I never expected to like heavily instanced MMO shooter The Division [official site] as much as I did, but performing the cover-and-shoot-and-flank loop against its curiously strong hoodie-wearing enemies was moreish and a great backdrop for playing with friends. That's why we named it yesterday as our favourite co-op game of the year, and that's why it's good news that there's a free weekend for the game running from today until December 18th.
The free weekend begins today at 10am PST / 6pm GMT and runs until Sunday, December 18th at 1pm PST / 9pm GMT and allows you to "play through the entirety of the core game, along with all of its free content updates." You obviously won't be able to complete such a large multiplayer game in that time, but the progress you do make will carry over if you decide to buy the full game, which will be on sale at 50% of its usual price. That makes it £20/$25 right now. The DLC season pass is half-price too, as is the bundle of both.
If you're planning on trying the free weekend you don't need to wait until 6pm tonight to start downloading, as pre-loading is available - although, yes, taking part in all of this does mean you'll have to remember your Uplay password.
[It's now on Steam too -update ed.]
The Division is one of those games I feel like I'd be playing a lot of if it wasn't my job to constantly be playing new games, and if my life wasn't at a point where I had very little time to play anything. It's a total comfort game. You trek into a snow-covered New York which is being torn apart by a virus and various factions of looters, take some quests to kill some angry men, collect some loot, and then head back to expand your HQ and craft some new items. The combat itself shows signs of having gone through a bunch of different iterations, but where it ended up is with a system that rewards headshots and some basic tactics employed with your co-op partners, but which doesn't necessarily require either excellent twitch skills or much concentration. Playing it with Adam was some of the most fun I had this year.
Or here's what Adam said in the above linked Calendar entry:
"Brendan is right – The Division is junk food. Specifically, for me, it’s the kind of junk food I want to order from a takeaway when I’m hanging out with a few friends on a Sunday night and we’re at a loose end. I’ve used it as a chatroom and hangout, and that feels a little bit disrespectful considering how much work went into actually building the place. I’ve also played a fair bit of solo, when nobody is around to share the family bucket with me, and even when I can see how the loot and shoot loop is working, it still manages to fasten around my limbs and trap me in its web."