Oh Hey, A Bunch Of People Played The Division

Oh Hey, A Bunch Of People Played The Division

A few days ago a bunch of members of the gaming press went and played Ubisoft's upcoming tactical shooter/RPG Tom Clancy's The Division. Let's see what they thought of it. We didn't attend the preview event (obviously) but the embargo lifted this morning and there are enough substantive hands-on demo videos out there that I figured I'd embed a few and let y'all check them out. The game itself is billed as a tactical, online action-RPG. Formula-wise, it looks like a cooperative third-person Tom Clancy cover-shooter (Ghost Recon seems closest) mixed with a Destiny-like XP/loot/levelling system.

First up, the folks at Videogamer.com talk amongst themselves about how the game's numbers work, and whether it's more of an RPG or a straight-up shooter. (Sounds like the numbers play a bigger role than some of them were expecting.)

Playboy.com gaming editor (and one of my regular Destiny squadmates) Mike Rougeau also played the game and put up a video with his own commentary. I play games and chat with Mike enough to know that I'm interested in his impressions of this one, so I figured I'd share em here, too. Here's Mike:

Lots of numbers flying off of enemies there. Will all online shooters have numbers that fly off their enemies? Possibly.

GamesRadar has put together a video comparing the version they played with the version Ubisoft showed at E3, and, yeah, pretty noticeable difference there. Some of that could be the difference between console and PC versions, mind.

If you just want to watch the game, here's TGN playing through the opening bits with no commentary:

If you're more of a reader than a watcher, Rock, Paper Shotgun has a solid written preview of the game, which they say works pretty well. IGN also wrote it up.

I'm looking for a new game to fill the Destiny-shaped hole in my gaming schedule. Not sure yet if this'll be the one. How do you all think it looks?


    I hope no one actually expected it to look like it did at E3, PC or otherwise.

      I'm not surprised it turned out this way, but I don't think it's right or fair to do this whole bait and switch that constantly happens with new announcements.

        I think it's just the accepted reality now. Kinda like how fast food never looks as good as it does in the ads.

        Really sucks but I guess they're not going to stop doing it any time soon.

          I think the biggest problem is them not only allowing, but encouraging pre-orders based on this kind of content. Most people who frequent sites like this are suitably aware of the dangers of pre-orders, but that's only a small percentage of the game buying public.

            Excepting a gaming demo at E3 to truly represent the graphics of the end product is like expecting a trailer to be playable.

            Demos and trailers are about generating hype, they're meant to look better than the actual product. People just need to realise the difference.

              Like @braaains said below, there's a difference between trailers that are clearly not the final product and "gameplay" videos like the Division and Watch Dog's reveals. They use misleading terms like "in engine footage" and overlay things like HUDS and utilise camera angles indicative of gameplay.

              These are all done to mislead the consumer into thinking the game will be one way but actually isn't like that at all. Watch Dogs was almost excusable because at the time of development they may not have known the final specs of next gen consoles, but The Division was revealed after the consoles had released.

              So as I said, the vast majority of the people here, I hope, can take these things with a grain of salt, but the far, far larger market that don't talk or think much about the games they play could easily be taken for a ride.

          Kinda like how fast food never looks as good as it does in the ads

          Hehe reminds me of this...


          But anyhoo, I think there's a line to be drawn between a prerendered CGI kind of trailer, which is obviously not gameplay and not expected to be, and tarted up video trying to pass itself off as gameplay footage when the final product will never look like that. Although at the end of hte day it's not really a huge issue because the actual footage usually comes out before the game is released, as in this case, so it's not like irrevocable purchasing decisions are being made based on the fudged E3 footage.

      No I didn't but I'd still like to see a proper PC-to-PC comparison.

      One can still dream that this the title that finally stops this stupid downgrading to the lowest common denominator.

    I'm pretty sure I'm in.... but I'm going to give the beta a whirl to make sure.

      Thought I'd mention you need to either preorder for beta access or sign up to a waiting list for a chance to get in.

        Yeah... but I can pre order for the key, then if it's crap I can cancel the order.

        I bought a beta key for $1 online.

        Of course I'd prefer games to still do free demos like they used to but it's better than nothing.

        Oh and I wouldn't have bothered at all if I knew the beta was only 3 days

        Last edited 18/01/16 8:45 am

      When's that happening?

        Juan has it start on the 28th of Jan, PS4 & PC has it starting from the 29th.

        It ends on the 31st.

        Yep, 3 whole days.


