It’s been a long time coming but Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division is finally out in the wild and for the most part it’s lived up to expectation. Numerous delays though hasn’t ironed out all the bugs but the core gameplay as well as all the system incorporated make it one of the best open-world RPG shooters out there.
The game on the surface looks like a standard third-person cover shooter but there is so much more going on in The Division. As a third-person cover shooter it functions incredibly well. It feels responsive, moves smoothly, and overall it keeps the moment to moment gameplay fun to play. It’s under the metaphorical hood though that will keep players invested in the world of The Division.
There are have been many comparisons to Activision’s Destiny game when talking about The Division and although many systems feel the same, The Division feels fundamentally different. Destiny is exploring massive landscapes as a class and grabbing materials to get the next big thing. The Division feels much more about being a small team in Manhattan.
The fact that matchmaking is so easily accessed and works for every aspect whether you’re about to play a mission, or enter the Dark Zone or even just wander the streets, it all happens so smoothly. This doesn’t make it feel like an effort to get a team together and get the best of what the game offers, it gives you the opportunity to do it right away.
The premise of The Division is interesting but unfortunately the narrative fails to deliver on the openings promise. You are an elite team of people sent in to uncover who was behind the virus that was spread onto the money that was spread around on Black Friday. It remains grounded but due to the structure of the game, the impact of it all is never really felt. Instead, you reside in a mostly wiped-out Manhattan and the ones that remain are looters, hell-bent on hurting the civilians that remain and taking what they can.
It isn’t too long before the game becomes a routine as you slowly make your way to the current level cap of 30 and on your travels find and be rewarded with better weapons and gear to increase your DPS, health, tech power, and more in what essentially breaks down into a numbers game. Numbers are everything in The Division and it’s apparent soon after launching into it. This feels like an RPG with plenty of systems in pace that happens to have a third-person shooter wrapper. Thankfully, both the RPG and shooter element work incredibly well. This makes it very easy to continually play whether you’re enjoying the feel of the shooting or the levels increase.
As you go through the missions, you will obtain points to upgrade your base of operations. As you level up these three wings you will gain news abilities and perks. Honestly, despite the game being a classless MMO there are definitely opportunities to choose a class based on the perks and abilities you choose. This means that should you group into a team with other players, you can definitely fall into a role and play your part.
The matchmaking in The Division is excellent. Whether you’re looking for random people to take on a mission on hard or simply roam the streets or even enter the dark zone, you never have to do anything alone. Of course the enjoyment is enhanced when you play with people you know but the fact that the game allows you to take on everything with other people and have it work as well as it does is impressive.
It won’t take a terribly long time to get through the missions and hit the level cap of 30 but the Dark Zone is designed to be where you spend most of your time. This is when the world moves form PvE to PvP and everything is ramped up in difficulty. There will be squads of A.I. in the Dark Zone and these will be much tougher to take down. The reason for your exploration of the Dark Zone is to obtain the best loot the game has to offer. There are even vendors within the Dark Zone that have items that are only available in the Dark Zone and can only be bought when you hit a certain Dark Zone rank separate to your main mission levelling and this Dark Zone Rank can go up and down depending on how often you are killed.
If you pick up an item in the Dark Zone though this doesn’t mean it’s now in your inventory. You must that those items and extract them in a process that can take up to 90 seconds and this is when the trust with others comes into play. You can be turned on at the last moment and have everything take away from you. It’s thrilling and frustrating in equal measure. There are a lot of opportunities for your own narrative to take place in these moments.
Tom Clancy’s The Division very much follows through on all their initial promises made when it was announced three years ago and it’ll be interesting where the world goes from here because even though the systems and gameplay is solid, the lore and world around you can’t stay the same for too long before getting a bit bored of it. Other MMOs have that luxury of diverse zones and areas but the grounded world of The Division may be its biggest crux in the future.