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Tom Clancy’s The Division’s open beta began today and plenty of excited players flocked to try it, myself included. The Division is a cover-based open world third-person shooter role-playing game (basically a mouthful) made by Ubisoft. Before we dive into the story and the first glance, let’s review the recommended PC specs released by Ubisoft in January:

Minimum Configuration
Supported OS: Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core i5-2400 / AMD FX-6100
RAM: 6 GB
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 / AMD Radeon HD 7770
Direct X: Version 11
Hard Drive Space: 40 GB

Recommended Configuration
Supported OS: Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 / AMD FX-8350
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD R9 290
Direct X: Version 11
Hard Drive Space: 40 GB

Having really only played shooter games such as Modern Warfare 2 and Borderlands 2, The Division felt very different to me since it is cover-based – which means players use cover (i.e. a car, bus, or wall) to protect themselves from being shot at rather than simply running, hiding, or crouching around to avoid bullets. To take cover, players can press the space bar close to a location and it will automatically make the character crouch down. When I started the game, the tutorial felt rushed since there was no way to stop it from cycling through all the tips and instructions. In a nutshell, players can equip two skills to cycle between, using cover is very important, and lobbing grenades… I was so busy trying to remember the previous tips that I didn’t hear how exactly to use grenades or how to heal. I did figure it out later on after a lot of button mashing.

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Skill selection screen, players can unlock more slots as they level to a maximum of 3

After the brief tutorial, the game moves on to the character creation screen. Players can choose to play a female or male character and currently there is no customization available other than randomizing a look. I was surprised at how the tomboyish the females looked as I am used to female characters looking very feminine and busty from games like League of Legends, Blade & Soul, etc. so it was very refreshing! From the looks of it, there will be more options for customization such as hair, markings, and accessories. The male characters had more noticeable changes in the random looks since they could have beards or no beards. I am one of those people who can spend hours upon hours creating a character, so I was a bit saddened that the beta didn’t have as many options.

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The opening scene of the game introduces the player to a character called Faye Lau, who looks pretty beat up. Sadly, I was not impressed by her character because the voice acting did not match the vibe she gave off and the dialogue was really cheesy. At a later point in the game Faye Lau says something along the lines of, “They told you to never get attached… but I did. I love this city.” Her voice really sounds like someone deliberately trying to lower their voice and sound tough, but ultimately not being very successful. Before I go on and on about how this bothered me, we should probably move on to the actual gameplay experience.

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Stepping into the world, I immediately loved how beautiful it was and in my mind, I drooled a bit. The ambient noise is perfect and sounds like a random song playing from a military tent really immersed me into the atmosphere of the game. Walking through the city, I bumped into a few Chinese civilians who muttered little phrases in Mandarin which were perfectly spoken very accurate (我才不會被你吓到! “I’m not scared of you!”). It was very different to hear Mandarin spoken randomly in a video game and it blew me away.

Although it is not possible to click and interact with everything, players can kick objects around by simply running over it. In the first area, there was a street full of cars with open doors and I was able to close not one, but all of them. I also, by accident, ruined the memorial for the those who died in battle.

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At this point, my computer bugged out and I couldn’t take anymore screenshots so I apologize for not having images for combat. As I walked my character along the road and explored, most of the civilians ran away from her because she was equipped with several guns. Out of pure curiosity, I tried to shoot a civilian but nothing happened. What players can shoot (aside from enemies) are the birds and the vermin. I couldn’t bring myself to try and shoot the dogs running around because I love dogs way too much.

Overall, the gameplay was not as fantastic as I was expecting it to be. I enjoyed the option of having open world exploration in The Division but the main focus of the game, the combat, felt slow and the objectives felt more like a chore than a fun activity. Multiplayer is fun since games are always more fun with friends and being able to adjust the difficulty made it a bit more challenging and engaging as well. Based on the beta, I can say the most enjoyable aspects of my brief experience were the stunning graphics and the immersive sounds. I look forward to trying the full release of the game without the limitations in a few months!

All images taken from Tom Clancy’s The Division are property of Ubisoft.

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