I’ve been looking forward to The Division since it was announced some three-ish years ago. The release date finally came earlier this month, and in my opinion, was worth the wait, although it might not be for everyone.
The first things that I noticed in Tom Clancy’s The Division were the visuals. Although downgraded from initial trailers, as is unfortunately typical for new releases, New York is still stunning. Also stunning is the atmosphere that Ubi Massive was able to create, making it easy to immerse yourself in the cold, disease-ridden streets of the Big Apple. As expected of new Ubisoft titles, the again, beautifully rendered map is filled with collectibles, all of which contribute pieces of information about the events that took place before the start of the game, be it a cell phone recording, the feed from a security camera, or several others.
The next thing I noticed was the actual gameplay. At first glance, the weapons in The Division are pretty standard, as are the abilities that are available to players. Though a folding pistol-sized grenade launcher may seem high-tech, it certainly isn’t overly unrealistic. Weapons and abilities, though there aren’t a vast amount of different ones, vary greatly in their function, and make it easy to specialize in certain roles. The Division also makes it possible to swap abilities at any given point during gameplay, which allows players to swap playstyles quickly, and can help keep gameplay interesting.
The Division is very much a coop game, something that is evident in the fact that most abilities help the entire team, and that all the abilities serve such varying roles (Also because it almost constantly prompts you to find groups to play missions). That being said, I played through the campaign entirely on my own, and it’s still fun, challenging, and not overly difficult (It also, in my opinion, has a very good plot, though that might not be a deciding factor for a lot of people). Although it may have been meant for cooperative play, Ubisoft did a good job of making the game enjoyable when played without partners.
The Division is not, however, without it’s share of problems. The most glaring is the fact that it doesn’t last all that long before it becomes a grind. The campaign (at least solo) lasted me around ten hours, and takes players up to around level 30 (the maximum level at this time). After reaching maximum level, the only real thing left to do is to either replay campaign missions on harder difficulties to get better loot, or to enter the heavily advertised “Dark Zone”, an area where players are able to kill each other and steal their loot, and attempt to secure what is supposedly the best gear. Either choice quickly becomes a grind, which while still enjoyable, can take a long time before making any real progress.
The other noticeable problem is the fact that The Division relies heavily on “artificial” difficulty. Although this may not be a problem for many, including myself, some might find this aspect of the gameplay annoying.
Unlike other Clancy titles, The Division doesn’t rely on realistic gunplay and highly-lethal combat. Enemies can take a relatively large amount of bullets before dropping, which, while standard, might turn off players who come into The Division expecting gameplay like that of one of Ubisoft’s other new releases, Rainbow Six: Siege (It could also be somewhat immersion-breaking when you consider the fact that a large amount of the enemies are people wearing hoodies and sweatpants, who are somehow able to take three point-blank shotgun blasts). The difficulty isn’t entirely “artificial”, as higher-level enemies will become more tactical in their movements, rather than just having more health and dealing more damage, but the “artificial” difficulty becomes extremely apparent on higher difficulty settings (“challenging”, specifically), where some enemies can have up to five million hit-points (which is a lot), and can kill a player in around half a second of direct fire (that’s not a lot).
Something important to note about any problems the game has, however, is that Ubi Massive has been doing a FANTASTIC job of communicating with the playerbase, and fixing problems that arise.
Overall, The Division is a good game. You should play it. The only real problems it has are the lack of realism (which isn’t really that annoying if you expect it), and the end-game grind (which should be relieved somewhat by upcoming updates, 2/5 of which are free for all players).
Image above: Ubisoft