The Latest Example of Overreacting, Entitled Fanboys in Gaming

Quantum BreakI write about a few different topics here more than others. Destiny, Call of Duty, FPS games in general, Fallout 4 have all graced these pages multiple times. But there’s one topic that I never get tired of talking about, even though I am exhausted of seeing it pop up in gaming. That is the, quite frankly, silly things that fans do and say online when developers/publishers make decisions that aren’t exactly what they want them to. Our latest entry – completely stupid overreactions to Quantum Break coming to PC.

It was announced today that if you pre-order Quantum Break for the Xbox One, you’ll also get a copy of the game for Windows 10 PCs. That, for some ungodly reason, ruffled quite a few feathers. Apparently, “hardcore Xbox Fans” aren’t happy that Microsoft decided to bring a big title to their other platform. It looks like mainly people think that they were underhanded in their marketing, saying that it was an Xbox exclusive – which, by the way, it still is. Here’s the thing – you can still get it and play it on the Xbox One. And that is still the only home console you can play it on – it’s not coming to the PlayStation 4 or the Wii U. If you’re an Xbox One “Hardcore supporter” you’re still totally fine. The decision to bring it to PC brings a game that Microsoft has been hyping up since last E3 to an audience that, while yes might have a little overlap, otherwise would have missed out on it. That’s not only good for Quantum Break, it’s good for Square-Enix and Microsoft too.

Sunset Overdrive Xbox Bundle

I say it all the time – people need to relax way more with this sort of stuff. Microsoft wasn’t being deceptive on purpose – bringing it to PC probably was a decision that took them time to make, and then actually implement. It’s a good business decision across the board – that’s it. It’s not Microsoft stabbing Xbox fans in the back – which is an actual statement I saw on Twitter earlier. The world of gaming is in a real interesting spot right now – the idea of a console war is kinda obsolete. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all are filling very different roles right now, and really all are on the same team. We need, as a community as a whole, to stop competing within ourselves. It’s not about that anymore, it’s now more about solidifying gaming as a mainstream entertainment choice. Some people might not like that mainstream word, but let’s not kid ourselves – gaming is very much mainstream. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. That’s Billion with a B. Can we be critical of the industry we love? Absolutely – we should very much be critical of our industry. We’re still young as a mainstream industry, and we still very much self-police ourselves. But being critical doesn’t mean just complaining about every little decision people make. It needs to be not only constructive in it’s tone, but also grounded in real reasons for that criticism. Saying that a game coming to PC is betraying true Xbox fans – again an actual statement I saw today – isn’t grounded in realism. It’s just irrational anger because something changed – and wasn’t exactly the way that you expected. Now, if the game falls short because of the time and energy that had to go into porting it over -that is where real criticism should happen. But that requires us to wait a second, step back and think before we go shouting on Twitter. That’s all I’m really asking here.


First Person Shooter News Roundup

TitanfallOver the last handful of days, we’ve had a few pretty sizable news items drop all relating to different FPS games. Each one isn’t really worth a full article exploring, but they’re definitely worth talking about at least a little bit. So that’s what we’ll do today.

We’ll start with the easy one to digest – Titanfall 2 has apparently officially been unveiled and it’s going to have a campaign mode included. There’s a couple things here to look at. First off, this is the first official word we’ve gotten about a sequel to Titanfall outside of some speculation about platforms. I think it was kind of an open secret in the gaming world – the first game did so well and really helped bring FPS games to the current-gen consoles, that a sequel was a no-brainer. While we still don’t have any real concrete details, knowing that Respawn and EA saw the lack of a true single-player campaign as a shortcoming and are addressing it is a good thing. I thought that Titanfall had a really cool universe that it built, and the campaign Multiplayer matches, while a cool experiment, just didn’t quite deliver for me. I think that because it came out when it did in the current-gen lifespan, the player count dropped pretty quickly, despite it being a really great game. I’m hoping that putting in a true campaign mode, bringing along Frontier Defense mode as well as keeping the overall multiplayer mode more or less the same will keep players invested in a shooter that has a truly unique feel compared with the rest of the market.

