The First Few is a series where we take raw unfiltered first impressions of the game and write down exactly what we think within the initial hours of it. Whereas a review covers the experience as a whole, The First Few focuses on the opening act of the title or more commonly known as the “hook”.
Disclaimer: The Division is not a game I can say I went into completely fresh; I did participate in the open beta for a few missions before getting to play the full game. However I will still recount my experiences of playing it on launch night. Before we dive into the first hour however, I did spend at least 20 minutes prior fixing a black screen issue which plagued many players involving an incorrect reading of screen resolution.
The First Hour, Sierra 10680921
Yep! Once I was able to successfully launch into the game, I was greeted with a warm and fuzzy error message. To be fair, this was after a very nice intro with real life and in game graphics laying out the scenario. As my (currently Asian) female character peered into the window to be customized, the game exited and plastered the Sierra warning on my display. Over the next 45 minutes, I struggled to keep my attention as I continuously launched the game hoping for just a taste of the beast before bed. With each click to try again, my heart sank further and further knowing that time was running short. Miraculously, I finally looked up and saw the dreary yet beautiful streets of Brooklyn yet again and that familiar face staring into the window of a car.
With the second hour beginning, I was able to turn my character into a rough and tough Book of Eli type dude and set out into the modern day apocalypse. From the get go, you’re led by the hand through your controls to make sure you understand you’re playing a 3rd person cover based hybrid. The controls felt as sharp as they had in the beta which was very similar to gears. Using my controller, I got used to rolling from cover to cover and sticking myself to the wall. Then I attempted to do the same while shooting in between rolls and was pleased to see you can cancel reloads with an evasive maneuver. Without needing much more practice, I set off to face the enemies that loomed ahead.
The weird thing about the Brooklyn section is its ability to show you so much, give you multiple paths to the checkpoints yet still find a way to stifle you enough to not stray too far from the path. It was clearly a tutorial section but, outside of the onscreen prompts, didn’t really feel like one.
After a short while and a few baddies, I equipped my trusty riot shield and headed to Manhattan. For those who played the beta, the next part is identical for the most part.
Two Hours Later…
I realized what time it was in real life but kept on playing anyways hoping to get just one more level, one more kill. As the true sense of freedom set in, I ventured as far out as my level 3 character would let me. The map is set with different level ranges for the various parts of Manhattan as a way to gate progress and protect lower levels from pain. However, as the industrious lad I am, I forged forward into the level 5 – 9 area and you know what? I had a blast. The Division is made so with enough skill and patience, regardless of level, you can overcome even the most surprising of odds in PVE. At least that’s what I started experiencing in that third hour.
I felt like a damn action hero as I walked into a group of five NPCS four levels higher than I, shield out in front of me. I took their bullets head on and used my pistol to clear the lot. Then from the corner, a door burst open and a few more guys burst onto the roof. Thinking quickly, I looked to the ground and delivered a shot to a gasoline can in front of their passage igniting their clothes and snuffing out their lives. But suddenly, a shot rang out from some unknown location! I quickly took cover and searched my surroundings using the pulse ability which told me there was a sniper up on the roof a little ways away. Feeling bold, I rushed him, dodging from side to side as bullets ricocheted about until I reached a point where I was no longer felt his gaze upon me. In seconds, I found a ladder and walked up behind the sniper with a shotgun to finish him off.
That is probably the single best example of why I couldn’t stop playing this game after I started. However not everything is sunshine and roses.
That Ol’ Vidya Game Feeling
As I began to feel sleep attack my eyes, I also began to see a few things more clearly. Either everyone in Manhattan is named Alex or I keep bumping into NPCS that just happen to have the same name as the group I dispatched mere seconds earlier. This is of course an obstacle often found in open world games but after the fifth or so “They got Alex!!” I have to consider it a design flaw. Even just a variation like a James or John would have helped a lot but instead, this breaks the immersion and feel of the Division’s world by introducing a very “video gamey” element. I have to emphasize that in a game as focused on realism, having a “break in character” like this really pulls the player out. It’s surprising they took so much time and energy to create a base that is actually just a glorified skill tree and make it feel very organic. However, they decided against recording just one more voice clip to run for their thousands of baddies. For most, this will be a simple, “nothing can be perfect” however as I sat there shooting my brains out with a finger gun at its stupidity, I realize that it could have been pretty easily fixed with some effort. Perhaps that was the lunacy of late night video games honestly but man, did it ever get to me.
However, as I set my controller down and prepared for bed, I could only think of what new adventures I would have in Manhattan the next day. The agent life is the life for me.
Platform: Steam (uPlay intergration)
Control method: Xbox 360 Controller
Time spent: 6 Hours
Andron (or Ace as he likes to call himself) is the so called "Head Honcho" of Bombchu.com. He has a deep passion for video games primarily RPGs, Fighting or Adventure. When not gaming, he's furiously typing on his keyboard or coming up with new schemes.