+Well developed story and world that are truly believable
+Manhattan areas can be visited in real life if players took a map of the game
+Itemization plays a key role for players looking to play
+Customization options for clothing are intense
-Streets of Manhattan at times feel rather empty
-Dark Zone can at times feel a bit overwhelming
Editor’s Note: Due to the game being an always online title, we’ve decided that the review will be considered in-progress until we are comfortable enough to state this is a finalized review. This means with added content and fixes, we may or may not change this review. If it is updated, we will have an “Updated” section that will compare both new and old content or bugs or what have you in the long run of things. Thanks for your understanding. As this review is in progress, it’ll be edited in the near future to add in true-end game and post-Challenge mission thoughts in the very near future.
When we think of New York, we think of a city that is strong, that can stand back up after taking a rather large blow to the chin before standing back up straight and spitting a few drops of blood out. In turn the city has been famous for returning back to its normal habits shortly after. The city is known for its tragic events such as 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, Kew Gardens Train Crash, and who knows what else to come in the long run of things. However, what would happen to New York if a virus that was altered by man had ravaged through their city streets during the peak of holiday shopping? On Black Friday, for the story sake, this designer virus has been set free on contaminated money. With the virus having been created for its highly infectious rates, but also it’s severity once the infected host is hit by it.
Much like any Tom Clancy story, The Division follows a rather familiar path for any who have played franchises such as Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, and or Rainbow Six. In this title a secret agency has been created just for such an event where both local law enforcement and even the military have fallen. In turn The Division agents would be activated in order to help maintain peace, but to also bring forth the chance to give the world its former glory once more. This goal rings true for much of the game as fans have already taken off across the virus ridden streets where enemies such as Rioters, the Cleaners, and even the Riker’s have taken to the street in order to claim territory and survive the outbreak the best they can. Your goal? To rebuild the city, to rebuild the city your characters knew and loved. To stop a virus that has gone out of control and once more help the city stand for what it did before the weaponized super virus had been unleashed upon the world.
As our game gets underway the narrative opens strong. The virus is introduced to us, Black Friday is given as it is, and eventually the danger of the virus is stated. Shortly after we are introduced to The Division agents who can be your friend, your partner, your husband, your wife, your son, your daughter, your co-worker, or even quite literally your best friend. Once activated, the agents were trained to drop everything and head off to do their task. Their goal is unique, but at the same time quite simple as we are introduced to each of the members over time as well as the idea that the first line of agents are gone and now the second wave are going in. This is where your character comes in and plays a rather pivotal role in the restoration of Manhattan.
Much like any game recently, the story isn’t the best. Unless you find hidden cellphones, situation files, echo’s and even survival guides, your story is convoluted and troubled. Enemies will have a poor backstory meaning their history will play almost no role to you and will be rather dull. They’ll seem weak and underdeveloped, which is a problem with the game from time to time, but eventually it’ll flesh itself out. However, our first goal in New York wasn’t to discover all the collectibles as I had before the game was over, but instead did so as the game progressed, which even made establishing a home base as our first task take a rather seemingly long time. Once established there are a few things that become a drastic requirement: find a doctor to setup a medical wing, find a technician for the technician’s wing, and even find a man for the tech wing in order to get the ball rolling on restoring the city.
In this base of operations, players are able to do several things. Purchase equipment via in-game credits, sort through their stash to obtain Dark Zone equipment that has been decontaminated from the virus, and even craft items as wanted. Though that is not all that can be done in this base later in. As players progress through the game each wing can be upgraded through gathering supplies from encounters. As these wings are upgraded, new abilities and modifications for abilities begin to unlock. This includes talents and perks that will allow players to become more powerful with time in order to approach end-game content where the will truly challenge themselves through both the Dark Zone and Challenging Difficulty for missions. These new attachments also open up vendors where players can spend their Dark Zone credits and even a weapons vendor for advanced weaponry. Note that these weapons are not cheap and will require a pretty penny if you are one that’s low on credits. Farming will then become your best friend in order to buy any of his exotic gear.
While I could continue on about both progression and the base itself, the game is much larger than that, and because of that there is much more to focus on, which can lead to some issues with the length of the review, but hopefully you’ll hang on.
A Large City, a Play Void of Life, and an Empty Place to Visit
We all know that trekking through Manhattan is not an easy task by now. We’ve all possibly ventured through the cities streets in search for resources, combat, and helping take out any enemies that may be around. This includes the idea that the city should be under constant siege as enemies such as Rioter’s continue doing their jobs as street thugs. Their control of some of the cities streets is inevitable, which means they should be at every corner, around every turn, and even in waiting for Division agent’s in order to stop them while they can. Sadly with any of the games factions this does not remain true, which paints a glaringly large picture for a city in that has been ravaged by such a devastating virus, and one that is sadly falling apart at the seams.
Instead the city streets are rather empty for those wandering outside of the Dark Zone. Sure a few enemies are here and there at “Encounter” spots, but outside of that, the world is dead, void of life, and feeling rather empty outside of the few survivors that are mindless wandering around. Some of them even asking for things as simple as soda, water, and or canned food only to reward players with a reward they may have already obtained a time or three. Unlike games such as Destiny, Borderlands, and or even Firefall; The Division suffers from a problem that leads enemies to be removed as players progress through the story. While a few players have managed to see enemies out in the “wilderness” that hasn’t been the case for two of our reviewers here at B.A.T.G.R. Hopefully this is just a bug and not done intentionally in the scheme of things.
