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The Major’s Tour of The Division

Black Friday is almost upon us! The biggest shopping day of the year (even though it technically starts on Thursdays now for some reason)! While people are suplexing each other for the best deal on a shitty TV at Wal-Mart, according to Ubisoft and Red Storm Entertainment, it will also be the day that a devastating virus will wipe out most of humanity!

This is how The Division begins. Announced at Ubisoft’s press conference back in 2013 (feels like Watch_Dogs all over again), this new game in the Tom Clancy universe has you team up with 3 other people as you try to restore what order is left in NYC after most people have already died and the ones who are still alive have gone batshit crazy, which includes you.

I was able to get a my hands on a pre-release build of the game at NC Comicon in Durham, NC last weekend.  The build was the same that was playable at E3 back in June which included the Dark Zone.  I, along with other Extra Life Raleigh-Durham guild members and any gamers that happened to be in attendance were graced with Red Storm’s presence because the studio is based in Cary, NC. As a matter of fact, our guild president visited their studios during Ubisoft’s Charity Jam 2015.

Once I got there, I noticed they had a closed off room with signs stating that we could not take any photographs while in there. I immediately panic as I was caring my camera with me and because I thought I might not even get a chance to talk about it.  Luckily, they just don’t want people to take pictures or video of what they have but were free to talk about it. After clearing that up, we were told to sit in a staging area were we watched a small trailer explaining the “Dark Zone”.

After that, we were escorted into the room where they had 9 displays arranged in a  3v3v3 set up. Naturally, my Extra Life cohorts and I sat on one team while the other players figured out if they could trust each other enough to play as a team.  The controllers given to us to use were Xbox One controllers and afterwards we were given beta codes with Xbox One branding, but I’m not sure if we were playing the Xbox One version or the PC version.  I didn’t bother asking because it didn’t occur to me until just now that it could have been either or. Also, pre-release stuff is normally played on a PC so it could have just been just the PC version.

After we sat down and put our headphones on only to discover mics didn’t work and had to play with one ear cup off so I could hear my team, one of the devs stood behind us to explain our characters and abilities. I lucked out and got the black guy (who’s name escapes me) who cares an LMG and shotgun. He also carries a turret and the ability to detect where other enemies are.  These abilities have cool downs so they are infinite but make sure you can’t spam them.  I don’t remember what the other guys had. I do know that one was the medic as he was the only one who could revive fallen players. After learning about all of our weapons and abilities, we were placed in a staging area within the game were we were able to test fire weapons and abilities to get a feel for them before things got real.

Once done with that, we were instructed to climb our way over a fence that would then drop us into the Dark Zone. As the trailer above explains, this is where you will come in contact with hostile NPCs along with hostile players.  The way the demo was set, the three teams were spawned at different places where we had to deal with NPCs  which were rogue firemen who looked to have wanted to start more fires that they actually put out. We then had to collect loot that could then be extracted a designated location in the center of the map and could be used later if we weren’t playing a demo.

After the NPCs were dealt with and all the loot we could find was collected, we made our way to the center of the map were we saw the other players making there way to the center. Not wanting to underestimate the skills and abilities of the others and not really knowing what we were supposed to be doing at this point, I encouraged my teammates not to open fire or even point a weapon at the other players. We were then told that we had to walk to a point where you call down a helicopter and load the loot to it and that would complete our mission objectives.

With that done, we than began standing around and staring at each other, both in game and in real life. We had no idea what to do.  We knew it was a timed demo, but didn’t know we would finish the game this early. The developer then leans down and tells us that we have 5 minutes left to do whatever it is you want to do. Knowing this and knowing how tend to be when playing video games, I had this huge idea. I told my teammates that we (yes: WE) were going to agro the other teams! I heard objections from both team members and ignored them all, found the nearest “enemy” and gave him a shotgun blast to the face!

Now, its at this point you may have noticed I haven’t really talked about combat too much.  That’s mainly because I got kinda lost on a narrow corridor and missed most of the NPC fighting. THIS WAS GOING TO BE MY FIRST REAL COMBAT SCENARIO! And boy did it not go over well…

After blasting the other player with the shotgun, I noticed that he did not go down immediately as someone would had this been Halo or Call of Duty. It seemed as if his face absorbed it like some sort of sponge-like material made only for bullets. It was at this point I remembered this game was an RPG as well similar to Mass Effect and that the health knocks away like chunks as if counting down from some sort of HP meter. This turns out good when I’m getting shot, but bad when I’m doing the shooting.

With that in mind, I began dumping clips into people without any regard of ammo count (not sure if there was one) and just kept running for my life in the process as people didn’t go down as fast, healing myself along the way.  Yes, healing. The game doesn’t auto heal you like traditional shooters do. You are given syringes that will heal you  when you get shot and if you don’t do it in time, its up to the medic to make things right again, and you better hope he’s fast!

So, after the calamity was over, our demo just came to a kind of abrupt halt.  I wasn’t really expecting a graceful exist, but I was expecting to see some stats about how I did.  The only disappointing thing about the demo was that didn’t happen.  I don’t know how many people I killed, how many times I died, nothing! Now, that’s not to say that that isn’t in the final game, but that was really the whole reason I went apeshit during the last five minutes. But, truthfully, it wasn’t a big deal because I walked out of that demo with the hugest smile on my face!

That being said, from what I played of The Division, this game is a must buy and I will gladly throw all my cash Ubisoft’s way to get this game.  I tried NC Comicon but they looked at me funny as I was trying to find a way to swipe my card for a copy of the game.


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