The Division Review

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after numerous delays tom clancy’s: the divisionis finally here. ubisoft first announced this ambitious title back in 2013 and we’ve beenanxious to see how it would ultimately turn out. now that it’s finally here we’ve managedto see and do everything there is to do with the initial launch content and we’re readyto tell our story of survival through the harsh streets of post outbreak new york. you’ll be welcomed to the world of the divisionthrough the introductory area of brooklyn, which serves as the tutorial of the game beforeyou’re transported to the much larger midtown manhattan where the remainder of the gametakes place. you’re part of the second wave of division agents, a group of sleeper celloperatives, trained by the government, to

respond and aid people in a time of crisisand restore order in the event of a catastrophe. on black friday new york city was strickenwith an epidemic of a highly contagious variation of the small pox virus, called green poison.any order in the city is gone as rival groups have taken advantage of the anarchy and deaththat plagues the city to seize power and control of certain areas. an early attempt to controlthe outbreak failed and lead to a large section of the city being sectioned off and mostlyabandoned giving it the aptly named dark zone. you’re immediately tasked to set up a stronghold for the jtf to restore order to the city and collect materials to procure an antidoteto the virus. this story is mostly conveyed through masterfulworld building. every street of the nearly

1:1 scale of midtown manhattan tells a story.the desolation is covered with evidence of the fallout of such a catastrophe. missingposters and memorials tell a story of mass loss to those affected by the virus, apartmentbuildings have half filled moving vans still parked in front of them as people clamoredto escape while they could, fire trucks and emergency vehicles can be seen parked outsideof burnt debris covered in ice from the attempt to put out the inferno. the streets are illuminatedin holiday lights and decorations that were placed just before everyone’s lives fell outof normalcy giving the city an eerie and truly atmospheric aura. all of this detail is impressivelyexplored with virtually no loading screens. just a few cleverly hidden mechanics to hide rendering.i never got over the excitement of seamlessly

starting a mission and going from the openstreets into a large and extremely detailed building. the art design is top notch, the weather effects are fantastic and the ambient and diverse soundtrack helps create one of the most immersive worlds in recentgaming. additionally audio logs, files, and events called echoes help fill out layersof the story as you collect them as you explore the city. combat is solid 3rd person cover based actionwith a surprisingly deep skill system that allows you to mix and match three primaryclasses, healer, tank, damage. you’ll unlock additional abilities as you upgrade your baseof operations by collecting resources from missions and side quests. you’re pretty limitedwith how many you can use at a time, so you’ll

see a large variety in what people go withas there’s far more skills to use than can be equipped but you can change this at anytime. collecting gear and weapons is pretty standard for an rpg, different gear will increasevarious stats and abilities that will better suite a style of play and you’ll get plentyof it to choose from through buying it from vendors, dropping off enemies,finding chests from exploring or mission rewards. the division does an extremely effective jobof building a strong foundation for the titles to expand upon. the major drawback is thatit doesn’t quite do much more than that. while there’s easily 20-50 hours of contentright now that’s a little bit light for a game of this type, which falls within thesemi mmo shared world genre. the world is

divided into three primary area types, thereare hub areas and safe houses that allow you to see and inspect other players who are inthe same area, there’s the dark zone which is a fantastic shared area that occupies roughly25% of the city that serves at the truly standout feature of the division and then there’s theinstanced pve area of the city where you and your group can work together in your own instanceof manhattan completing missions and side quests. while it’d be nice if more areas offeredmore player interaction i understand the decisions that went behind this and the change in paceand tension when entering the dark zone makes it that much more significant. while the mission areas are extremely welldone and if you want to actually have fun,

play them on hard while leveling up. the darkzone is where you’ll find the best rewards and the most fun. this area of the city hasbeen hit harder than the rest of manhattan and it shows from its distinct art style andforeboding calm. you’ll face very powerful npc’s that patrol the area as you exploreand in addition to that you’ll frequently encounter other players. while they’re notmarked hostile at first you can decide to work together, ignore each other , or killone another in an attempt to take any contaminated gear they might have. as you explore the darkzone you’ll find these items about and they can be lost if you’re unable to extract themvia a helicopter before dying leaving them on the ground for anyone to take if you can’tget them back yourself. starting an extraction

