As stated before I am a HUGE Tom Clancy fan. So it would only make sense that I would overly excited for the release of Tom Clancy’s: The Division. I got a chance to take part in the Alpha, Beta Part 1 & 2. I have to say that Ubisoft was very receptive of getting feedback from there participants. They have been just as receptive after the release make several micro updates to accommodate user feedback. My initial impression was very immersive, excited and a bit nerve racking. The sense comes from the familiarity of seeing regular city streets covered in contamination bags and general debris from not having garbage removed. This mixed with a notion of never being alone whether it is regular citizens or ruthless criminals. Creates a very unique dynamic that I have only experienced in The Division. So far I have had a chance to drill around 20 hours into the game finishing the story and getting to play a few hours in the Darkzone and I must say I am not disappointed.
Controls and Feel
Everything is very organic, with a good sense of movement. While not as fast paced as Gears of War the movement is very tactical. It takes some time getting use to the fact that you cannot just mow enemies down and they are just as smart. Control wise I wouldn’t change a thing, I particularly have come to love the ability to move from position to position by just holding A. I also like the feel of the weapons and abilities. It never gets old shooting a grenade at enemies or unsuspecting players. At the same time it is a big difference using a submachine gun to a shotgun which you sometimes miss in other games.
This was a welcome challenge that had my ass getting beat a few times before deciding I wasn’t a 1 man tanking machine. Enemies are brutal and fairly clever. If you rush them they will either retreat or more likely than not rush you. Same with flanking if you don’t use this tactic they certainly will. The story is highly engaging and has me wanting to know more. Which will require some patience to gather a variety of in-game pickups. Things like Agent Tags, Downed Drones, Cellphones, and Evidence. Further enhance the sense that a tragedy has actually occurred. It is comparable to extra pickups you have to get in Assassins Creed games. Which means my OCD gaming will bring to spend hours grabbing every last cellphone to see 100% in the game. This would be tedious, however there are always enemies around the corner. Which means there is always a fight to be had, this is another point I like in the gameplay as you progress old zones that were easy have the enemies difficulty scaled to you so no matter where you go the enemies are difficult. Some may not like this but I feel this give the game that extra element to prevent it from becoming stale.
While there aren’t any huge musical sequences here I can say the ambient sounds of car alarms, dogs, and people fighting helps create the atmosphere in The Division. The quiet is a necessity in a game like this. You get some fight music once in a great while but it is not typically while you are roaming. The emptiness is a nice change from a lot of games and it really helps you focus on what is coming around every corner in the game. Subsequently the guns sounds great, they create a great orchestrated feel when you and some team mates are all shooting at the same time.
Story and Multiplayer
As I said before the story is immersive, you want to understand why, how, and when. There are some good juicy bits towards the end of the story that I won’t spoil here. All I can say is that you don’t have a great story until you have betrayal. I will say that the story is one of the best unique story lines I have experienced in a while. It was well timed given the recent scares of Ebola and Swine-flu where the right disease could wreak havoc in even the most advanced societies. Naturally there were some funny times when you are trolling the streets of New York with friends. The example below was captured during a mini mission where you only look cool if you just walk normal during a fire fight.
The Darkzone is a whole other beast where anarchy is king and dying is just a natural part of it. From super high level enemies to questionable players it is the best representation of the Wild West I could ever imagine. Naturally because of the peril there is a huge sense of accomplishment and of course reward. However the extraction system adds a whole new challenge in getting what you have earned. When you pull it off though and get your rare items extracted it is a huge sigh of relief and a great sense of reward. To that end there is a ton of fun and a sense of elitism when you are in a group of 4 people where you can literally go anywhere or kill anyone with little to no penalty. On the other hand if you are playing is solo there will be nothing but anxiety and worry about who you will run into. This is what makes the Darkzone so dynamic, it truly is unique and keeps me come back.
**Disclaimer: You will be killed a LOT in the Darkzone, keep in mind it’s a game. (: **
In general the game is fantastic, the feel is awesome. The sense of the world and how you can make a difference is palpable. The audio is spot on with the right balance of silence and in-the-moment music. Story is one of the best I have experienced in a while from a new game. Same goes for the unique multiplayer experience. I have never cried because a player has killed me like I did with this game. Again the game is amazing a definite buy especially when you consider the additions they have committed to making over the next year. My overall rating is a 4.5/5 there are a few things that can make it a chore to play but it is engaging, fun, and definitely challenging which are all of the things I look for in games.
The First Person Shooter Dilemma
Let me start by saying I love First Person Shooters (FPSs). I can honestly say they were some of the first games I started playing with Goldfinger and Turok being the earliest. Although I love these genre of games. I have begun to notice an unfortunate trend in my “skill” with newer FPS games come out. I have noticed a new type of player and the true dedication required to become amazing at FPS games. This is not to downplay the lack of my own gaming abilities but more to call out the dedication required to become great.
