The Division Beta Impressions, and Why the Borderlands Community Should Care

Overview
I have seen a lot of Destiny comparison to The Division, but I haven’t seen a discussion anywhere that compares it to Borderlands, so I am going to make one. Keep in mind that this is still a very Apples to Orange discussion, however I am making these comparisons for an audience who understands Borderlands really well and I like to present some of the features and gameplay in The Division as an alternative rather than “do this game have X like borderlands do?” In the end I don’t think they really matter because I believe both games are shooting for the same experience with different recipes.

Background
[color=grey]My steam account tells me I have over 1558 hours into Borderlands 2. I have spent very little time farming gear. A chuck of that time was leveling a character and finishing the story, but most of it was mobbing and a few raids, but really…. mobbing. It has gotten to the point where I have readonly save files for all the arenas so I never have to bother will manually resetting them. I love OP8 and wouldn’t have it any other way.

All things considered, if you account for my readonly arena, the complete lack of farming, OP8 and all….I am in a very niche category of Borderlands players who plays Borderlands this way. [/color]

So why I am mentioning all of this? so I want you to know where I am coming from, what gets me going…. because if it’s anything the same for you…you might want to add The Divsion to your bucket list before you die.

Now I have no major complaints about the game (yes Ubisoft did a good PC port port), but I also noticed (as did others) things that may be an issue for you which I will address below.

Introduction
So the closed beta for The Division started last weekend. I have spent most of my weekend in the game playing Solo PVE, Solo PVP, Squad PVE & Squad PVP. I have been a Rogue Agent Solo and in a Squad, I have also part took in hunting down other Rogue Agents (PVP). I have shot weapons quality ranging from white, green, blue and purple and gold. I have been running up and down midtown, exploring every corners of the map, shooting NPCs, and other players along the way. I have done everything you can possibly do in the Beta…and here are my thoughts from a long time Borderlands player.

Here it is in a Nutshell:
The Division is a RPG game for people who don’t like farming, for people who likes to do coop, for people who likes to go mobbing, for people who are looking for tactics and synergies with their squad in a video game.
If I have managed to peak you interest by now, then I think you will find the information below useful to you.

It is a RPG
This is the first time I have played a RPG shooter (a niche category of its own) in a setting grounded in reality. So it is going to feel weird if you shoot someone’s face with a few bullets and it doesn’t drop them immediately. When I mean someone’s face, I mean directly at their face without very little “visual armor” (no face mask, SWAT helmet, nothing). In almost every other game grounded in reality a headshot is a one shot kill if the target does not have any “visible” armor to protect their face. But also almost every other game grounded in reality wasn’t a RPG, Okay. This is a completely new thing you need to adjust to before you step into this game. Because people are already making a mountain out of this mole hill, including big youtubers the likes of John Brain (TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit) who is off the mark on this.

I will take a moment to address this now. This is a straight up RPG with things like DPS and builds and loadout should be considered. You are not going to do jack with a level 5 green sniper shooting a level 10 enemy on his body. You will need quite a few consecutive headshots to make that ammo consumption worth it, even then it might not be practical to people who don’t have a lot of experience playing a shooter. This game encourages crit like any other shooter and a lot of your gear will buff that crit bonus even more, do not bother with body shots. If ammo capacity is any indicator you are not going far with raids if you pay and spray into an enemy.

Is it bullet sponge? No. if I have to make a Borderlands comparison it’s no different than shooting body shot on UVHM with a green expecting amazing results…without slag. Not gonna happen.

Speaking of “Slag”, the game does have a one, it is a pulse you can activate that will create this ripple centered around you, highlighting enemies, but also giving damage and crit buff to your team for some time. This can be so powerful you can one shot guys with a sniper. Also your character has “perks” and “talents” which further increases weapon damage, critical, stability, accurately and more…and those were disabled for the Beta….so we could be doing even more damage than we currently are. The Beta players are sort of nerfed actually because we don’t have access to these features yet….and we can still one shot guys with the right build at level 8….

The irony in all this is for the people who wants this game to “feel” more realistic in terms of damaging enemy and killing them fast as with any other “non RPG realistic shooters”….you can do this with a good build and playing smart. It can indeed be that game for people who know what they are going. I am afraid this point will get lost in the sea of “bullet sponge” comment you will see across the internet and youtube “reviews” come March 10th, 2016. Mark my words, I bet on it.