Call of Duty Black Market

The other two bits of news I want to talk about today both revolve around Activision’s two biggest FPS games, and probably their biggest games period: Destiny and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Let’s look at Call of Duty first. Yes, they just launched a new DLC map pack on the PS4, and while there were a couple pretty big issues with a couple map exploits that got patched quickly, I think the overall reaction has been mainly positive. Which is what makes this latest little influx of content we got this week kinda surprising. Treyarch added in over 100 new Supply Drop items, to all platforms, including new guns, not just melee items. That’s got the community a little divided, and understandably so. Here’s the problem – all those new items, including a couple really compelling weapons that I want to try out, are tied totally behind RNG based loot drops. It’s like fishing for a certain loot drop in Destiny all over again, just with the looming shadow of “COD Points” to look at. Since Call of Duty‘s loot drops are all tied with microtransactions instead of just in-game play/currency, there’s always going to be that shadow looming over new content. There needs to be something done with the Cryptokeys – either a permanent increase to the rate their earned, some kind of daily challenge that earns a Rare Supply Drop, or the weighting on the new weapons should be favored. Since I’ve been playing the game I have yet to see any of the Supply Drop weapons for me – and in truth, only a couple instances of them in my playing. I know that they have to have some incentive to buy COD Points, but tying cool new guns to them isn’t really the way to do it. I think keeping the customization items there is totally fine, but actual in-game items that can impact matches I wouldn’t have gone that route.

Destiny Crimson Days

On the other side of the Activision coin, we have Destiny. Crimson Days started yesterday and I have to say, it’s kinda underwhelming. Sure the Crimson Doubles look pretty cool – it’s a neat twist on Elimination. But that’s literally it – there’s one quest and one set of weekly bounties. In theory, you could reasonably complete everything that the event brings with it in a day of playing. They only added in two distinct pieces of gear – two Ghost Shells – that’s it. Festival of the Lost and SRL both added in a lot more, granted gear that didn’t really do anything for your Light level. But still, two Ghost shells, two shaders and one emblem is pretty weak. Tess Everis has a couple new Emotes that you can buy with real money (Silver) but again, not really worth it unless you’re really invested in the social side of Destiny. This really isn’t what Destiny needs right now – mainly because there is no PvE content added in with this at all. And that’s the real problem here – I think we maybe lose sight of this because a lot of streamers and YouTubers in the Destiny community do play a good amount of PvP, but the majority of players are PvE based players. There needs to be some kind of influx of PvE content quickly – I would hope next month instead of the April that we’re thinking now. What kills me especially is that in the Crimson Days Grimoire Card we get a glimpse of what Crimson Days could have added on the PvE front – and it’s something that was in my fantasy development for the sequel I did last week: Horde Mode. Two-man, co-op endless waves of enemies on the different planets we have – they even mention it happening in the Vault of Glass! How cool could that have been – fighting off endless waves of Vault of Glass Vex with a partner for increasingly better rewards. Even if it’s a short timed event, that’s pretty much exactly what the PvE side needs right now.

Ultimately, the FPS news is a mixed bag – the Titanfall news has me optimistic about the sequel coming our way; but the Activision side of things is a little muddier. It seems like they’re both short-term additions to games that need long-term attention. If Destiny is supposed to live for ten years, this isn’t the kind of content it needs. If Call of Duty is going to have microtransactions moving forward, tying game-altering items to them sets a bad precedent. Hopefully Activision, Treyarch and Bungie all can start thinking a little farther out, and each game can very easily bounce back from this no problem at all.

Fantasy Development: Destiny 2

DestinySince we’re in a bit of a slow period before the spring releases, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming about what we’re getting later this year. I’ve written already about what I want to see in whatever Bungie calls Destiny 2 – but that was a more realistic look at it. Today we’re throwing realism out the window, and playing fantasy game developer – no worrying about cost or time and making this next year the best it possibly can.

