like you weren’t using cover to cover properly. When you want to transition around a corner in cover you usually just use the movement analog stick to do so. When you want to move to a new cover point you aim for it and hold X (PS4) down the whole time you are moving. Works well overall.

  • Dynasty2021

    “There are designated extraction zones throughout the Dark Zone, but actually getting your gear safely on the helicopter will take some coordination. Extraction zones are populated by players looking to decontaminate their loot as well as those who are looking to steal loot. Killing another player will result in a “rogue” status which marks a bounty on your head. This bounty will disappear once a timer runs out, but will increase with every kill. With that being said, solo players will not survive long in the Dark Zone. Even those who help you fight off enemies may later betray you. Nobody’s intentions are crystal clear, making the Dark Zone the most intriguing aspect of the game.”

    This simply wasn’t the case 99.999% of the time on PC over the weekend after about 10 hours play for me.

    Almost every extraction had no drama, people just running to the rope to get their gear out then running away.

    Rogues were in packs of 4 almost every time, and exploited a specific area that is only accessible via a ladder at the end of an alleyway and just sat up there to drain their timers.

    I never had a worried moment in the DZ, everyone was just getting their gear out and rarely shooting each other. I went rogue maybe 4 times, due to someone running in to my grenade radius or running in front of me when I was shooting.

    The rogue system is trying to be unique but is broken right now – there’s no incentive to go rogue. You lose so much XP from dying and get barely anything for surviving a long time as rogue. Yes it’s a beta and low level, but I cant see going rogue EVER being an incentive. It’s a gamble, sure. Yeah, later someone MAY drop a yellow item and that’s the gamble you take, but right now it’s pointless.

    It seems like the systems are designed for end-game, yet there seems to be no end-game.

    You cant have a looting game where your loot is limited to reality as it’s a Tom Clancy game. We’re gonna get bored at max level, as the best gear will only increase your crit chance or health etc.

  • cougar3429

    So glad to play the beta. Saved me $60.

  • maxinthefax

    exactly my thoughts. Besides, the graphics was the biggest let down for me.

  • Apologies for the discussion problem! Was on our end and all comments are now viewable. 🙂

  • Moonjumper

    As time goes on, I think the Dark Zone is going to get more and more troll like. Once players have completed all the story missions and maxed their levels etc, I can just imagine teams patrolling the DZ just to gank, steal and annoy other players. There are already a ton of videos on youtue of exactly this kind of thing. The prospect of wasting hours defeating enemies and gathering loot only to have it stolen by a group in a matter of seconds isn’t very appealing. It’s the one thing about the game that gives me second thoughts about buying it.

    The rest of the game I thought was very good, but I agree that it looks like it won’t last very long. I bet there will be top level players by a week or so after release. After that, it looks like you’ll be pretty much repeating things a lot.

  • Dave Paterson

    I can’t help but think this game will never live up to it’s own hype. Will be interesting to see how the full game plays.

  • Brian McLaughlin

    I have waited for this game since it was announced back in 2013. I played the early access beta and honestly, it was a lot of fun. Are there a lot of scum bags killing you and stealing your loot? Of course, but, everyone needs to realize this is part of the fun. I remember when I first saw someone go rouge and with a matter of seconds everyone unloaded on him. Yes, the “Dark Zone” is intimidating at first but you get used to it. I also found that more people want to help rather then go rouge.

    My fear isn’t jerks ruining the game but, the longevity. Will they listen to the gaming community and keep it fresh and relevant or, will it fail like everyone is predicting. I’m staying optimistic about “The Division”, my feelings are it will not be perfect when it first releases. There will be flaws; over powered weapons, imbalanced items, etc. But, if they listen to what “WE” have to say to help make it better, it could very well be a great game.