The Division’s Dark Zone Conjures Teamwork and Betrayal

After two delays and over two years since its initial reveal, suffice it to say the world is ready for Tom Clancy’s The Division. The upcoming open world third-person shooter has looked promising from the start, but as Ubisoft continues to push back its release, much of the anticipation has been drowned in begrudged disappointment. Now scheduled for a March 8 release and featuring a new PvP mode, Ubisoft is aiming to remind players why they should be excited about The Division.

Set in crisis-stricken New York, The Division combines cover-based combat with an emphasis on tactical teamwork. Players will be able to jump between fighting and exploring alone, completing missions with other players online, and fighting for exclusive loot in PvP matches, all while leveling up their character and upgrading their equipment. Players can equip different weapons and abilities to their character, customizing them towards a specific specialty with survival and synergy in mind. Ubisoft Massive’s game features an assortment of creative technology, like seeker mines that roll towards your enemies position, all designed to help you and your teammates restore order to New York. The game’s apocalyptic premise is brilliantly presented by the environment, and with dynamic weather and time systems having tangible effects on missions, Ubisoft Massive does a fantastic job of immersing you in the game’s fascinating world. It’s a dangerous, unpredictable place as a whole, but the Dark Zone, The Division‘s PvP area, is especially so. We recently had a chance to test our mettle in the recently announced arena.

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Forced to climb over a car and slip through a hole in a barbed wire fence in order to gain access, it was immediately clear the Dark Zone wasn’t somewhere anyone was intended to be. Once inside, my team and I took up positions behind cars, boxes and busted buildings, inching ever closer to the enemy faction patrolling ahead. One teammate used his bespoke radar ability, Pulse, giving us all a visual of exactly where each enemy was. Equipped and in position, we launched our attack, making short work of the computer-controlled group. After healing our wounded and collecting the loot, we headed for a nearby park for extraction.

Alone in the area, we lit a flare to call our allies to collect us. In the process, however, we also alerted each of the other rival teams to our position. As the time until the chopper’s arrival ticked away, hostiles converged upon us in a frantic firefight that saw us all diving through clearings, hiding behind planters, commanding various gadgets, and shooting at everything that moved. The Division‘s combat shone brightly here, forcing us all to take advantage of our character’s unique abilities and weapons, and challenging our teamwork against the highest of odds. We used the environment to our advantage, hiding inside a nearby building and setting a turret as a distraction, and split up to flank the encroaching players before they could finish us off. Caught off guard and scrambling to regroup, the opposing players fell swiftly to our coordinated strike. With seconds left, we collectively exhaled and prepared to depart, until one of our teammates decided to test his luck and walk off with all the loot himself. He opened fire and sprinted for cover, but we were faster. We watched him squirm, begging for forgiveness and revival, then turned and boarded our transport out of the area. We had lost an ally, but we had survived the Dark Zone.

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Ours was a tale of success, but the other teams that fell to our bullets gained nothing from their foray into the quarantined area. All players enter in search of spoils, but many will leave with nothing at all. Ubisoft is striving to deliver something different with the Dark Zone, encouraging teamwork but proposing the possibility of betrayal at any point during the mission. Your teammates may work perfectly towards a common goal, or they may become overwhelmed by greed and take your loot for their own after helping you pick off your mutual opponents. Ubisoft Massive has been quiet about just how expansive and varied the PvP mode will be, but it’s a unique and enticing feature that we had a blast with. If The Division‘s campaign can live up to those standards, it might just be worth the wait.