First thing I’m doing – last-gen is being cut out. No more PS3 or 360 support for Destiny 2. We’re now three years into this current generation of consoles – it’s time to upgrade, and stop expecting developers to continue supporting old tech. This would free up time, money and in-game resources to make sure this is the best game it can be. Vault space isn’t limited by last-gen memory. It also helps push players to upgrade to the current-gen systems. Obviously I’m expanding the vault space, but I’m doing more than just that. We have all these other ways of getting unique items now, and we saw with The Taken King that the kiosks work beautifully for clearing space and makes running multiple characters easier. So combine them – I would create vaults for event gear and raid gear. The event gear as of right now is only Sparrow Racing gear and the Festival Masks, but we know that there are more planned for this year. This clears that space out of the main vault for more actual armor and weapons. With the Raid Vault, the basic idea is to create a way to show off the loot that is the hardest to earn. Even the old raids that aren’t relevant anymore still should have the loot shown off.

Destiny Black Garden

Let’s look at the main story content for this fantasy Destiny 2. The first game ended with a confrontation in the Black Garden against an embodiment of the Darkness sending forth three Vex champions to stop you. It was the first victory against the Darkness in a long time – the Light is starting to fight back. The easy thought is to continue that path – but let’s put that off a little bit. Instead our game starts with your Guardian out cleaning up the Dreadnought a little more for the Vanguard. It’s clear that you’ve become the go-to Guardian for just about anything the Vanguard really needs taken care of. While you’re out patrolling though you get a direct transmission from the Speaker. He has a task that only the Light’s best guardian(s) can handle. He sends you back to Earth – to a place we’ve yet to see in any capacity: North America. It’s time to take back our home. This serves not only a story telling purpose, but also opens up new areas to explore, meaning the Director gets an overhaul that it needs. After a few missions through the Speaker – which serves as a way for Bungie to flesh out the actual character of the Speaker – you’re sent back to the Vanguard – specifically Ikora. Her Hidden believe they’ve finally tracked down Osiris – and they need you to find out for sure just what is going on with the rogue Warlock. Now you have two distinct story paths that serve as the first half – retaking North America, and tracking down Osiris – on Mercury. That part I do want to keep from what we are currently expecting – we need to finally get Mercury in a PvE capacity.

Destiny Shield Brothers

Once we reach about the half-way point, that’s when we finally find Osiris. He tells us that he hasn’t forsaken the Light and has been tracking enemies that the Tower can’t ignore. He points us back to Mars, and tells us to look beyond the Reef toward Jupiter. We’ve reached the ramp up to the finale. On Mars, the Cabal will have refocused their efforts and congregated in a more central location – however that has allowed the Vex to start turning Mars into the same state as Venus and Mercury. It turns the planet into a true warzone – one that is really where we start to find the new enemy types. We got a taste on Earth with Fallen and Hive in North America, but it’s here on Mars that we really see the new enemies. New Vex models – including larger models of the Hydras, maybe linked together like a big snake. The Cabal brings out their war machines – and guys like Valus T’Arach are much more common. The command isn’t content to sit back – they’re more engaged than before. Mars is a legitimately dangerous place – even in Patrol, which is expanded to six-man, and has selectable Light levels. What becomes clear is that this Cabal effort is a beachhead – the real threat is still on the way. That’s when we head to Jupiter for the first time.

Jupiter is where the end-game takes place. Building off of The Taken King mission Outbound Signal, there’s a Cabal warfleet on the way. We first encounter it in orbit around Jupiter – it’s just waiting for a signal from the Mars team. Your team is tasked with grabbing a foothold on Jupiter to better combat the Cabal threat – this is direct from the Speaker. That fight against the Cabal fleet is told through the Raid – which has you hopping from ship to ship fighting against everything the Cabal has; and finishes in a DLC later on (I’m bringing back monolithic DLC, in concert with Silver items). The tease for the next big entry though is something we discover on Jupiter. Instead of a rehash of the Black Garden with a big amorphous blob, we find the Darkness equivalent of the Speaker, leading an army of fallen Guardians. He sends a fireteam out to face you, giving us the end-boss that we need. It’s different from anything else we’ve fought in PvE and helps set the table moving forward.

