The Division  Review

The Division Review

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The Division is a very interesting game. It's a game caught between worlds, and could be described as a shooter, or an RPG, or an MMORPG, or a shoot–and–looter, and it's sort of all of those things and yet none of them. It's a mongrel, and being a mongrel is what gives it the soaring highs as well as the flaws.

the division brooklyn -

The blurring between genres is embodied by your character, a sleeper agent in The Division – a clandestine task force to restore order when all else fails – activated after a virus is released in New York, decimating the city and surrounding area. At character creation you go "Ah yes, an RPG," but then realise your choice is from a stock set of approximately 16 faces, all of which are a bit amorphous, as if they were molded from brie and then left in the sun.

In game your agent is a stoic soldier, trained to dispassionately kill thugs who were once their fellow citizens and never once speaking, so you go "Ah yes, a shooter." Except you can also customise their entire outfit, separate to their combat gear, with clothes as described by someone's dad: 'trendy military jacket', 'cool waterproof boots', so you go "Ah yes, an RPG," again, before you get to grips with the classless class system, which is decidedly not like an RPG.

Rather than locking your character into one class, you can change your role on the fly by using the interaction between your gear and abilities. The combat gear has different scores which directly change what your character is best at, which, despite being a complex system, works really well in game. Skills (the abilities you can actively trigger in combat) are also well designed to balance with different roles, and, as is the case with the most fun bits of any game, are ridiculous. Aside from area of effect healing and portable cover, you can get yourself a riot shield that heals you as it gets shot, or a sticky bomb that fires long distances and attaches to/explodes that bastard sniper. Having different skills mapped completely changes how you play.

This has all been done in the name of good multiplayer, and it's worked: the multiplayer in The Division is probably the most fun multiplayer has been for literally years. The shining light of the whole game is the PvP in the Dark Zone.

It's in the Dark Zone that you run into other players, and all bets are off. The NPC enemies are tougher too, and you'll often find yourself teaming up with these unknown agents to take them down for the higher level loot. Dark Zone loot is more valuable than loot from outside, and at any point those dudes you were working with a second ago could suddenly decide maybe they want what you've got.

the division firefight -

You'll often find groups of hostile players camping around the extraction points. You start to eye up other players suspiciously by default; you can even be fired upon accidentally if a twitchy agent mistakes you for an NPC, and then everything has to be diffused with a hand wave or salute emote. There's proximity voice chat if you all have your mics turned on, leading to heavily accented and tentative hellos, congratulations on stylish kills, and agreements to cover one another on the extraction. It is, genuinely, fantastic, and the unpredictable nature of the Dark Zone is what makes it so.

In comparison the PvE missions can be fatiguing, boiling down to shooting increasingly difficult waves of enemies, no matter if it's dressed up as a hostage situation or a main story mission. The emphasis is on cover shooting, and while the cover system is great the actual shooting still feels like firing nerf darts at mannequins.

This is especially true for the hard difficulty and at higher levels, where enemies have to be scaled as in normal RPGS in order to present a challenge, but their ability to take an entire clip to the face unphased is frustrating. It's not ideal for, you know, an RPG that emphasises shooting. Luckily multiplayer comes to the rescue again. Matchmaking works well, and you can play the same mission twice with different teams and have a totally different experience, depending on how much you have to yell "Mate I'm down. Heal me. HEAL ME FOR FUCK'S SAKE!"

The other reason to play the main story, wherein you gradually regain control of New York via your Base of Operations and a support team that mostly sound like someone doing an impression of the Jersey Shore cast rather than an actual New Yorker, is the city itself. New York comes from the devs to your screen with a full day and night cycle and a winter weather pattern, ranging from bright, brittle sunshine to full on fuck–off–I–can't–see snowstorms. There are still Christmas lights shining hopefully above streets piled high with trash bags and abandoned cars. It's a huge map, and almost every inch is beautiful, in a post–apocalyptic way.

the division carousel -

'Almost' because there are problems, which are more noticeable for glaring out of such a carefully built environment. You can shoot some glass windows but not others; you walk over some heaps of rubbish and see the bags move, but stride ankle deep through body bags; NPC citizens will clip through you but other agents don't. Players have been reporting other issues to do with connectivity, being booted from the game at every loading screen, or being unable to activate their agent in the first place, but the version we tested was incredibly stable, aside from two disconnects and one incident where the agent went through the pavement and fell infinitely.