notifies everyone in the immediate area thatyou’re doing so creating the opportunity for others to initiate a conflict with you whileyou’re waiting for the helicopter to arrive. these moments are extremely tense and satisfyingoffering a hardcore mechanic that few games even attempt anymore. if you decide you ratherbe predator than prey you’ll become wanted and marked on the map for other players totry and kill to collect your bounty which escalates as you continue to prey on other players andwhile there is a penalty to dying as you’ll lose dark zone xp, money, and items thosepenalties are amplified significantly if you die while wanted.. however you’ll be rewarded if yousurvive your bounty so there’s incentive to be antagonistic towards others but its steeppenalty can make it a daunting risk reward

system to opt into. there are a few bugs that we encountered thatcan be problematic, such as not being able to zoom in with a scope, which seems to havebeen patched, getting stuck or collectibles registering already collected keeping youfrom 100% completion. there are also several design choices that are inexplicable suchas dark zone level requirements for weapons and chest rewards from level 30 dark zonechests. we played the dark zone every level bracket so that out dark zone level and primarylevel would stay fairly consistent with one another. while leveling we found level 10chests that would contain two blue quality items and tons of level 30 chests that wecouldn’t open at the time. when we finally could open the level

30 chests we discovered they had the exactsame gear as the level 10 chests making them completely useless as we were completely gearedin purple and gold quality items by this time. also, almost anything worth buying has verystrict dz level 30 and 50 requirements making them all but obsolete by the time you actuallyreach a high enough level to buy them. [npc voice: "hey stupid, over here!"] the end game content right now is fairly thinand while gearing up makes a huge difference in combat ability, i was able to acquire mostly a set of item level 31 gold and purple gear within 2 days of hitting level cap, making even theinitially overwhelming challenge difficulty pretty manageable within the first week ofthe game’s release. so i wasn’t very motivated to finish the last few levels and hit 50 inthe dz just for the sake of doing it and am

currently waiting for additional content to be released. luckily, ubisoft has announced their yearone game plan and it looks like we’ll be getting our first incursion event soon with a goodamount of additional content being released throughout the year. while there does seemto be a large plan to keep this game active and full of new things to do i can’t helpbut wonder if ubisoft has hurt themselves by labeling this game with the tom clancybrand. they’ve kind of limited themselves to keeping this game as realistic as theycan to work within that brand which can hurt variety in the future, while the four factionsyou fight are entertaining for the existing content i can see fighting people gettingold in the future without taking a step into

the bizarre and paranormal especially whenso much of new york reminds me of a next gen raccoon city in its masterfully crafted ambianceand atmosphere. also, while there’s tons of items you can collect to change your appearancethey’re all regulated to various coats, hats and boots that make you look like you wentto a different isle in a winter clothing store. a little more fun or creativity in some ofthis will probably be needed if this game continues to be supported for years isn’t an issue right now just a concern for the future. the division for the most part lives up toour expectations with parts of it exceeding it. the destruction of midtown manhattan issurreal and haunting, i don’t really think they really

could’ve done a better job in capturing thefeel of the city any better within reason. the dark zone is terrific, creating a constantsense of paranoia and tension and the main missions are exciting to play through on hardand create a great leveling experience but the trivial nature of the side quests canget a bit tedious. they’ve built a fantastic foundation to create a truly great game asit grows over time, this is a much better start than what we got with destiny, and whileit shows a few of the same confusing design choices i’m excited to see where they’ll go.ubisoft massive has crafted something special here and it’s expanded what i think i canexpect from multiplayer experiences moving forward. if they continue to work out thebugs, add additional content, and keep their

options open moving forward, the division could bea defining game of this generation.

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