Destiny The Speaker

That’s all the story content – gameplay-wise I wouldn’t touch too much. Ideally I would increase the number of weapon balances two every other month, just to really keep the meta from deteriorating. My big shake-up would be, instead of adding a fourth guardian type or a new element, I would have Osiris teach the guardians how to merge two of their subclasses to create a fourth potential subclass. Now it can’t be a straight merge – that would just be crazy. But it would be something where the design philosophies of the subclasses merge together to create something new and shakes up the sandbox. For example, take the Striker Titan and Defender Titan. Defender is all about support and suppress, Striker is shock and awe. Here’s how I combine those and create a new super ability. The Ward of Dawn is such an important part of high level PvE play that it needs to stay – but when it’s combined with the Striker, it gains a small shockwave upon activation. Taking a little from the Fist of Havoc, putting it on the Ward of Dawn and you have a panic super that also keeps your team protected. Now, to balance that out, I think you have to limit how high you can raise your inherent stats – get rid of a row of those talents on the grid. Shrink the talent grid in general – stick with three grenades total, the super stays with three upgrades, and I think you can get away with maybe four class upgrades.

There are a couple other little things to look at. I would love to see the old raids looked at – not necessarily brought forward, but utilized in someway. Maybe have those areas become training grounds for Guardians – which ties in with the other new activity I would add in: Horde Mode. It’s an easy thing to explain away too – enemies of the Light try to re-invade areas we’ve liberated; we have to go and shut them down. It fits in that Arena size activity that Prison of Elders was, and doesn’t require as much foresight for puzzles and design, which means that the raid can thrive. It solves a big problem that the game has right now – meaningful PvE content that isn’t the raid or nightfall. It gives PvE players something that can live on and rival the Crucible for longevity. In terms of gear – it’s time to completely move away from the exotic weapons we’ve had so far. The armor pieces make sense to move forward from a lore standpoint, and in theory so do the weapons. The problem then becomes an increase in stagnation in the weapon meta. So toss them into a new showcase Exotic vault, and start a brand new collection – it brings back the excitement of chasing them. Crucible stays more or less the same – maybe add in a true CTF mode or something along those lines; obviously add new maps in and keep tweaking the matchmaking to work right. One area that can actually get a bit more attention is Trials – since we’re bringing Osiris into the game proper now, he can get involved in his Trials in a more active role. I don’t know what that role is, but I think it’s got to happen.

Destiny Cayde-6

This is a lot of dreaming – I think there’s a good mix of reasonable thoughts along with a couple real longshots. I don’t really think we’ll see mixed subclasses, at least anytime soon; same with a Darkness Speaker and fallen Guardians. But Horde Mode, Osiris’ involvement and Mercury/Jupiter as settings don’t seem too far-fetched. Since Destiny 2 hasn’t even been announced yet this is all total speculation, just speculation built around the Lore we know. One thing that I really, really need Bungie to do though is continue the character building that they started in The Taken King. Cayde, Eris, Amanda and Zavala all actually feel more like people now. That trend has to continue through the summer and into whatever step is next – there’s fantastic backstory there for pretty much every character on the Tower. Dive into that – tell us about Twilight Gap, through Zavala, Shaxx and Saladin’s own words. Expand on Ikora’s group of Hidden spies. Make Rahoul and Banshee and the Faction Reps actually characters instead of just button prompts. You have the whole rest of the year to do that – use these timed events like Crimson Days to add more to the story/world we’re playing in. Do it for everyone except the Speaker – save him for Destiny 2; and give him a twist – have him be revealed as the physical embodiment of the Traveler – essentially a person sized Ghost. There’s so much possibility built into the world of Destiny, now is the time for Bungie to capitalize on it.

Stop With the Negativity Please

The Taken King LogoIs Bungie killing Destiny? Will The Division be this year’s Destiny? Did Treyarch mess up the Awakening DLC launch? All questions that I’ve seen online over the last couple days. All coming from the same place – negative opinions about games we love. All questions that are kind of silly to even ask. I get that fans get super impassioned with the games that they love, but there’s a way to be critical without being overly negative.

