EB Expo: Hands on with The Division

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After an extremely long gestation period, the post-apocalyptic shooter known as The Division was finally available to play. Ubisoft showed a little bit of the game at last year’s EB Expo with a hands-off demo, but for those that have been dying to step back into the world created by Tom Clancy, this was the year. The mode shown off was The Dark Zone, an intense PVP section of the world where players will find the best gear for their characters, and their greatest challenges.

In the round I played, there were three teams of three, all fighting against each other to extract gear from the zone. This meant we had to get to a specific part of the area, call for an extraction, and then hold that position for the ninety seconds it takes to extract the gear and win the match. It doesn’t sound easy, does it. Holding out against one team is something, but when you have to watch out for two teams converging on your position, it gets really hairy.

Combat sticks to the familiar. Tom Clancy games and over-the-shoulder cover-based shooters go hand in hand, and that hasn’t changed from what they showed last year. Each member of the squad played as a different class, each coming with their own skills and perks. My guy was packing a turret that I could drop anywhere. I could provide intense cover fire on an extraction, or lay down suppressive fire while the team flanked our enemies. Each player has a pulse that will allow them to highlight the enemy players, allowing for a well-placed grenade throw.  

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One of the big things I noticed with combat was that there’s no easy kills to be had. The shooting mechanics are done well, but if you want a kill, you’re gonna have to earn it. No one-two shot kills here.

You also need to have awareness of your surroundings in The Division – eyes in the back of your head would help. When you fight over the extraction area, you have to pay attention to what’s happening with your squad and with your enemies.  Communication and teamwork is the key to success. If you spread out or try to lone wolf it, you risk being killed. While that isn’t the end of the round, a respawn time of twenty seconds respawn and then another ten to fifteen seconds it takes to get back to the action will feel like a lifetime – and your teammates are going to be fighting that much harder while they wait for you. That can be the difference between holding an extraction point and losing control.  

You are equipped with health packs that can give you a boost when low on health, and if you go down there is a second chance to get on your feet with a revive from your team. This is a game where you need to help your squad if you want a chance to win the gear.

It does look like Ubisoft have removed the app-controlled drone that was present in last year’s reel, but the game is looking great besides. It has been a long time coming, but The Division looks like a seriously intense co-operative experience that’s really worth the wait. If you are interested in experiencing the game for yourself you can apply for the beta or guarantee a spot through a pre-order. Those with an Xbox One will have first crack this December, with PC and PS4 platforms coming in the new year.


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