In the past, Ubisoft have been masters of the trailer, gaining a reputation for having big ideas that they can’t quite pull off. Before the release of Rainbow Six: Siege, I’d lost faith in the company entirely; barely fluttering an eyelash at The Crew or Watch Dogs. I’d seen the impressive trailers with the great ideas and watched as the release of the game showed a much simpler, less impressive world where both the graphics and gameplay let players down.
Ubisoft took extra time with The Division, though, which was first introduced in the summer of 2013 at E3. The game is well-optimized, giving a solid frame rate and making it accessible to those without a hefty rig. There’s a bit of a running theme that tends to surround Ubisoft games, comparing the graphics from the trailer to the final release graphics. Usually this goes against the company but this time round it’s safe to say that the graphics are amazing, creating a wonderfully immersive world that I love exploring.
The Full Review
Pros and Cons
Thoughts So Far
The first time I launched The Division I was playing alone, approaching it with a positive attitude and allowing myself to get immersed. I wanted to explore the massive open world a little bit, have a look around before I started smashing it with my friends. I watched every cut scene and took in the story, which I won’t ruin with too many spoilers.
Essentially, an engineered virus has turned New York in to a Wasteland. The player takes the role of a sleeper agent that’s been activated in an attempt to restore order in Manhattan. You can really feel the desolation around the city, from the looters taking advantage of the few innocent civilians that remain to the piles of rubbish on the street that the bin men never got round to.
Moving around the city, I’m still unsure as to the general population’s opinion on us Division agents. Most seem scared but I’ve also heard shouts of abuse as well as thanks. I think the consensus turns more positive as the player completes more missions and becomes more than a guy with a gun. Moving around the city between missions has never been so enjoyable. I keep a constant eye out for any opportunity to find a rare piece of equipment or a perfect screenshot.
Trying to run from mission to mission takes a while though, due to the innumerable distractions between the player and the mission location. Whether it’s an Encounter, a Side Mission, some tempting loot or just a cool alleyway, there’s so much to do! As you gain “Situation Reports” from safe houses the map becomes full of things to do. The Division lulls you in to following a dog, rat or bird for blocks (they never disappear) until you’re brought back to reality when a shop door won’t open. It’s the small things that both add to and take away from the immersiveness of the game. The perfect example being the cars in the street- players can shut the doors and boot, shoot the tires… all pretty realistic, but can’t explore the inside of most buildings. Now I know this is the case in most games, but The Division does such a great job that it leaves you wanting more.
Not that you need more, of course. The game is so addictive that you completely lose track of time while playing, whether you’re by yourself or with friends. My group is trying to take our time with the game, completing every mission on hard and not rushing – taking in the full experience. It’s because of this that this review has taken so long to write!
Unfortunately the difference between hard difficulty and normal difficulty is the number of bullets it takes to down the AI. The rumoured bullet-sponging AI pre-release is no longer a rumour. It’s there alright, but it’s playable and challenging at times. It’s slightly disconcerting when it takes five headshots from a sniper rifle to down an enemy, but when you complete a mission there’s a genuine sense of accomplishment.
As well as the gorgeous city of New York, the progression systems within the game are astonishing. Players can loot, craft and customise guns, gear and weapon mods, as well as pick skills, perks and talents AND upgrade each wing of the Base of Operations. It’s a lot to take in and I’ve guiltily taken time between each mission to completely re-vamp my character’s inventory, loadout and appearance. It’s safe to say I’d never been excited about a scarf before I played The Division.
The cover fighting system allows for tactical gameplay between friends and allows players to get the most out of unlocked skills and preciously modified guns. I stated in my preview that I don’t tend to enjoy third-person shooting as it doesn’t feel like me that’s landing the headshots, but The Division distracts me with decision-making and I’m always busy keeping track of my teammates.
During the Beta it was unclear exactly how big the open-world was going to be. An hour in to playing I realised it’s absolutely massive. The Base of Operations is located inside the James Farley Post Office – such realism’s help make The Division more seductive. I’ve heard that after all the ubiquitous Ubisoft DLC is released, the world will be a 1:1 replication of New York. That’s impressive.
