The Division – My Experience

I’m a lover of games. Especially the MMO type that The Division is undoubtedly categorised in. But there is never a “perfect”game and with that in mind I’m going to review the many hours I have currently spent within this post-apocalyptic city that never sleeps.

 

So many of you reading this probably had the chance of playing the beta over the beta weekend (Jan-Feb 2016) and have a good idea of your own – whether you like it, if you are going to pre-order, if you’re going to cry yourself to sleep every night until the 8th March. I won’t go over the basics but I the quick lowdown for those who aren’t already clued up: There’s a Virus that kills the majority of the population (AT LEAST of New York, we have no idea beyond) and you are/were a Sleeper Agent that takes up controlling the carnage that follows the pandemic. Open world, levelling system, loot, pvp; you get the drill.

So what was it that kept so many people hooked over this beta weekend? Well it mixes two of the biggest gaming genres; shooters, which in this case is primarily third-person when not scoped, and MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). It’s not the first of its kind with an avalanche of comparisons to Destiny, but it’s taken out the majority of the science fiction and added a heavy dose of potential reality which I guess connects better with some people.

That, and the game is absolutely stunning to look at. The new graphics engine – Snowdrop – just brings so much realism to the game, from dynamic surfaces which gradually change in colder/warmer spells of weather to reduced sigh in snow storms – the stills above were taken on my run around the Dark Zone at the beta and on the Xbox One too – whether the graphics had been reduced a lot or not, it’s still eyewateringly, pants-tightening good. Yes, I stood at a bus stop taking in the view and atmosphere.

What we could play was limited, but it did what it needed as a beta, showing us a glimpse into the base of operations development, character progression, mission difficulty scaling and of course, the Dark Zone leveling and combat system. What it gave us was everything we hoped while teasing us as being the tip of the iceberg (no cold-weather related pun intended) into what the full game release will entail.

MMO’s are my real passion, and what makes the great from the good is I guess the same in many games, how immersive the game is and how much it pulls you into the character you play. From the cutscenes to the small details – a couple arguing in an apartment window, a mother holding her baby in another – it made you see the world from the characters’ eyes which became more your own.

Impartiality is a key part of my day job but for this game, I really do hope the hype continues into the open beta, the game release and the future of the game as a whole.

Some pistol-whipping fun to see you out…

 

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The Division – Skills, Talents & Perks List

 

With the beta dropping in a matter of days many players have already decided on what type of role they are looking to focus on and what weapons they hope to pick up. But when it comes to abilities, it’s been a little tougher to plan ahead and start that all-important theorycrafting for your special agent.

Skills/Abilities

Skills are your active abilities. Each agent can have a total of THREE active abilities, with the third being your Signature. Default mapping have these set as RB, LB or RB+LB (Signature) to activate and will be the main difference is playstyles from player-to-player. Each skill, excluding the signature, has an additional three modifications to choose from and a final “Mastery” mod which will all be unlocked via leveling, mission completion and base expansion. As a note, this Mastery mod will be in addition to the customised mod. So before we even get beyond the abilities themselves there are 16 abilities, phew!

Talents

You can have a total of FOUR talents active at one time all of which directly effect a certain part of you play. These include boosts to healing abilities, buffs to damage mitigation or procs to boost damage when hitting or killing an enemy is a certain way. There are a ton of them and the combinations of these with active skills will cause a diverse sleeper community.

Perks

Although to be confirmed, there are finally perks and allow either 4 or 5 (TBC) passives that do not necessarily effect your combat ability. These range from additional carry load, experience boosts, regular delivery of certain resources to your main Police HQ etc. A great possibility here is that you may be able to gain resources while offline if you have one of the resource nodes activated so if you get a deadline that needs meeting or simply don’t get as much play time as you wanted during a week, you can still at least come back to a little gift waiting in whichever wing your perk is.

