Since its release, I’m sure the internet has displayed many different opinions about The Division to you. One minute, you’re looking at a negative review. The next you’re seeing glowing fanboy reviews. There’s a few reasons why this game is like Marmite (you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it). Most of these reasons, I’d venture to say, come from pre-release expectations of the game. Which is nobody’s fault but Ubisoft’s
Developer: Ubisoft Massive
Avg Game Length: For as long as you’d like to grind
Many didn’t see the RPG faithful idea of player and enemy level systems coming. Gone are the realistic ‘bang and you’re dead’ kind of gunfights. The Division community will be split right down the middle, with the haters on one side and the fans on the other. I wonder which side you’ll be on?
If you didn’t enjoy grind fest level up systems seen in Warframe or Destiny, you’re extremely likely not to enjoy The Division. Being a Tom Clancy game, many people expected a tactical team based shooter. Make no mistake –The Division is a ‘switch off brain and blow stuff up’ affair. This will have likely let down many Clancy fans.
Heavy RPG Elements Bring With It Stats, Stats And More Stats
The Division is a quintessential RPG and its inventory system displays this the most. It feels like a console friendly version of the inventorys we’ve seen in Dungeon Siege or the Diablo series. Daunting as these menu systems may seem at first glace, the training wheels come off pretty quick. So you’ll soon be whizzing through it as you would on the alchemy screen in Oblivion. Some of you may remember the sheer UI genius from that game’s inventory system. The Division’s is definitely not as good…But it’ll do.
The Never Ending Hunger For More
Everything you do in this game will circulate around two core foundations. Those being – making sure you always have the best equipment and pushing on to the next character level. There is a consistent sense of progression and development in The Division, as your character levels up. Eventually becoming strong enough to take on the higher level areas of Manhattan. This gradual progression through the map allows for a steady sense of freshness. Locations never feel too stale until you reach that level cap of 30.
Going above ground into buildings or below ground into metro stations and sewers, side missions, encounters and story missions ensue. Completion of each will tie into development of your HQ’s Medical, Security and Tech wings. Each of these departments will grow the more you do. In turn, allowing you to make use of an ever expanding array of perks and skill sets. By the time you’ve unlocked all of it, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a giddying amount of customization options.
The Division Starts To Come To Life In The Dark Zone
The Dark Zone adds to The Division’s addictive nature. It feels like it was Ubisoft’s original vision for what they wanted The Division to be. Its also means constant connection to the internet. This can be an issue if you’re having internet issues at home or, worse still, if The Division servers are down. They did go down a few times a couple of days after release but I haven’t seen this problem after the day one rush. If the servers do go down, however, you won’t be able to play the game. At all!
Despite this, I still feel The Dark Zone was a good decision on Ubisoft’s part. Everything just comes together with other players and events feel so organic there. With many players running about choosing to aid you or kill you, comes unpredictability. That makes entering The Dark Zone a gamble every time you go there and that makes it exciting to play in.
Here, you will find better quality loot and far more challenging enemies. This demands teamwork to take down foes in numbers and of course, other players. There’s plenty of other reasons to revisit The Dark Zone too. Boxes that will only open at a certain level. Contaminated areas that are only accessible once you’ve got a decent enough gas mask. You’ll also get your own leveling up system just for the Dark Zone. Anything you do outside the DZ doesn’t count for diddly squat.
Get Smart To Keep Your Loot
Lastly, all loot found in the DZ will be contaminated. Forcing a long wait for a chopper to extract it. Success is found after what’s usually a very punishing wave survival segment. Like I said, everything just comes together with other players. You’re forced to work together with total strangers to get the sweet stuff you’ve found. Of course they can turn on you and take all of your stuff. That’s where the emote system comes in.
These things are usually useless add-ons but in the case of The Division, they can save your life. The most useful of which is the ‘surrender’ emote. This allows you to express an unwillingness to fight if you accidentally shoot an ally. Not knowing how people will respond to you is what gives the DZ its true strength. Few other games have nailed player interaction online quite so well.
Enemies In The Division Are Mostly Bullet Sponges To Pour Your Stats Into
Firstly, as you would expect from an RPG there is massive variety in weapon stats. You’ll soon learn how to understand good stats when you see them. Your shots will then have different indicators for standard, critical and weak point hits. Flame thrower tanks are begging to be shot every time you see them. And, yes, you can aim down the sights if your weapon modification allows for it.
