The Division 2 Beta – First Impressions
Shadows of something better
You start the Division 2 Beta after your character wanders into Washington and receives a distress call from the White House. There’s no explanation as to what your character was doing before hand or even if he or she was one of the agents positioned in New York during the original game but that’s okay, there are bad guys to kill.
Combat and movement is the same as the previous entry. You move from cover to cover trying to utilise teamwork and special skills to flank your opponents. The movement feels fluid and makes you feel like your someone who would know what to do in a fire fight. You have four weapon slots: two for primary weapons, one for a pistol and the fourth for your specialty weapon. But we will get back to that later.
I was unable to try out the games character creator as this was unavailable in the beta and so I took my randomised kill machine into Washington to enjoy the missions available. The first impression I got from this game was that developers really wanted to give you lots to do. There are what appears to be a variable amount of unlockable doo dads and different things to try and achieve. There are people you need to recruit, supplies that need to be collected, dark zones that need to be crept through and missions that need to be completed. Upon finishing my first prime mission I was greeted with three new mission markers in the roof top garden base, all of which were nicely varied. This is good to see as it appears from the beta’s brief jaunt into the endgame content that this was what the developers wanted to put a ton of work into. The last thing you would want then is for players to stop playing before they get there because all the missions were repeats.
However, while the mechanics feel smooth and the missions are aplenty, it’s the small things that hold this game back from being something great. I understand this is a beta but in every single settlement I visited I was greeted by half rendered, gaunt NPC telling me that I’m amazing and will save them from all kind of nasty people. This does not create a world, this creates a mess that really takes me out of the game. I would have preferred if they gave us a smaller space with fewer NPCs that had better designs and more important things to say. It’s better to have a small room with two people who can help create the world than a whole town of people who hurt it.
Then there is the decision to only be able to level up your skills at the main base, which means you’ve got to keep walking back or deal with the unusually long fast-travel loading screen. I know that it’s to try and keep some realism in the game but and it’s unfortunate we have to bring this up. Just like in the first game realism, goes out the window when I shot a man six times in the head and he lives. There are some characters that use the new mechanic of having armour you need to shoot off before you can damage them but there are lots of normal people who just appear to have Adamantium skulls. Which I admit sounds sick.
But, and this is a big but, although there are some problems with the game, this multiplayer is fire. The missions are difficult, you will require teamwork and you will need to use all of your special skills and equipment, including your new specialty weapon to survive. You can choose from a heavy sniper rifle, a crossbow or a grenade launcher all of which will be needed, whether you’re fighting through the various Black Tusk soldiers and their SICK looking robot murder machines or trying to keep yourself alive in the dark zone as you get your loot to the extraction point.
Speaking of the dark zone it is back and it feels better than ever, as the majority of the dark zones have been “normalised”. This mean that the other players will be of a similar level to you so anyone has the chance to defeat anyone in the dark zone and it comes down to who’s quicker and smarter. It makes you feel that you have a better opportunity to get your gear to safety while still creating a tense atmosphere as you question who can be trusted. (Here’s a hint, at the extraction point no one can be trusted). There are even more gameplay mechanics and missions coming to the dark zone, when the full game drops on 15 April 2019.
This is a beta and more than that it’s the beginning of a game that feels like it’s going to have the love and attention through plenty of updates added to it. I’m not worried about Division 2, it’s a great game to play with your mates and is something you can really devote time to. But if you’re looking for an in-depth story, characterisation or something to get emotionally invested you may wish to look elsewhere. This is why I’m giving this game a 7/10, but purely for those SICK looking Robot Murder Machines.