Below is a link to GearNuke with a list of all their abilities, skills and perks. HOWEVER, certainly not to put them down, some of their abilities and research requirements do not agree with some of the latest footage you can get hold of. For example, Arekkz who has made a whole load of awesome videos on The Division shows some of the latest gameplay and show that the Sticky Bomb AND Seeker Mine seem to be in the Security Tree while the Riot Shield is in Tech. It’s safe to say that the abilities may still get moved round even between the beta and release in March, but at least we should have an idea of WHAT is in the game, even if we can’t confirm the exact mean of gaining them all.

 

New The Division gameplay leak

My planned following post can wait and I’m gonna jump on this wagon of new features seen in the latest leak. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the following link but how long it will stay there who knows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCMtM9RkoMg

So what’s so amazing about it? Haven’t we seen enough footage to actually play the game by now? Yes…and no. The VT shows some new backdrops, new enemies, new abilities and more weapon mods. So we see some new abilities and from a few views of the video an additional ability for each classic role – Tank, Dps, Support (another blog to come to help explain those for newer players).

Firstly we have deployable cover, allowing the player to drop this cover anywhere on the battlefield. Probably best suited for a tank role, it will allow threat generation from any angle of the fight, while also acting as a cooldown ability to mitigate the damage your friendly meatshield will take. It can be used for any role though with a support character able to res and heal other teammates who have stretched into the fight a little too far or even as a drop ability for another player to use allowing an free skill slot for another player.

Secondly we have a damaging ability in the form of a napalm grenade/rocket not only giving an initial aoe damage spike but a ground-based damage-over-time effect for anyone standing in the inferno. It looks as though it could have a temporary CC ability on it too with enemies writhing in painful glory. Again, this could be great for a tank looking to grab aggro of a large group or a healer to cc and res/heal in a heavy battle.

Lastly we have a large-area heal/res. For any support this is going to probably be a long-cooldown ability and perfect for both PvE and PvP. It’s unclear if there is a cap on the numbers of revived teammates but the area is pretty huge allowing to really turn a fight back from almost certain doom. Expect this to be used on all types of specs in the DZ though – a tank popping a group res won’t be the most obvious thing to happen but will make for some great turnarounds.

UPDATE: I would speculate that the large area heal seen and mentioned above was a “Signature Skill”. On the weapon drop earlier in the video, the special perk is a resource generator for this skill on critical hit. After the support player uses the Sig, a cooldown bar appears behind the regen grenade icon either indicating a short cooldown OR a temporary buff to the grenades ability.

Just a little on the weapon mods as they’re kind of predictable in what the main stat bonuses will be. I did notice a headshot damage perk which would be great for some one-shotting sniper types.

So here’s my question to you guys. I’ve always played the support role and will probably do the same here. What role are you hoping to play (if any at all) and what loadout are you looking at from what we know so far?

More info soon. Game on all.

 

I used to love long Division

Yep, me too. Every day. More than once. I even try to start the game every few days (preordered on XB1).

Tom Clancy’s The Division has become the first game in a long time that I’ve become a little obsessed with its upcoming release. News, forums, I’ve probably seen all the footage currently accessible online and with the beta almost certain to drop this month – fingers crossed for this weekend – I thought I’d write a few of the more intriguing parts of the beta.

The release
There has been an unconfirmed beta date of January 29th. Some will be happy that it’s finally arrived, others frustrated it’s not sooner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it drops earlier. The beta stage of any game is to highlight any major problems with the game, mechanics, bugged missions and, being online, server capabilities. Having just over a month to consolidate and fix high priority bugs is no mean feat and every week Massive have between close of beta and actual release (8th March) will make for a more finished product. Time will tell for this one.

Beta onwards
Beta characters will not carry across to release. No big news here and I for one find this a benefit in that the beta character is a way to try some skills or invest in different playstyles without the worry of fellow agents meticulously planning their spec or loadouts. Every online rpg/mmo has followed the same rules in the past but don’t think of it as a waste. There’s also mention of some small reward for beta players which, although maybe just a vanity item, is always a little bonus.

