The Division's Open Beta just ended yesterday and I spent most of my weekend playing the game with my brother. After getting through the story missions that were included in the beta, out of curiosity, we ventured into the Dark Zone just to see what was happening in there.
If you didn't play the beta or had no interest in The Division then I'll quickly explain what the Dark Zone (DZ) is to you. It's essentially the only area in the game where you can attack or fight other people who play the game. It's also one of the only places where you can get some of the best loot in the game.
That being said, I don't really want to review the beta or the game or the DZ or any of the gameplay things but I really just want to share the experience my brother and I had playing the game after we got through the single/multiplayer co-op missions. I also left a video of the Dark Zone trailer in the next block if you're interested in the official video that explains what the DZ and it's importance.
After spending some hours playing the beta, the only recommendation I can make is that the DZ is best explored with at least one other person. I don't think I would have as much fun if I didn't have my brother with me to check out the one of the more intense areas of the game. One of the strangest moments we had when we first entered the DZ was interacting with all of the other players in the game. There was this silent anxiety that one of us would shoot the other so it'd be a lot of just... staring at each other until we decided to leave.
[I should note that my brother and I were in a private chat 'cause we didn't want to hear other people or other people to hear us talk about whatever we were talking about]
The most intriguing thing about the DZ is the motivation to explore areas of the map without objectives. The moment we picked up something that we could never have in the main area of the game, we immediately wanted to find more and more loot. The computer-controlled enemies are a little bit stronger than the ones in the main area which made every little skirmish feel like a nail biting experience. And every victory felt like we beat the game.
But one of the hardest things about the DZ is that all the loot you pick up is "contaminated" which means you have to get a helicopter to pick up your loot which essentially leaves you stranded for about 90 seconds while computer-controlled enemies try and kill you before you can get your stuff out of the DZ (also if you die all your stuff drops and can be stolen by other players, so dying has a little bit of weight to it when you're in the DZ).
But one of the more ridiculous things about these extraction moments is that there are a couple of players who hang out around these areas to kill the other players that are trying to extract their items. As much as my brother and I hated the fact that they did this, it made for some real interesting moments while we were waiting for the helicopter. It turned into some weird team deathmatch moments where there were NPCs who were fighting both sides.
We eventually found an extraction area that no one hung out at, so we didn't have to worry about our stuff getting stolen. And speaking of things getting stolen, when we had opportunities to take other people's junk, we did. There's one moment in particular where we waited for another group of agents to get killed by some pretty strong NPCs and we took their stuff, got rid of the computer controlled guys, and looted everything that was around.
It got to a weird point where we had more fun in the DZ than in the main game and I can't wait for more experiences when the full game comes out. From being in an intense battle with other actual players in New York's Koreatown to using actual knowledge of New York City to get back to 34th Street so we could find all the stuff we dropped, every moment was fun. I will say though, playing the game alone -- in the Dark Zone or otherwise -- might not be as fun for some people.
Either way, though, I hope every at least tries this game out with their friends or family members just to get the most out of the game at launch.