Let’s start with the Bungie/Destiny questions. Yes, Destiny is in a really rough patch right now. But I highly, highly doubt that Bungie is willingly keeping content and communication away from the community to “kill” the game. I really think that a big part of what’s going on now is that Bungie is scrambling to actually figure out the plan for the year. The game has already undergone pretty seismic shifts in the year and a half it’s been out. In truth, my only real issue with what’s going on now is the lack of communication. All I need from Bungie is a Weekly Update saying “Look we know you want to know more about what’s going on, and we wish we could tell you; but we just don’t have the plan set in stone yet.” Acknowledge that there’s been some turmoil, understand that the community is ready to devour any new content and information, and I think you’d see the vitriol start to fade a bit.

The DivisionAfter the beta on the weekend, The Division is all over the place now. It’s IGN’s game of the month that they’re covering. And I can’t tell you the number lazy posts/videos I’ve already seen comparing Destiny to The Division in a number of different ways. All that does, to me, is continue to confuse the general gaming audience about how The Division works. They’re both loot focused RPG’s with shooter mechanics for combat – that’s the end of it. Destiny is a shooter first, and it shows in pretty much every aspect of that game. The Division is an RPG first, and it’s clear with the min/maxing, numbers based combat that that is the case. Instead of pointing to the other current RPG/Shooter, I think there’s more to talk about in comparing it to the first Mass Effect game. But even that is something that I think we should wait for the game to actually be out to do.

All of this negativity is taking the easy way out as a community. It’s really easy to add to the echo chamber instead of taking a second to think about what’s actually going on. Wait before you post to reddit or make a YouTube video. We’re in the golden age of gaming right now – the best games are out there, looking better than ever before and we’re worried about whether a developer is purposely killing one of the biggest games out there. Relax, games are still really fun – just use your head a little when you criticize the world of gaming.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III – The Best Call of Duty?

Black Ops 3I know that we’ve been talking a bit about The Division Beta and Destiny‘s future lately, but the game that I’ve been playing the most over the last month or so has been Call of Duty: Black Ops III. And that’s had me thinking – is it the best Call of Duty since the modern era of CoD games started? So with that in mind, let’s rank the modern games and find out. By modern games I mean any Call of Duty console/PC release since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, mainly because it completely changed the formula for the series.

Before we hit the rankings, there is one little caveat to get out of the way. I can’t put Call of Duty: World at War on the list because I’ve never actually played it. It came out while I was still playing a whole lot of Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4, among other games. In hindsight I do wish that I had picked it up when it was relevant, but oh well. With that said, let’s move on to the Official Infinite Lives Call of Duty Rankings.

Advanced Warfare Cover

At the bottom of the list, I’m going with Advanced Warfare. Yes, it’s Sledgehammer Games’ first full Call of Duty game, but the formula for what makes a CoD game work isn’t exactly a secret. Advanced Warfare just didn’t really pull it off – the campaign was forgettable, the co-op experience was pretty threadbare and the multiplayer had a weapon meta that never really got balanced. The problem really is that there were two or three weapons that were just head and shoulders above the rest – the BAL, ASM1 and Tac-19 all were essentially required to have a shot at performing well. The movement changes were a step in the right direction, but now that we’ve seen Black Ops III take them further, I think it’s kinda evident that that was what Advanced Warfare should have done; regardless of the Titanfall comparisons. I do think that Sledgehammer can make a real good CoD title, but Advanced Warfare just wasn’t it.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Moving a little up the list, we get to the last Infinity Ward developed title: Call of Duty: Ghosts. This one hurts a little because it was so, so close to being great. The campaign, while predictable, was fun the whole way through. The Extinction mode was fantastic, in truth it was my favorite part of the game. What killed the game for me was, much like AW, a broken online meta. The Honey Badger was just too powerful in any engagement, and IW never really addressed it in a way that fixed the problem. There’s a reason that it was banned from competitive play. What kinda blows my mind though is how with the DLC season, IW kept moving in that direction with map-specific killstreaks that were just insanely powerful. Michael Myers and The Predator totally broke any semblance of balance in matches, even with Honey Badgers all over the place. Since Infinity Ward is putting out this year’s game, and I would expect to see Ghosts 2 (despite reports I’ve seen to the contrary – it just makes too much sense not to), I really hope that they look at what works with their style games and what the community has embraced with the last two titles.

