I’m going to tell you something right now. I really didn’t think I’d ever get into a Tom Clancy game. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be able to get into anything Tom Clancy. I remember when I was in high school and tried to read The Hunt for Red October (before I knew there was a movie about it). I was bored out of my mind. You’d think for a guy who likes Bond movies, Jack Ryan and crew would be up my alley. Guess American spies weren’t as cool as their British counterparts (you to Felix Leiter).
I wouldn’t say that this exact feeling transferred over to the video games. Just like with any other FPS game, they were exclusive to the PC for some time. When Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter made the jump over to consoles, it was kind of too late. I had already sunk my teeth into Halo and really didn’t care too much for the WWII shooters that were Call of Duty and Medal of Honor.
As time marched on and shooters became more commonplace on the console, the Tom Clancy series of games still eluded my interests. I’m not sure what it is and if I even told anybody about it. If I did, the word must have gotten back to Ubisoft and they crafted a game that seems specifically for me.
I was finally able to play the game for the first time back in November during NCComicon. One of the development teams on the game, Red Storm (which was started by Tom Clancy), was showing off the game to attendees of the show and I was able to be one of the first to play. After that session, it felt as if it was a life-changing experiencing. They could have hired me on the spot as an evangelist for the game. You can even read of my experience here.
Since then, they have been refining the game and it hasn’t been more apparent now that the closed beta released. I was able to play some of that with developers and friends locally at the local Microsoft Store. I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing and that there was so much more than what I had played back in November and that there was so much more that I can play when the game releases on March 8th.
I then went home to fire up the game on the PS4. This time, I wasn’t guaranteed to have players join me on the streets of New York. There was no one beside me to talk to and try and coordinate efforts. For all I knew, I had to wonder the streets on my own. And I did. For about an hour, I did the same main story mission that was available in the beta. I took some time to actually go into the menus to see what I could do and what I could customize. It was then, I ventured into the Dark Zone for the first time on my own.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. I’d imagine if you were wondering the streets where people could easily run up and kill you and still anything you have, it’d be kind of stressful. Knowing that, I just kinda stuck to the shadows stuck to dealing with NPCs and kept to myself. Until the rogues showed up…
It was at this point I saught out other players and was lucky to find a Twitter friend of mine online and playing so I decided to join with him. He had a small team going and he accepted me into the fold and we rolled together. It was an amazing time. Being able to communicate with people to achieve tasks are great.
I know that sounds like a “Duh” statement, but in this game, I feel like that mechanic isn’t even more important. In other games, you know who the enemies are at all times. There is no question what you need to do and, unless you want to get real strategic, you don’t need to communicate with others. You all know what to do. In The Division, that’s not the case. Ohter players walking by you can all of sudden just stop and point their gun at you. In other games, this would be cause for a shootout. In this game, there are consequences with doing that. Once you shoot, your branded as a rouge agent (and your team within a certain proximity). If you could live with that, alright then. But even mistakes can be costly, so its great to have communication with your teammates before pulling the trigger and bringing down the heat of everyone in the Dark Zone on you.
Its gameplay like that that just gets me excited about the game’s release. There are some things, though, that I’m not particular fond of. I have seen a few references to The Division being considered an RPG. Even in Wikipedia, it has been classified as an action role playing game. With that being said, to me, it plays more like a cover based shooter which a lot of people on the outside looking in would think. However, just like Destiny, the RPG hooks are strong in this one and it seems a little more apparent.
One of the most notable things that game brings over from RPGs is the amount of attacking you have to do to bring down an enemy. In other shooters, these enemies would be known as “bulletsponges”. Normally, the game wouldn’t be full of them, but in The Division, everyone, including yourself, becomes one. I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing. When playing other shooters, you tend to be the bulletsponge while everyone falls after a bullet grazing. It would make sense that it would take longer to bring someone down as they are just as spongy as you are.
Another RPG aspect is the customization menus. I got kind of lost when trying to equip guns and then trying to equip modifications to the guns. Its normally not this bad and it may just be an issue for me. A lot of the confusion is coming from the fact that you can carry what most would consider two primary weapons and a sidearm instead of a primary, a secondary, and a sidearm. Since you are carrying two primaries, if you aren’t use to it, you may not remember which gun you had a eqiupped in which spot. This caused me to change my gun order which I’m particular about but has no real consequence.
Even with the RPG quirks, the game is still one of the best I’ve played in a long time. I haven’t been excited about a game coming out like this since MGSV, so, for me, its been a long time coming. March 8th can’t get here any sooner!