Just about every game released is making an attempt at being an iconic game of a generation at best, or at least a solid staple which leaves a lasting impact. Already, Tom Clancy’s The Division is making significant strides towards being a solid staple of 2016. An extremely stable base game, a pretty interesting story, rock solid gameplay, and seamless co-op with friends all contribute to making this an incredible entry into Ubisoft’s library of games. If you’d like to avoid spoilers, a mini-review: Very few issues, solid gameplay, engaging, and the only downfall is a little bit repetitive, but then again it is a MMO style.

SPOILERS BELOW

BaseOfOperations

Overview

The Division is a tactical Shooter MMO RPG. The core of the game revolves around your character leveling up, finding new gear and working to become stronger. There are a lot of factors that go into how you decide to play the game, and one of the greatest parts is that you’re never locked into it. If you start off being an all out offensive brute, you can focus on stamina and firearms and ignore the electronics. Each of these three options are fed by your gear. That means if you have several types of gear, you can pick and choose which has the traits you need. Lower levels have associated with them, where higher levels have two or more attributes besides just standard armor. Increasing firearms allows you to focus on high powered guns, stamina helps to have more HP, and electronics gives you increased explosives.

While roaming around the streets of New York, the goal is to figure out what caused the Black Friday cultural breakdown and disease. It’s made known pretty early on that it was caused by Green Poison, a highly modified version of Small Pox. This disease was spread by dollar bills used during the Black Friday sales in an attempt to wreak biological warfare upon the world, starting in New York. Each of the missions contribute to resorting order to the streets, whether it’s getting power back online, patrols roaming and protecting the people, or solving the disease.

Each of the missions you have to partake in have a series of trials going towards the final resolution, sometimes solving minor issues along the way, or just one major goal at the end, they follow the same basic formula. Fight waves of enemies, progress, and kill the final boss of the mission. The good thing is, though, never once did I feel like we were covering the same ground a second time. Each mission has very different locations, never overlaps, and has a very smooth progression. While the enemies do seem to be very bullet-spongey once you get higher in level, it helps to add to the frantic nature of the encounter. And in addition, it solidifies the fact that you need to play with other people to fully enjoy The Division.

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Speaking to the multiplayer aspect of the game, the entire experience of starting, stopping, and playing with people is pretty seamless. All that needs to happen is to send or accept a game request, have a brief loading screen if you join a friend, and you’re good to go. Each instance is your own, and you never have to worry about other people moving around you and getting in your way except for Safe Houses. These are made to be social hubs for you to help get random people to join you and have a bit easier time to move around without dying to enemies. The main world is yours to explore. I think this blends the feel of an MMORPG very nicely with a story based Third Person Shooter. I can chill, move slow or fast, and not worry about causing any issues for random public players because the only interactin I have with them is in safe zones. When I do decide to enlist their help, The Division has implemented it quite well. If you’re playing alone, and decide you need help to play a mission, all you need to do is press the matchmaking option in front of the mission starting area and it will automatically start searching for a group for you to join. Or I can play on my own and let others join my team. At the same time, I’m under no obligation to finsih the mission with them, or to continue playing after the mission is concluded. This mechanic is crucial to completing late game missions (lvl 20-30) if you don’t have friends to play with, or if your friends are not at your same level.

Gameplay

As stated, the gameplay in The Division is rock solid. Every gun is modeled after a real gun, called the same, and just have minor prefixes. This adds to the realism, as the game is intended to take place in the real world with the only difference being an alternate reality where this bio-weapon was deployed. The game allows players to have different abilities which are incredibly helpful when playing with a team. Someone can offer support using a pulse to locate enemies while other players have healing abilities that can help keep a team up and running.

The environment and graphics in the game are incredible.

There are several little things that add to the realism and immersion while playing in the over world of New York. At the highest level, I’ve seen a lot of photo comparisons between in game New York and real life, and it’s obvious that painstaking effort was put in to make the buildings real looking. Libraries, Train Stations, and even Times Square are recognizable to mere casuals who have never visited the city. Conversely, the little things that make a huge difference are the snowstorms that randomly brew, the stray dogs that have been abandoned, and the wandering people. So many things go together to make the city feel as though it’s still alive despite being so dead. Burnt out cars abandoned everywhere give ample cover, but also display the rapid departure of the people. They could have spared a bit of time to make different skins for the cars at least, as they get pretty repetitive seeing the same emergency vehicles and civilian vehicles, but adds to the illusion.