Call of Duty Black Ops

Next up, I’m going with a somewhat unpopular opinion here – Call of Duty: Black Ops. Since I’ve been playing the new BO title, I’ve been keeping an eye on Reddit as well. I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve seen with comments putting the first Black Ops title up on a pedestal. I am very much not one of those people. And I think I can explain why – I was the only one in my group of friends I play with that had Black Ops. That meant no Zombies mode for me, which I think is the strength of the first game. The campaign was really good – something that Treyarch is great with across the whole BO series. The multiplayer was solid. There was one weapon – the Commando – that was a little stronger, but in general it was fine. My problem looking back was that the maps really weren’t that memorable. Aside from Nuketown, and arguable Firing Range, I really don’t think there were any amazing maps there. Considering that it had to pull me away from Halo Reach and Modern Warfare 2, I just never got to that same level of love for the game. Still a good title, just not my favorite.

Modern Warfare 3

Moving up the list, another Infinity Ward title, Modern Warfare 3. A game that is near and dear to me, as it was one of the few titles I actually was able to create content for for, I can’t really put it higher up the list. I think the best way to really describe the game is just plain solid. Everything in the game was good, and arguably great, but the game as a whole just didn’t blow me away. The campaign should have been this huge blow off to the story that was told over three games. Instead, it felt like those huge set-pieces were forced in, along with the big twist with Yuri and Makarov. The multiplayer did something different with the Call of Duty: Elite system to deliver the DLC. And that DLC was actually pretty strong – a good mix of new maps and classics, along with a whole new Face-Off mode for small matches. I played it for about a full year, and enjoyed it all the way through – it was the first Call of Duty that I actually wanted to stick with to hit Prestige 10. I just think that compared with the four remaining games, it’s not quite as strong across the board.

Modern Warfare 2

One step up the list, the previous game in Infinity Ward’s lineup – Modern Warfare 2. This one is a little tricky for me. I love this game – in truth I think it’s my favorite of the series. I had more fun playing this game than just about any other Call of Duty. But looking back at it, it absolutely had its flaws. Not having a really fleshed out co-op aside from Spec Ops missions I think now seems like a big miss. The multiplayer had its fair share of relatively major issues – the Javelin glitch, One Man Army abuse, Marathon-Lightweight-Commando knifers, infinite care-packages and care-package marker speed boosts all contributed to some frustrating moments. But IW was good about fixing them as best they could. Add in that the map selection was phenomenal, made for really fun games. Increasing the customization options to players with Callsigns and Emblems tied to challenges helped push the players to actually try to do challenges that maybe they wouldn’t have normally. It’s still a game that I look back on and get the itch to load up from time to time – I actually did play a few games of it last summer.

Black Ops II

Pulling the bronze medal on my list, I’m going to go with Black Ops II. Treyarch is really good at crafting a story mode that is actually worth playing through. In this case, they really stepped it up with branching paths that could impact the ending of the game. That not only shows that Treyarch was taking something, a campaign, that a lot of players brushed off really seriously; but it also added replayability to something that typically doesn’t really have it. Zombies mode – which again I didn’t really play – took the formula and cranked it up to 10. The Easter Eggs were super in-depth, with multiple demanding steps to unlock them. And the meat of the game – the multiplayer – was just as solid as ever. I think this is the game where Treyarch really nailed their style of multiplayer. It’s not as fast paced as Infinity Ward’s, with a little slower time to kill and more focus of simple map design with little flairs to try and control. Sure there were powerful weapons – the M8A1 in particular – but they weren’t game breaking ones. It’s the first game that I felt compelled to complete gold camo challenges for entire weapon classes – diamond camo will do that. After how lukewarm I felt about Black Ops, this game was a complete 180 for me – I really enjoy the hell out of this one.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Finally, I’m going to take a bit of a cop-out. There are two games left to look at – Modern Warfare and Black Ops III – fitting since that was the question that I really set out to look at. And here’s the thing – I don’t really know that I have the answer. From a content standpoint, Black Ops III is way ahead of Modern Warfare – as well it should be. Modern Warfare is almost ten years old at this point. Mechanics-wise, again, Black Ops III shows ten years of development learning. But there’s still something really special about Modern Warfare. It was a landmark game in FPS progression. It was a seismic shift for a franchise that dates back to the early 2000’s. It showed that modern set games could be just as gripping as World War Two shooters. But most importantly, it gave us the blueprint for the way multiplayer shooters would evolve and grow into. We’re still playing games that borrow, sometimes directly, from that first Modern WarfareBlack Ops III is, I think, the peak of that evolution. It takes everything that Infinity Ward put out, spins it forward those ten years, and makes it all work with the extra moving parts we’ve come to expect. Is it the best Call of Duty game in the franchise? I think it’s the best Call of Duty that we can have right now – it is the perfect combination of all three phases: Campaign, Co-op, and Multiplayer. The question I’m looking at now is what Infinity Ward, the original guys on the franchise, can do to continue evolving the franchise this year.

