GameSpot's The Lobby: How does The Division actually play?There's plenty of chat about The Division right now, so GameSpot asks its very own Aaron Sampson to answer the only question that matters: how does the RPG shooter play?
[MUSIC] After two years of delays, we're mere weeks away from the launch of the division ahead of it's beta I guess, which is next week. Is that right? Yeah, the beta supposedly starts on the 28th. Okay. So, I guess ahead of that between more people getting their hands on it- I kinda really want to know Like, get right down to it and sort of talk about exactly what this game is because it feels like what the game, we've filled in the blanks of what we saw as far back as E3 2013 as to what this game was. Like I remember watching that initial trailer and thinking, oh this is very sort of like, slow and intentional co-op experience. Like something like a co-op Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, something like that. I'm a massive fan of all Rainbow Six games, Ghost Recon, stuff like that. Kinda felt like that. Like everyone's talking and on point and the numbers are popping up, but it felt like sort of like a tactical shooter that was co-op. And from what we've heard over the past week, it looks like it's more like sort of an online party shooter where like you're fighting. Waves upon waves of people. You played it last week, [UNKNOWN] has a great preview up on the site which folks can go check out if they want to as well. But I want to talk to you about what this game is. As somebody who plays shooters primarily, someone who loves games like Battlefield, and loves games like Rainbow Six: Siege, what is The Division to you? When you're literally shooting people and playing it? So, The Division. It's a co-op shooter. It's more so a co-op shooter than Destiny is. I think, a lot of people compare this game to Destiny. In Destiny, there's people wandering around the world when you're playing it, and I would call it a Mini-MO, like just mini MMO. Like other human players. Yeah. Yeah. I like many mo. [LAUGH] Can we use that? Many mo problems, many mo money, no okay sorry. So the division is not like that. It really is a co-op shooter. You will only see other players in the first Area that you spawn and then maybe in another couple of select spaces. So you do have to pull your friends in with you before you go out into the city. Okay. They're marketing it as an RPG right now. Yeah, very heavily it seems like, actually. It's almost like they've realized people don't think it's not an RPG and it's sort of. Well, I guess we'll get into what RPG means for a game like The Division, but sorry, go on. Yeah. So it took Destiny, or it took Bungie a good year to realize they thought they had a shooter, what they really had was a shooter RPG. So for The Division they're coming at it from the other side. They're saying we have an RPG and the shooting is kind of a byproduct of that. And I'm not sure which came first, whether like the sort of medio, I don't know if it's mediocre, it's just okay shooting. It Right. The shooting doesn't feel fantastic, it gets the job done. And it compliments the world, which I think is very well flushed out. You have a very good sense of time and place in the division. It feels like the pandemic happened, all the weak people died off, and you're right at that- The Liberals! [LAUGH] People who couldn't run fast enough all died. It feels like you're at that moment where right where people are running out of their supplies, and they're getting desperate and these three factions, the Rikers, Looters, and Cleaners are all At their height of power Hm That's when you come into it. Now what you're actually doing in the world, I think it's gonna depend on whether you like RPG or shooters more RIght The shooting itself in the cover system I found it to be very imprecise. I love another Ubisoft game, Ghost Recon Phantoms, which is another cover-based shooter In that you run, you can knee slide, you can prone slide, you can get in cover, and you can have three different: standing, kneeling, or prone. Mmm. You have none of that control in this game. Okay. All you really have are a gears of war dive roll, a gears of war roadie run to cover and then The game itself handles how your character behaves in cover and then Right. But then it's quite interesting you say that, because when I think about what made Destiny such a great game to play regardless of the May know let me problems I have at launch and then a lot of which were fixed last year and eventually it's a bungee shooter Yeah. Like it just to shooting real good so to here you say it like shooting and movement doesn't feel particularly great it's a little bit [UNKNOWN] really but on the other hand this has much deeper RPG mechanics. Which is kinda what they are advertising. So you have three sets, three skill trees that are growing at all times. You