The Weapon Customisation in The Division is my favourite part of the game, I think. I fall in love with each gun I own. There’s so much choice in personalisation (although I’ve yet to find or unlock a Skin.) Players can buy, craft, sell or deconstruct weapons and add attachments such as Suppressors, Scopes or Grips. As you level up you’ll find yourself enviously eyeing up a gun you’re not experienced enough to handle yet every single time without fail. Finding blueprints for gun crafting and gaining different rarity of weapon parts is great fun, making the grind well worth it in my opinion when you end up with a highly modified Police M4 or Sniper Rifle. The first time I saw an AK-47 I fell in love and spent all my credits right there and then to attain it with no regrets.
The Base of Operations is upgradeable in the form of different wings, such as the Medical Wing, Tech Wing and Security Wing. Mission rewards include XP for your character and supplies for each wing, helping you level them up and proceed through the story. Each upgrade grants you unique bonuses, such as the Counselling upgrade for the Medical Wing, granting you 10% extra credit rewards for completing missions and a couple of talents. Another thing it removes is a constantly crying civilian that’s located inside the entrance of the base. It’s these small details that set the game aside from less ambitious titles.
The crafting system inside The Division is fun. Like everything else in the game, there are different raities ranging from Common (grey) to Legendary (yellow.) The rarer the materials you use to craft your gear with, the rarer the gear becomes. Deconstructing junk you neither want nor need in order to craft something yourself that’s useful is so addictive. Adding attachments to the final product makes the gun truly yours- “You’ve earnt it, now go and kill some Cleaners with it.” Players can also craft clothes and such, to make their character look more badass.
The Dark Zone
The Dark Zone is a PvP area where you’ll find the best available loot. There are no safeguards against player attack other than that if someone does attack you, they get marked as a Rogue Agent and a bounty is placed on their head. Before you can claim any loot you pick up, it must be extracted by helicopter from the extraction zone due to it being contaminated. You’ll find yourself waiting nervously for the helicopter to arrive, praying that nobody kills you and takes your loot before it’s safe.
You can buy gear from the vendors inside The Dark Zone using Dark Zone credits, which can only be acquired from inside the zone. There are three ways to find good gear in The Dark Zone – killing AI, looting chests and killing other players.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I buy The Division?
The prices are variable at the moments due to it’s new release, but nobody wants to pay £60. I bought two copies of the game, both for just over £30. The first I got from G2A and the second I got for a bit cheaper at FunStock Digital, which took a couple of hours to send me a key since I bought it at around midnight on release night.
Is The Division Good?
Simply put, it’s great. I was sceptical but my misgivings were needless. The game is truly addictive and immersive. There are a few bugs, including a common crash (which my friend resolved by disabling the Uplay overlay) but I think these will be removed over time and they don’t get ruin the enjoyability of the game.
Is The Division Multiplayer?
It is, but it’s not the open-world horror fest we all imagined when the game was introduced back in 2013. You see a lot of other players inside safehouses but you won’t find yourself interacting with them. More than anything, The Division just shows you that they’re there. You can matchmake with other players to form a squad for missions and move around the map with, but generally The Division is more Co-op than multiplayer. It’s just you and your friends roaming the city. Until you enter the PvP Dark Zone that is.
Is The Division Worth Buying?
If you have a friend or two that has the game then it most definitely is worth buying. Even if they’ve levelled up a fair bit and you’re behind, the game is enjoyable enough to play solo that you’ll catch up in no time. I’ll likely write a guide on how to level up intelligently for those catching up in the near future.
Is The Division an MMO?
An MMO is defined as a massively multiplayer online game. The Division has a max area cap of 24 players, which means that it’s not exactly “massive.” The developers have stated that it isn’t an MMO and should be seen more as an open world RPG.
What’s The Gold Edition?
The Gold Edition includes a copy of the game, The Season pass and an exclusive National Guard gear set. Future DLC has been announced including a Survival mode, which turns the entire map in to a PvP area.
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