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Tom Clancy’s The Division – A Patriotic Apocalypse

REVIEW – Tom Clancy’s The Division is Massive Entertainments newest game published by Ubisoft that takes place in a virus ravaged New York that has decimated most of the US population. You are a Division Agent, a sleeper unit embedded in the US population to act and restore the government in case all other options fail. On Black Friday, a virus was released, and later all hell broke out, with no one being able to handle the looters, convicts, and AWOL PMCs, it is up to us to take them down and save the city. It sounds a bit too clichéd, but the game deals with a lot of complex topics (while shooting down bad guys), such as power corrupts, bureaucracy, and how people can change when everything goes to hell.

 

The Division is a sort of MMORPG, much like how Destiny was back in 2014 while there aren’t hundreds of players on the map simultaneously, there are ways to join up with other players and clean the streets of New York from the other factions. Up to four players can play at a time, doing missions, sidequests, and roaming The Dark Zone – The Division’s PVP/PVE area.

If the above seems like a weird mix, then just you wait! The Division is a real mix of every genre that is imaginable at this point (besides RTS, or tower defense), but was all this wait, and mixing of genres worth the wait for us gamers? To find out .. read on!

The graphics in The Division are excellent, not E3 2013 good, but it looks awesome when in motion.

The Division – Season 1 aka the Story

The Division feels like a combination of The Last Ship where an American destroyer is tasked to find an antidote for a virus that has ravaged Humanity, and all of the Michael Bay movies (especially from The Rock) molded into one big video game. Now for some this can be annoying as certain parts of the games will overflow with patriotism. While – at least for me – it was just a roller coaster ride of cool action moments, and one big giant mystery sprinkled with tiny other mysteries on top of that narrative cake. In the beginning in feels clichéd, but as the story moves on, we are treated with less of them, and the story becomes rather complicated, with the major villains and characters finally appearing near the end.

 

It felt like I was watching… well… I mean playing a very high budget TV series. We have four main factions that go against the Player: The Looters, Rikers, Cleaners and The Last Man Battalion. In the story the first faction is not that fleshed out, the Rikers, Cleaners, and The Last Man Battalion are featured heavily regarding narrative, and primary missions. While the game has around 25 missions available (plus two DLCS missions that have been data mined), some of the plotlines end too quickly such as The Rikers or The Cleaners. They do not have that much of an impact, but it is serviceable. The Last Man Battalion, however, dominates the final third of the story. Also, due to the free-flowing nature of the game, it would have been great to have a guide on which mission to complete next, as sometimes you could complete a mission that in a way took place after an uncompleted mission. The story is good, and there will be a few twist and turns that while can be seen a mile away in some cases, still end up being good.

PREVIEW - Two of us decided this weekend to try out the beta version of the long-awaited The Division, the latest tactical-survivor MMO-RPG action game from the industry veteran Massive Entertainment. A big scandal of an obvious graphical downgrade already preceded the release of the beta version, but people still weren't sure what to expect from the gameplay. Until now…

The lore of the game is handled superbly, and probably the best way to incentivize a player to get all the collectible items within a title. As the player explores New York, completes missions/side missions they can collect Echos, video footage, and phone recordings of events that happened before and after the plague hit the city. These are an excellent way to give the player a proper lore, and background story for the actions of some villains, characters, and even the player itself. Instead of filling the game with cutscenes the game allows the player to complete the puzzle and have a satisfying additional story via these collectibles.

The characters in The Division are good, not the best, plus they lack subtlety most of the time, but they get the job done. All of the safe houses have their personal JTF mission providers, and usually, they have unique personalities to them. Every character speaks to us, but unfortunately, we do not answer back to them – meaning that our hero doesn’t talk at all. Our character in the game only listens to those who talk to him or her. It is a damn shame practically when everyone else is voiced by someone; there ’s no reason we could not have a speaking main character.

The graphics in The Division are excellent, not E3 2013 good, but it looks awesome when in motion.

RPG!— I mean RPG elements!

Now that we’re done with the story what does the gameplay offer us? Well regarding RPG the game feels MMO-lite. We have the usual options such as skills, talents, and perks, plus the usual MMO terms such as DPS, and item crafting, mods (gems for those who love fantasy more), and special attacks all packed neatly into one package. There are three types of skills: Medical, Technical and Security each with its final Signature Skill ( a super) at the end of the skill tree. We can equip two skills plus one super. There is no limitation regarding which skill tree we can use (the skill has to be unlocked first), so we can easily mix and match, and create versatile builds for us that suit our playstyle.