While the city, as stated, is quite beautiful, the city itself feels voids. Many buildings will be passed by and can’t be entered, but to make up for that Massive Entertainment has created new ways to enlarge their world, which includes subway systems, and even sewer systems that are largely connected to the rest of the world. As stated, however, these areas are still void of life for the most part and will leave players disgruntled if they are simply looking for a small encounter post-campaign. Something Destiny did leave intact for players post-game so that they can seamlessly encounter enemies in order to grind out bounties and secondary objectives. This is thing that The Division could take into consideration for fans wanting some replayability outside of story mission’s on challenging difficulty and the Dark Zone.
End Game Content Grinding is Present
Much like any game of the genre, end-game content as mentioned will be a big thing for those looking for replayability. For some it has been the never-ending grind in order to get the best of the best gear available through the Dark Zone before heading into the games hardest mission difficulty for each story mission only known as “Challenging”. In this mode the grind becomes even more real as players will find themselves fighting super difficult enemies, which are all legendary enemies with their yellow health bars and insane amounts of health. Let alone are they the elite of the elite, they are also ones that hit like trucks, and will wither teams of four down to nothing if players are not prepared to take them on. This unfortunate difficulty can almost be said to be as hard as the Nightfall missions on Destiny as endgame players find themselves
While I would say this is unfamiliar territory to some, the game doesn’t lighten down on the idea that was originally created by Diablo II where players would find themselves constantly in the grind to get the best gear possible, and this meant by taking on some of the games hardest bosses around. Even some of the elite enemies would become adequate targets for players to take out. This rings true for The Division as many players are farming for both exotic blueprints for armor and weapons, but also gear from Challenging missions in order to show they have what it takes to be the top dogs within the game.
The Dark Zone is Where the Game Comes to Life
When thinking of a city that has been ravaged by a virus, we constantly think of areas such as quarantine zones and biohazard labs. This rings true for The Division as players will constantly find themselves diving into the games most dangerous place to me: The Dark Zone. The Dark Zone is one place where the baddest of the baddest come out to play, but at a high risk since the virus is present, and this zone comes with the risk of dying. While those who were there when the outbreak have passed, the Dark Zone’s baddies don’t care as this is where they roam the streets, and find themselves being the kings as well as queens of the DZ. These enemies will provide a chance at some of the best game once players hit level 30.
This is also a place where Division Agents will find themselves going as they hunt down the best of the best gear possible when not diving into the missions mentioned earlier. Here players at level 30 will find themselves utilizing their mastered abilities and even grouping up to increase their chances of survival. The difficulty in this game is present around the corner, but what makes this experience all the more unique is that it is an open PvP zone. Here players who suspect you may just have what they want, or just because they can, may rain a few bullets down on your team while using their abilities to their advantage. This means one player may run a medic build while the other three run a combination of things just to up their chances at survival. While the A.I. is lethal, the thing that is more lethal are those around you as they can turn on you at any minute, and steal your loot. Let alone do they steal your loot, they go rogue, which marks them for all agents in the area to take out, increase their gains, and even run off with the loot from those rogue agents.
While the Dark Zone sounds as dangerous as it can be, the Dark Zone comes with its own set of in-game rewards through Dark Zone vendors. This can include exotic weapons or armor, legendary weapons or armor, and even some awesome apparel changes that can be found int he open world. Let alone is the experience worth having, the Dark Zone provides a unique twist to grinding out named bosses, much like in titles such as Destiny, Borderlands, and even Diablo. It’s here where the end-game comes to life as well as the PvP aspect of any game. While one would hope for modes like what Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six or even Ghost Recon have to order, we’re down for what this game has to offer since it’s a unique experience, and one that’ll keep the game around for a while.
Cover to Cover and Closing Thoughts are Here to Stay, so is The Division
While it would be easy to carry on about what makes The Division unique for hours on end, it’s not something I’d like to do. As the game carries very familiar tactics such as cover to cover, pulse to see enemies, and team oriented mechanics, it’s hard to say that The Division isn’t unique since it takes some of the best things about previous titles by Ubisoft and uses them quite well. While the story itself is weak at certain points along with its character development, but overall? The experience itself speaks louder than those few minor flaws that can be improved with upcoming content and a few game updates.
Tom Clancy’s The Division – PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), and Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft Massive, Red Storm Entertainment, Ubisoft Reflections, Ubisoft Annecy
Cost: 59.99 USD (Base Copy) | 99.99 USD (Gold Edition)
Release Date: Now Available
While The Division is weak at certain points, it’s easy to look past its weak points to find its strong points to keep the experience alive, and because of that it’s pretty easy to say that Tom Clancy’s The Division will be here to stay thanks to the loot system as well as the future content that’s on its way sometime soon. We just hope sooner than later as fans will consume the content that’s there pretty quickly given enough time as this one of the best new franchises to exist in the current state of gaming.
Our review is based upon the edition of the game we purchased ourselves. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.