The Division beta – impressions

One of the most hyped games for this year has to be Tom Clancy’s The Division, an open-world MMORPG set in a locked down New York after a pandemic outbreak.  I got access to the beta of the game over the weekend after pre-ordering, and I must admit it’s very good indeed.  I haven’t actually managed to partake in some of the much talked about co-op gameplay or the PVP dark zone sections, but just exploring the disaster-stricken New York streets, taking on scavenger gangs and completing side missions as well as the beta’s main mission … has been a lot of fun.

Division beta 1

screenshot captured directly from my PS4

Visually the game has had a bit of a downgrade since the initial E3 reveal but that was to be expected considering the game was first shown before the Xbox One and PS4 were even released.  But with that in mind, how do the visuals stack up in this near-finished version?  Very good indeed actually.  There are a ton of effects at work, impressive weather such as wind & snow considering the game is set at Christmas, and a wealth of detail on buildings, the road, and cars (yes you can still close that car door, folks!).  The lighting is very atmospheric and with what appears to be a dynamic weather and day / night cycle the game shows off it’s true beauty the more you play it.

division beta 2

screenshot captured directly from my PS4

Gameplay-wise (with similarities to Destiny) you create your character (well, their face and gender but I didn’t do much with this aspect when first booting up the game), and then are introduced to the world, following the storyline of an agent flown into the crisis and having to make his (or her) way to the base of operation – a hub environment that you enhance and develop as you go on missions and complete tasks.  It’s a good idea and one that will mean there’s more than just a develop character / stats excuse to keep on playing.  I wonder if this is the only base of operation or if there will be others in different areas the player can develop?  The core shooting feels good too, with an excellent cover-based mechanic that enables the player to run to various areas of cover very easily, making for some exciting encounters.  The character / NPC designs are very detailed and slickly animated making this game feel very next-gen overall.  I think it will be a game that could become quite addictive also as more missions become available and various quests are discovered.  The enemy characters at this stage seem quite samey (all violent hoodies it seems) but that could change once the game is out and we could get boss fights.  It’s too early to be sure though.

For now The Division is looking to be a solid game to invest a ton of time in so I can’t wait till March 8th!

Left 4 Dead

On-line gaming has rarely interested me.  Ok, I’m not too shabby at Halo 3 or Call Of Duty 4, but often come away dissatisfied compared to single player gaming.  I feel mainly like there’s no real point to it all.

That has now all changed with the arrival of latest shooter Left 4 Dead.  Now before you say ‘its just an on-line shooter with a tacked on single player mode’, I will firstly agree with you, and then say one word: VALVE.  The celebrated developer behind my favourite game of all time; Half Life 2.  Now this uses the same Source graphics engine, which still looks the biz today, but the reason this game just nails it on-line is this:  you have to work together.  You wont be any good at this game if you go it alone, and neither will you survive very long if your team mates do the same.  Yet as  each of the four players all learn this quite quickly too, soon you are working together to battle the zombie apocalypse, and unless you protect and heal and lookout for each other – its going to be Game Over very quickly.

There is so much this game gets right.  If you die, its not the end, as you are then transported to a safe location, and your team mates are made aware of your location and can come and let you out.  If you take a break from the slaughter, then you can get the computer to take over without your team mates being any the wiser – and above all else, it feels like you’re in a movie like 28 Days Later or Land of the Dead – and that is both frightening and f****** brilliant!

Make way online gamers – I’m baaaaaack!