There is a total of twelve ordinary skills and three signature skills that can be unlocked throughout the game. We also get to select talents, which are additional skills that are only activated under certain conditions. Up to five talents can be equipped with a character (if fully maxed out) and these usually provide a small buff to the character in accuracy, damage, or health. Perks are passive skills that also contribute a little buff to the character but mostly such things as more medkits; more currency collected from kills, and more items are salvaged from places.

All of these are unlocked by completing missions, and other activities from which you gain Tech, Security or Medical currency to buy support in your Base of Operations. Instead of the usual leveling up system where when you level up you get to choose a new skill, here you have to buy sections of the base by spending the currencies mentioned above. It is a neat little trick from the developers to make us play the side activities, for us to unlock every skill on our skill tree.

There are also multiple currencies within the game; the basic one is called only as credits while credits gained from The Dark Zone are dubbed as simply Dark Zone Credits. There is also a third currency type that is called Phoenix credits that can be collected from various high-end enemies, and side quests that unlock after maxing out the level of your character.

PREVIEW - Two of us decided this weekend to try out the beta version of the long-awaited The Division, the latest tactical-survivor MMO-RPG action game from the industry veteran Massive Entertainment. A big scandal of an obvious graphical downgrade already preceded the release of the beta version, but people still weren't sure what to expect from the gameplay. Until now…

Weapons and armor can also be modified, and have a myriad of different stats on them. There are plenty of options, from replacing the scope, barrels, and even magazine of a weapon. Most weapons that are blue will also have unique perks to them, which will become active if the necessary skill points are reached. Gears can be on the other hand modded, and recalibrated, and to my shock, it is fairly well done. Have the almost perfect body armor or backpack, but there’s one skill that ruins it? Head down to the recalibration station, and for a bit of credit, you can re-roll that disliked perk to something that is more useful. One downside is that once used on armor; only that section can be rerolled (at a continuously higher price per tries).

The list does not end here with simple rerolling, and to my shock as many people called how well a realistic setting would transition into an MMORPG – well it even has to craft in it. The game allows you to pretty much craft any weapon or armor as long as you acquire a blueprint for it and the necessary materials ( which is a bit gritty).

PREVIEW - Two of us decided this weekend to try out the beta version of the long-awaited The Division, the latest tactical-survivor MMO-RPG action game from the industry veteran Massive Entertainment. A big scandal of an obvious graphical downgrade already preceded the release of the beta version, but people still weren't sure what to expect from the gameplay. Until now…

There are also different sets of special ammo, grenades, and other buff items available for us during our adventures in New York

Due to its grindy and RPG nature, The Division suffers the usual syndrome of bullet sponge enemies. While these are somewhat to be expected in an MMORPG, still, since the game takes place in a realistic setting, it might put some people off. As here one shot to head with a sniper will not lead to the instant death of an enemy (unless you are geared up to the teeth).

Still it is not as bullet spongey as it seems, and can be quite fun to deal with the large wave of enemies. I will, however, advise people to double check if they are interested in this sort of gameplay, as some might be disappointed. It feels a bit cheap though that instead of having a smarter AI for higher difficulties all we get is higher HP / Damage dealer enemies. Shame that we still cannot get better difficulties in this day and age of gaming.

Nevertheless, Division provides us with many options to acquire gear, to modify it, and to dispose of enemies, but no matter how much gear we have, or kills we make, it is worth nothing if the gameplay itself is not that enjoyable.

The graphics in The Division are excellent, not E3 2013 good, but it looks awesome when in motion.

World of Gears at Drake Apocalypse Edition

While The Division molds very familiar elements from other MMOs for its leveling up and gear handling, the combat system takes some of our favorite elements from such games as Borderlands  Uncharted and Gears of War. It is a weird mix while I type these lines but it makes sense in a way. The third person allows the combat to be seen as a tense firefight and makes it possible to see our operative decked out with all the cool gear and weapons.

Another addition to the movement is the cover to cover mechanic in which you run for the cover that you select when looking directly at a wall or a low cover. It is impeccable, but it can take the time to get used to the controls, and sometimes you’ll end up with a frustrating mechanic if you do not get the hang of it. The one annoying part though with the movement system is that when carrying the object in supply recovery missions, you cannot run with the item. So if the supply is far away from the drop point, expect to walk slowly until your mind cracks up.