There are numbers, and there are no numbers
Also for all the math nerds here, yes there are damage numbers and you can min max. :wink: You can also turn that damage number display off if you want a cleaner UI. In fact, this game has one of the most customization heads up display I have ever seen in a shooter style RPG. You can go completely hud less if you like to, you can place that hud on a second monitor if you want to.

Skills, Talents and Perks

First, there is no such things as a respec. You can change you build at any time on the fly by simply opening the skills menu and picking another ability. You can even do this during combat.

There is no “class” in the game as we are used to, you play roles. You are either the DPS of the team, or the medic, or the support. You can also be a Grey Agent with a good balance of all three. For people playing solo…you are likely going to be a Grey Agent unless you know what you are doing. Glass cannon build is possible on solo but it’s hard just like any glass cannon build.

I think you guys can already imagine what Medic and DPS roles does. The Support is really a tank with the ability to hold a riot shield and soak up agro. His role is to force the AI to reposition to a different cover among other things.

You can choose up to two abilities and one master ability (3 abilities total) from a grouping of 3 categories, they will define the role you play. You can pick them however you please, if you pick two medic abilities, you master ability do not need to be a medic one, it can be from Tech or Support. You are not locked down to anything. You can also add mods to each ability, think of them as a game-changer for your ability.

Mission, Mobbing, & Rewards

I am happy to say that missions are replay-able, we only get one mission to replay in the Beta but I expect to be able to re play a lot of story instances and side missions. So why would you replay a mission? Well each mission has a difficulty scale from Normal, Hard and Challenging. Normal and Hard being available on the beta, you get green loot on Normal, blues on Hard, yeah you can see where this is going for Challenging. This is really awesome for people who are not interested in any PVP and they want to try out some challenging mission (Solo or Coop) for better loot. This and the PVE raid will be your endgame if you have no interest in the Dark Zone or PVP. Also you don’t have to touch the Dark Zone stuff at all to get the best gear in the game, you can get to level 30 (level cap) with all Golds just by doing PVE SOLO. This is confirmed by the Developer. From the one mission I played it’s the same formal as Digipeak in a way. You move from section to section clearing out spawns and enemies with ammo chest in between, in the end you fight a boss. Completing the mission itself gives you a reward on top of the boss dropping loot.

PVP – The Dark Zone

Outside the Dark Zone you can play the game with a party of 4 (No FF), and it’s all PVE.

The Dark Zone is really a walled of PVE section with tougher mobs and boss. The wild card is you have other players there as well. It is recommended you do this with a Squad not because you need your squad to kill any NPC or Bosses there (I soloed them, its fine), but because it serves as a deterrent from other players to shoot you down and take your loot after you grabbed it of a boss. It doesn’t matter how good your build is, you cannot solo a group of 4. The only way if there is a big difference in player skills to overcome that. Glass cannon builds are very risky there.

It’s a wild west out there with a lot of tension and it feels great, you are on edge. The Dark Zone can be enjoyed solo because the max player count is only 24, and given the size of the map, it is possible to avoid other players completely. You also do not show up on the map if you don’t go Rogue. You can hide from other players and duck behind cars as another squad is passing by. It is a game of Cat and Mouse.

Here is the pros and cons for people who already decided not to get involved on the PVP in The Division.

Pro: You are guaranteed to get what you worked for, fair amount of gameplays translated into a steady stream of ever upgrading loot in PVE. Also you never have to deal with a hacker, (people are already hacking on PVP).

Cons: You miss out on the high Risk/Reward moment of the game, you and your squad can pick of players one by one and take their loot putting minimum afford and time and get rewarded for it. Also a decent section of the map is dedicated to PVP, you will never be able to explore the full map if you don’t go PVP. Places like Central Midtown, Time Square, Grand Central and Bryan Park you will never get to see. Which is a shame because of how beautiful this game is.

Loots (Equipment and Loadout)

So the loot range from White < Green < Blue < Purple < Gold/Yellow

Then you have Cyan (Pearl) which is just the color for cosmetic items. (Jackets, Pants, Shirts, etc).

Inventory

The middle and the right column has things like backpack, mask, pads, weapon holster, gloves and armor. They all give stats boost. Gold version can give you something really cool but we will see, I can say it is more than just some number changes.