    WTF are these guys shooting peas or something? Lets empty a whole clip into what appears to be a human with no body armor whilst they just continue going about their merry business. Regardless game play seems uninspired and very generic. Guess they're just going the safe route which ironically totally disinterests me.

      Do you hate the Elder Scrolls series? they've never had realistic combat, at best it's like waving foam swords at cardboard cut-outs. Why should a rpg with swords, bows and magic be given a free pass on not being "realistic" but as soon as guns are involved it MUST be "realistic"

        It's all in the setting. First out it's subjective. There is no right and wrong - your opinion is just as valid but imo if you're creating a world that is realistic in nature then design the gameplay around it. A gun should have impact - it should have stopping power against an opponent without any body armor. They should design game play around riot shields or something, anything that is more palatable than just soaking a full clip whilst wearing a hoodie. Like i said very uninspired gameplay.

        WRT es/fallout its not that bad you shoot someone in the head they'll die unless wearing body armor (playing on legendary difficulty with decent mods that re balance combat and the game is great). It's also the setting... you're fighting dragons, vampires, mutant lizards whilst you are running around and talking to cats and lizards, imo it doesn't set the same expectations.

          But it is still fictional no? There hasn't been an outbreak in New York and it hasn't been placed in quarantine. As long as the logic being used in a fictional universe is consistent throughout said universe, I struggle to understand why a specific setting demands logic identical to our own.

          Ultimately it is personal preference. But PiratePete and justachap have given a reason that the appeal the Division is going for is not something that appeals to them. But you instead gave a reason that to me sounds like the kind of thing of "I'm a straight white male. Why should anyone make anything not aimed at straight white males like me." (that's not a sjw comment, it could easily be "I like racing games. Why would people make fighting games, fighting games are obviously the worst and racing games are obviously the best".)

          If you don't like it you don't like it. But if you don't like something why does that make it unequivocally bad?

          I apologise but this a basically pent-up frustration of people somehow being convinced that The Division is a shooter like BF or ARMA of Siege or whatever, when FROM THE START the developers stated it's a rpg like Mass Effect 1 or Fallout 3. (I'm referring to the combat and I'm making up the specific games as examples.)

            But you instead gave a reason that to me sounds like the kind of thing of "I'm a straight white male. Why should anyone make anything not aimed at straight white males like me."

            Huh, this doesn't even make sense to me at all. I actually I don't mind destiny\borderlands - those settings make it feel right (as in the universe is just completely different - magic and wizards n the like). Like i said the closer a game mimics our reality the closer the gameplay should too. It just pulls me out of the game and makes it frustrating when you see a guy in a hoodie take a full clip from an automatic pistol. That, to me, just reeks of lazy design (there is a myriad of ways that they could have gone differently with it).

            For me setting should reflect the gameplay (and vice versa). Bloodbourne/dark souls are a perfect example of this. Destiny/halo do a good job as well. This game? Sorry but no - not even close.

              Thank you for your responses. I feel like I've been rude and I was expecting you to rightfully call me out on it.

              I guess my suspension of disbelief is more willing to go with it.
              Thing is I can think of examples in the games you mentioned that... Can't finish that sentence so I'll just use examples.

              Borderlands Pre-sequel: popping enemies helmets in outer space merely inflicts a very minor dot. More "logically" it could deal a lot of damage very fast but have have the helmet repair itself quickly before they died.
              Bloodbourne: I never quite bought into the notion of not wearing armour because it didn't help against the monsters. There are spiders with armoured heads that take almost no damage when struck there. If nothing else why didn't any hunter use the spiders heads as a shield if not armour?

              For your final point I feel that limits possibilities. I'm extrapolating but with your logic we can almost never have a game with a rpg-based combat system in a modern setting. Fights need to take long enough for the numbers to matter. Why should I spec for 25% more health if "realistically" I die to 2-3 bullets regardless. Modern setting have guns, but if guns make fights to fast then is this an alternate universe where guns were never invented? And we use Slingshots against one-another?

              I'm showing my hand too much with this. But I loved walking down the streets in this game and I only have positives to say about it's combat experience. Either of those things is enough for me to happily ignore unnaturally durable enemies.

            Sounds like you need to learn the word 'verisimilitude'.

              I'm a mechanics first kind of gamer and when I saw the first trailer for The Division back at 2013/14 E3 I thought it looked like a pretty pre-rendered cutscene. Didn't care until they started combat and that was when I started paying attention. I hadn't seen anything like it since Mass Effect 1 which is what hooked me into the franchise and disappointed me immensely with each sequel.

              So to me I don't care one iota about how verisimilar the setting is.

