The Day Ubisoft Stood Me Up

6 a.m EST.

Alarm.

Man mid twenties with buzzed hair and the whispers of a beard rolls over in bed. Groggy he glances at his phone as he shuts off the alarm. He suddenly jolts up.

Pan in on phone screen: TheDivisionGame Twitch notification.

“Did I miss it!?”

The man eagerly clicks on the notification while jamming headphones into his ears to hear the announcement that will change his life.


 

No one really seems to know just where they had seen the announcement but everyone could agree on one thing: on the 29th of March 2016 Ubisoft Massive would be telling us everything we wanted to know about incursions for The Division during a live stream on their Division Twitch account.

I was shocked when I woke up this morning to find that there had already been a stream and I’d missed it. It was frustrating but I still get up before a lot people on the east coast of the United States I would still be one of the first to know exactly what to expect form The Division. Luckily my phone is waterproof so I was able to start the stream while I showered. This was important information, I didn’t have time to wait. But wait I had to.

At first it seemed like a  normal stream with Hamish Bode and friends. But Hamish is a Community Developer for The Division and a guy in the know about a lot of things for The Division so I figured this must be it. Alas my hopes were rather quickly dashed when he said he couldn’t say much about the incursions yet and that he had shot a video about the incursions but it wasn’t ready yet. Then Hamish proceeded to torture me by dropping little tid-bits such as “It’s very very very very difficult. To the point where people inside  the company cannot finish them.”

The Division Podcast Hamish Bode Arekkz TwoSixNine
I’m finding it very very very very difficult to not punch my phone through a wall

Then he drops that we should “stay locked to this channel” and that “This week will be a big week for information for people.”

So when several hours later I get another notification that The Division Twitch account was live i rushed to my cubicle, messaged my clan mates, and tuned in. This time it was Natchai, an Ubisoft CM surely he would give us news. But Natchai simply played the game killing a couple named bosses and then venturing into the Dark Zone all the while the chat was exploding with questions like “when is the incursion stream coming?” Natchai playfully told us he wasn’t sure every few minutes than finally after about half an hour of constantly being asked he shattered our dreams. There would be no incursion stream today and there was no set date for such an announcement.

I may have died a little inside.  Ubisoft released The Division 3 weeks ago today and in that time span I have spent 72 wonderful hours with their creation but today they left me at the dance.

 

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!

 

-DesertFawkz The Disappointed Blood Raven

The Dawn of Virtual Reality

Today marks the start of a new age. The mighty Oculus Rift starts shipping to consumers today. I’ve never gotten my hands on one but I do own the Oculus Gear VR  and I can say that even with just the power of my Galaxy S7, VR is something that must be experienced. The Gear VR requires less than half the RAM suggested for its big brother and considerably less processing power and yet it still has the ability to amaze.

The PC needed to power The Rift will set you back about $850+ on top of the $599 for The Rift itself. The minimum specs for a PC to work with the VR set are as follows:

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

It’s a hefty sum for sure but one that I can say with a perfectly straight face is worth it.

Gear VR Headset
Galaxy Gear VR Headset

This is the future of entertainment. Yes it is prohibitively expensive. Yes you look goofy wearing it, yes you may hurt yourself if you are not careful, but its all worth it when you actually get to step into another world. Even the simple movie theater you sit in while watching videos feels incredibly real. If you have a large piggy bank exclusively for toys I say put your order in today for The Rift. Purchases made today are estimated to ship in July.

 

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!

-DesertFawkz The Blood Raven

Episode II : The Division Incursions and Future Updates

Legion Radio Network discusses the recent patch to The Division, Xbox One updates, and future DLC from Ubisoft. We are featuring Dark Winter Project music throughout the episode! Also, LRN announces a contest and free giveaway for our listeners! Make sure to listen to the end!

“It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!”