Aiming at any surface and pressing X will also get your character behind it. People familiar with the cover system from Splinter Cell Blacklist or Conviction will feel right at home here. Although there isn’t any stealth to speak of, this cover system allows you to get close to you enemies before the fight opens up. Allowing for a slither of tactics in how you choose to make the first move. This advantage may involve placing a gun turret on your cover or tagging the biggest threat with a sticky bomb. It’s really all up to you, your playstyle and how you’ve engineered your character up to that point.
Manhattan Is Faithfully Represented
First off, I think it’s fair to say that Manhattan looks great! The lighting at different times of the day and the sheer level of detail on show is nothing short of impressive. In fact, the Snowdrop engine was so powerful, it had to be downgraded for The Division to get on consoles. Frankly, I just don’t care. The game still looks awesome on my PS4. There is so much detail in this game world. Wood fences get splintered down after a hundred or so bullets, car tires burst from stray bullets and snow gathers on my shoulders.
You may even see survivors leaning out of apartment windows asking for supplies. Your experience of this game is bound to suffer if you play alone. But at least you’ll get a chance to really soak in all the hard work that has gone into Manhattan. You’ll doubtlessly find a moment that demands you stop and take it all in for a moment. You can get lost in this city and I strongly recommend that you do. Go ahead and switch off the objective marker and just go for a wander. See what you find.
The Game World Of The Division Loses Credibility With An Unconvincing Plot And Hollow Characters
As far as plot goes, The Division serves it up in a very lackluster fashion. Honestly, the game would not have suffered all that much with no plot at all. Exposure to the story will come in the form of cutscenes, tapes and other evidence. The end game is to find a cure for the ‘green poison’ and uncover what started it in the first place. Many players will likely disregard the story altogether. It seems Ubisoft will be a victim of their own success. All gameplay aspects of The Division weigh in as holding far more relevance than the plot they inhabit. Of course, it’s good to have a story there just for a bit of context and to anchor you into the game world.
While exploring Manhattan, phones, found footage tapes and agent files can also be found. These help to add substance to Manhattan but it still feels like there’s something missing. Despite the intro and all the talk of infection, we never really witness any evidence of it. Sure you have contaminated areas and massive rows of body bags. But if we stop for a moment, being totally honest with ourselves… All we see is a wonderfully designed city filled with badguy bullet sponges. Where are all the infected people? Your character could even get infected and work to keep it at bay.
The Division’s Depth Is Definitely Found In Its RPG Elements And Not In Gameplay Variation Or World Credibility
Ubisoft seem to have forgotten to think outside the box when it comes to gameplay variation. What’s there is undeniably fun but the formula is never switched up very much. Specking of your character, the creation of him/her is total rubbish. You get options ranging from generic dude face 1 – 6. And that’s it, save for some facial hair or some scars. So the result is – all Division agents end up looking like androgynous douchebags you hope never to meet in a sports bar.
This unfortunate rule of vanilla in your character extends to all the other people in the story too. You’ll have Asian boss lady being all yar-har and patriotic. There’s stereotypical Boston boss man and errr… some other blokes who bark orders at you. Where the RPG and combat elements are brimming with quality, the characters lose out as forgettable bodies, simply given a voice to tell you what to do.
The Division’s Playground Of Stats And Social Aspects Forgets About Emotion Or Humanity In Its Characters
A viral outbreak is something that would damage the psyche of any survivor. Soldiers talk in a way that you’d expect them to link arms to go skipping down Times Square, squishing cadavers as they go. In other words, there’s no emotional evidence of there being a crisis from your deadpan character or any of the people he meets. It sucks the authenticity out of the game world. Which is a shame since Ubisoft have worked so hard on environmental aspects of Manhattan.
An Imposter In The Emperor’s Clothes
Frankly, I think The Division could have done without the Tom Clancy name. It usually comes with a lot of pre-release expectation. The Division will definitely not be for everyone but then how many games really are? People will associate the Clancy name with a mature style of play and intricate team tactics. The Division has neither of those things. So you’ll need to fight alongside friends to really get the most out of The Division.