The Division Post-Review

Warning! You are now entering a contaminated zone!

In about three weeks Titan, Stealth and I must have put around 250h collectively into this game. We took our time to level up, played in the Dark Zone for quite a bit before reaching level cap and spent most of the time maxing out our stats for the level we were in. It always went like this; play story quests and side missions until you level up, get excited for being able to equip that gun or armour you had put aside until you reached the necessary level, start window shopping from vendor to vendor to see if they sell any piece that has like +2 of something you're looking for and then test your equipment in the Dark Zone. But aside from bigger and bigger numbers, what else does this game have to offer? This is our experience.


First of all, this post comes kind of late. The game has been out for a while now and we have played it through to the point where we have "seen it". Nonetheless...

What is The Division? Ubisoft's new iteration in the Tom Clancy series is a third-person cover-based loot-shooter developed by Massive Interactive, makers of the Ground Control series, Assassins Creed: Revelations and Far Cry 3. They partnered up with Ubisoft's Red Storm Entertainment, founded by Tom Clancy himself, and makers of nearly every Tom Clancy game ever (except Rainbow Six: Siege), and Ubisoft Annecy, a 140 people strong Team in France specialized in multiplayer titles since the development of Slinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow.


In terms of plot, things are kept simple enough. There's a virus spread by infected dollar bills, and you join the action as a secret Division agent, activated to keep some semblance of law and order in a city that has been ravaged by death and crime. You're actually part of the 'second wave' of Division agents, after the first one failed... After getting activated, you get relocated to Manhattan, with the mission of assisting the set up of a new headquarter in the U.S. General Post Office building. From there you get to do your main story mission which are amazing, side missions around the city and little event like defending a supply drop or rescuing hostages.



This game is gorgeous


The first thing you notice is how immensely detailed the environment is, not only is it a spot on recreation of the Manhattan streets, but you can also feel that the city is (or was) alive. The thousands of object scattered around the levels are all placed in order for the scenario makes sense, everything is where you would expect it to be after the occurrence they are trying to recreate in a specific room or street. They really tried to recreate events logically like something as simple as a car crash, or how would a checkpoint look after the police had an encounter against rioters trying to get through the blockades. In addition the scenarios are as varied as they can be, I never felt like seeing the same street twice, or thinking that they just copy pasted the room, with the only exception being the electronic stores, loot place for the electronic parts you need for crafting.


The illumination, fog, smoke, particle effects and the snow everywhere gave me the best spectacle of graphical beauty in a game so far. If there's one thing in this game that deserves a 10/10, it's the graphics, no doubt. Every place Titan, Stealth and I went baffled us. Every 100 meters we had to stop for a second to admire the beauty of our surroundings. In addition the Snowdrop Engine captures light realistically, which means that any change in the games environment will have an impact on the lighting, this applies not just to the indoor and outdoor lighting, but to the time of day as well so, depending on the time of the day and weather, every time you get to that one intersection the game looks completely different. In addition, thanks to it's shaders system, the environmental surfaces will change as the weather changes during gameplay, like snow appearing even on your shoulders and weapon, and then melting away when you step on it or the sun comes out.


And even though the weather doesn't have an effect indoors, it still looks breath taking with tons of dynamic light sources projecting dynamic shadows, again illuminating particles like smoke or debris form an explosion. After I reached the level cap of 30 I began to search for all the audio logs and found so many places I've had never seen before and even after completing the game it still amazed me. And all this considering that they had to cut the quality down for it to run properly on consoles, even after that it still blows you away.


All in all I enjoyed the experience. Gotta love me some good shooter with randomly generated stats on your guns and equipment, playing coop with my friends and all in a such stunning environment. But everything comes with it's flaws, and there are too many of them to be honest. By changing just a few things this game could have been so much more than what it ended up being.


Mechanics and end game content


The first thing I would like to mention is the story. I'm not going into the story itself, and there's a good reason for that, I didn't get most of it. I am not talking about lack of understanding but more about the fact that I never really had time to concentrate on why things are happening. There are nearly no cut scenes in this game, except for when you are talking the first time to the main characters you recruit for your base so, the whole story happens through your earpiece. The problem with this is that you are always distracted either by shooting enemies, looking at your inventory or checking out at all the stuff around you. Maybe it's just me but the only thing I know about the story is that one of our agents went rogue and ended up being the bad guy, and I'm not even sure if that's correct.


Next: player movement (on PC). The animations are pretty smooth in this game, and the combat system is pretty solid as well, but somehow the controls on pc are kind of clunky. It's not like they are not responsive but it's very easy to make the wrong move in critical situations. A good example of this is moving while being in or moving out of cover. More often that not I found myself erratically moving around cover because my character doesn't want to get off of it or moving around the corner while stuck to the wall instead of moving away from it. I mean it's a useful mechanic in some situations, being able to just hold D pressed to move around the right corner without leaving cover, but when you are stressed out and being flanked, nades flying, it can be a real pain getting in and out of cover or moving around it exactly as you want.