Unfortunately not everything is perfect, the multiple options to select items, and skill is a bit too cluttered, so a bit of preparation before an encounter is needed to apply the right skills and buffs. Also, when dying, and, for instance, you are together in a group trying to complete a mission, you cannot see what the other players are doing (unlike in Destiny). So you’ll end up staring at your dead body in a fairly out of focus screen… for minutes if you do not get revived by a team mate. Really would have loved to switch viewpoints when I was on dead during missions, even if it would not have been available to us in The Dark Zone.

PREVIEW - Two of us decided this weekend to try out the beta version of the long-awaited The Division, the latest tactical-survivor MMO-RPG action game from the industry veteran Massive Entertainment. A big scandal of an obvious graphical downgrade already preceded the release of the beta version, but people still weren't sure what to expect from the gameplay. Until now…

The shooting is okay, but I feel it lacks the usual punch the weapons we use against the enemies. The only exception this is the sticky grenade launcher. Also, most weapons sound too generic, and not much depth has been added to them on the audio front. It is a bit disappointing to hear the sounds of the weapons at times. So in this front, the sound design for the weapons is generic, not bad, not too good,  just generic.

The AI, however, is a bit wonky. Most of the times the AI does an excellent job. It runs away in case we overwhelm them, uses cover efficiently, and runs around for new cover in case we flank them. They also try to flank us, use their specials, and try to do as much harm as they can.

The fun part is that when in The Dark Zone, if you can be agro two different types of factions (LMB vs. Rikers for instance), they will start fighting each other also, adding to the immersion. So the AI is good up until this point. However, it does do some weird and stupid things such as standing in the open field and doing nothing.

Oh and our favorite one is the rusher enemy types from the Looters (as they charge us bravely with axes or baseball bats)… we just shoot them away (their shotgun variants at a higher level is a pain). The AI is serviceable, not the best and the brightest of the bunch, but they can provide us with some surprises now and then.

The graphics in The Division are excellent, not E3 2013 good, but it looks awesome when in motion.

Matchmaking… it is full of matchmaking…

While the gunplay may not as be good as Destiny, the ability to play with anyone anytime surpasses any online experience I have ever had. All of the missions, group activities, and individual quests can be played via matchmaking. If you edit the privacy settings within group management to „open”, you’ll soon get a few new teammates that will roam around with you to eliminate enemy forces. The option to matchmaking also can be accessed in safe houses via small terminals. Ultimately the game does not set the players with any restriction regarding when and how they can matchmake in what activity.

The game tries to balances it out concerning who you get so that everyone is on an equal level for the missions. However, there were times when even though the level was met, the friendly player who joined me was not up to par for the mission regarding gear. There can also be some network issues for other players that join your team. So if you see that someone is lagging or just won’t move, well say adios to that person, because (and while this can be rude for some) you can boot that person from your team, so that someone else may join.

PREVIEW - Two of us decided this weekend to try out the beta version of the long-awaited The Division, the latest tactical-survivor MMO-RPG action game from the industry veteran Massive Entertainment. A big scandal of an obvious graphical downgrade already preceded the release of the beta version, but people still weren't sure what to expect from the gameplay. Until now…

Matchmaking can be made only outside The Dark Zones, but you can search for particular groups of the safe houses that want to roam in The Dark Zone. It is a robust system, and I was surprised how well it worked most of the time for me. An A+ for Ubisoft Massive for being inclusive, and not restricting players from certain activities.

Speaking of events, in The Division, there are many activities to complete to gain gear, and to level up your character. There are the story missions that progress the plot, side missions that give you resources to upgrade your base, and side quests that provide with weapon schematics, and a large amount of EXP. Plus there are daily missions, and challenge missions that provide you with high-end gear, and lots of premium currency which is called Phoenix Credits.

There is also The Dark Zone that is a little bit of mix of PVP and PVE. The basic concept is that The Dark Zone is a high-end loot filled area, where the enemies are tough, and most of the times you’ll end up having to team up to secure the loot from the enemy. The twist is that anyone can betray anyone within this territory and steal their loot. At that point, the player is marked as a rogue, and can be taken down by the other players. While it sounds like an interesting mechanic at the time (within the level 30 player brackets) there were not a lot of rogues, and in fact, there seems little incentive to go rogue. As you can lose a lot of Dark Zone XP (especially if the loot you went rogue for was a simple weapons mod). Hopefully, this mechanic will be fine-tuned later down the line to encourage more PVP encounters.

Currently, there are no raid type activities within The Division, but in a free update in April, a particular mission type called Incursion will be released that will require high-end gear to complete it.