フリクリ

12 NEW FLCL EPISODES ARE COMING!

Thanks to the partnership of Toonami and Production IG we will get to continue our trippy fever dream of an adventure. The official word is Kazuya Tsurumaki, the stories creator, and other original series creators will be back. They gave us a brief description of what to expect:

“In the new season of FLCL, many years have passed since Naota and Haruhara Haruko shared their adventure together. Meanwhile, the war between the two entities known as Medical Mechanica and Fraternity rages across the galaxy. Enter Hidomi, a young teenaged girl who believes there is nothing amazing to expect from her average life, until one day when a new teacher named Haruko arrives at her school. Soon enough, Medical Mechanica is attacking her town and Hidomi discovers a secret within her that could save everyone, a secret that only Haruko can unlock.”

To be honest I don’t really know how to feel about this. On the one hand Fooly Cooly is one of my favorite animes of all time, on the other hand revisiting old fan favorites rarely goes well even with the original creator at the helm. Only time will tell.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!

-DesertFawkz The Anime Loving Blood Raven

Trendy Entertainment Sues The Creators of Ark

Trendy Entertainment has filed suit against Wildcard, the developers of the wildly popular sandbox game Ark, for allegedly illegally hiring  Jeremy Stieglitz who was a former Trendy employee. The whole suit is a little ridiculous (how is Dungeon Defender in any way competing with Ark??) but a contract is a contract and if Wildcard did knowingly hire Stieglitz even though he had a non-compete  contract than I see some repercussions headed their way.

Head over to Kotaku, who broke the news, for the complete story .

 

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone !

 

-DesertFawkz The Blood Raven

Legion Radio Network: Intros and The Division First Takes

In our very first Podcast, we introduce ourselves and dive into our first impressions of The Division. Note we are aware of the massive patch implemented by Ubisoft, and the drastic changes specifically to the Dark Zone. We will have a breakdown of the changes and also have a review of the upcoming patches and expansions for The Division. Enjoy!

Let’s Keep It Simple, I Like Video Games

Yes that’s right, I like video games.

No that does not necessarily mean I know every detail about their development, the inner workings, the back stories, the credentials, or even who makes them, but I still like video games. Some say that video games are an escape from day to day life. For the people who can’t handle reality. Those people fail to understand that sometimes virtual reality is harder than you might think. Yes, you are able to enjoy fully interactive alternate worlds, such as a plague ridden, nihilistic, and by every definition, scorched Manhattan, NY. Within this world are some of the most vile and twisted criminals you’ll ever see, and then you are tasked to rout out and destroy them. Yes, you are given the task of bringing NYC back to it’s full beauty and prominence as one of the greatest cities in the world, but what’s so great(stressful) about that right?

Honestly, the aspects of a video game that get me going are the visuals. When a game, such as The Division, offers detailed lighting, shadow rendering, weather changes, and day to day 24-hour cycles of climate, it gets my attention, and my praise. Not to mention the real-to-life New York City mapping and creation!

So, in The Division’s case, it is almost as if we are able to escape to a real-to-life scenario, in a real place, minus all the nihilistic murderers, rioters, plague, freezing temperatures, and also face melting tactical urban warfare. Although in reality, who the hell doesn’t want to be an SHD Agent?

In a nutshell what I am trying to say here is that if you are looking for a cultured conversation about video games, or a passionate detailed breakdown of what graphics engine Ubisoft used (Massive*) to create such a once in a lifetime video game, I am not your guy. But if you’re like me, with your jaw dropped to the floor from the absolute brilliance of this game, then please, by all means join me. Once we awaken from our initial shock, together we will remember that this is just the beginning…

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!

-DesertCrypt77

For your enjoyment, and for my point to really hit a home run, I have included below a comparison video between The Division and the Real Thing. Youtube creator showshowshowshow created a six and a half minute video that compares shots of New York against the post-pandemic version that can be found in The Division. This is only from the Beta!

Like I said. Jaw. Dropped.

Playstation Cross Network Play

Monday morning dawned and  Microsoft’s ID@Xbox director, Chris Charla,  had an exciting announcement for the gaming world: Xbox will now allow developers to add cross network play with PC. The brief statement also left the door open for  the possibility of cross platform play with “other consoles” eg Playstation. Sony wasted no time in responding to the direct question of their wiliness to play ball with Microsoft.

“PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002,” reads Sony’s response to gamespot. “We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play.”

While Chris Charla never used Sony or the PlayStation name directly he did state that “Xbox Live will be able to play with players on different online multiplayer networks–including other consoles and PC networks.” Conversely  Sony’s statement does not mention any other console platforms.

Chris Charla you are my new hero.

Sony, do the right thing. Accept the hand presented and unite the online gaming world.

 

 

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone !

 

-DesertFawkz The Blood Raven

Xbox Cross Network Play

After a couple days of speculation and hearsay we finally have some idea of the Xbox One’s near future. Yesterday ID@Xbox’s Director Chris Charla released a statement announcing the arrival of cross network play. This new feature, which will be available and up to developers to add to their games, will allow Xbox gamers to play online with their PC gaming brothers and sisters. One of the first titles to have this feature will be the fast and furious car based soccer game Rocket League.

While it was not specifically mentioned this opening up of the Xbox’s multiplayer abilities will also open the door for Xbox players to challenge their natural nemesis: The Playstation 4 fan. The Playstation 4 can already duke it out with PC gamers in Rocket League soon the Xbox will join the fray. It should just be a hop, skip, and a jump before the 2 biggest home consoles are finally settling scores online.

Let me be the first to say it is about damn time! How have we gamers, as consumers, allowed ourselves to become so divided. How have we accepted that we must spend upwards of $1400+ in systems alone just so we can get all the games that come out? While nonexclusive games are still just a dream this is a beautiful first step towards a united gaming industry.

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone !

 

-DesertFawkz The Blood Raven

 

 

Review Week 1: Tom Clancy’s The Division

Burnt out cars block roads, bodies lay in unceremonious piles, blood-thirsty and self-righteous gangs openly wage war with government agencies. A new virus has created a  not quite post-apocalyptic world. The so called Green Poison has ravaged the population in less than a month. A possibly deceased president has initiated directive 51 activating The Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) or simply The Division. This hyper covert group was formed to return order after a devastating event that  causes normal emergency and government services to fail.

Ubisoft’s latest AAA game The Division is, in my very humble opinion, a smash hit with some technical flaws that, while annoying, take little from the whole experience. Released less than a week ago I’ve personally helped the denizens of Midtown Manhattan for close to 40 hours. It’s been brutal, testing, but above all it has been pure tactical fun.

Concerns

Cover and Concealment

So let’s get to what I consider the worst offending flaw of The Division. Even while Ubisoft got so much right with the cover system, a key mechanic of the game, there are times where it just feels clumsy. I would get stuck trying to rise from cover or on corners while diving especially while trying to fall back.

Player taking cover in the video game Tom Clancy's The Division.
DesertFawkz77 taking cover while battling through the Russian consulate.

Moving around a corner while remaining ducked in cover is another awkward moment that never happens fast enough.  It is extremely frustrating when someone with a shotgun charges your position and you can’t get off a wall no matter how much you spam A or try to round a corner.

However, do not take this the wrong way, 95% of the time the cover system works flawlessly. The vast majority of the time the cover mechanics allow you to rush from cover to cover popping up to take those perfectly timed shots. The battle between you and the AI as you vie for better ground and angles on the each others position is exhilarating with the speed and lulls of real combat

AI

Speaking of AI, this game is a strong contestant for the most realistic enemies I’ve seen. Yes generally speaking they all pore out of tiny rooms with only one entrance but as you progress through the game they get better and better at taking advantage of cover and at times easily out flank you. The police academy mission and any fight against the Last Man Battalion were invigorating and tough while truly testing our squad cohesion.

NPCs are also smart enough to realize when they are pinned down by gunfire. When they become suppressed they will try to move while remaining behind cover to get out of the way of whizzing bullets or they will stick it out and wait until the bullets stop. Either way suppressing enemies is a great way to get other squad mates into position to take it to the enemy. However as smart as the computer is most of the time  I have seen NPCs, bosses no less,  get stuck thinking they are being suppressed and just stay behind cover as you stand feet away unloading on them until they either snap out of it or go down.

