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Tom Clancy’s The Division (PS4) review

On March 22, 2016 by Ash Meehan

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a post-pandemic open world RPG set in New York City. You take on the role of an agent from The Division, a special task force that consists of sleeper agents that are only to become active during a catastrophic emergency. Your mission as a division agent is to restore order and find information on the virus that brought the city and the world to its knees.

When it comes to story the Division is a little slow, as many aspects of the story such as what happened to the first Division agents after they arrived in the city and the search for a cure or information on the virus takes a long time to get going. However, the world creation is done at a quick yet understandable pace as the game tells us the pandemic began with the perpetrators of the virus lacing dollar bills, which were to be used by stores on Black Friday, with the virus, and how things began going downhill rapidly with the breakdown of social order. The breakdown of the social norms is what makes The Division interesting as we are shown bodies piled up on the sides of roads, people taking up arms in an attempt to take advantage of the situation and people walking around in a state of almost permanent shock. What also intrigued me is the fact that unlike other post-pandemic games, such as Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, The Division takes place shortly after the pandemic started.

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While the setting is interesting, the gameplay is thankfully too. While The Division at first glance is a standard third-person cover based shooter, the game, in reality, is a mixture of elements from both RPG and third-person shooters. In many ways, this mixture helps the game stand out, but it also holds its back. In terms of combat, the game uses numbers to determine the course of battle as getting the right gear with the right stats takes priority over running and gunning because if you don’t have the right gear enemy encounters can turn into a battle of attrition as regular and elite enemies have large health pools.

If you look at the gameplay past the combat the game does offer a lot of RPG elements including a crafting system that is based on finding blueprints and breaking down of existing weapons and gear, a recalibration station that allows you to alter the stats of a weapon or piece of gear, weapon and gear attachments that allows you to modify an attribute, side missions, and most importantly a base management element.

The based management element of The Division is incredibly important as building up your Base of Operations allows you to unlock skills such as a handy auto-turret, talents, and passive buffs in the form of perks. To upgrade your base you need to complete story missions or take part in encounters, completing either a mission or encounter rewards you with upgrade points for one of your bases’ three wings: medical, tech and security, the base is broken down into three wings as it helps divide the skills, talents, and perks out.

Now I also stated there are side missions, but these exist mostly as a way for you to level up at a consist rate and aren’t anything special, as they can be broken down into rescue, procurement, uplink repair, bounty and defending a supply drop missions.

The many RPG elements are a welcome inclusion in the game as it gives the game a more RPG focus, which is something surprisingly rare in a lot of AAA RPG shooters. Personally, I like the base of operations base management feature as it helps tie all the elements together and it gives you the motivation to explore the city and continue playing past the story.

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Now I know I went away from the combat to discuss other elements of the game, but let’s talk about the enemies you encounter. In total, there are four enemy factions: rioters, Ex-cons known as the Rikers, a PMC group, and finally the cleaners, a group that believes the best way to cleanse the city of the virus is to burn everyone suspect of having it. In terms of enemy variety, it isn’t much, but it is an interesting grouping, especially the cleaners, as encounters with them can be bone chilling as you can see them burn people alive.

In regards to enemy AI, the enemies are mixed some will work on trying to draw you out of cover with grenades while others will run around like headless chickens allowing you to easily kill them.

So while gameplay and combat are very RPG focused what else does the game feature, well the game does offer a matchmaking service that allows you partner up with other players take part in missions or to wander the streets of New York. Now while the game does like to point out that it is ideal to team up with other players for missions it isn’t a necessity as the missions can be done solo, although I recommend having a friendly auto-turret on standby.

While you can team up with players for co-operative play you can also go up against them in an area known as the Dark Zone. This is a special PVP enabled area that allows you to either work against or with other players in an attempt to get some powerful loot. The Dark Zone creates an interesting look into the psyche of other players as you never know if the player approaching you is going to shoot you or simply walk by you and at the same time that player could be wondering the same about you. In many ways, the Dark Zone is kind of social deduction game. Now while I said the Dark Zone contains some of the best loot there is a catch, you can carry by default 7 contaminated items, and to get the contaminated loot out you need to go to an extraction zone and wait about 78 seconds for a helicopter to arrive and take your loot, however while this is happening NPCs or other players can attack you, and if they attack and kill you, you lose the loot you found, which I found out much to my dismay as I got shot making a break for the helicopter.

Now while I mentioned setting earlier there is one element that helps expand the world beyond what you see and that is collectibles. The Division consists of a large number of collectibles including, videos, phone calls and the ECHO, the ECHO you to see a snapshot of an event. Together, all the collectibles allow you to piece together the world before the pandemic, the weeks during the height of the pandemic and how certain characters attempted to survive.

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Speaking of characters there isn’t much to say as they all feel pretty bland. You have Faye Lau, who is supposed to be your partner but gets injured early on, Commander Benitez, a hard nose commander of the JTF, Paul Rhodes, a cynic that looks after the tech, and Doctor Jessica Kandel, a doctor that is driven to stop the virus. Honestly, there isn’t a lot to say about them other than the fact they exist to further the story.

Now I think it is time to talk about some of the game’s issue, and unfortunately, the game has a few. The most prevalent issue I encountered is the incredibly slow texture load times, which led to some hilarious moments of objects and characters changing from their low texture quality to their high texture quality right in-front of me. Another issue I encountered was an issue with the loading of areas, my worst encounter with this was when a ground mesh didn’t load in with the rest of an area and I fell through the world.

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Now I won’t say much on the graphics and audio, but I believe that a special mention has to be made to the game’s dynamic weather, which can change from clear to an almost zero visibility snow storm rather quickly. Graphically there isn’t much to say as the bad texture pop in annoyed me greatly, and the audio suffered from momentary drops, which was rather immersion breaking, especially when I played with headphones on.

Conclusion

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a game that offers an amazing world with a good RPG focus, however, the game is let down by a flat story and numerous graphical and audio glitches.

SCORE: 8/10

Pros Cons
 + Amazing world with an interesting backstory  – Story feels flat
 + Dark Zone is an amazing PVP zone  – Enemies appear bullet spongy
 + Good use of RPG elements  – Numerous graphical and audio issues encountered
 + Building up your base of operations
 + Dynamic weather
Developer Publisher Genre Rating Platform Release date
 Ubisoft Massive  Ubisoft  Shooter  18+  PS4, Xbox One, PC  March 8, 2016

*A review code was provided by the game’s publisher.*

For more information on Tom Clancy’s The Division, visit http://thedivisiongame.com.

Author: Ash Meehan

Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.


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