Open World
Not the first game to do this, but it will be interesting to see how open it really is, particularly with zoning and when in a group. Fallout has managed a ridiculously large area you can run around in without having to load up areas, but entering any secondary building or zone needs a loading of that area. Destiny on the other hand has complete freedom once loaded albeit on a smaller scale for the different planets. Areas are also still zoned and when grouped can be difficult know exactly where your fellow guardians are other than a general direction. From what we’ve seen of entering the Dark Zone, it seems pretty seamless. What I’m interested in is party tracking across larger areas, knowing where you squad are and if there are still zoned areas – loading to enter a particular mission etc.

Gear types
Being an RPG, of course there’s loot. It follows the standard tiering of gear rarity – blue, purple, orange for rare, legendary and exotic gear respectively) but what is interesting is the level at which these items drop. Footage shows plenty of legendaries in the DZ and even exotics dropping as low as level 12.
For those that haven’t listened to the podcasts exotics are not like the many previous mmo/rpg games out there where they are usually named and with fixed stats. Instead, base damage and aesthetics will be the only similarities with any additional starts and perks being rolled rng style. As an example, you could get two of the same named exotic pistol but one may have hp stealing and extra crit while the other has increased range and chance to stun. The list of perks and set bonuses (which have been mentioned) are being kept under wraps but expect reload speed, ammo/clip size, range, crit damage, resistance buffing and additional threat as the baseline bonuses.

That’s it for this post, another on the way looking at the triage and group setup.

Gaming – the younger generation

Last week I read an article related to the problems that parents have with limiting “screen-time” on their children. I’ll admit, it can be a bit of a problem at times, and kids are kind of expected to always play with toys, ride their bikes, play a sport, read; anything really that isn’t technologically related. So it got me thinking about gaming, what effects it can have on the next generation but also linking it to the here and now. Now I’m not going to lie, I’m a games enthusiast but will do my best at impartiality.

The majority of us that call ourselves humanoids will probably spend anything from a few minutes to hours each day directly linked to a piece of tech. I don’t work in an IT specific job (I work in a school) but I could send a dozen emails for work, researching for a student or data analysis and there are days, like many of you, that could spend their working day in front of a screen. I’ll check the news on my breaks, have a quick flick through Twitter and maybe Facebook but I certainly don’t spend hours like some do, maybe 30 minutes in total. Even before I squeeze in some gaming time or watching a movie with the kids I’ve already spent over half my day connected to technology in some way (yesterday was Star Wars Episode One; my wife and kids enjoyed it while I, like many, reeled at the overuse of CGI and lack of story depth). But that’s the reality of our lives today, living in the technological era.

After that tangent, here’s my argument for gaming. Like anything, excessive use/consumption of anything has a detrimental effect on a person. Ice cream is damn tasty but too much can lead to weight, diabetes, sickness; you get idea. Gym, work, not spending enough time with family, spending too much time with family, it all needs a healthy portion to benefit us. My son is seven and today he spent an hour this afternoon playing Star Wars Battlefront. During this time, he played with his younger sister (4 years) and through the entire hour they were talking to each other, my eldest teaching my youngest, communicating, engaging, using imagination to narrate a story while playing. I mean the story was ridiculous of course, where a rebel would hide his rocket launcher when not equipped was a particularly interesting chapter!

There wasn’t a negative at all in their play time here, but there’s still that scepticism and news articles almost condemning it all. Maybe, as adults who have entered this new technological era, we are afraid that our reliance on it all (TV, Internet, Xbox live) will become instilled in our own children and some are looking for proof of negative repercussions – ironically probably by using statistics, Internet research and digital surveys. It is a part of our lives, part of almost every job, it just needs to be enjoyed in moderation.

I for one would certainly not condone a whole day of gaming…*cough*.