When it was announced at E3 2013, The Division was one of the standout stars of the show. The game follows a group of agents, the titular “Division”, who must fight to restore order after New York City falls to a disease that begins spreading on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days in the United States. The game is an online RPG and players are encouraged to communicate and work together, finding weapons, battling factions and doing their bit to save what’s left of the city.
With a debut gameplay trailer that blew everybody away, fans were incredibly excited for the game to be released in 2014. However, the developers at Ubisoft Massive, Ubisoft Reflections, and Red Storm Entertainment delayed the game to 2015, explaining that they didn’t want to “compromise” on quality. But this year, Ubisoft announced that they would be bringing another developer on board (Ubisoft Annecy) and that the game had been delayed to Q1 2016, putting its release some time between January 1 and March 31.
With half a year to go before The Division‘s earliest release date, that wait may seem like a long one. But during the Xbox E3 2015 press conference, Ubisoft announced a beta for The Division that will let Xbox One players play the game months before anyone else. Ubisoft did not reveal how players would be able to get into the beta, or if it would be open or invite only, but given just how highly anticipated the game is, it could give many players a reason to buy an Xbox One this Christmas.
The decision to do a beta is a smart one for Ubisoft as many recently released games have suffered from issues at launch. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Unity was criticized in particular as the game suffered from serious frame rate drops and server connection issues also prevented people from opening loot chests.
PS4 exclusive Driveclub buckled under the weight of its multiplayer (which also caused delays in the PlayStation Plus version of the game) and Halo: The Master Chief Collection has also been plagued with matchmaking errors. It is true that Ubisoft racer The Crew and Bethesda MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online had betas and still had troubles at launch, but many would chalk this down to the fact that these betas were not open and so the development teams could not adequately stress test their servers.
Furthermore, last year an anonymous developer who claimed to have worked on The Division said that not only was the game’s 2015 release date “optimistic” at the time, but that the developers were struggling with its multiplayer element in particular. Given that lagging or broken multiplayer would severely limit the game’s ability to work as intended, this beta could very well help to ensure that things are stable at launch.
The Division releases on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016.