The Division is not a perfect game. There are flaws. But the flaws are mostly because it's straddling genres, and this is also what gives it so many different things to enjoy. There are complicated inventory systems, daft explosives, a big open world to explore, and incredible multiplayer, but you don't need to get invested in any of them to play the game. The Division is not a perfect game, but it's really fun. Which is sort of the point, isn't it?

Version Tested: PS4

8 / 10

  • New York looks well good
  • Amazing multiplayer
  • Great classless class system
  • Shooting is still a bit rubbish

Click above for enlarged Tom Clancy's The Division Screenshots

9 Comments

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JoystickJesus's Avatar

JoystickJesus

I had barely no games i enjoyed playing as far as multiplayer this defiantly had me excited about playing online again. Most likely be playing this until uncharted, its not the greatest game ever its basic in its goals the story lacks but the mechanics are fun the shooting is okay and the main thing is value for money you get a lot to do in this game if you want to platinum it so i'm happy to crack on with this until something better comes along i recommend it to anyone who hasn't picked up a online shooter in a while and wants to get back into it this is the perfect start 8 out of 10 :)
Posted 23:12 on 20 April 2016
DivisionGD's Avatar

DivisionGD

I'm kind of biased because I run a fansite and am currently in love with the game. But I definitely agree with multiple parts of this review. One aspect that I really enjoy is the whole dark zone aspect. The tense and crazy atmosphere of wondering if the person you're running next to is going to go rogue... it's great haha. The only thing I was minorly disappointing about was the character creation options... I keep seeing the same goofy dude running around. I also notice it with weapon and gear vendor NPC's... you'd think with such a big great game like this, they could've at least made unique NPC's for each vendor.. especially considering that isn't even THAT much vendors in the game.

- Mabus at http://www.divisiondominance.com
Posted 05:20 on 24 March 2016
Ephidel's Avatar

Ephidel@ degoose

I've played stuff like this before. It's nothing special. It just leaves the impression that the game is "decent", which is as high praise as it currently deserves.

It's alright, and I'll probably buy it some day; but it's really light on content given how I just cleaned up playing the Beta, and all preliminary reports were that the game was shipping with nowhere near enough stuff to do.

Hopefully, when they fix all the things, it'll be worth playing. Then again, it may end up like Destiny and be a total waste of everyone's time and money.
Posted 11:57 on 16 March 2016

degoose@ Ephidel

That's a pretty daft thing to say. The beta was a very limited piece of the game with two missions which were very simple and a small dark zone. I played the beta for about 6 hours and no more to not ruin it and the full game is brilliant. Never ever decide a full game on a demo. It's always just a slice of a game
Posted 13:03 on 11 March 2016

degoose@ Ephidel

That's a pretty daft thing to say. The beta was a very limited piece of the game with two missions which were very simple and a small dark zone. I played the beta for about 6 hours and no more to not ruin it and the full game is brilliant. Never ever decide a full game on a demo. It's always just a slice of a game.
Posted 13:02 on 11 March 2016

GCEism

You're playing a video game,
to have
fun?

the *****?
Posted 12:50 on 11 March 2016
Ephidel's Avatar

Ephidel

After playing the Beta for 30 hours, I'd have scored it 6/10 pending actual delivery on their promises of endgame PvE content.

Hopefully, by June, it'll be a better game.

Either way, I'm glad I didn't get it on release. Decided to download Xenoblade Chronicles from the Wii U E-Shop instead. A MUCH better decision!
Posted 19:37 on 10 March 2016
Dervius's Avatar

Dervius

I understand the criticism about the shooting, it can be pretty jarring having to lay several full clips into guys to take them out. Once you get used to the way they've implemented it though it can be pretty interesting, demanding combined lines of fire to take down bosses, suppression playing an actual role and the different classes of weapon feeling dramatically different.

I've actually started to quite like it (the shooting mechanic), despite those moments where a flamethrower wielding nutjob closes me down while shrugging off a full mag to the torso.
Posted 14:09 on 10 March 2016

MrBeaverson

isn't this basically just destiny in new York...and not in the future.
Posted 13:00 on 10 March 2016

Game Stats

Tom Clancy's The Division
8
Out of 10
Tom Clancy's The Division
  • New York looks well good
  • Amazing multiplayer
  • Great classless class system
  • Shooting is still a bit rubbish
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 08/03/2016
Platforms: PS4 , Xbox One , PC
Developer: Massive Entertainment
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Unknown
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 75 3
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