Still the currently available content is more than enough to satisfy the grind, even though some of the missions are at times identical just with swapped out enemy factions.

The graphics in The Division are excellent, not E3 2013 good, but it looks awesome when in motion.

New York is burning, so beautifully!

The graphics in The Division are excellent, not E3 2013 good, but it looks awesome when in motion. The effects (explosions, flames) are top notch, and the animation is also superb. The one issue I have is that sadly the outdoor environments do not look as detailed as the indoor ones. Sometimes they looked pretty ugly regarding image quality, and pop-in was noticeable at times on the PlayStation 4. Most of the enemy models are detailed. However, some of the character models just look downright ugly, and the officers in the safehouses are also poorly detailed. Plus every time they spoke it was like a puppet that was talking to me not a human being, so the facial animation in some instances is worse than a budget game. Still it is an excellent looking game, but some of the details are lacking regarding quality.

The audio, however, is admirable all around and adds a great immersion factor when fighting on the streets of New York. Shouts, explosions, and bullet sounds are well recreated, plus an extra echo is added when far away. The voice acting is also great, though Faye could swear a bit less, and most of the voice actors do an excellent job in delivering their lines.

My main gripe with the audio is that the JTF would spout random lines all over the place that do not make sense. For instances when fighting against the LMB they would suddenly shout Cleaners are coming, and such other similarities. There’s also the issue of, as previously mentioned, most weapons do not sound that unique which is a bit of a disappointment. The music, however, is top notch, and provides an excellent backdrop to the tense action that happens during the missions, and encounters.

PREVIEW - Two of us decided this weekend to try out the beta version of the long-awaited The Division, the latest tactical-survivor MMO-RPG action game from the industry veteran Massive Entertainment. A big scandal of an obvious graphical downgrade already preceded the release of the beta version, but people still weren't sure what to expect from the gameplay. Until now…

Is it worth saving New York?

In the end, The Division is a mixed bag, not regarding quality, but regarding what it is trying to do for the MMORPG genre (if it can be even called an MMO). The game has depth, and a lot of content, but suffers from bullet sponge enemies, lack of unique enemies (except in a few instances), an okay story and overall the game might suffer for its realistic setting (nobody likes shooting someone in the head for two minutes). However as of right now it is probably one of the best CO-OP experience in 2016. If you enjoy third person shooters and grind fests with a compelling narrative, then Tom Clancy’s The Division is for you. It is an excellent game that hopefully will be supported for years, and with most of the issues fixed by Ubisoft Massive. Well worth the wait, let us just hope they keep that way.

-Dante-

Additional note for the review: I completed The Division within three or four days (doing most of the side missions, encounters), also thread The Dark Zone a fair amount. Currently have a Level 30 character with 15 Dark Zone rank.

Pro:

+ Interesting lore, backstory, and great cutscenes
+ Great atmosphere, and missions
+ Lots of customization for gear, and weapons

Against:

– Movement system can be a pain
– The actual story is a bit weak at first
– The gunplay is not that satisfying


Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Ubisoft Massive

Genre: MMORPG with a lot of subgenres mixed

Release date: 8 March 2016

REVIEW - Tom Clancy’s The Division is Massive Entertainments newest game published by Ubisoft that takes place in a virus ravaged New York that has decimated most of the US population. You are a Division Agent, a sleeper unit embedded in the US population to act and restore the government in case all other options fail. On Black Friday, a virus was released, and later all hell broke out, with no one being able to handle the looters, convicts, and AWOL PMCs, it is up to us to take them down and save the city. It sounds a bit too…
The Division is a mixed bag, not regarding quality, but regarding what it is trying to do for the MMORPG genre (if it can be even called an MMO). The game has depth, and a lot of content, but suffers from bullet sponge enemies, lack of unique enemies (except in a few instances), an okay story and overall the game might suffer for its realistic setting (nobody likes shooting someone in the head for two minutes). However as of right now it is probably one of the best CO-OP experience in 2016.

Tom Clancy’s The Division

Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 8.5
Story - 7.5
Music/Audio - 8.6
Ambiance - 9

8.5

EXCELLENT

The Division is a mixed bag, not regarding quality, but regarding what it is trying to do for the MMORPG genre (if it can be even called an MMO). The game has depth, and a lot of content, but suffers from bullet sponge enemies, lack of unique enemies (except in a few instances), an okay story and overall the game might suffer for its realistic setting (nobody likes shooting someone in the head for two minutes). However as of right now it is probably one of the best CO-OP experience in 2016.

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