The Division was supposed to have a Xbox One beta in December. That’s been delayed. In its place is a closed Xbox One alpha for those of you who preordered. And for those who signed up early. I didn’t preorder, but I still received a code.

The alpha gets started on December 9th and lasts through the 12th. It will be the first time anyone outside of Ubisoft plays a version of The Division beyond the Dark Zone PvP enabled areas.

What does Ubisoft want from you? To give “valuable insight into how our infrastructure performs under pressure that we can’t replicate internally or at a tradeshow. This process allows us to monitor and gather additional feedback on other aspects of The Division, as well.” We’ll see how the servers hold up to thousands of people playing this week.

Oh, and Ubisoft doesn’t want you talking about it outside of the official Division alpha forum. That means no streams, videos or screenshots. A closed alpha where people gain access via pre-ordering and Ubisoft wants to NDA it? Yeah, good luck with that.

Here are a few more details about the closed alpha.

– It gets started at 4 am EST on December 9th. It will wrap up at 9 am on December 12th.

– There is an NDA. The Division Alpha “is not a final representation of the game.” The alpha’s primary focus is on gameplay feedback and server stability. I just don’t see how they plan on enforcing an NDA where entry can be gained via pre-ordering. People will just ignore it.

– The alpha game client’s download size comes in at 23.2 GB.

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What is The Division’s Dark Zone?

I mentioned this week’s alpha test will be the first time the public plays it outside of the Dark Zone PvP areas. If you haven’t been following The Division, here’s an overview of Dark Zone.

It’s every agent for themselves here. You can go in as a team, but be wary. Even your teammates can betray you.

Executive Producer Fredrik Rundqvist explains how the Dark Zone came to be.

“It went up in stages,” says Rundqvist. “It started as a basic cordon, but ultimately became a full-blown quarantine zone. Eventually the pressure became too much – too many sick, not enough aid workers, the number of guards dwindled, things broke down, and civil unrest and lawlessness ran rampant. A blackout was the nail in the coffin that forced the military to abandon the area. They dropped everything they had and headed for the gates, most of them barely making it out at all. Left behind were not just the supplies, medicine and weapons, but also tens of thousands of sick, dying and dead.”

It’s not just enemy AI you have to worry about. Other groups of agents could also be venturing through the Dark Zone at the same time. You can see how this dynamic plays out in the E3 trailer introducing Dark Zone earlier this year.

There you have it. Some Xbox One owners will get their first taste of The Division this week. Everyone else? You’ll be waiting until early 2016. Ubisoft still plans to launch the game on March 8, 2016.

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