The Division is finally here and the long wait is over. I downloaded my copy and I’ve played the game now for a full five days and as of right now. The Division is the best game that I’ve played in the past 6 months.
It’s never easy to gauge how good a game really is in an only five-day span but sometimes you can tell right away if you’re going to be willing to commit going forward in that time, so for the sake of this writing I think five days is fair.
Let’s start with the setup. If you played the beta like me then you already know what the character setup is about. It’s the standard thing with all games like this, setup your characters’ overall look, hair, eyes, skin tone and ethnicity until it suits you and then you’re ready to play so I won’t elaborate too much on that, the best part of The Division is in the gameplay.
Plot & Gameplay
Let’s get right into what The Division is about because it will help to explain the gameplay. It’s like this, there was a smallpox pandemic that was transmitted by virus via bank money that effectively swept across the US and caused the government to collapse in a five-day span. As a result, chaos ensued.
Now that we have full on chaos, this means that there are going to be gangs and law. In this game there are plenty of gangs and enemies that you’ll encounter. They roll in large groups, they’re heavily armed and they all fight differently. Here’s the breakdown. The Rikers are a group of prisoners that are freed as a result of the chaos, you have the Rioters who basically are just opportunists, the Cleaners are former Sanitation workers that believe the virus should be burned away (meaning anyone or any living thing that is infected will burn, they’re a pain in the ass too) and then The Last Man Battalion which are basically rogue military.
You (The player) stand in between all of this as a member of the (SHD) Strategic Homeland Division or just “The Division”. “The Division” was created to combat the threats of anarchy and was formed with what was left of law enforcement before the virus wiped everything out. With that comes the JTF or Joint Task Force which you’ll deal with quite a bit in this game. That’s basically what this game is. Fight off the gangs, attempt to restore order and the Dark Zone. This is what The Division is and it’s great.
The Division is everything Destiny should have been from the beginning. Clear story, easy gameplay, simple loot system. Period. That’s all we need from any game and even more so from a game of this type. The intent of The Division is to be an MMORPG and it does that really well. The point of this game is to work with a team thus the MMO aspect. It’s actually essential. As much as you can get some things done by yourself you’ll find that the enemy’s ability to “eat” bullets and the sometimes impossible difficulty of the missions require that you have at least one person with you when you do missions but truthfully get a four man team if you can.
The RPG aspect comes into play from your character’s clothes, weapons, armor and gear you can use as your player levels increase. There are a ton of missions, side quests and encounters in the game. They all have different levels and objectives for completion and you could easily find yourself 6-7 hours into The Division and not even know it. Sounds like an RPG to me.
The scene of The Division is set in NYC so there is a lot to discover in one of the biggest cities in the world. You’ll go from Brooklyn to Manhattan and briefly Queens. Most of the game takes place in Manhattan though. Most of the missions are pretty much the same. Go to this location and kill these gang members, save a few hostages or steal back some supplies for the base of operations. Rinse and repeat. You’ll spend most of your time in The Division doing these missions for the base because doing so controls what abilities, skills and the talents you’ll bring out into the field. For example, opening up the Medical wing allows you access in to contaminated areas and help in healing group members. Getting supplies for the Tech Wing helps you with radar, and automated gun turrets and Security is basically weapons and armor. You won’t get too far in this game until you fulfill the obligations of the base.
Everything you’ve done in the game up to this point should prepare you for the Dark Zone. It’s intense.
The Dark Zone
Most of the playing field in the Division is PvE but it’s not until you arrive in the Dark Zone that you’re playing in PvP. The Dark Zone is the large quarantined area on the map in the middle of the city and it can be accessed via certain checkpoints and when you’re in…Get ready because it’s on.
What makes the Dark Zone so intense is the fact that everyone is a threat. EVERYONE. There is the AI in the area that is tough as well as the human players within the area that are on and above your level. The Dark Zone is no joke and you shouldn’t venture into it alone. You can be successful in the Dark Zone if you have a strategy.
The Dark Zone is basically an alternate version of the PvE field. I first went into the DZ at about level 15 and it was a good thing that I did because of the leveling system of the Dark Zone. It’s completely separate from the player level and rank. It doesn’t require as many XP points as the player rank requires but it also has no bearing on the player level which kind of sucks. It only determines what you can buy from the DZ vendors and what chests you can open while in the DZ. By the way you don’t have to wait to get to level 30 to go in. You should probably venture into the DZ at about level 15 and rank up a bit then go back in spurts as your player rank rises because you’re gonna want that DZ loot.
Loot farming is also a big reason for being in the DZ. There is plenty of loot be gained throughout the DZ. All of your travels in the DZ are about loot but you have to be wary because loot can get you killed. This is sort of the draw to the Dark Zone as weird as it may seem. The tension that comes from being hunted is why you won’t be able to stop yourself from coming back and shooting every thing in sight.
While in the DZ there is a thing called going “Rogue”. As a Division agent if you take it upon yourself to attack and shoot at other friendly agents then you will be considered a “Rogue” agent. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but it isn’t a good thing either. You’ll be rogue for 20 seconds and you’ll be able to kill any agent and take their loot for yourself. Kind of savage and cool. The drawback to doing this is that once you go rogue, everyone is going to do what they can to stop you and since most people are roaming the DZ in groups, this may not bode well for you. You may end up losing the very loot you went rogue to steal. Do it at your own risk. It’s fun to go rogue I won’t lie but it’s kind of a dick move so if possible keep it to a minimum.
When you’ve done all the farming you can do for one particular moment because your loot bag is full how do you get your loot out of the DZ? One way. The “Extraction Zone”. Since the DZ is contaminated you can’t just take your loot out and go about your business. Nope. It’s requires a special helicopter transport to take your loot out to be brought back to the Base of Operations. Seems easy right? Wrong. The Extraction Zone is the number one place to face off with Rogue agents and NPC’s (Non-Player Characters or AI) trying to either kill you or steal that bonus loot you just got from farming. It’s pretty cheesy considering that you have to wait for a minute and a half for the helicopter but like I said don’t venture into the DZ alone unless you’re leveled up and your weapons DPS and armor are powerful. Stand your ground and protect your loot.
The Division is a game of the year candidate, no doubt. Once you play this game you’ll get so immersed in it. There is so much to do. It’s hard to get bored and if you have a team this game is that much more fun. This game is reminiscent of Destiny in a lot of ways. It seems that Ubisoft has taken a page from Bungie but most importantly they learned from Bungie and their big mistakes. What remains to be seen with The Division is how the DLC works out in terms of how they charge us and how expansive it is. There is a raid that’s going to be available soon and I’m interested in seeing how that plays out.
There is a lot to like about this game and there are few things that I don’t like. I don’t like the DZ leveling system being separate from the player level and rank, The AI eats bullets even at close range and sometimes the AI is pretty stupid as in running right past me and not shooting. Fast travel doesn’t always work the way you need it to and I’ve actually been glitched right out of games quite a few times. These things are just minor annoyances that come with gaming online. It’s by no means a dealbreaker and The Division even with it’s minor problems is a MUST PLAY game. If you have an XBOX One it’s even better for you as you’ll have one month early access to DLC (It’s about time Xbox stepped it up). Season pass? Well, the jury is always going to be out on that. I’ve yet to ever see the benefits of a season pass. Call me a skeptic. No matter what your reasoning is, play this game and catch me @GeekLifeMike on PSN in the DZ or in the field. Join my group and let’s kick some ass. I need to reach level 30 ASAP.