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    Tom Clancy's The Division

    Game » consists of 9 releases. Released Mar 08, 2016

    An online-only open-world shooter-RPG from Ubisoft Massive set in a chaotic New York City that is wrought by disease.

    No pre-release reviews, all servers go up at the same time for public and press

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    Joe_McCallister

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    I don't like it personally, seems like a vote of low-confidence in their own game. I was really happy with the beta personally, but this scares the living hell out of me for a game I was greatly looking forward to.

    No early copies for reviewers, servers go live for everyone including press at the same time, so even after the first reviews start trickling out, they're likely going to be rushed just to be first to press;

    "It's impossible for us to populate the servers in a way that would adequately replicate playing The Division on launch day," Ubisoft said. Therefore, "reviewers will start playing the game along with everyone else when it's released." - Polygon's article

    http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/2/11147166/tom-clancys-the-division-review-day-one-ubisoft-announcement

    This is the same communication the site I write reviews for received and it sparked quite a furious debate - what does the Bomb community think?

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    ArtisanBreads

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    Tough to say what it means. Really if you think about this compared to some other launch day disasters, it's kind of more honest. Like no Battlefield 4 situations where the game gets great reviews and then is a wreck on release day for players.

    I think they did give a lot of people a chance to try the game with the beta. You could perhaps think maybe they aren't confident or they don't have much content, but I'll just give them the benefit of the doubt. I say this as someone who really enjoyed the beta but is uncertain on release.

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    BrotherBran

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    with press saving the score on games like this it doesnt make much difference anyway.

    Also millions of people have played this game already why bother trying to setup times for press to play, games like this are notoriously tricky for reviewers with publishers trying to get the servers spun up and enough press playing at once to get the game to feel populated.

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    deactivated-629ec706f0783

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    I'm actually totally ok with this. A large part of this game seems to stem from player interaction, be it random people you work with in the PVE side of things, or encounters in the Dark Zone. I'd rather read a review from the actual playing landscape, not the much more barren media landscape before launch.

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    Sackmanjones

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    Eh, them saying this much is enough for me. I played the beta, enjoyed it and wanna see more so I'm going to take the plunge and see for myself.

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    Zurv

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    #6  Edited By Zurv

    yeah, I'm not worried about this like I normally would with no review copies. I played the shit out of the beta and really enjoyed it (55 hours close+open beta).

    anyone going to be playing @ 12:01 EST? and want to group up? :) (PC)

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    ASilentProtagonist

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    I guess this is an acceptable answer, but Ubisoft is not trust worthy at all. Smart gamers will wait to see the community's take on this type of game regardless.

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    BrotherBran

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    @asilentprotagonist: i would agree when it comes to assassins creed, and MAYBE far cry, but this is a different dev team. also i have played like 4 hours of this game so idk, i dont need a review its not as good as id like but its still pretty fun.

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    deactivated-63b0572095437

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    I played through the alpha once, closed beta on all 3 platforms, and open beta on 2 platforms. I think I'm good unless the game is broken. I have a great personal track record of knowing whether or not i'll enjoy something. I don't think no pre-release reviews automatically means a game is horrible. Be cautious, but i'm comfortable buying this day 1 without reviews. My only concern is lack of content. I know what to expect with loot games though. I'll be farming stuff. I know I'll spend a lot of time in dark zones. I know I'll be repeating missions. I did a lot of boss farming in Borderlands 2. I've mindlessly killed stuff in Diablo over and over. The Division is that type of game. I don't need to see what the community or reviewers think. I know what i'm getting into and the potential problems with this type of game.

    There is very little value in pre-release reviews unless it's an offline single player game. Any review I'd care to read (pretty much none) wouldn't drop prior to release anyway before seeing how online interactions work at launch. I'm not interested in a review that was rushed out the door to get hits if they only played the story and who's experience online is with a tiny group of other members of the press.

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    paulmako

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    I think that's fine.

    As has been said, a pre-release review for a game with an integral multi-player component isn't really reviewing the thing people will actually be playing.

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    Shivoa

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    #11  Edited By Shivoa

    I think people got an impression of what servers look like for the online stuff during the beta and journos can collect together at set times to get grouped up into busy periods for review (like, this isn't a single shard server - far from it, the DZs seem to be reasonably small shards with maybe a couple dozen players in each instance and reviewers should have no issue with enjoying that if told when are some peak hours to test that stuff out so everyone goes to do DZ stuff at certain hours - a common method of enabling reviewers getting the online part of a game reviewed before release).