              Now I know everyone's different. But I still struggle to understand how widespread the incorrect assumptions have been made about this game. When they saw the first trailer I saw did they see the setting and graphics, assume that was reflective of the actual game, but somehow miss the combat at the end? Every trailer I've seen for the Division has had the realistic setting with the unrealistic combat. So how have people seen the realistic setting which led them to assume there would be realistic combat while conveniently missing the unrealistic combat happening right in front of them?

              The first few times I ran into people with the incorrect beliefs about what the game will be, I just shrugged and moved on. But as time passed I found it increasingly ridiculous that the Division was garnering a negative image because of no real fault of the developers.
              And I'm scared it might reach a point where last time this level of mis-information was spread was when long time xbox owners were going to buy a PS4 because Destiny was advertised in a way that had convinced them Destiny was PS exclusive. I'm going to be so disappointed if the Division flops because people wrongfully assumed it has realistic combat.

                Maybe... just maybe people were expecting not so much what you'd see in an E3 trailer (which can never be trusted anyway), and something from this Tom Clancy game more in line with the kind of lethality present in other Tom Clancy franchises, like Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, Rainbox Six and the like.

                And there's a pretty big difference between, "OK, well maybe literally everyone has body armour," and, "Multiple clips? Really?" When you watch the gameplay videos, it really is another level. Much closer to MMO than shooter. MMOs, with their bizarre insistence that every mob take at least one minute to fight. Not so glaring in things like WoW, but more noticeable and frustrating in games like SWTOR where suddenly one of the galaxy's deadliest weapons no longer slices through pretty much anything but instead take a few dozen slices to make any noticable impact on... security guards or street thungs. To the point where you wonder why Jedi don't give up on shitty ineffective lightsaber wifflebats and just break off a chair leg instead. At least with Star Wars you can say, uh... personal shields? Or is that the excuse in The Division as well? Personal shields, and uh... nanites! Yeah, that explains the healing auras. c.c

                But dissonance aside, I don't think the problem is going to be that people criticize The Division's combat because it takes longer than they expected as much as people will criticize The Division's combat because taking that long to kill enemies with a gun isn't as much fun. The 'fights must take X seconds at a minimum' creed of the MMO is frustrating padding, designed to draw out fights so that it takes longer to get through content. At least SWTOR learned from the feedback about how utterly ludicrously underpowered players felt and added clusters of easily-slain trash in most pulls, to make people feel like they were actually playing an epic warrior and not some primary school kid.

                Last edited 17/01/16 6:08 pm

                  I believe I'm not meant to say this, but the embargo has been lifted for Kotaku and others so I'm gonna jump in as well.

                  I've played the division. All the way up to lvl 10 (and 10 hours beyond that). I think lvl 40 might be the end. Only once did I fight an enemy where I found myself thinking "Good lord he takes a lot to put down". I did not care. I'd never seen the enemy before. Not only was he a high-tier enemy, he was a special spawn kind of enemy based on the fact I'd passed by his location without him being there a few times.
                  I was by myself in an area that's suggested to be tackled as a group (the Darkzone) and some other players had shown up and I was still trying to figure out if they were going to kill me or If I was gonna kill them first and how would I take action if either of those things were going to happen.

                  The combat was somehow a magical combination of spilt-second decisions and snap shots, and the maths of the damage of my gun with the modifier of my firearms stats against the other players armour and health stats.
                  You had time to respond, but if you didn't respond well you were a dead man in a matter of seconds.

                  You said "Much closer to MMO than shooter" if I change MMO to RPG. Then yes, of course it is. When did the developers say/state/show/explain it as anything else.


                  Straight from the Divisons homepage, first sentence under the heading "A new take on the Clancy series"

                  It doesn't even use the word "shooter".

                Well that's a reassuring review. The thing that has concerned me personally more than the gun lethality is the PVP... all the videos I've seen talking about it so far say that 'the best stuff' is there, to encourage people to actually go there. Is that true? Best gear from PVP only?

                  It SEEMED like the pvp zone had the highest frequency of "good" gear to presumably make killing players for their loot more enticing. You could replay the one main mission (think Destiny strike) on a higher difficultly to get a guaranteed random blue drop (white, green, blue, purple, then orange). Darkzone had special crates lvl 10 crates had a blue inside, never got to see inside a lvl 30 crate. Darkzone vendors who take darkzone currency had rotating blue/purple stock, another darkzone vendor had orange gear but I think they simplified it so we had a chance to get them.