have your abilities, which you have three of them, and you have no limitations. You can pick from any skill tree. Then you have basically the equivalent of active skills and you have passive skills. So you're going to find a lot of people doing stats tweaking. You can craft items. You can build very specific characters but you're not locked into them. If something doesn't work, you just back out and go another direction. Are you leveling off that one character and sort of unlocking better [UNKNOWN] as you go along? Or does it feel more like You're doing higher level missions, and then through those missions you're finding better loot. You find better loot through higher level missions. There's a little bit of a disparity with, like, a level 1, I kind of had the same thing I found with Destiny To me, like a level one gun against a level one character didn't really feel that different from a level 20 gun with a level 20 character. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Because we played a starting character and a level 20 character. The game didn't feel that it had changed that much, but I didn't get to experience the journey and the story line that happens in between 1 and 20. Again, mechanically i thought the game was competent. It's not the thing that's gonna carry it like Destiny. It sounds like it, as opposed to Destiny, which, I remember Kevin's review back in I guess it was back in late 2014 at this stage, was one of the biggest things he said, Peter, was that it was a game that was sort of bereft of place, and we ourselves are gonna find out that the story had actually been ripped out of the game. Do you think that's important to a Co-op shooter like this so it didn't matter in Destiny that it didn't feel fleshed out, and you think it could be to the benefit of a game like The Division, because maybe that's what people like to play like Borderlands, I don't know. I think it really matters, and you look at something like Destiny, that's set in sort of these alien worlds, easy to, I saw easy in very limited terms, but it's easy to concoct these fantastical things that don't exist Right, and how your imagination and say this is what the world is but, The Division is using Manhattan, people know Manhattan. Contemporary time. People live there. So, I think it's important in the sense that it's grounding the game in something that we can relate to and as you made it sound They actually do a good job of that. I think that's important for any game to do to draw you into the world or else it is just all about mechanics. Yeah. But a game needs a little bit of soul. I think that's people are actually gravitating towards when they saw the 32013 stuff. Oh yeah. Was like it's different because it's contemporary and it's Feels like it's grounded and it feels like I can reach out and sorta of touch it like a lot of those games can. Yeah, for me growing up with harsh winters in and around New York, for me it was like cool. I could see this happening, sort of. If the **** hit the fan, I was like yeah, I wanna experience that. Cuz I've walked those streets and to see them empty But then, like, you [INAUDIBLE] we can take you out, like still it's good to me, and so I think it's important in that regard. The game play, like, I have so many questions, and it's not so much about what it does or doesn't have, but it's just how it feels. That's the one thing I really want to hear. Let me, there's a couple questions coming in from the [INAUDIBLE] and a couple I've banked to sort of touch on that. And if I don't get right into it, feel free to throw your own [INAUDIBLE] As well. But a lot of people are asking a lot of questions about, it feels like you've sort of tempered your expectation and that's a conversation we're having over the internet is very much, like, is this what I think it was. Some of those questions are, it's almost [UNKNOWN] a lot of what people are saying [UNKNOWN] right now. Impressions on whether or not the enemies are a bit bullet spongy. That's one of the things the camera caused during the game play was man, you we're shooting the guy in the head a lot. He doesn't really seem like he's reacting in a realistic way. You know, I saw a clip where there was five or six just hooded people wandering towards, you know, not taking cover, and soaking up bullets like it's going out of fashion. Is that the experience of playing the division? I would have two things to say about that. I think one, it's a double-edged sword because it's contemporary setting You're not shooting aliens, or locust, or something huge like feels like it could take a lot of bullets. Right. So it is a little weird, when you're pumping a dude with a hoodie full of rounds and he's not reacting at all. Yeah. And I think a lot of the disparity between what I'd like the shooting to be, and what it is, came down to just The enemy is not reacting very present. Right. They