    For a game where a lot of people have expressed concern about the total content that'll be there (especially the authored narrative and how group missions and solo side-quests integrate with the cloned random and progression events that give credits to build your base) and especially if the end-game has staying power, this is a super-bad look for Ubisoft. Even if the game is everything many of us hope, this is not how to give anyone confidence on that.

    This game has been sold by the PR team and developers as a game that is completely functional as a solo RPG. The online component has been tested in several weekend large-scale events. And it's not like the main online stuff (missions or DZ) requires more than a few other people being online to populate an instance/shard for.

    The above points about holding off publishing a review until the server stability etc can be tested with real loads in the first week is spot on. Not saying full reviews should be out before launch day, but not letting reviewers even get started on this likely 30 hour (or who knows, that's something we kinda want to know to make an informed decision about buying this game) RPG until after people can already pay for the game: that looks bad.

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    ll_Exile_ll

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    It's hard to imagine getting any kind of accurate Dark Zone experience when there are, at most, a few dozen reviewers playing the game on each platform. The only way I can see it working would be to have dedicated times where all reviewers would do the Dark Zone stuff at the same time, but that would bring with it a whole host of other issues. How would they make sure everyone was around the same level? How would they manage time zone constraints? (would Australian critics have to play in the middle of the night?) Then there's also the fact that, ideally, critics are playing the game how a normal player would, so having scheduled Dark Zone sessions kind of goes against that in terms of pacing, progression, etc.

    Let's also not forget the many times there have been internet uproars when largely online games were reviewed favorably based on pre-release servers and then the actual fully populated servers turned out to be a disastrous mess. It's more important to have accurate and informed reviews, even if a little late, rather than day 1 reviews that barely reflect the actual experience paying customers will be getting.

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    Bane

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    This doesn't bother me at all. The open beta gave everyone an opportunity to try the game for themselves, and I find that infinitely more useful than any review.

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    SchrodngrsFalco

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    I like it. Reviewers reviewing a multiplayer game when the players are actually there.

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    Milkman

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    Yeah, I think I'm okay with this. I get how it might look like lack of confidence but the reasoning they give is pretty sound. I feel like we've seen a lot of games recently that are entirely online or at least predominantly online focused that are reviewed ahead of release and have to come along with a weird disclaimer like "well, if everything works, this is what we think of the game."

    If you're worried about the game, just wait a few days for the reviews to start rolling in before you buy it. You don't have to be there on launch day.

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    Quarters

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    Makes sense to me.

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    majorzero64

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    Seems alright to me

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    TurtleFish

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    I don't know. I agree with people that it makes sense from a multiplayer experience aspect, but there's also plenty of examples of where companies have done this because they know that they'll get killed on things that only show up when you play the full game. I really enjoyed the betas, but what if what you do in the betas is all you do in the game? Or what if there are game killing bugs in the late game that they're still trying to fix?

    I want to like this game -- but, games are complicated to make right, and there are plenty of examples of games that showed a lot of promise and then falling short... sometimes falling WAY short. I'm willing to wait for reviews on this one, even if it means I have to wait a couple of weeks.

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    Shivoa

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    @ghoti221:Ye, I don't think anyone is saying this should have been reviewed and talked about last week with a press embargo (because lots of mulitplayer means lots of need to test that in the real world setting of public server loads), but having absolutely no press access (baring a few events with playing high level characters and the recent public betas) until the game is literally on shelves gives the impression that there's something to hide. When the previous message about this game is there is a large, complete singleplayer RPG in there, then it seems like reviewers could at least have gotten started with that stuff and see how it does hold up as a solo game (something press interviews have explicitly mentioned as a way the devs intend this game to be playable).

    Yes, the technical reasons are probably due to this being an always-on DRM/server based game and if they don't bring up the release servers for journos then no one with an early copy of the game can also get in (another thing publishers like about always-on DRM) so no early user reviews either. But that is more pointing to how the DRM here is bad for consumers, because we're entirely reliant on server uptime to play a game advertised as something including a full solo RPG.

    That last open beta pushed me over the edge into eagerly awaiting this game, but knowing we don't even get a (24-36 hours of access) first impressions comment from people starting down the review path before the game is actually out (about how much content is in there, about if there might be any stability issues even without server load issues being tested) never sits quite right with me. I don't read a lot of reviews, I do like to feel the mood (like Bombcast and BEastcast chatter) and that can't happen if my access to the game is gated to be at the same time as those people who normally get to check it out a few days or weeks early.

