The Division is brought to us by Ubisoft and Tom Clancy, who doesn’t let a little thing like being dead stop him from making video games. The Division is an online-only, open world third-person shooter set in a post-pandemic Manhattan. Basically you shoot people, they fall down, you get experience and you’re hailed a hero! Okay there’s more to it than that.
The Game play
The cover based 3rd person game-play of The Division works very well for the environment, and will allow the player to adapt their own personal play style. Whether it is the Run and Gun approach, the stick and move cover fire of Gears of War, or the long-range scope style of sniper elite, The Division doesn’t feel like you are being forced to play any one way. My approach so far has been medium to short range combat, and I am happy to report it hasn’t felt over used or stale thus far.
The cover system in The Division also means that when you are playing with friends or other online players, you can utilise the surrounding cover and devise a strategy using different tactics to take out an enemy on a turret or even a sniper in the distance. This element of map design really allows for balanced game-play for both multiplayer and on a solo approach.
(Shoot that guy in the dick!)
Shooty Bang Bang
The weapons featured in this game and the variant models lend themselves more to the realistic side of things, as opposed to the over the top power weapons we might expect in a game like this. Different examples of this are the bullet drop (for snipers,) which if you are trying very long-range shots will require a bit of thought before pulling off that award-winning sniper kill, the recoil on the SMG-9 means that it is best suited to burst-fire situations, and the trusty M4 has that “pull the trigger and watch bullets fly” feel.
One small downside I had noticed is you can empty an entire clip from the secondary weapons into some enemies, and they will absorb the damage like some type of post-pandemic sponge, this does rob a little bit of realism from the game.
A perfect example of this is the Shotguns available in the game, now all my previous experience of Shotguns in shooting games has taught me that one shot with an 870 MCS or Saiga 12 and it’s goodnight Gracie. In The Division you would need to use a lot more ammo to get that kill. Some weapon balancing would more than likely sort this issue out.
(Nothing says “Fuck you and those around you” quite like a shotgun!)
The post pandemic look of Manhattan is quite impressive, and for once it feels like the game’s world is a character in its self. From an aesthetic point of view the scrawled messages of “save us” and “help”, lend a certain depth to your surroundings. On the street level, you will come across derelict shops, abandoned cars and emergency vehicles, which is nothing more than you’d expect in this environment. Having said that, there was always a nagging feeling in the back of my head saying, “hold on, haven’t we been down here and saved these bastards once before?”, so it can feel a bit samey.
(Okay, he said go left at the fire and go straight until I see a pack of wild dogs.)
The underground sections such as the sub-way or underground car parks do little in the way to liven up the situation, yes it may be the first time you have come across this area while playing and that’s exciting but once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
You will occasionally come across rebels fighting with the army or government forces, in what is meant to feel like a sporadic event, and while the first time you stumble upon it that is the case, after a while these just feel like set pieces. Outside of the Dark Zone PvPvE there is very little else to make this beautiful, haunting and chilling environment feel anything more than barren.
Character progression is always a fun part of any game, from beginning at level one and progressing up the levels you feel like this game and its story are about you and your character. Now at the start you are given a few basic choices for hair, face, tattoos and so on, not a great deal of merchandise but enough to get you started. But the more I levelled up and unlocked better weapons, skills and abilities, the more it felt like a grind, progressing to the next level didn’t feel as organic as it could be. Having to do the same type of mission, like hostage rescue, several times just so that I could progress onto a more important mission (saving everybody and not just hostages before you ask), doesn’t do much to excite the player.
(You know what, fuck this! I’ve saved these fuckers 12 times, I’m done!)
Also, while building your base of operations from which to continue with the story mode missions, mod weapons and buy/sell gear, adds a certain sense of security for players new to this type of game, it does become tedious after a while. The same goes for building up the different wings (medical, technical and security).
The Division has the premise and promise to be a great game, with a lasting interest from the online community, yes there are a few problems as there is with any game but there is also a solid base for which to build on. Maybe I need to get back out on the streets and take a fresh approach to a weary Manhattan, I just hope I haven’t been down this street before.