E3 2015: Going Dark in Tom Clancy’s The Division
It's natural for a video game to throw as many obstacles as it can at a player to test their in-game abilities, but the new area introduced for Tom Clancy's The Division is simply sadistic. The Dark Zone is a brand new PvP section of the game that turns the already intense shooter into an experience where you simply can't trust anyone, and my hands-on time with it at E3 proved just how insane it was.
Before I get into the specifics of The Dark Zone, I want to say how impressed I was with how this game played in general. I was very worried that the extended delays and uncertainty of the game's launch would cause a less-than-stellar playing experience, but everything in the game moved with fluidity as I played. Moving from cover to cover hasn't felt this natural since Gears of War, and shooting mechanics are some of the tightest I've played in a long time. Just by picking up the controller The Division was exceeding my expectations, so actually getting into the meat of the demo just made things better.
This Dark Zone idea had to have been pitched by a madman, because everything about it is just punishing to all of the players involved. These zones are highly-contaminated areas of New York City with very little activity outside of bandits and "cleaners" (those guys with the flamethrowers), but they also happen to hold the best weapons and armor in the entire game. Tackling these zones is set up very similarly to a Strike in Destiny, where a team of three players enter and try to complete the task as a team, except every trip into the Dark Zone never really works out that way.
Once the area is clear of enemies players can scavenge for whatever loot they might find, with all different types and rarities being possible. Once each player has a piece of loot secured in his or her yellow containment bag it's off to the extraction point to get these items out, cleaned, and ready for use in the real game. The only problem lies in that my team wasn't the only team in the zone, there was another set of players who were trying to send some loot off as well. We then found ourselves in a stalemate, guns trained on each other, with no one making any type of move to summon an extraction. This is where the PvP part of Dark Zones come in, as the other player team attacked us, leaving us scrambling to regroup.
We were able to dispatch the opposing team and were ready to call in our evac when I fell victim to a snake in the grass. My partner, another player who stood next to me both in-game and in real life as we fought through the zone, engaged Rogue Agent protocol and shot down the two of us, stealing our loot and making a break for it himself. The Dark Zone can and will bring out the worst in some players, forcing teammates against teammates all for the allure of whatever that person picked up. We never knew what the others picked up from that loot box, we never discussed it between one another, but that other player shot us in the back and took it anyway. I hope he enjoyed that rifle, if he even got to use it before the demo ended.
The Dark Zone in Tom Clancy's The Division is an appropriate name not only in description but also in experience, as darkness can seep into a player's mind at any time while traveling through these desolate areas. No one is safe, no one can be trusted, and no one should think himself above becoming a victim of friendly fire. If this is but one section of the overall Division experience, I'm very intrigued as to what comes next.
Tom Clancy's The Division has been confirmed for a March 8, 2016 release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.