    I like that we now know what the DLC and continuing update plans are, I like that I now have a better idea of what the full game's scope is (from people poking at preload files and extrapolating form the limited slices we saw in the betas) that will be there on the first day of release. But I'd really like to get a quick kick of the tyres from the people who play games (and write about that) for a living just before the game comes out to let me know if this is all rather less than we all hope it could be from what we've seen of the beta. As an online game, if the servers can stay up, that first week can be pretty exciting as everyone discovers the full limit of the systems and chats about how they're finding this new experience. So I do think there's value to be had from being there day 1 (especially as it won't become cheaper in the first few weeks so holding off doesn't save money and does lock you out of any pre-order offers), I'd just prefer some outside validation of the claims made selling this aren't totally misaligned with what the actual game being sold is.

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    Maluvin

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    The beta gave me at least some confidence that this will be okay so it doesn't really bother me but I'm still going to wait until initial reviews come out before purchasing just to be on the safe side.

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    deactivated-5e60e701b849a

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    ...seems like a vote of low-confidence in their own game.

    I think it's the exact opposite. They make reviewers play the game when the servers are hit the most, so Ubisoft must be really confident in their servers' stability.

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    Yummylee

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    GERALTITUDE

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    I feel this is how heavily online games should launch. I don't really care about buying it day 1/week 1 though, and I get why those folks may be bummed about this.

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    monkeyking1969

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    I'm not sure if I can say, Ubisoft not putting out preview press copies before launch is good or not.

    As people at IGN Podcast Beyond said, '...they had few choices':
    1)...drag all the press to a weekend event where they press plays the press only. (Something the press hates and the public distrusts as a review choice.)
    2)...give out preview copies to press and they press has very few people to play against, so they can't even give an impression and they hold back until the very last second. (Something the smaller online sites hate, because they might not get press copies and its all becomes a SCRUM to see who puts out a review.)
    3)...just let it work out naturally on launch day. (Something that gamers see as a 'red flag' of extreme caution.)

    I think just putting it out all at once and letting each gaming outlet decided how methodical of a review they want is fine. YES, if you are on the fence st might mean waiting until the day after lunch to buy after seeing a few reviews. Or, it means just weighing your options and plunging in a tiny bit blind. Both a valid choices, and both are tough.

    I'm pissed that I bought into Destiny that way, but in a way I knew Destiny was going to suck, I hated the Destiny Beta and I knew I was fooling myself that they full game would be improved. At least with The Division I have a clearer understanding of what they have and have been impressed with what has been show as BEING there for sure. The unknowns for The Division are fewer, so I feel confident pre-ordering form the PSN store. However, I am also willing to accept my lot if that is a bad choice.

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    Shivoa

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    #26  Edited By Shivoa

    I just don't quite see this like larger MMOs. What bit of the game is a press week-long preview build/private server (the files clearly point to each copy of the game having to auth into the Division servers - there is a public SSL cert .pem file with the preload in a folder called "certs") going to miss out on looking at?

    The docks seemed to have quite a few people milling around but if you said that was more than a 48-person shard, I'd be highly dubious (and with millions of people in the beta, and 70k people on via the Steam version alone at the peak on PC, those shards should have been full). The DZ: was each shard 24 people, for 2 of the 5 areas unlocked? I don't think I ever saw more than 12 of us end up near the same place. I could see the full 5-block DZ being another 48-person shard you instance into with a suitable mix of main and DZ level (and NPCs for you all to feast upon) - and that's assuming the 5 DZ blocks aren't something where you can jump shards as you walk between the blocks (so assuming the airlocks are the hidden connection to a new server shard).

    If the press are given times to try and make sure they all test the stuff that relies on larger scale multiplayer at the same time then I can't imaging giving out so few press copies that you couldn't fill up some shards so everyone got a feel for what full servers felt like. As for the co-op and so on: 4 player teams is absolutely something where there should be no issues with press getting themselves sorted out to deal with it. Hell, give each publication 4 keys each and you've given them every tool to work through that content without even having to talk to a single person at another publication.

    Big MMOs, ones with massive worlds where the entire thing is a few big servers (Planetside 2, WoW, classic MMOs), is something where I can see the press would miss something if they got in early without any public. But The Division is not that scale. This is smaller than a big multiplayer game (your Battlefields or MAG). It's Saturday afternoon in the EU, right now both Planetside 2 EU servers has about 1300 people in each. No, you can't hope to show the press how that works before launch unless it's only the stuff you're prepared to give out for public beta (ie not all of the game). But that's now what The Divison is even about. Your friends are icons on the map, you're looking for 3 other people for the big PvE content, and you're looking for up to 3 other people in your crew and to be against a dozen or two others when you go into PvP/PvP enabled PvE.