                  Now this is just me but I was worried I might not like the darkzone because I was moving about solo while others were in groups. Solo was immense fun. The tenseness and paranoia of feeling like you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. The tentative co-operation with others knowing anyone could betray anyone at a moments notice. And if you can surviving a betrayal is one of the best videogame experiences I've had.

                  Fighting some ai when 2 players show up and help me finish them off. As we investigate the loot the two open fire on me, I desperately roll behind a car and heal. Throw what few grenades I had to try and survive. In their cockiness of out numbering me they don't use cover until it's too late. Execute both of them and before I can decide if I should steal their loot or just run away to avoid retaliation, it turns out it wasn't a group of 2 but a group of 3 as the last player opens fire. I couldn't heal because my healing abilties 30-second cooldown wasn't finished. Manage to kill the third guy. I decide to steal all I can and then I book it to extraction. The 90 seconds before extraction have to be tensest videogame experience I've had.

                Thanks for the description of the PVP. Sounds like a pretty cool experience, just not to my taste.
                Starting to sound like a really big difference in personal taste and where we're coming at the game from.

                Looking like if I'm lucky it'll experience a dramatic price drop like SW: Battlefront did a couple months after launch, and I'll pick it up to play the less-ruthless co-op/campaign stuff.

                  Different tastes are absolutely fine. I started commenting because some commenters were along the lines of "Division looks like games x and y and that's not my type of game" but joeyjoes first comment (my interpretation) reads as "combat isn't realistic, therefore the game is generic, uninspired and overall bad." and I wanted to say something back.

                  Last edited 19/01/16 2:46 pm

      I'm similarly pretty disappointed by the low damage. It turns pretty cartoonish when you empty a mag into some guy and he just stands there jerking about like an 80s movie shooting victim... then runs off into cover. Dafuq.

    What is the basic story for this game? Is it economic collapse, war or a virus? I always thought it was about a virus and there'd be infected people or monsters of some sort. I know the whole infected disaster is somewhat overdone but i cant help but feel this game will be quite ordinary if its just human factions killing each other, online or not

      I believe the story is along the lines of someone or some group released a virus by lacing money with the virus around the time of the black friday sales, I believe.

      Because the city is in quarantine they can't send anyone in, so they activate "The Division" which is a group of american sleeper agents.

      As a game it seems very Mass Effect 1 before they "simplified" the rpg combat in the sequels.

        That sounds cool even if there isnt any infected human enemies, it still has that horror element as compared to a war or social/economic collapse. Thanks for that!

          I really like the concept, and I think it would've made an excellent novel... if Clancy was still alive to write it.

    Yeah I think I'll just stick with Siege. This just looks like, as PiratePete said above, like Destiny and Bordelands.

    Tactical? Damn. I was interested until that word was used. I prefer my shooters mindless and run-and-gunny (Borderlands, Splatoon) because I have very poor situational awareness and comprehension skills. Shame, this was looking kinda interesting.

      I hate run and gun games as they dont require any skill and generally really boring. I think most people prefer tactical. Try getting used to it.

        There's no need to be that rude. Other people have difference preferences than you. Try getting used to it.

          What are you on about moron? What part of what i was was rude?

        I have tried, and I simply can't. Not only am I completely useless at it, it simply does not interest me. I'm not much for shooters, anyway, so it doesn't bother me.

      This will be marketed to as wide a population as possible. I'd be very surprised if it was any more tactical than Borderlands. Maybe a little bit slower paced (which should help anyway).

      This is not ARMA.

      Last edited 18/01/16 8:51 am

    STOP! Comparing destiny to it ffs! Every loot game is not destiny! Every fps game is not call of duty! Every cover based game is not gears of war! Every adventure game is not uncharted!

    Last edited 16/01/16 10:17 pm

      Its an MMO Shooter there aren't a whole lot of other things we can compare it to.

      Until you come up with better short-hand for rapidly conveying similarities in mechanics and concepts, mashing titles together to explain tone, theme, controls, balance, progression etc is going to keep happening.

      It's not going to stop. Get used to it.

        No. You can always use genres to describe. Its annoying when people use the same game over and over again for all sorts of different genres. Cover based mmorpg with looting system. Thats it!

    Tell me about the microtransactions. Developers should be forced to detail and explain all of them for every game they release imo.

    Arcade shoot'em'up cover game with 2012 graphics.

    This looks like utter crap. Graphical downgrade, dumb number crunching combat, uninspiring animations and enemies that take far, far too long to die. I am hoping Wildlands is going to be the coop tactical tom clancy shooter so many have been waiting for because this crap is Future Soldier all over again.

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