The Division Beta Wrap-Up Thoughts

The DivisionToday’s the last day of the beta for The Division after Ubisoft extended it 24 hours. I played a bit more since I last wrote about the beta, including a relatively extended stay in the Dark Zone, as well as playing the story mission on hard difficulty with my buddy. So since we’ve got about a full month before the launch of the game, I thought I’d wrap up my impressions on the beta.

The big question that I’ve been seeing over and over since the beta launched has to be “will The Division kill Destiny?” That question was really never a viable question – it was always going to be no. Games just don’t work that way – one game can’t “kill” another. Sure player bases might shift a bit, but that doesn’t mean a game is killed. The reason that has been coming up is twofold. First, it’s really easy to title a YouTube video with a crazy thumbnail and then do just what I’m doing here for a few minutes. Secondly, it’s the easy comparison to make right now. Both games are RPG’s with shooter trappings. But the execution of those mechanics are very different and really don’t put the games in the same place. The Division is an RPG first, Destiny is an FPS first, and that’s really all you need to know. A better comparison for The Division I think is Mass Effect, but we’ll talk a bit more about that when the game actually launches.

Let’s focus a bit more on what we got over the weekend. My biggest question going in to the beta was always one that was never going to get answered – end-game content. What the beta did was show that there might be a little hurdle to get over to even reach that end-game content. Leveling was a little slow, but that could be from the lack of beta content. The biggest thing to me though was that pretty much everything I did was all really, really similar. I worry that there might not be enough variety in the missions and side-quest content to keep the bulk of the player base invested to the end-game. That worry is compounded for me by the Dark Zone’s inherent wonkiness. Already in the beta people found a number of exploits, both on console and PC. PC players are going to need some kind of anti-cheat put into the game to combat some of what I was reading was going on. Aimbots, invisible players, infinite ammo and levels – all that in the beta. On consoles, people figured out that if you went Rogue and then reached the boundaries of the map, it would warp you to the safe rooms, where you could just wait your timer out. I really don’t see that making it to launch, but still, it’s a little worrisome.

The Division Beta

What I did really like was pretty much everything else in the beta. The guns all felt like I would expect in a third-person cover shooter RPG; the abilities we got each had their uses, both in solo play and in team play; and the playspace had a pretty unique feel to it. My personal favorite parts though were the real little details – the weather system is amazing, in particular the snow storms; the snow actually will accumulate on your player character if you stand out in it. The enemy A.I. is surprising good, not content to just sit in cover and wait for you to move to shoot them, they’ll suppress you while rushers push up to whack you with bats. The inventory, weapons and stats all felt very much at home in a min/max style RPG. Trying to figure out gear to max out your stats in the right mix to get weapon talents is definitely something that I think gives the combat some depth. There’s a lot of really good gameplay headed our way in The Division, to me the questions more surround the story and end-game level stuff. There’s still a month before launch, plenty of time to iron out some of the beta wackiness and hopefully enough time to address some of the Dark Zone inconsistencies.