Staying on the topic of movement, I hate that you stand up after you get revived. Most of the time you will die behind cover, your team mate leaps over and revives you under enemy fire. Then, in the slowest animation possible, you stand up, THEN go back to cover and A) you can't do anything during that animation and B) you still get damaged during that process. While I appreciate that you duck down to revive somebody, the person revived should stay low as well, it makes absolutely no sense to stand up. It took me half a game to notice that, when you die in cover, your character will automatically go into the same cover again after standing up from the revive, at the beginning it made me smash every button trying to get back into cover as fast as possible, thus fucking it up and expose myself even longer. On top of that, if you get downed out of cover, you will have to go through the lengthy revive animation of standing up, then walk and then run to the closest cover. I mean, the run from cover to cover system is super cool and fun to use, specially for flanks, but why the hell can't I jump into cover from a standing position?

Another thing that bugs me somehow is the little amount of things you can do in this game. As I said before you don't really care about this until you are getting close to level cap, because you are still mesmerized by the piece of art this game is, but if you make a list of your tasks in this game you'll notice, there's not that much variety. You have your main story quests, side quests and missions, that mainly revolve around shooting at everything that shoots at you That's not bad in any way, I mean that's why I play this game, its a shooter and I enjoy the hell out of it. Then you can gather points to upgrade your base, giving you new abilities, and those are earned completing the above mentioned story quests and missions. Then of course you have your thousands of different guns and attachments, and by that I mean 15 different gun models with increasing RNG stats depending on your level. You can either buy upgrades at the trader or you can craft new ones from three different crafting materials. And yeah that's it, as far as PVE goes...


... but then there's the Dark Zone. Yes, nearly a third of Manhattan is a designated PVP zone where you can fight elite baddies or engage into some player vs. player combat, which rarely happens until level 30 because while you are levelling you really don't want to loose the loot you find there. You can also find division tech, which can be used to create the three crafting materials mentioned above, and DZ Founds, which you can use to buy from the Dark Zone vendors. And that's it again.

Now you are level 30, what now? Well the first thing you want is to get fully geared with high level equipment. You can either craft it, what takes a lot of farming, or you can try to get it from the Dark Zone, where you find mostly blues and purples (next and top level being gold/yellow). So yay the first hours after reaching your goal level you spend them farming like a madman, but for what purpose? Incursions! Yes, the big instances where you really rely on teamwork against the most difficult enemies with the rewards being new high level gear sets! Well what a waste...

The first incursion came out and we were super stocked to finally have something challenging to do and get highly rewarded at the end. We expected cool boss fights and real tough enemies. And we got one big room, and 15 waves of enemies. That's it. A lazy piece of garbage.


In the first incursion your objective is to fight an APC that is being protected by two automated turrets and 15 waves of enemies. The first thing you learn is that the APCs main gun will shoot an incendiary mortar shell about every 20 seconds which you have to avoid as quick as possible, and that the turrets range covers half of the room where the fighting takes place. Herein lays the first problem, half of the tiny room is forbidden territory if you don't want to die after 3 to 4 hits. After many attempts you notice there are only two places where you can fight successfully, either on one of the platforms on the top right side or inside the underpass which makes the playing area even narrower.

Then there are the leavers, people that as soon as you wipe once will leave the group and not only making it impossible to finish, but also to refill your group. People that join you will not be able to enter the incursion, even if all the group members are standing outside. We had to disband, teleport back to a safe house and regroup for every try we wanted to make at the incursion. We wipe once, the 4th guy leaves and the whole thing starts again.

Stealth and I once grouped with another two guys to try and complete it and the following happened. Every four waves an elite with a demolition charge spawns, you have to kill it, get the charge and put it on the APC to damage it. At wave 8 that guy spawned right behind me so I immediately started shooting at him since I still had my incendiary bullets on. He then decided to walk back to where he spawned and glitched through the door he came from, which was now closed. Five waves later he just dies leaving the charge behind the door and no more waves were triggered, it just bugged out after 40 minutes of work so we had to start over. It took us another 45 minutes to get to wave 15 and because of a stupid error we split apart and died trying to revive each other. Back to square one.

A few days later we three went with a veteran and completed the incursion in the second go just to be awarded with a set piece. Yay. Even though it's challenging as hell, the combination of lazy content design and the boring difficult repetitiveness of it just to get a set piece that can only be of use in the buggy and cheater infested PVP makes the incursion totally pointless.



Conclusion


I personally enjoyed the hell out of this game, I loved the environment, getting the hardest hitting guns, the time I've spent playing coop were a blast and after playing it for roughly 80 hours the game is more than worth its money.

All in all I still think of this game as a work of art, but so many great aspects of this game get overshadowed by repetitive gameplay and watered down mechanics, an unfair PVP system, a garbage cheater detection system and lazy end game content make maxing out your character through tedious grinding pointless. The game gets plus points for graphical design and its PVE, and minus points for the PVP, lack of end game content and the general disinterest of the devs towards the community in order to improve what's wrong with the game. This is why my final verdict is:


Tom Clancy's The Division
7 / 10

Cheers
DHR_000x

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