Tom Clancy’s The Division brings us an online open world experience complete with an in depth role-playing third-person shooter. Developed and published by Ubisoft, we see game play style similar to that of the of previous Tom Clancy titles. A mixture of RPG shooters such as Borderlands, meets a cover system similar to the likes of Gears of Wars, which gives way to gripping and unforgiving fire fights and skirmishes. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate in the Beta and get a first impression from that, but you can read our writer Cameron’s thoughts on it and more on The Dark Zone here.
In a expansive open world, we take to the streets of Manhattan to take back the city and figure out the source of the horrible virus that caused a smallpox pandemic during Black Friday. Within five days the United States Government fell and basic necessities such as food and water were ultimately cut off from large amounts of the populations, ensuring chaos and riots. That’s where our player comes into the story. A classified task force of tactical agents called the Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) or Division for short are secretly hidden among the civilians left behind. Trained to operated independently, they were created to combat any threats established after the outbreak, by any means necessary, and are the final line of defense to prevent the fall of society. Across our travels, in piecing the city of New York back together, we find survivors of the Police, Fire and Emergency Responders as well as the National Guard, together they form the Joint Task Force (JTF) and will offer help and guidance during our various missions.
In a conspiracy that consumes the entire World, will we ever find who is responsible for this?
Manhattan lays in ruins, but depending on how you play and approach situations you don’t have to. Pitted against various enemies such as Rikes (prisoners for Rikers Island), Rioters, Cleaners (NYC Sanitation Workers that burn any remnants of the outbreak), and the Last Man Battalion (A rogue military group with the same mission statement but with a more lethal approach), survival is ultimately up to the player, with very in depth skill tree and experience system.
You dispatch those various enemies while completing missions; earning exp, currency and random gear/weapons that are found on the dead bodies, building the character set up that optimizes your play style. For instance, with one mission I utilized my Medical skill Pulse that gives off a enemies radar and combined it with my Tech skill that lobs a sticky explosive with a timed detonator. With my trusty shotgun and carbine with a scope, I quickly was able to pick off snipers and oncoming enemies while keeping my close proximity covered. You can change weapons and mods on the fly, which is why the cover system is so key to this game.
Some skills become useful when grouped together with other agents while some will only benefit the player. As stated earlier, survival is key. Outside of the extensive gun fights that happen you are tasked with various missions to help rebuild the city, your base and help the civilians scattered all around. They will come up to you for various items such as food or soda and will in return give you useful gear. Since gear helps build your stats and certain attributes it’s often not a bad trade off.
The experience of the game lies on the player, with a character creation menu that lets you
make a agent catered to your liking and a RPG system that is literally carved by how you want to play. In a online game we stumble onto players in the base but other then that the experience is completely single player unless you invite friends or players to your group. Playing with other people not only heightens the difficulty and increases the enemies but also increases the fun factor of your experience. Seeing your friends take cover as a grenade explodes and then you sniping the oncoming melee attacker is such a rush of adrenaline that is somewhat provided in the single player experience, but not perfected like the multiplayer. Team work is very key with the combat elements of the game, and with such a extensive cover system, you can really take advantage of a lot of situations that occur during the heat of battle.
The one thing I can appreciate was the attention they paid to the environment, with many of the cover positions being destructible or penetrable by bullets so the sense of urgency rarely is diminished. With a dynamic time based weather system and day/night cycle we are sometimes stuck lurking in the shadows to get the optimal position or sometimes we luck out and the darkness of night conceals our movements, the fight for survival a constant reminder.
Outside of the campaign we can participate in The Dark Zone, a player-versus-player competitive mode with the multiplayer. When the military retreated in the game they left a lot of high-end weapons scattered, along with other valuable items around and you are able to team up with other players in the zone to achieve them (they can be extracted to the single player campaign). Being accompanied by a co-operative can be devastating as much as it can be helpful though, betrayal can come easy as the hunger for valuable loot can cause people to become greedy, and death does not come cheap. With leveling and ranking in the separate progression system, deaths will cause you to drop in experience and rank.
GAMERS PANTHEON SCORE: 91%
The Division easily created a world ridden with distrust and unforgiving conditions of survival. The dog eat dog experience was at a ultimate high, and the fire fights are well crafted so the repetition is there but unlike games where it quickly becomes a issue, with this game you can at least spice it up a bit. The custom build was very favorable and allowed a more personal approach to the game which was enjoyable, and The Dark Zone kept my anxiety about betrayal while worrying about enemies at a all time high. Even with servers bogging down and causing a choppy connection, the game play remained favorable and addicting, though i wish the story was explained a bit more in depth but I do appreciate the hidden context of random items containing bits and pieces of what really happened in our search for the truth. To be honest it’s hard to take time to even write this and not just go back to my controller and single handly save Manhattan.
- Well crafted RPG system and skill tree
- In depth and “personal” missions instead
- Beautiful graphics, and layout of Manhattan
- The cover system and combat was developed well
- The customizing of the agent/items/weapons and skills allow a very personal play through
- Immediate require of a Uplay account was irritating, we get it Uplay, you want more people linked to your site.
- Choppy connection and servers bogging down was a nuisance
- Some repetition with missions and ambush situation, although it really depends on your play style