Review: Tom Clancy’s The Division – A Bipolar Experience

Reader Rating2 Votes
The Hits
Fantastic graphics
Play the way you want
Quick load times
The Misses
Unstable servers
Predictable AI
Launch day glitches

*Update: A patch has been released by Ubisoft that should clear up some of the glitches mentioned. The article will be updated once we’ve played through… if needed*

Set in the devastating aftermath of a biological attack in New York City, Tom Clancy’s The Division is a 3rd person loot driven MMO RPG shooter. The hype around this new AAA title was immense and now that gamers can finally get their hands on it, it’s a mixed bag of intense firefights and boring in-betweens.

You’re a member of The Division – a group of sleeper agents activated when the going gets impossible – it’s impossible. In the wake of a widespread virus, the streets have been taken over by rioters and gangs – The Rikers, The Cleaners and The Last Man Battalion just to name a few. You get to battle them AND the numerous glitches in game – to connect to the game servers.

The world is extremely detailed. Sure there is the noticeable graphical downgrade from the E3 demos but The Division remains one of the best looking games that has come out year. Its clear that it took pain staking work creating a believable desolate Manhattan. The amount of details and the rendering is perfect. Mounds of trash and body bags line the street telling us how quickly Manhattan was flipped on to its head.

However beyond the graphics, substance starts to wear thin. While there’s a very interesting premise, characters you encounter aren’t very memorable and it’s hard to see what defines them as a person. As a RPG, The Division lacks characters that you grow to love or love to hate. This ‘lack of depth’ begins right at character creation where you have very limited options to visually customize your character.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Where visually character creation could do with a whole lot more options, there’s a vast array of weapons, active abilities and perks you choose from as you level up that allows you to play the way you want to. You are not restricted to any class wade into battle with a shot gun or a rapid SMG, or deal massive damage from distance with heavy hitting assault and sniper rifles or maybe lay down suppressing fire with your LMG. It’s all up to you to decide.

The perks and active abilities actually feel useful as you can change them on the fly depending on what you encounter. To gain these abilities and perks you’ll have play through the main story mission, which are fun and fresh or by completing the repetitive side missions around the city.

There is an incentive for completing those side missions. After you complete all of the side missions in a district, you get high level weapons or gear modifications that you can’t buy from the vendors in the game.  Each time you swap out one piece of gear for another you can immediately feel the difference.

Just as you feel The Division is a solid offering, it throws you a curve ball in the form of its AI (or lack thereof). There are three basic types of NPCs – the “rusher”, who charges into the fray with a bat or shotgun getting in your face; the “lobber”, who keeps throwing grenades and smoke bombs; and the “camper” who snipes from afar with a rifle or a rocket launcher.

These basic characteristics are about the only thing that set the NPCs apart. The tactics and movements offer very little challenge once you get the hang of things. The only time I felt that they were of any challenge was when I tackled a mission with a squad and that bumped up the difficulty of the NPC’s. Then the game’s suppression mechanic came into play and different tactics are required to beat them. However the boss fight remain the same as they are just bullet sponges and you basically just need the same tactic to take one down.

The Divison marketed its PvP game mode a lot but it seems like they don’t want you to engage in any PvP action. The only place where you can do that is in the Dark Zone. This place harbors the best loot in the game. You do face some menacing NPC’s and again their loot drops are far more valuable than any PC (player character).

You can farm them and get the best items in the game. And that makes the PvP aspect less favorable as killing another player would result in you becoming Rouge and everyone else would be out to get you. Once marked as rouge and will be permanently visible on the map until the timer runs down.  

The reward for taking up such a risk is nothing of note as the XP and dark zone credits you earn is far too little if you survive. If you die Rogue you’ll lose a lot more. I lost 100k of dark zone credits simply because I was defending myself from a Rogue player who attack me first, and after killing him I became Rogue and the next thing I know I am pinned down from every direction.  

It makes no sense! Why should someone be penalized for defending themselves (in game)! Right now the dark zone is not the volatile unpredictable place it should be, as anyone in their right minds would not go Rogue even if they’re in a squad.

Finally, in an attemp to keep the RPG thread alive, The Division has crafting systems that people basically ignore and play right through to the end game, which they end up deeply regretting. The decent weapons you get from loot drops after defeating a Boss or other NPC’s can be taken apart for parts to craft even better pieces of gear or weapon of your choice.

There was not a single occasion that required me to buy anything using in game credits from the vendors as the weapons and gear I craft are more effective. This also encourages exploration in order to find tools, electronic or weapon part stashes in an empty feeling world.

Overall, Tom Clancy’s The Division is a fun a game (when you can get on the servers). The grind and loot drops are much better than Destiny. While I do hear that an upcoming patch will fix some of the issues, these are my experiences with the game pre-patch. With Ubisoft pledging to support this game I can only hope that changes are made and made fast. Right now I recommend getting this game on sale or when it has been patched. The Division has taken the steps in the right direction, but there’s some way to go.