Tom Clancy's The Division beta impressions

Tom Clancy's The Division was announced back in 2013 during Ubisoft's E3 press conference, and finally, its release date is only a month away. Last weekend, Ubisoft gave the gaming community a taste of their long awaited game by offering a closed beta to preorders, and to a select few who signed up for the beta. Players were able to explore a portion of the map (centered outside Penn Station), completing a single story mission, and venturing forth into a tiny section of the Dark Zone.

The plot of The Division is to take back Manhattan from those who have used an epidemic as an excuse to terrorize the remaining people on the island of Manhattan. When the first wave of Division agents fails, the last chance the city has is to activate the second wave of sleeper agents. The beta opens in Camp Hudson, a safe location where players can run around, access vendors and see one another. Once you step into the streets of New York, you are a lone agent, that is unless you party with others activated agents. The central base of operations, where you can interact with vendors, receive missions and stash your items. Various wings of the base need to be repaired and upgraded. You are tasked with gathering materials and rescuing personnel to help the base reach its full potential. I can only speculate that there might be other bases on the map that you can upgrade; this could be either in the initial release or via one of the three planned expansions.

Loot comes in the form of gear, weapons and appearance items. Any items that you do not need can be sold to vendors or deconstructed for crafting materials. Crafting was not available during the beta, so we were not able to see it in action. Items are marked with different colors to indicate its commonality. Weapons and gear also have attributes that increase damage or offer other beneficial perks, such as increased health or protection. Appearance items are mostly for aesthetics and provide no special traits except to customize your character; I believe this will open up the possibility for micro-transactions in the future.

Manhattan is the current setting for the game and based on the beta, only the midtown area will be accessible. The small playable area might cause some issue in the long run because the island in real life is only 2.3 miles at its widest point. Then again, this city has a lot of high rises and lots of underground areas that go on for miles. I'm sure the game will take advantage of this, and combat will happen on both rooftops and throughout the expansive subway and sewer tunnels.

The hybrid PvE/PvP area called the Dark Zone is believed to be where you can collect the best weapons and gear in the game. The items collected in the Dark Zone are contaminated, so they need be brought to an extraction zone where a helicopter will airlift the items out. While out hunting with random agents running around the zone, at any time you may come under fire. Players that target other players will be marked as "rogue". It's a gamble, as you may steal contaminated items that haven't been extracted from the other agent, but you are also painting a bullseye on your back for someone to take you out. This concept might work at release, but I'm hoping they will provide more PvP options post release.

Even in the beta, players were able to abuse borders in the dark zone to troll people. I am hoping that Ubisoft will address this issue and have a solid plan for addressing people who will be abusing any exploits in the game. Red borders marked the end of the beta area, but come release, what will stop someone from walking out of marked zones? If players will continue to be warped if they leave the playable area, this type of exploitation will continue, For obvious reasons, I am remaining vague, to purposely not spread how players were abusing the game, but want to ensure that Ubisoft does something about prior to release, especially for the PC version.

Tom Clancy's The Division