    Embargos (which you really want to be up before release so no one buys blind) and reviews taking into account real server loads (so impossible to complete researching before release) are a mess. But just not letting the press see the full game at all (baring the recent events where some press have been playing The Division with lvl 20 agents with Ubi there to chat - it just wasn't the full game) until after it is on shelves and the public are collecting their copies does not seem to be in any way a good balance.

    And this is a game advertised as having a big solo-friendly RPG campaign to it. It's certainly an Ubisoft open world of sidequest icons and templated mission types when you're doing a lot of the progression stuff. It's a co-op RPG but I also want to hear from people who didn't do X with 3 friends to see how it holds up without the "friend effect" that makes a game more about shooting shit on Vent/TS/Mumble than the actual activity you're doing at the time. That is denied by the servers not being opened for press to poke the full game before release.

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    Corvak

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    While it's easy to draw some kind of conclusion about how Ubi's afraid it will review badly, from what i've heard from beta players is that this probably isn't the case. In fact the only real damning thing coming out of that beta was that some people on PC were able to cheat. Overall, the people I know that were looking forward to The Division got super excited about it.

    Also, the industry is changing a bit. A lot of sites refuse to early-review multiplayer games now, putting up articles like "wheres our review?" or unscored "review in progress" pieces or simply changing their scores after the fact (personally, I hate score-changing)

    An early code press-playing-against-press isn't even an accurate depiction of the game, because you've heard the guys themselves talk about it, the average skill level online drastically spikes once the public gets it - not to disparage Jeff's CoD skills, but he's got a job that requires playing a plethora of different games on a regular basis, while some of the super launch-day CoD fans spend hundreds of hours playing just one game. So yeah I guess it shows what the MP is like, but not what the typical player can expect when they put the game in.

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    mosdl

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    @corvak said:

    While it's easy to draw some kind of conclusion about how Ubi's afraid it will review badly, from what i've heard from beta players is that this probably isn't the case. In fact the only real damning thing coming out of that beta was that some people on PC were able to cheat. Overall, the people I know that were looking forward to The Division got super excited about it.

    Also, the industry is changing a bit. A lot of sites refuse to early-review multiplayer games now, putting up articles like "wheres our review?" or unscored "review in progress" pieces or simply changing their scores after the fact (personally, I hate score-changing)

    An early code press-playing-against-press isn't even an accurate depiction of the game, because you've heard the guys themselves talk about it, the average skill level online drastically spikes once the public gets it - not to disparage Jeff's CoD skills, but he's got a job that requires playing a plethora of different games on a regular basis, while some of the super launch-day CoD fans spend hundreds of hours playing just one game. So yeah I guess it shows what the MP is like, but not what the typical player can expect when they put the game in.

    The day one release notes mention extensive PC cheating fixes (ie server side checks added) so they seem to be keeping up with issues.

    And the PvP is loot focused and less skill dependent and the main issue will probably be balance issues in the Dark Zone (spots that rogues can hide easily and run down their bounty) which is not something that is easily reviewed. The interesting part is can Massive keep up fast enough with any exploits and balance the game as issues arise.

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    alwaysbebombing

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    I don't really know if "coming in hot" is always a sign of something negativity anymore.

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    Joe_McCallister

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    @yummylee: ouch that's rough! Talk about an emotional roller coaster - YAY IT'S HERE! motherf...

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    Undeadpool

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    Loading Video...

    Pretty much my reaction...someone still hasn't learnt their lesson about people looking harder if you try to hide something...

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    Honkalot

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    Pretty critical about this just because it's coming from Ubisoft.

    Embargo-stretching-after-release-day-Ubisoft.

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    crow13

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    I'm actually glad they aren't. This way this critic/reviewers experience will be more akin to the average persons and can reflect the score of the game as such, be that good or bad.

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    Humanity

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    #34  Edited By Humanity

    I don't mind. In a world where the day a game goes live there are thousands of YouTube/Twitch personalities streaming it online, warts and all, I don't see why anyone would honestly care about reviews from places like GameSpot, IGN or even Giant Bomb. I'll read a GB review once in a while but you honestly get a much better sense of how they feel about any particular title from the Bombcast discussions. It's kind of funny how on one hand everyone is discussing (and rightly so) how written reviews are progressively becoming useless and a thing of the past, but on the other hand whenever these written reviews aren't day in with the release date suddenly a whole mess of controversy stirs up.

    It doesn't help that Ubisoft has become the industries new whipping boy, a title proudly handed off to them from EA.

    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

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