Tom Clancy's The Division

Once you start playing The Division it'll be hard to stop

By Grayshadow, Posted 15 Mar 2016

As you travel through Manhattan in The Division you’ll hear the cry of desperate citizens, gunshots and the wind passing through empty buildings. The laws that once kept society stable have crumbled and now power is left in the hands of those with the most guns, food, and people. As a Division agent you’re charge with restoring order and in your journey will collect a series of powerful weapons and armor to eliminate the gangs that now hold power. The Division is Ubisoft’s latest new IP, and unlike Watch Dogs, you’ll hear people talking about it for months to come.

The Division is the last line of defense between total anarchy and order. As a agent of The Division you’re trained to handle apocalyptic situations, just waiting for the executive order. You create your own agent from a series of customizable options. The creation system is impressive but when compared to other games, such as Bethesda’s Fallout 4 or The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, it’s options are lacking. 

A new virus called The Dollar Flu has ravaged the country you’ve been charged to aid restoration of Manhattan by returning order to the government and eliminating all hostile threats that threaten the mission. The narrative is strong, with banter on the radio continuously explaining what your currentobjective is and side missions fleshing out your goal. Even when I strayed from the main objective the goal of rebuilding Manhattan was constantly being updated.

The developers of The Division have crafted a full recreation of Manhattan that surpasses Radical Entertainment’s Prototype version of the Big Apple. It’s dense and detailed with an original distinct style. The streets of Manhattan are filled with abandoned cars, dead bodies, and homeless dogs. After living in NYC my entire life it’s shocking to see so many familiar locations animated with such detail that easier rivals other open world games like Grand Theft Auto’s Los Santos or environments in The Witcher 3.

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The enemies that populate this world are dangerous. Enemy fractions generally share the same enemy types consisting of snipers, grenadiers, close-range fighters and heavily armor enemies. The Rikers are escaped convicts taking advantage of the anarchy, they’re willing to kill anyone and destroy anything to keep their position of power. The Cleaners are a fanatic group that believe that they must burn every trace of the virus to save humanity. 

Enemy’s are smart and will effectively use cover, flank and attempt to push players out of cover. Each enemy has detailed weaknesses such as exposed explosives, pregnable fuel tanks and bright visors that exposed their location. It’s strange that Ubisoft choose to implement a temporary 5 second marking system but once engaged enemies are generally displayed on screen. However it’s frustrating that enemy’s are gifted with impeccable aiming even when in cover enemy’s are able to effectively hit players. This becomes more infuriating considering some enemies act as giant bullet sponges or cause vexing amounts of damage regardless of level or gear.

The Division doesn’t have an ideal tutorial system, expect to learn a lot from other players or online tutorials. For example I wasn’t told that I could slide down ladders, bleeding prevents you from sprinting and how to switch explosives. 

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Gameplay in The Division is satisfying. Instead of fully regenerative health players are given a three segment health bat that regenerates depending on which part your health meter is on. Since players cannot prone or crouch remaining in cover is essential to surviving. Special abilities are separated into three categories; medical focuses on healing, security centers on defense, and technology offers more offense attacks. Perks are earned by upgrading each wing of your Base of Operations and passion abilities are gained in conjunction. Players can switch between any one of the three classes, including perks, but upgrading each of the three wings to gain access to new abilities requires specific resources that can beobtained from completing encounters, which are random events around the city, and story missions.

Side missions and encounters don’t share the same thrill as story missions. These minor tasks are mostly recycled missions, requiring you to locate a missing person, returning power to radio towers, or killing a high-value target. The campaign missions are varied, offering a thrilling objectives in well-designed levels that feel dynamic throughout the game. While story missions can be replayed at any time, even on hard or challenge difficultly, experience is only earned for the first completion. This requires players to play through the repetitive side missions and encounters to acquire resources and experience. The bright side of playing repetitive missions is that you’ll end up exploring certain parts of the city you probably would’ve never seen before.

At the end of each campaign mission players are given more context. These rewards range from surveillance footage to audio tapes, each providing more insight into world and the people in it. The campaign alone will take around 25 hours to complete and with collectables and the PvP area called The Dark Zone players can find themselves playing for hours after beating all the main missions. 

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Looting is the main reason to complete anything in The Division. Guns, armor, cosmetic items andmodifications all have different variants and rarity. Players can equip two primary weapons and one side-arm. Each weapon can be modded with scopes, paint jobs, grips, and barrels. While most Division agents will eventually look the same Ubisoft’s attempt to give players the ability to feel unique is commendable. 

You can play The Division either alone or cooperatively. Difficultly depends on how many players are in your squad but for those looking for the best experience playing with a full squad is a must. With a full team fights blossom into amazing hellish battles and the adrenaline for triumphing over a difficult encounters is second to none. The game does require an online connection at all times and with the exception of launch day The Division servers have held up to the high traffic of players.

The Division doesn’t have any traditional competitive modes such as Capture the Flag or Team Deathmatch, instead all PvP combat takes place in The Dark Zone. Here players will encounter the toughest enemies in the game and potentially hostile players. It’s here that the loot system shines.

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Players can only carry a specific amount of items in The Dark Zone. Once collected these items must beextracted via helicopter before they can be used, players always run the risk of being killed and having your gear stolen from you. If killed, by another player or NPC, you lose everything you’ve collected. If you choose to kill another player you’ll be marked as a rogue agent and highlighted on everyone’s map as a target. At any moment potential allies can turn rogue, even if they’re on your team. This tension of risk versus reward constantly made me question whether I should continue forward or extract my gear.

The Dark Zone also host an entirely different currency and leveling system. Your Dark Zone level grows based on how much experience you earn from killing enemies. Currency earned in The Dark Zone can only be used on items from specific vendors, who offer the best purchasable items in the game. If killed you not only lose your loot but a portion of the experience and money you’ve earned. Whether in The Dark Zone or completing missions I always felt like my agent was getting stronger with each new piece of gear however it also revealed a large issue in The Division, what was the point? Gathering powerful gear is enticing and taking chances in The Dark Zone was exciting but without a selective PvP playlist or a powerful boss to test it on obtain new items began to lose its appeal.

Currently The Division’s end-game content consist of players collecting increasingly powerful loot to use against other players to test on in the hard or challenge variations of the campaign missions. It’s up to the player to determine how long they wish to keep up the grind.

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The Division impresses on many fronts. The engrossing world is teeming with areas to explore and the campaign is too enticing to walk away from. The lack of mobility is upsetting but after playing for hours these fault began to bleed away. The Division satisfies and those wishing to explore the destroyed city of Manhattan will find plenty to do. Once you start playing it'll be hard to stop.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4
Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer(s): Ubisoft
Genres: Third-Person Shooter
Themes: Action, Role-Playing, Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: 2016-03-08

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