don't seem aware that they're getting shot a lot of times. [LAUGH] And they don't react like they're getting shot and I think those are potentially fixable things. On the other hand I will say that the. Preview build that we all played, including YouTubers, and everybody who was there. Yeah. Was three people playing, and the game, we were told, scale is a difficulty. So I do wonder. Right. I think a lot more people are going to be playing this as a single player experience than people think. because you won't run into other people randomly outside of the spawn zone. That's an interesting question. Nolan O'Connell asks what will this game offer to some who is playing solo? Could you play, because that's the main reason I dropped off destiny was that, I got to whether I, think I, super low, like level 15 or 16 or something. And then it just, oh god, I'm really feel like my experience is being handicapped because I'm not playing with other people. So, is this a game, do you think, you could play solo? The question is, how well does the game scale to a solo player? We didn't see that. It was very hard with three people. And I will say that challenge was there for three people. And you will probably have to work with your friends. If they do the same thing to an individual, I don't see how you would survive on normal difficulty. But again,we didn't get to see the game scaled down to a single person. But yeah, like that was one of the reasons why I taper off Destiny over time too. And you know, but I would come back to it as my friends came back to it, and then taper off as they tapered off. Yeah. Whereas this game, you know end game content aside, that's a whole other discussion. It probably will be a little more friendly to an individual person She's probably a lot more friendly to an individual person than Stephanie was. Right, I guess yeah. It'll dodge some of those problems. A critical [UNKNOWN], is it pretty easy to group up with friends? And then Bob Jones [INAUDIBLE] asking a question, a lot of people in the chat are at max party size So was it easy to get involved with her people? What was it, is it four is the max? Yeah, four players co-op I, I think in the, in the zone you spawn in is pretty easy. I can't remember if it was just a couple button presses after Right. Moving it somebody or somebody on your friends list. It's a little bit disappointing that you're not gonna just run into people out in the world. Cause I always liked that about Kind of, you're just organically meeting up with people to share a moment and then dissipating. And you won't get that outside of the dark zone. But there is a dark zone. Yeah. And I will say that the dark zone is probably more true to their original vision than any other aspect of this game. It feels like, kind of the DayZ meets I don't know. It sounds like an instance. Like just a multiplayer instance where you're kinda. Well, actually, I guess it's just the opposite of what an instance is. In that it's like you're booting into an area where you can run into random people. I mean it looks like what they showed in 2013, at least. Not to keep holding the game accountable to it's original vision. But like, that's that's why I wanted to play. That's why I think people on the chat wanted to play.>>And I think that's where all going to end up, too. As a matter of fact, I think you're going to want to get there as early as possible because I don't know where they are going to staff balance or whether they are going to staff balance for weapons. I don't know if a bunch of level 20s are going to dominate or the 30s are going to dominate that area So I have a feeling a lot of people are gonna check out the open world, and then depending on how gated it is- cuz there are gates, there are gates with virus masks Right And there are Level 20 mask or above only [LAUGH] How big was the dark zone I think it was almost a third of the map. Okay. Actually, and then that goes to a question a lot of people, coffee Jesus in the Twitch chat asking, do you think you resolved snapping Brooklyn off the division Smacks of Destiny trying to make more money from the game later, and I guess echoing what Mister [UNKNOWN] said, can you compare the division's map site to another game so we have some sort of perspective? How big is this game, and do you think It can still be playable at the size it is now, or still worthwhile. The unanswered question, so the short is answer is if I just had to just freaking snowball it, I would say it's about the size of Destiny without loading screen. So if you just took all the planets in the original Destiny and smushed them together. That's what it kinda feels like? And removed loading screens. Yep. It's comparable to that size. We spent three hours in just one like, I don't know, ten square block area. Hm Doing missions and stuff. So, it's sizable. You know, the density of content is really what