As a final prelude to the inevitable launch next week, Ubisoft led this past weekends’ Open Beta as an unexpected love letter to Division players. Despite maintaining a fairly limited scope that falls in line with what we saw in the Private Beta, Ubisoft proved that they are all ears when it comes to making concessions on their original design to make their players happy. The long journey from New York to Washington D.C. has almost finished, but is the Open Beta enough to curtail fears of a problematic launch?
In recent years, betas have often been used more as marketing tactics than actual attempts to gear up for an actual launch. We’ve seen similarly tested titles like Fallout 76 and Anthem provides tastes of their game, only to have some issues to persist long into launch. In this way, Ubisoft has proven that stability is a core issue that they have been working on repeatedly from the Private Beta on to Open Beta. An example of this was the lack of a login queue this time around despite the beta being open to everyone. I attempted to play across PC and PS4, and regardless of where I logged in, I had zero queue times.
On my last preview of Private Beta, I had a very mixed impression of the disparity between early leveling gameplay and high-level play. Ubisoft didn’t shrink away from the continued complaints that high-level bullet sponges were a severe detriment to the overall feel of combat. No, you shouldn’t expect a one hit kill, even with a sniper rifle, on most enemies. They have decreased the sponginess enough that I was able to kill multiple enemies on a single magazine, even on hard mode. Another major issue I had, was that specialization ammo would drop extremely scarcely to the point that I was hesitant ever to use it. During Open Beta, special ammunition fell like candy. I was able to consistently utilize my crossbow, and regain ammo as I went.
Unfortunately, players were still confined to the very lowest areas of Washington D.C. A new level was opened, and the Chem Launcher was added, so players were able to see just a little bit more than they could in the Private Beta, but this leaves the largest swath of the game, the middle, uncharted. In many ways, I’m thankful for this, as I had just enough of the beginning and the end of the game to get a sense of what to expect, without spoiling the majority of the content. On the other hand, I have a concern that bugs may still exist somewhere in the middle as I experienced at the private hands-on press event, where our team had gotten stuck on a level. That being said, the new Viewpoint Museum mission was a lot of fun, and I was able to complete it without issue.
After primarily playing through the same content several times over the multiple tests I have done, I can unequivocally say that the game has continued to get better throughout each iteration. The end game bullet sponginess is much improved. The stuttering and disconnecting issues from the last beta were nonexistent. In all senses, from what I’ve experienced on both PS4 and PC, this game is ready to launch. Whether the great performance translates to the actual launch, only time will tell.