At this year’s PAX Australia, we finally managed to get our first hands-on of Ubisoft’s third-person shooter Tom Clancy’s The Division. The playable demo on the Xbox One consisted of a short playable tutorial where a team of three players could enter the Darkzone, a quarantine zone located in the centre of the map which serves as the game’s multiplayer section. Within the Darkzone, teams would gun through small factions of Bandits and Cleaners, a special type of enemies who ‘cleanses’ the area by attacking anyone and anythings that moves; before entering the extraction zone – a desolated park, where three different teams would convergeb battling for extraction. Our gaming editors Adrian, Gabriel and Ashton played a round just before the main rush of PAX attendees and they’ve given their opinions below:
During the play session, I had a character with a Tank/DPS loadout, wielding a shotgun, sub machine gun and a deployable sentry turret. Being the more offensive player in the team, I was tasked to put the most damage into the enemies, and back up teammates who were in sticky situations. Playing multiple team-based shooters, switching between control schemes is so confusing, and especially for The Division, the button mapping was something different – using the d-pad for equipment, and highlighting your abilities by mapping them to the bumpers. There were moments where my character felt clunky and I had trouble controlling them around the environment – accidentally jumping out of cover, dodge rolling into obstacles, and vaulting over objects.
Not much can be said about the presentation since this is just a demo build of the multiplayer, but the visuals, and the whole UI was very messy. However, It was a fun session, having to work together as a team as we verse the ‘Cleaners’ but also coordinating ourselves with other teams in the Darkzone, and hoping to get to the extraction zone through the hectic firefight.
Out of the three playable classes: Tank, Medic and Sniper, I was fortunate to play as the Sniper. The Sniper focuses on laying long-range support via automatic rifle, while providing possible flanking tactics with seeking grenades and deployable landmines. The controls were different to most traditional third person shooters, as the button for sprinting is pushing down on the left thumbstick, A was a combat roll and, B was vaulting over a small wall or barricade, and grenades were assigned to the d-pad.
The initial tutorial began with learning the control and mechanics before entering the Darkzone. Upon entering the Darkzone, there was an apocalyptic overtone with the surrounding atmosphere – grim, grimy streets and buildings with rundown cars, boxes and temporary structures everywhere. At the end of the street there was a small faction of bandits completely oblivious to the squad’s presence – allowing for the element of surprise. Utilizing the available cover, my squad were able to dispatch quickly, using the Sniper’s seeker grenade and landmine and deploying it behind them, catching them off guard.
Approaching the extraction zone, two other players squads started to converge onto the site – showcasing the multiplayer component of The Division. Player-vs-player (PvP) confrontations was completely different to Player-vs-Environment (PvE) as the abilities introduced a different element as AI did not utilize abilities, such as setting up deployable turrets. Additionally, when downing a player on the other team, you would have to continuously shoot at them so they could not be revived, rapidly depleting the already limited ammo supply.
Final thoughts, the game has been developed over three years and it still needs work. After playing it, there was no lasting or memorable gameplay; it felt like another generic third-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on cooperative play.
Of the three classes available I played as the Healer, which featured both a sub-machine and burst assault rifle along with a throw-able health pack. After the basic tutorial fighting AI opponents, a 3v3v3 extraction game mode took place with all players at first being friendly, it is only after one member of the team attacks another is when the sides become ‘rogue’ to one another.
As it turned out I happened to be the one who secured the extraction point and I found out quickly that when you are securing you are completely vulnerable to attack whilst an animation where you are a firing a flare begins. The extractor, in this case me, must then be defended by his teammates or at the very least must survive until a helicopter appears for extraction of the package. If the extractor dies the package drops and there is a 10 second window where the other members of the fireteam can pick up the package and hold it until the helicopter arrives. When the helicopter does arrive whoever has the package has to run to the LZ to drop of the package which is then winched up into the helicopter, once again an animation ensues in which the player is completely vulnerable when doing so. Following this whoever dropped off the package must remain alive until the timer ends to complete the extraction, win the game and in our case end the demo.
The gameplay for The Division did however feel a bit heavy, with things such as strafing, aiming down sights and vaulting/moving between cover often feeling sluggish and slow. The Division also featured a down-but-not-out system similar to the Gears of War franchise although if you aren’t revived in time you die and have to wait to respawn. It is also important to note that the respawn timer is longer if you have died after going ‘rogue’. On the Xbox One at the very least the game wasn’t all that graphically impressive though I’m not sure if this was the latest build of the game.
The Division releases on March 8th 2016 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. With a beta to be released earlier in 2016.