Day One Silly Things

One issue that I personally have not experienced is falling through the map. Several members of Desert Legion have reported this issue. I’ve heard that at one point walking on a particular street would cause you to instantly fall through. I realize this is something you can expect from a new release of this size and complexity but once again it’s an annoyance that may turn some players off. I’m sure this will be fixed whenever the first patch comes through.

Then we have trading or  rather the lack there of. I realize that this is coming in less than a months time but seriously how is this not a standard feature?! This has me fearing some Destiny style shenanigans. So far Ubisoft is saying all the right things and  appears to be doing everything right including listening to the fan feedback from the alpha and betas. So I will continue to give them the benefit of the doubt until they give me reason not to.

The Good

World and Story

One of the most important things games do is give us an escape to another world. The best games feel real and actions feel important to the story. The world built by Ubisoft is beautiful in its devastation. Destitute denizens roam the streets or hole up in their formerly overpriced  apartments.

The story of the Green Poison is rich and exciting. Without giving too much away one crazed scientist may be behind the worst pandemic in human history. Although I’m throwing this in the good pile there is one little issue with the story. You can easily blaze through the game and never really pick up on everything that is going on. You can accidentally or purposefully never watch the cut scenes tucked away in your pause menu. It only takes the push of 3 buttons to see these but I know that’s a few too many for a lot of players.

This world is meticulously crafted. The weather effects are incredible. Snow gathers on your character during blizzards. Fog  creates extremely low visibility. You can see footprints in the snow as you walk down the streets. Street art, tags, graffiti, posters, and notes line the walls of apartments and buildings adding to the feel of realism.

The Division Street Art
Beautiful wall mural.

This release is clearly just the tip of the iceberg. By the end of the story I was only level 28 and had a measly handful of purple items and still had not finished updating my base.

The Division charater inventory
My gear set up after finishing the final story mission.

 

You may notice my lack of Dark Zone funds and that’s because I’ve spent maybe a total of one hour in the Dark Zone. We will have an in depth podcast on the Dark Zone in the future but for now my initial impression is that the NPCs in the DZ are even more unforgiving than their non DZ counterparts and there is a surprising lack of other players running around.

There is No ‘I’ in Team

I’ve mentioned playing in a squad several times now in this review and there is a reason for that. This game is brutal. Any mistake is punished with a swift death. Move too far into enemy territory and you are quickly surrounded. Take a small piece of cover and you find yourself being peppered with rounds with no way to defend yourself. I’m not saying you can’t play this game alone, on the contrary solo play is very rewarding. But you must be very patient and smart.

Outside of MOBAs I don’t think I’ve ever played such a team centered game. Communication is key. Luckily several of the Desert Legion members and I are actually in the Infantry in the Army National Guard and we can use real tactics and commands to ensure everyone knows just where and what every member of the team is doing.

The Division The Last Battalion shotgun kill
Poor tactical decisions are swiftly punished.

 

Guns, Guns, Guns!

Guns! Real world guns! Loads of them! Each class of weapon has a very distinct feel and will drastically change your style of play. LMGs and shotguns have very satisfying kick and deliver massive damage yet have the accuracy issues we’ve come to expect from them. DMRs and Assault riffles, my personal favorites with the DMR as my main and an assault rifle for those oh shit moments and providing cover, are versatile and play nice for newer players. There is also an almost infinite amount of customization that can be done to tailor any weapon to your preferred style of play.

Conclusion

This game is beautiful, hard, and rewarding. I’ve never experienced battle in a video game as intense as this. While there are a couple minor annoyances upcoming updates and expansions will hopefully address them. Ubisoft has created the next big MMORPG that people will be talking about for a long time.

9.5/10

 Good

-GUNS
-Real life tactics
-Beautifully rendered

Not So Good

-Cover can at times be glitchy
-Falling through map
-Where is the trading!?