An interesting portion is the reflection of light in wet portions of the ground, and even more impressive is that little heat wave displayed on the edges of flames. These little additions take precious computing power, especially on consoles, and goes further to show Ubisoft’s dedication to the immersion into The Division. People out and about help too, as they are having random arguments, helping each other out, stumbling and trying to find their next meal. A lot of different things go into the look and feel.

Shooting

Throughout the entire game, there are different factions that pose threats to you during the entire game. Each of these coordinate to difficulty and level of AI. At the lowest level are the Rioters, who are random citizens taking advantage of the chaotic atmosphere caused by the Green Poison. Then, we have the Cleaners, who are the obsessive and almost fanatical group obsessed with clearing out the infection by burning it away. Subsequently, the Rikers are convicts escaped from prison, who’s sole intent is to kill all and be immoral law in a lawless land. Finally, the most tyrannical, and most difficult to fight, is the Last Man Battalion (LMB), who seeks restore order their own way, and come from a Private Military Company background who are focused on embracing Marshal Law.

Story

The Division has a very in depth story that goes along with the incredible gameplay. We start with a cursory overview of what happened during the Black Friday event, and during the entire game we learn more and more, and eventually conclude with why and what happened. The story progresses and give different insights and allows the player to develop his or her own feelings on what happened. I was wholeheartedly on board with one portion (without spoiling much), but towards the end was starting to questions where I would actually lie with the end result. It leaves a lot of moral questionable ground. This means that the story is very different where you don’t have a single solid way to move forward in terms of your opinion. Most games are very stable, with one good guy/group and one bad guy/group. With The Division, each new faction I came across I had a bit of sympathy for their cause. I quickly obliterated their faces with my sniper rifle, but still had a bit of sympathy.

Overworld

Downfalls
One of the most significant downfalls was the poor implementation of how to deal with level gaps between myself and friends for cooperative gameplay. Having a scale down of the higher player is crucial for playing with lower level players, and at the time of this writing, it is not done very well. For example, when I was level 27 and my friend was 10, I joined to help him get through levels a bit faster with a second person. I was expecting to have the enemy levels go up just a bit, to say 11 or 12 and for my damage output to be scaled. Instead, I would easily kill the enemy, but everything that spawned was level 21. This means my friend was unable to do anything except revive me, and thus was no fun. I had to back out of his game so he could continue.

One major part of games that I really enjoy is the music. Thinking back to games of long ago, you could identify each game by the soundtrack. It was iconic, memorable, and appropriate. This game falls the way of most modern games, with beautiful music but they end up being just background tunes. Not a single track from the whole time playing stuck with me, and I wouldn’t recognize it later. While not subtracting from the core of the game, it is still disappointing.

Conclusion
In the end, The Division is an extremely solid game. At over 40 hours in with more to do, I’d say the purchase is well worth it, and would recommend wholeheartedly. I’ve not even forayed into the dangerous and lucrative “Dark Zone”, where the best loot lies, but is also the PVP hub of the game. With just the story taking so much time, the dark zone adding in the level of suspense that I’ll leave you to discover, the game is a must have for any Open World, RPG, or MMO lover.

Tom Clancy's The Division Review
In the end, The Division is an extremely solid game. At over 40 hours in with more to do, I'd say the purchase is well worth it, and would recommend wholeheartedly. I've not even forayed into the dangerous and lucrative "Dark Zone", where the best loot lies, but is also the PVP hub of the game. With just the story taking so much time, the dark zone adding in the level of suspense that I'll leave you to discover, the game is a must have for any Open World, RPG, or MMO lover.
  • Great Story
  • Rock solid gameplay
  • Beautiful graphics
  • No iconic music
  • Poor Co-op level scaling
9.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
9.5

About The Author

Bobby C
Director, Editorial/Reviews

Bobby C is a veteran FPS and adventure gamer, starting with the NES and Super Mario Bros. The game that really started his love for the FPS Genre was Goldeneye for the N64. Since then, the love grew. From casual, to semi-pro COD with Modern Warfare 2 and 3, and back to casual, it’s a bad week when there isn’t at least 15 hours of games played.