Some loot will have bonus features like health return on crit (not kill), faster cooldown timer on kill, the gun having a chance to refill the mag on kill. So I am happy to say that “redtext” like feature do exist on loot and they are not limited to Gold loot either. Also some higher quality gear with have “perk” tied to them and if your character has those perks you can improve the performance even more. You can do gun specific builds like SMG, Shotguns, Snipers, AR…etc. There are gear and armor that specifically buff a weapon class…imagine a cat com for every weapon class.

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So the loot system doesn’t have anything crazy like a gun that can fire electricity or something (although you have a gadget that can do this). The guns are more based on real weapons like the AK, M4 A4, M15, AUG, Famas, P90, UMP, P55, Deagle…etc you get the idea. And each of them comes range white to gold. The gold version will be a little more specialized. As far as gun parts goes, you can modify the weapon damage/accuracy/stability and whatnot via Crysis like attachments. The attachments also come in rarity ranging from white to gold. You can for example have gold attachment to a green gun and make it work great. They can make a huge difference. This is the Division equivalent to the “parts” system on Borderlands, but the beauty here is you can change your parts. Which brings me to crafting, yes you can craft good weapons, I am not sure if you can craft gold items though. I can’t give too much detail on this as crafting was disabled in the beta.

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[color=orange]Also ammo is free from ammo chest, you don’t buy them from vendors. The closest thing to an element is the Fire and Explosive ammo. They work like a buff you trigger and for a period of time all your weapons will fire explosive/fire bullets.

Remember when I said I don’t like farming? This game gives me crafting, loot chest, vendors, boss drops, and replayable missions to get what I want. I don’t know if there are name drops or some item only access via X…but the game looks pretty flexible so far. [/color]

Map – How Open is it
Its big enough to satisfy my thirst for now, but I would like to be bigger. The reason I am happy with the current size is because how detail each block is. This game is not a 1-to-1 copy of Manhattan but it comes pretty damn close as a videogame can 2016. If they added Downtown and Brooklyn the game would be over 100 GB.

You can go inside certain buildings, there are subway stations you go underground into but it would be cool if I can use the subway tunnel to run up and down the whole map. We will find out when the game comes out because the Beta (as big as it is) is also pretty limited.

People will make GTAV or whatever other comparison, remember that in GTAV you can drive a 200 mph car around the map, it’s a big map but there are a lot of just empty land and desert and mountains, which is fine. However, in the Division you are walking everywhere and this game has detail in every corner of the map, so it is a smaller open world packed full of details and that’s what will make you forget about the map size and simply enjoy the game.

The Visual “Downgrade”
Judge for yourself. These are mere 1080 shots, The game looks pretty close to the E3 2013 Demo if you run it on 4K and downsample to 1080. Having a 1440p Ultawide Monitor with a high pixel density would make this look even better. In short the game is pretty so don’t worry about downgrade talk.

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The game has Day/Night cycle.

But its Ubisoft and Uplay?
Get over it.

There are times I am glad its Uplay or Social Club or Origin, do you know why? So I can play them during Steam maintenance Tuesdays.

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After reading this, I cannot wait. Like, seriously. I’m buzzing with excitement.

I’ve not heard too much about it really, so this thread really put some things into place. It sort of reminds me of going stealth in BF3/4, with a sniper rifle, trying not to get spotted by a player with an assault rifle.

Genuinely interested in this game. However, my only gripe is that damn level cap. Is that the beta cap, or the overall cap?

Also, the people who are hacking/cheating (I’ve heard about this part) are absolute muppets. Let’s cheat in a beta so that the devs know and they’ll be able to fix that before release!

No honour amongst them,they couldn’t even wait till the game was actually released…just sad, in my opinion. Never had to use a hack/cheat/glitch in a multiplayer game, I’ve never camped unless I was one kill off a high killstreak, and even then I sat for about 20 seconds before getting bored. I don’t see the point. I’m going off topic here.

The game has been on my radar for a little while, but like I say, after reading this I’m very excited.

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Beta level cap is 8, full game will be 30. I doubt if they will introduce a new level cap after release, but they can do it, the scaling isn’t crazy at all if the beta is any indicator.

