‘The Division’ has gotten worlds better since 2016, so try it for free this weekend
Ubisoft’s endless quest to get more people interested in The Division takes an exciting turn this weekend, when the game goes completely free.
Whether you’re on a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Windows PC, you’ll be able to download and install the game from May 4-7. Any progress you make will of course carry over should you decide to buy the game.
You can even get a head start on your free access progress thanks to The Division‘s existing trial program. Currently, anyone can download the game for free and play the full game until their character hits Level 8 or they put in six hours of playing time.
The trial restriction will disappear once the free weekend starts, so you can spend some time before that grinding out the tutorial and other challenges from the opening hours.
The Division is Ubisoft’s answer to the increasingly popular brand of “live” games like Destiny, which draw inspiration from the social emphasis and event-driven gameplay of MMORPGs.
In this one, players are deposited into a post-apocalyptic version of midtown Manhattan. Widespread illness led many to flee the city before it was quarantined, and those who are left have kinda lost it. You step into the role of a government operative in the Division, a network of trained sleeper agents that don’t activate until things get really bad.
There are some tonal inconsistencies in The Division‘s story due to the nature of your enemy: everyday citizens who have gone a little crazy, for the most part.
One end-of-mission boss, for example, is a former sanitation worker named Joe Ferro who lost his wife to the virus early on. He believes that he and his people are doing the right thing in using fire to eradicate the virus, but they’re cast as an antagonistic force.
On its own, that’s not a bad turn for the story to take. There’s a dissonance, however, between the morally grey narrative arc and the fact that The Division is a game in which you play missions like that one — and gun down bosses like Joe Ferro repeatedly — in an ongoing search for more and better loot.
The game works best, sadly, when you put the story out of your mind and focus instead on the relatively slick third-person action. Ubisoft Massive, the studio behind The Division, has updated the game frequently since it launched in March 2016. It’s a far better game now than it was then.
Along with the free weekend, Ubisoft will also be running a sale on The Division. You’ll be able to pick the standard version of the game on PS4 and Xbox One for $19.99 until May 15. The PC version is also on sale, for $5 more, until May 7.