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!
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!
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-Real life tactics
Not So Good
-Cover can at times be glitchy
-Falling through map
-Where is the trading!?
In The Office
I’m currently sitting in my cubicle at work my head buzzing from the late night gaming session that ended only several hours before. Late night sessions are not new to Desert Legion clan. Most of us can be found in the wee hours still running from the cops in GTA V or starting “just one more round” of Battlefield 4. What was new this time was the virtual setting of our escapades. A beautifully and meticulously rendered Manhattan.
I had intended this first entry to introduce myself and my cohorts but that can wait. What cannot wait however are the praises I must sing to Ubisoft and early contender for Game of the Year: Tom Clancy’s The Division. I must confess that I jumped on the band wagon late here having not even heard of the game until late 2014. I then ignored my clan brothers whenever they mentioned the title. You see I had been sucked into the hype machine that Bungie created the years leading up to the release of Destiny and vowed to not be fooled again.
Won’t Be Fooled Again
I was in my early 20s in basic training at Fort Benning Georgia, home of the Infantry, when I received a letter from my brother which contained an article about a new Bungie title. I was engrossed. The screen shots were lush and beautiful. The game play so new and invigorating. When I got home I counted down the days until it’s release, reading every press release that came out. Finally in the summer of 2014 the Destiny Beta was released. It blew my mind. Then finally a month or so later the game actually dropped. Desert Legion and I devoured the game, playing for hours on end, but we quickly noticed something: we kept running the same missions . Slowly at first but then quickly we lost interest. After one particularly frustrating night of attempting a raid we just could not finish several members called it quits on the game. I personally held out for several more weeks but by the time the first expansion came out Desert Legion was out of Destiny.
A New Hope
With this experience always in mind I looked at The Division with a grain of salt. Shoot both game titles start with a D for Christ sake! It wasn’t until Christmas of 2015 that I decided to pre-order the game since I knew my closest friends would all be playing it. After several hours talking to Ubisoft customer support I received my Alpha codes. Not a good start. And although 3 other Legionaries were online I spent most of the alpha alone. The game seemed alright. I had not been won yet.
The first beta came and I diligently partook, this time rather enjoying myself. Then the second beta came and went with out me. Finally last night at 9:45pm it was time for me to taste the nectar of the gods. I may be saying this much too early considering I’ve only logged a few hours and have only scratched the surface but I love this game and it may be enough to fill me with enjoyment for the rest of the year.
Hi, My Name Is…
One of us will hopefully write a full review after we truly get our teeth into the game but for now let me proceed with the introduction. We are Desert Legion Radio Network. We are made up of DesertFawkz77, DesertFrost77, DesertFire77, and DesertCrypt77. The funniest, sexiest, and most awesome arm of the Desert Legion Xbox One clan. We can be spotted with our Desert____77 gamer tags playing games like GTA V, BF4, Diablo 3, The Division, and more. The point of this blog is to be home of our upcoming podcast of the same name. Hopefully you will stick around and have fun. We would like this to be an open forum where everyone can have a good time and discuss video games and other stuff.
It’s Dangerous To Go Alone !
-DesertFawkz The Blood Raven