Along with many others last weekend, I spent some significant time with Ubisoft’s beta for The Division. I had hoped it would clear up some of my uncertainty surrounding the game, yet I came away with more questions than ever.
Allow me to say right off the bat: I love Ubisoft. I do. The Far Cry series is one of my favorites, period, and I’ve quite enjoyed most of their other offerings. I went into the beta with an open mind. What I came away from it with were more concerns and even less excitement.
Right off the bat, I was struck at the visual disparity between what Ubisoft has shown us at previous events, and what we are actually seeing in-game. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks good and the environments were beautiful in their post apocalyptic way, but it came out a lot less “This is the future of gaming!” and a lot more “Hey, doesn’t this remind you of Watch_Dogs?” I also felt there was a lot going on with the HUD (side note: I just typed “HUG” instead of “HUD” which amused me greatly), especially the little display that follows your character around. That information could easily be accessed by a button instead of cluttering up the screen at all times.
I know the beta was a vertical slice of the game, and a watered down one to boot (various features were left out of the beta for some reason). If the game is so close to release, why not show us all it has to offer? Why not try to sell us with all the compelling RPG elements it has been touted to have? Why not have more side missions on offer to help level up the character faster? I did every mission twice and I still wasn’t fully leveled. I resorted to wandering around the city looking for baddies to take down just to reach level 8 (the cap for the beta).
One thing that I found endlessly odd was the fact that I (and several other people I was playing with) could not figure out how to use our standard grenades on purpose. We could use the special skill grenades, but could not, for the life of any of us, find a way to use the actual grenades. I think I used one once on accident, but I could never replicate the event.
I feel like one of the unique opportunities of a beta on this large of a scale is to sell participants on your game. I have the game pre-ordered and that’s how I got access to the beta. After playing all the content it had to offer (twice), I’m not sure I want to keep that pre-order. The experience was far better with a team of friends playing (I played in a duo and, later, a trio, both times more enjoyable than playing solo), but, as I’ve found with Destiny, it’s not always easy to get (and keep) a group together to play a game on a regular basis. I’m not even sure I’d be able to find a group to play through the narrative. I’m still moderately interested in the game, that interest is just waning.
None of this even touches on my experience with the PvP aspect of the game (the Dark Zone) which ran the gamut from a tense and interesting experience to a complete clustermess where not one, but two groups turned on our group, shooting us and taking our special gear. It was only then that I saw we were getting killed with the best weapons the game had to offer, and I realized these people were being rewarded for their jerk behavior.
I’m not into a game that does that. I like to play clean and friendly.
Unfortunately that didn’t stop me from exacting revenge on behalf of my teammate when I found one of the guys who killed him. I’m not proud of it, but I did it. I’m sure that person thought it was hilarious, but it was frustrating to realize the game has no real penalty for people playing dirty, and that it actually gives them an edge.
That’s not a system I can get behind.
So will I keep my pre-order? As of right now: yes. I know I will play through the narrative, but I can’t say I’d want to spend any amount of time in the current build of their PvP arena.
Did you take part in the beta? If so, how do you feel about it? Will you be playing the final build of the game come March 8th?