You Can’t Handle the Time Commitment!
When I started playing first person shooters there was a huge learning curve. I believe this was part of being a console player as well as being young. The time it took to become good at an FPS was insane to start with not to mention difficult with wonky/inconsistent controls. Often times it would take weeks playing 50+ hours before getting a 0 Kill vs Death (K/D) ratio. This large commitment of time has become a huge part of FPS games now days. This starts to create a serious divide between casual and hardcore gamers. This divide is expected but it is hard to maintain without skill based matchmaking. It is a hard balance to maintain for any game between these two groups. However being able to simply keep up with your opponent is only half of the problem as I see it.
There Is No “i” in Team
The other half comes from the community and communication required in games now days. Early in my gaming career on Xbox Live I played Rainbow Six and Wolfenstein. These games absolutely required team interaction and verbal communication in order to win. Whether it was stating enemy positions or strategizing for an objective the human and team element was present. I feel this has taken a sharp decline when it comes to FPS games now days with games like Call of Duty, Halo, Destiny, and Titanfall. That is not to say they don’t occur anymore (Evolve and Rainbow Six: Siege) but the friendly atmosphere within games is completely gone. With most people who are communicating are simply heckling or trolling people online. This naturally limits the communication aspect and in a lot of cases is a huge deterrent for people to communicate or even talk.
A Love That Won’t Die
Overall I still love the genre and am a huge supporter of most if not all FPS games. If I was able to provide 2 basic pieces of feedback to game-makers, it would be to get the competitive and communicative elements back into the game. I believe this could be done by heavily rewarding or even requiring communication in games even if it is just random conversations. Another aspect I feel would help would be automatically base match-making based on skill and personal metrics (K/Ds, Avg. Wins, Time Alive, Etc.). This is probably easier said than done, however it would be a huge win to help newer players get into a game instead of being discouraged. All while helping more advanced players enhance their skills by getting into games with formidable opponents.
These 2 aspects combined with a large emphasis on team-work could help the genre on consoles gain the enjoyment it seems to have lost. (Side note and just to put it out where Rainbow Six: Siege has done an amazing job bringing these elements back into play!)
Game Review – The Long Dark (Xbox One)
The Long Dark has truly won me over and has me coming back time and time again. I seem to go through phases with this game it is a addicting to survive an constantly explore. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a new experience or looking for a casual game they can pick up for an hour or two. I hope the game continues to grow and gets even better. The game receives a solid 4/5 because the game is fantastic but is a bit flat. This is to be expected for something in an Alpha state but with time I would expect this to be a genre defining game like Halo or Minecraft.
I wasn’t really expecting to get The Long Dark it just sort of fell into my lap. I saw in in the game preview section on the xbox dashboard and decided to try it. Needless to say I was pretty instantaneously hooked it was a whole new genre I had never experienced.
This is where the game really got my attention. The Long Dark is a survival game that does it right. When you first start you are in a random area with little to no provisions or tools. It becomes apparent really quick that you need to do something and if you know anything about survival you know shelter, food, and water are vital for survival. The Long Dark does a fantastic job of marrying all of these necessities in an open world environment. You will need to gather wood, catch or find food and more importantly find a shelter you can use. The game has great resources available fairly frequently throughout the game world. However the usefulness of these resources is highly dependent on the mode you are playing. If you venture to try Pilgrim mode you can have a chance to experience to world uninterrupted from numerous wildlife. However for the brave looking for a challenge Stalker mode will give you a true survival experience and challenge. It can add a bit of stress to gaming but is quick to reward you with a great sense of accomplishment. This is especially apparent when you decide to migrate to new areas in the world. With over 5 massive areas to explore each with its own sense of geography exploring never gets tiring. There is also a crafting or upkeep element that is also a bit tricky and time consuming and provides the basic ongoing objective other than survival. The need to get better gear or repair tools and clothing is a constant need which requires you to scavenge, hunt, and explore. I believe the team at Hinterland Studios has hit a home run with The Long Dark especially on the Xbox One. I can only hope they keep it up and continue to add to the expansive world they have already.
The sounds in The Long Dark or rather the lack of them is a great part of the immersion into the game. It can create earie moments (especially at dark) when you are out and about and hear but faint growling or the wind blowing. The sound quality is fantastic and so are the various sound effects through the world. While some variety in the various sounds would be great, it certainly isn’t anything to complain about. I give props to Hinterland for staying true to the survival experience with the sounds in The Long Dark.
Currently there isn’t any story mode, although this is something Hinterland States is currently being worked on. The game as it stands is considered to be in Alpha which means this is truly playing in the sandbox. There also is no current support for multiple players, although I hope this is added in later updates. Surviving on your own is challenging and rewarding but doing it as a pair or more would be an interesting and fun experience.
I am an avid gamer and have been gaming on anything and everything since I was 4 years old. Addicted to FPS's but can play just about anything!
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