Amazing post. Thank you for taking the time to share all of this. The Division is one of many shooters I’m lookin’ forward to this year! Escape From Tarkov has my attention, too, if we’re talking MMO qualities in a shooter.

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I am looking forward to that one too, I think you might also like the upcoming Ghost Recon Wildlands.

So far my experiences with this game have been positive ones for the most part. There were a few bad experiences, but once I started figuring things out I found it easy to avoid a lot of the problems. I think the only thing that really concerns me is how they will have the Rogue system balanced on release. I’m not sure what I’d suggest be done because I’m not entirely sure where the problem lay. Something just feels off. Still, the game is incredibly fun and I don’t even mind the little bit of PvP there is. It certainly makes things interesting.

I’m not sure what to add to all this really because Abvex has pretty much hit the nail on the head for pretty much everything. My other concerns were already addressed as it seems there will be a higher density of enemies in the game compared to the beta as well as roaming gangs to deal with. That will make the levels feel less empty which was one of the things I didn’t like so much about the beta. At any rate this was a very interesting experience. An interesting mix of familiar and enjoyable things along with things that are new and different and sometimes even a bit unpleasant.

I think my biggest problem now with this game is if I will be able to get it on release. Things are a bit tight and a bit unpredictable at the moment. I find myself yet again having to borrow some money from my dad for food as well as call the food bank again.But next month might be different and I may have some extra cash on hand. Hmmm… well, considering that next month is my birthday that may actually be likely. I’ll just have to see how it goes.

Also…

Dat’s me! :smiley:

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One thing people are going to have to learn when playing in the Dark Zone is to watch your aim. It’s very easy to go Rogue if you accidentally shot another Agent/player if he’s mixed in with the Rioters/NPCs. People also tend to walk in front of you. Some do it intentionally so that you get triggered as a Rogue Agent so they can shoot you and earn Dark Zone currency and steal your dropped loot.

Others will shoot you once or twice, not enough to turn them Rogue but just enough to get most people to shoot back trying to defend themselves, all as an attempt to bait you into going Rogue. Again so that they can kill you and get DZC. I just let them shoot and then walk away and don’t shoot back because I know they’re just baiting me, 'cause I r smart.

You also want to be careful going anywhere near the extraction zones. If there’s a lot of people there, just leave and find another one. Or fire off a flare to call the chopper so people will swarm on that spot and then move to another EZ and fire off another flare. At any rate, the overall message here is to be careful. Don’t really trust anyone you meet there, even if you team up. Things may look good for a while but don’t be surprised if they turn on you.

The Beta left a bit of an negative impression on me.
I could pick up the game very easy because of the re-use of controls & gameplay mechanics from other Ubisoft games.
1 mission = walk, walk, run a bit, walk some more, start running again. You have to walk halfway across the map to get to the first mission. secure the HQ.

All the loot i picked up was lower worse than my basic loadout. making the loot pointless and my playsession meaningless. I finished all the quests, but i’m wondering if it was worth my time. The story also didn’t pull me in, at this point i’m thinking ubisoft and their fancy trailers.

I didn’t go to the darkzone, no xbox live gold atm.

the other day i gave the beta another try, played the hospital mission solo on the hard difficulty. The AI was tougher, the loot got better. But i still have this wrong first impression.

btw. backpacks don’t stand out. they blend very good with there surroundings. you could say this adds to the tone of the game. But after a mission they are presented as a reward that you can overlook. Those BIG RED Borderlands chest stood out way more :wink:

Yeah the lack of mob frequency and density is disappointing to say the least. Ubisoft said it was toned down on purpose for the beta and we can expect roaming mobs and gangs on the final release. I am going to have to hold them to this because otherwise the over world will be pretty stale combat wise.

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I used the mini-map to find the backpacks and luggage once I knew what all those symbols on the mini-map were.

Funny you said this, I was just talking with @Chitsa and said the same thing. I was running entire blocks and seeing nothing. Which obviously made me think it would get pretty boring and stale just running from one place to another. I’ll be holding off this game until I’ve read a lot of threads. And I hope it’s not just the same old enemy and mission mechanics, need to see some bigger better encounters. I’m also hoping the PvP wouldn’t be the main focus on end game, and the PvE has plenty of content and ongoing stuff.

