Tom Clancy’s The Division is an engaging third person shooter that features a persistent online multiplayer open world. It was developed by Ubisoft Massive who originally revealed it at E3 2013. The game was praised for its stellar visuals and gameplay that focused on group based tactics and exploration.
After years of wait, the question is: Is Tom Clancy’s The Division worthy of all the hype it has received? The answer to this question is a resounding yes! Read on to find out why.
The game starts with an introductory chapter set in Brooklyn where we are tasked with the creation of our character. The character creation is pretty basic and doesn’t really offer any more advanced customization features. Once we are done with the character creation, we have to register our agent at the game’s first safehouse in Brooklyn. The game then puts the player right in the open world and while missions have a clear instruction to follow and complete, there is still some side content available despite this being the very first area.
The actual game starts once we are done with the short mission set in Brooklyn. The introductory cutscene begins to play and we are brought to Manhattan which is a huge open area with multiple interaction points. The first task after getting here is to establish a base of operation.
Base of operation is essentially the main hub for the majority of the game. It is divided in three different wings including security, technical and medical wing. Each wing has its own set of upgrades that in turn unlock new abilities, perks and talents for the players. This encourages the player to explore the word to find the upgrade points necessary for each of the wing. It is one the many “safe houses” that are scattered on the world map. These safe houses also offer fast travel and act as respawn points in case of death.
Once I set my base of operation, I was overwhelmed with the amount of content that was made available immediately. To start, players won’t be able to utilize the technical, medical and security wings and have to finish the three introductory missions for each of them. These missions will then unlock each of the wing giving the players access to a whole new set of abilities, talents and perks. So the first step after establishing the base of operation is to usually unlock each of the wings as soon as possible.
The open world in Tom Clancy’s The Division has plenty of side missions to finish and collectibles to unlock. In terms of the side missions, they can often end up being repetitive and can get boring after going through them again and again, but they do offer a nice distraction when we are exploring the open world. Meanwhile, the collectibles can offer interesting insight for the world of Tom Clancy’s The Division. There is a huge variety of collectibles here including intel, echo and incident reports to name a few. As expected, these are a staple of Ubisoft games but thanks to the work that has been put into them, collecting them reveals tiny snippets of story and sheds light on some on the in-game events.
It is pretty clear from playing Tom Clancy’s The Division that a lot of work and attention has gone into creating the game’s open world. Since it is is set in a post-apocalyptic world, the streets are littered with trash and cars are scattered in the middle of the road. Each of the landmark has been modeled off New York and designed for the post-apocalyptic world. The attention to detail here is astounding and goes to show the length artists went to model everything.
As seen from the screenshots and gameplay videos, The Division is a third person cover-based shooter. The gameplay is spiced further with the use of abilities that players can equip to use when needed. Some of the abilities offer players an offensive advantage while others offer medical assistance or a defensive stand. There is enough distinction among the abilities for players to be able to tinker them to their needs, whether they play offensively or defensively.
Each mission in The Division can take a good chunk of time. Most of the missions revolve around a horde of enemy encounters ending in a boss fight. Since we have the choice of setting the difficulty, there is some replay value in playing these missions again on higher difficulties. Players can either choose the Hard or Challenging difficulty to ramp up the challenge. The perk of playing a higher difficulty mission is a better reward at the end of it, but with the added challenge of enemies having more health.
It is highly recommended to play the game on Normal unless you like an extreme difficulty challenge because, make no mistake, the game certainly isn’t easy. If you try to play on Hard, like I did, you will spend countless minutes holding your position in cover trying to shoot enemies and coordinating with your group members. Each of the mission can be played in a group of 4 players and the matchmaking is usually fast and it doesn’t really take a long time to locate a full group. If you lose a team member in the middle of a mission, you can start the matchmaking again without getting to stick with less members. This can prove useful in the more challenging missions and boss fights because team members have to coordinate in such situations to take the boss down. For example, situations where one member distracts the boss while others try to take it down can prove useful for the team.
When I played some of the missions, I was disappointed to see the lag that affects the gameplay. This lag often results in delayed hit reactions that can end up being annoying in an intense firefight. But I soon realized that The Division wouldn’t have worked as an offline shooter, because playing it in a group is simply a blast. Once we understand the reason why it was primarily designed as an online-only shooter, we can appreciate the game design. The truth is that when I played some of the in-game missions at Hard difficulty settings, I soon realized that it wouldn’t have been possible to complete them without human players. These missions require team work that can’t be accomplished with a computer controlled group member, or would have required a lot of time trying to set up their AI.
In terms of weapon variety, the game features shotgun, rifle, assault rifle, sub machine gun categories and side-arms like handguns, sawed off shotguns and magnum revolvers. We can equip up to 3 weapons at a time including a primary weapon, secondary weapon and one special slot dedicated to the side-arm. Since there is an abundance of snipers in the later stage of the game, which can prove to be challenging on higher difficulties, it is highly recommend to use a Marksman rifle as either secondary or primary weapon. It all depends on how you play the game, whether you take a more offensive approach or defensive stand.
Once you are done with the main story missions and the side missions, the real fun starts with Dark Zone. The Dark Zone is essentially a part of the open world in The Division featuring PvP encounters and a completely different ranking system. It also offers high-end loot and gear as reward and features multiple boss fights as well. Playing with a group in the Dark Zone can be immensely rewarding and has its own perks. The gear and loot that we collect when we visit the Dark Zone has to be extracted from it using supply drop points that are scattered throughout the Dark Zone map.
Dark Zone also introduces an interesting concept where the player is labeled as Rogue if they kill another player, either purposely or accidentally. This places a bounty on their head and results in them either getting more rank points if they continue the killing spree, or losing a huge chunk of points if they die. Due to this, most of the players usually try to avoid going rogue but it is an interesting concept nonetheless.
The Division open world has a level cap of 30, which is basically the start of the end-game featuring the Dark Zone. While you are invited to start with Dark Zone when you hit Level 10, it can prove to be challenging at such a low level so the best time to enjoy Dark Zone is once we are atleast above Level 20, so that we can have a chance.
The main story missions in The Division will take several hours and, not to mention, the collectibles will take a huge chunk of time as well. We have then the addition of higher difficulties that make the mission more challenging but offer better rewards, which increases their replay value. The game won’t end when we hit the level cap as there is plenty of time to spend in the Dark Zone if you like grinding for the high-end gear and loot.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is a breath of fresh air in the current market of linear third person shooters. It is full to the brim with content and offers an amazing value for its price that might last the players several months. Ubisoft has revealed their plans to provide post-launch support for the game including a Season Pass that offers 3 new expansions and free post-launch updates that will add new content, so it can stay fresh in the long run.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is available now on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It was developed by Ubisoft Massive and published by Ubisoft. This review covers the PS4 version of the game.