As we all know many companies release public betas of major titles for general testing purposes and, of course marketing as well. Ubisoft has never been selfish with public betas and a lot of times released something for us to play around with prior to official release. The beta gives us a taste of what the game is meant to feel like and, most importantly, gives Ubisoft important information and feedback on what should be changed and how the game runs on various hardware.
In my test bench we ran the game at 2560×1440 with all the settings running at high by default with an AMD R9 Fury X, stock clocks, whilst there wasn’t a lot to do indoors it was easy to maintain a very steady frame rate of 70+fps, the frame rate varied from 40fps to 60fps outdoors with occasional drops to 30fps. There was some stutter but it was most likely a hardware fault on my part (Freesync not enabled properly).At the start of the Beta we were introduced to post-apocalyptic New York. Black Friday had just passed many months ago causing people to gather at great numbers spreading the Pandemic. Bio-Terrorism? Or just the Flu? The beta doesn’t give us the slightest clue.
You are here to defend the few people that are still healthy, and to protect New York from gangs, looters and terrorists. You also take missions which are spread throughout New York and range from taking out key bad guy leaders to rescuing hostages. These missions can be done with friends or people that you met in-game from the Dark Zone.
The Dark Zone is a highly contaminated and sectioned off from the rest of New York. You also lose all communications with The Division by the time you enter the black market which separates the ‘liveable’ zone of New York from the Dark Zone. It’s basically a large PvP area.
The people you meet at the Dark Zone can be really dangerous, but fortunately as soon as I stepped in it, I met with a bunch of newcomers who literally just entered, me and this one randomer decided to walk downtown until the two of us were shot down by some rogue agents. As soon as we both re-spawned, we teamed up and realized we were meant for each other.Me and my new companion were always stuck together, every step of the way, we shared kills, loot, and even though we never said an actual word to each other we communicated by leading the way, leaning against doors and doing taunts (mostly waving, and calling for help). As we strolled downtown New York we encountered many groups of players who were friendly and passed by many other agents who were just going solo, on a murderous killing spree.When you shoot another player that is not a rogue you become marked out on the map as a rogue agent and others get extra points for killing you. This makes it really hard when you’re doing close quarters combat because, you just turn into a big target and everyone just wants to kill you all of a sudden.
The current beta was more of a technical test for the capabilities of the snowflake engine. The graphics, although visibly downgraded from the initial gameplay footable we saw a couple of years ago still hold up pretty well, we see less detail on the streets and indoors, but the downgrade isn’t as severe as what Watch Dogs experienced. I myself am pretty pleased with how the game looks.Gameplay-wise, The Division felt smooth, but since a lot core aspects of the game were locked out from the beta I still can’t formulate a solid opinion based on what I was able to play around with, we’ll need to wait for the full game release to see if Ubisoft really nailed it or failed it. So far my impressions are overall positive.
The Division looks like a survival game from the outside, but in reality it is an action-adventure with RPG-ish elements. So far I’ve seen weapon customization and the ability to level up my character to get better at various things and unlock new skills. The shooting and cover mechanics were responsive and felt well done, and unsurprisingly The Division focused on loot and looting a lot.I would definitely wait until the official release before buying anything because we all know Ubisoft’s history. The Division looks like a fun survival shooter with fancy graphics so far, but not like anything groundbreaking. We need to see the full game to be able to truly criticize anything, and discuss the different mechanics in depth. Who knows, maybe they are hiding the best parts of the game and have other tricks up their sleeves we just don’t know of yet.