Having said that, I was actually more impressed with the overall enigine and game play than I thought i’d be. Playing on a PS4, I was impressed with the world game engine, and the controls were pretty good. The MAP they have created is really really good, I liked that a hole bunch. I also liked some of the small intricate details, like your backpack lighting up when you picked things up like ammo or health. I was fairly taken in, but after 3 hours starting becoming a little distracted, so yeh, hope it has much more to grab me if I do get in there early.

Knowing nothing about the game previously this all sounds really interesting. I’m gonna have to do some more digging around when I get some free time.

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Just to add to the skills incase anyone who likes to know more. Here is an official video explaining the potential.

Also regarding map size, purple was in the Beta, blue is the whole map.

Nice. So the DZ is about 3 times the size of what was in the beta, and the PvE area is about 8 times the size roughly.

Also nice is how you can not only mix and match your skills but also combine them with teammates.

Here’s a little something else I found on the net:

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Beautiful.

There is another good video on map size. In short Division Map is around the same size as Fallout 4.

So there is a open beta coming to PC this February 19th till the 21st.

It will contain new single player missions as well as a better darkzone. I will paste the full notes below. If anyone here like to group up please pm me here or the Unofficial Discord made by @Derch I will be hanging out there and looking forward to seeing any of the forum member participate in the open beta.

===================================================================
New Mission Available to play, Subway Morgue:
Encounter a new faction: The Cleaners
Explore a Mass Grave while trying to restore power to the city.
Rescue the missing Engineer, Paul Rhodes

Unlock an additional Wing in the Base of Operations:
The first upgrade to the Tech Wing is now available
A new skill can now be unlocked: The deployable turret:

Numerous Dark Zone updates and improvements:
New High End weapons available in the Dark Zone
Refresh rate on Dark Zone chests has been greatly reduced
Non-player enemies in the Dark Zone have been significantly increased in number
Non-player enemies in the Dark Zone have been buffed slightly
The Manhunt Timer now pauses instead of refreshing while in combat as a level 5 Rogue
The Reward for surviving as a Rogue Agent has been increased to 1.5x the kill bounty
The Health Bar for Agents in the Dark Zone now only turns red when they actually become Rogue
A new warning icon has been added to indicate an Agent who has shot another player but has not done enough damage to go Rogue
Dark Zone experience leveling curve has been adjusted slightly
Disabled the option to transfer Dark Zone brackets as a Rogue (This prevents players using Bracket Transfer as a means to escape after becoming Rogue)
Removed some ropes that allowed players to reach areas that gave them an unfair advantage

Other changes
New Ubisoft Club Action available for participating in the Open Beta unlocking an exclusive reward in-game
New and improved Tutorial Video
Tutorial video is now available to view from the Character Select Screen
Fixed two bugs that allowed players to become invisible to other players
Fixed an exploit with Ballistic Shield Skill that allowed players to become invincible
Cheat Detection and Prevention additions and updates
Fixed mismatch of stats that occurred occasionally between Vendor Inventory and Player Inventory when item purchased
Adjusted player movement speed while running with a grenade in hand
Fixed a bug that sometimes caused other player’s name and health bar to not be visible in the Dark Zone
Fixed some Weapon Mods that resulted in incorrect stat values when equipped
Fixed some weapons that didn’t appear as Contaminated when obtained in the Dark Zone
Fixed a bug with the Reward Claims Vendor that caused stacks of consumables to be decreased under specific circumstances
Fixed a bug with stats display not updating when browsing Vendor Inventories
Fixed a bug that caused continuous vibration under very specific conditions
Fixed a very rare bug that prevented players from being able to fire or switch their weapons
Added mission Dialogue lines in Missing Persons: Heather Lau Side Mission
Several environment fixes to prevent falling through world issues in specific places
Multiple stability fixes (23 unique crashes fixed)
Server optimizations and improvements (players will receive less connection errors now)
Multiple localization fixes and improvements
Additional polish & bug fixes too numerous to mention!

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Nice.

Some additional perspective of the map size vs actual google map of Manhattan, courtesy of jpw5f.

Almost a 1 to 1, almost…

Open Beta is this weekend, so get on in there peeps. Should be able to grab Legendary status gear too during the open beta if you can put the time in.

I played the Closed Beta solo, but will be doing this co-op over the weekend.