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E3 2015: Hands-On with 2016's Tom Clancy's The Division
Post by Grizz @ 01:27pm 16/06/15 | Comments
AusGamers' newest (oldest) recruit Grizz is on the ground at E3 and snuck himself some hands-on time with Tom Clancy's The Division. Read on for his full thoughts...

When there's loot, co-op is moot.

Like a lamb to the slaughter, I'm herded into a nine-person gaggle of gaming critics. This number gets split into four teams, each lead by its own Ubisoft handler – a pretty fitting start for a demo of a game called The Division, I think. Before I can verbalise this maths joke and solidify my status as team pariah, the three of us are dropped into our own instanced version of Manhattan, at which point I feel the urge to scratch a more urgent itch. One that's been bothering me since E3 2013...

I sprint up to the first car I see with an open door, I 'attach' to it via the cover mechanic and slide along that sucker until the animation system makes my avatar casually slap the door shut when I slip past.

"Get what you need?" asks my Ubileader when I run up to six other cars on the block and exquisitely drag my butt along those as well, like a dog might its proverbials on a mink rug. I grin and give him a slow nod back.

With my primary objective complete, I decided to help my three-man team achieve a secondary one: climb into one of the newly announced Dark Zones. In layman's terms, they're areas of this festering Big Apple where the military has abandoned some of its best equipment, a fact known not just by the tougher AI psychos in this world, but also the other player-controlled teams eyeing us warily over the top of their TV screens. When this PvE level culminates into a boss fight, we're told our instances will fold into a singular Co-op/PvP session where we'll be given "the option to work with each other" for epic loot. Something tells me that's not gonna happen.

Before we can progress to that point, the three of us have to knock out some standard cover-based violence against a group of AI bandits. First impressions are pretty good, though we do wipe on the first attempt when we somebody gets sloppy on the revives. (One of the German journos was admiring the polygons instead of covering us, which started a domino theory.) Ubi seems to be using Watch Dogs' approach to duck and cover (Circle button vaults, tapping Cross attaches, and you can transition to distant positions by pointing your reticule and holding Cross until your operative roadie runs over of their own accord). I'm also pleased with the dive roll mechanic (double tap Cross) as it works great in tandem with my Super 90 Shotgun loadout – filthy, overly-aggressive flanker that I am.

Credit where it's due: none of my assaults would have succeeded if I didn't have two buddies spamming their unique cooldown abilities on L1 and R1. A cohort's Pulse gifted me with X-ray outlines of hiding prey, and his thrown MG turret shredded anything lurking my blindspots. My other mate backed us up with healing bursts from his medkit, plus his Seeker bombs sniffed out and absolutely destroyed any nearby threat. Interestingly, if it can't find a lucky contestant your Seeker bomb will just tag along behind you like a puppy, waiting until it does find something to maul. Neat stuff.

In not much time we enter a large, open-air mall and the boss fight begins. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell you much about the specifics of the big-bad 's design and weaknesses. As the team's designated berserker I was placed on mop-up-the-minions-duty. The boss's lifespan also wasn't helped by the fact that he was being thoroughly perforated by three other teams who had entered the arena once their own instance caught up with ours. Which is, of course, when the real shitstorm started.

I honestly couldn't tell you who or what started the player-on-player killing when the boss's lifebar dropped to a bee's dick. Our group would argue about it quite a bit in the demo debriefing afterwards, in fact. All I can tell you is one minute I was making AI soldiers spew damage numbers one moment, and the next I was delivering buckshot into the unsuspecting pancreases of any human too stupid to get out of my way.

This precipitated into a glorious ten-minute bloodbath in which every team desperately tried to secure an loot crate, survive for a set amount of time with it, and then make like Arnold "Dutch" Schwarzenegger toward the centre of the map (read: extraction chopper). Unlimited respawns made for a chaotic mess filled with dive-rollIng clutch victories, frantic enemy position reports over the headsets, and above all, fun.

This might be sour grapes from me not winning the extraction, but at this juncture, players felt a little too bullet spongy for my tastes. When I unload on somebody with an LMG, I expect them to drop a helluva lot quicker than what the current MMO logic dictates. At medium range victims that I had the drop on had time to reposition and live a few seconds longer than they should have. Another thing you could probably chalk up to pre-alpha code jitters: enemies would intermittently teleport away (which I put down to bugbears in the roll animation).

But I digress, beyond those two minor peccadilloes, I walked away from my time with this much-delayed MMO shooter with a need and a want to play more. Providing you have some hombres you can enlist to watch your back, possibly while you each take turns rubbing up against cars all day, my sums are saying The Division will make a worthy addition to your collection. Here's hoping Ubisoft can get around to releasing it.
Read more about Tom Clancy's The Division on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

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