matters. Yeah And also because it's in a city with skyscrapers we have no idea what kind of verticality the game will have. Right, yeah. I mean, it's three dimension, so, like, We know there's an underground. I don't know if there's any skyscrapers that you can go into. It's a three dimensional map and we just don't know how much of that space they're using. But it didn't feel like this was a game that would be critically hampered from having Brooklyn off the map, or having let's just an extra 50% or 100% more map. Did it feel like it was sort of substantial? If you're I know it's a super difficult question cuz I'm asking you off a three hour demo to tell me **** how big the game is I'm not very concerned about map size Yeah I guess if you're coming in as like a Skyrim player, you're not getting anything like that. Again, I think what you're actually worried about when you ask that question is about content density, and whether there's enough for you to do in the world. Yeah, the question is asking, can you see Division having any longevity problems? So I guess that's probably the question. The longevity, right now, the only proposed longevity I can see is in the Dark Zone. Whether the Dark Zone ends up being like DayZ, or whether the Dark Zone just ends up being generic Like PVP. Right. We don't know yet. That's where the best loot is, that's where all the high-level players are going. If you hit level 30 they actually have like a dedicated dark zone for the highest level players. VIP Club. Yeah. I am concerned though, I don't know how matchmaking is going to work in the dark zone. And if you. Start this game a week late. I don't know if a bunch of 20s are gonna stop you. Right. The second you get in there. Yeah. And I don't know if you can wander it solo because if I got three guys and you're by yourself with some sick loot, I'm just gonna take you out. Yeah, for sure. I have no motivation to not do that. Yeah, pick them off easy. Peter, you got any questions for him? Where'd you get that sweet hat. [LAUGH] [CROSSTALK] I feel like for any of us to, you were really pointing at, to really speak about this game definite terms, we have to play it for a long amount of time and that's just what I want to do. When can I play it? Yeah, as somebody who's at least had a smidgen of what that experience is, we're all looking forward to it. How did you feel coming away from having some time with the division? Did you feel disappointed, did you feel you had to reset your expectation? Did you feel like it was fun in a different way? Yeah, what did you think? I think actually Eric [INAUDIBLE] in our office put it best where He always does. Yeah. [LAUGH] The expectation kinda tanked after last year's E3. Right. So my expectations were properly lowered going into this. Hm. I think I see a fun game. I didn't see, in the three hours we played it, it wasn't fantastic. Hm. It was totally competent. I could see having a lot of fun grouping up with friends and playing through. And I did see some, like, in the echo sequences. I actually did see some genuinely really good writing. Like, with the Riker's prisoners. There was a great moment where one of them was, like, torturing a guard. And the guard says to him, like. You know dude, I'm not just a number. I'm not just a uniform, I'm a guy. And the Rikers guys says to him, great well now you know how I feel. Huh. So there were some good moments like that.. But there were also moments where the main character Characters were kind of like cheeseballing it. Why is Dan Riker taking prisoners? [LAUGH] [LAUGH] I said the same thing. But, yeah, good question. [LAUGH] Three hours with it, it was good, but not great. Yeah. And I'm looking forward to digging much deeper into this game and seeing what the deeper content is. Yeah, it's there pretty soon. First week of March, is that right? And the alpha- March 8th. March 8th? Is the unofficial right now. Oh okay cool. Maybe the official, yeah. When does the mobile companion app come out? [LAUGH] That might have been cut. Oh God! How much, but I want to get that drone to come in. Yeah. Like, [SOUND], just be a super loud **** with a gun on. Have you seen videos of them trying to put guns on drones? [LAUGH] Have you seen that? So good, it's just like [SOUND] [LAUGH] Nightmare. America. There you go. Yep. Yeah, the division probably has to tuck. Aaron Sampson, thank you so much for coming in Telling us all about your time with the division, really appreciate your time. You folks are watching this live. Thank you so much, by the way, for supplying us with questions. Are you guys watching this on Gamespot or YouTube after the fact and you have any questions, by all means feel free to put them in the comments below and we'll try and get to them. Let us know what you think about the division. Are you excited for it? Are you stemming your expectation? Put your thoughts in the comments below.