Turn the sci-fi action/MMO RPG that was last year’s Destiny into a modern day shooter and you have The Division. Set in New York, a virus has been spread through infected one dollar bills, the city is in shambles and the crime is running rampant. You are an agent of the second wave of agents from the Division. You find out as you advance through the game what happened to the first wave. Where Tom Clancy games in the past goes into the military narrative and adds a bit of conspiracy, this fails. The story is pretty straight forward and the only progression is leveling your character up and gaining loot as the game goes on. Even though there is a lack of a deeper tale to tell, the game is fun and filled with action.
Visually the game looks good. It is what you expect of the consoles today. New York looks ravaged, one of the first scenes you see is a makeshift memorial of the people that have died due to the virus. Snows falls throughout the game and if you stand still long enough, it begins to build on your jacket. Take off running and the snow blows off your jacket. Little details like that are nice to see in games today. You first interact with common street thugs, they provide little resistance and serve as the common enemy in the game. Enemies become harder as you encounter larger ones with machine guns and even flame throwers. Enjoy the show as you shoot at the tanks of the flame thrower soldiers. I never got tired of seeing that. As you go through the game, day turns to night, night turns to day, but the danger stays the same throughout. When night started to fall, I thought this is where the action will heat up, but it stays consistent. You even have poor citizens walking through the street. The bad side to this is that they are repetitive. Some are just walking, some are fighting with each other and some ask you for help, in which if you give them the item they request, then they leave you a goodie that could be a weapon, armor, but usually some type of clothing that you can dress your agent up in. I was hoping for more interaction with the citizens then what is given to us. The customization of the agent looks good, you have various apparel to choose from to dress your agent in and I even enjoyed seeing what cool new jacket I would get to put on my agent. The only complaint I have here is that you can’t combine what should be simple details in game design today. I had to choose between wearing glasses or wearing an earring. You might laugh, it is trivial, but I like both my sunglasses and earring. I wear both daily, so I would like to have the option of both in the game. And once you have chosen what your character looks like, that is it. You can’t go back to change hairstyle, facial hair, scars, tattoos, or details. Once again, a minor complaint but something that I think that should have been doable.
The sound in the game is pretty standard. Nothing major here, you have your gunshots depending on the caliber of gun you are using. The actors are nothing special either. You do have a story but the scripting in it and the emotion put into each character doesn’t impact you enough to care about the story. I hit “skip” for most of the cut scenes. I wasn’t pulled into the story, I was ready to get moving and move on to the next mission. Some of the side missions were more interesting than the main story. You investigate what happened to agents and certain people. None of them really have an impact but for some reason it seems like they had a deeper story to tell. There are pickups throughout the game, including voice recordings of citizens talking about the virus, plotting attacks against others, telling their mother that they are gay, and even telling their family that they love them in case they never see them again. These short little snippets were a surprise and some sounded more interesting than the main story.
The gameplay is good for the most part. It has a basic cover system like other Clancy games. You tap a button and your character is pressed against cover. You pop up, shoot, duck down….rinse, repeat. I did get frustrated at times, the cover system is a little broke in my opinion. I would have to run and duck from gunfire and my guy would lean against the side of the object I was trying to hide behind. I did die quite a few times with this happening, eventually I would make sure I took an extra step to avoid this mistake. The loot is the best thing about the game. The very first crate I opened was a blue (rare) double barrel shotgun. I was happy because right away this was proof that all the crates were indeed random and you had a chance at getting something great to start off with. As you level up, you will get blueprints so you can craft your own guns. Also you get various skills and talents as you level up and open the three levels in the main base. Weapons from a sticky grenade to a turret that you throw out in the open that will attack enemies. There are your typical vendors that you can buy and sell gear, weapons, and mods from. The guns have diversity as well. Shoot the pistol and it has a little kick but accurate, the bigger the gun, the more recoil. The first time I fired the AK-47, my shots weren’t as precise as my aim was. A quick mod to the gun remedied that, but the fact that shooting the various guns had different recoil instead of a flat feel was a nice feature.
The side missions are your basic: Go here and save this hostage. Go here and protect these supplies. Go here and help this Division unit. There are main missions that carry you through the story and gives you the bigger payoffs to advance your character. New York is sectioned off by levels that are suggested your character to be at before you enter. The main missions are filled with numerous enemies along the way to stop you. You have the choice of playing alone or doing a quick matchmaking and join up with other players that may be doing the same mission as you are. You can certainly play with your friends or other players through the entire game if you choose to. I did it both ways and playing with other players is definitely the way to go.
The Dark Zone is what a lot of players were looking forward to. This where you encounter other players and the PvP action happens. You are better off going in with a group than by yourself. There is no trust in this part of the game. If you walk in by yourself and at a low level, you are an easy target because you are inexperienced and undermanned. The Dark Zone is where you get all the best loot and the only way to make it out with the loot is calling in a helicopter to extract it. You go to an extraction zone, shoot a flair into the air and wait for at least a minute. Here is where it gets interesting! You shoot the flare and the game lets everyone know that someone called in an extraction. Like sharks to blood in the water, people are running to the extraction zone because there is loot to jack off of other players! Intense firefights start up and the last man/group standing get to strip the corpses of their loot and extract it for them to keep. Once again….don’t go alone! First time I walked in, BAM! Shot in the back left for dead and I didn’t even have any loot yet!
All in all, I am happy with my purchase. With games like this, I have to be a first day buyer. If I am not on the ground floor from day one, shooting, looting, building up my stats, gaining XP to make my avatar more impressive than the guy that gets this game just a week later, then I won’t invest in it all. It’s my own personal preference of course, I just feel like I’ll be lagging behind my friends and playing catch up if I don’t purchase the game right away. In fact, I was still playing catch up with a lot of my friends. Your character maxes out at level 30 in the regular game, you can max out to 99 in the PvP Dark Zone. I have my friends all playing and killing rogue agents in the Dark Zone and I’m running around the normal campaign trying to build my guy up. I am more of a online player than single player, so to have all my friends playing the PvP part of the game was frustrating because I wanted to join them. But that did make me play through the single player portion of the game that I normally wouldn’t play all the way through. However, now that I have hit the endgame, I am playing in the Dark Zone wondering what is next. I enjoy getting new and exciting loot, but now that the game has ended, what will I use my shiny new Vector on? The DLC that is coming out (actually there has been an update today as I type this) adds Raids and Daily Challenges, but I don’t know how much more depth that will add to the game to make me want to continue playing for much longer. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a bad game, but I have clocked in about 60 hours already. I have enjoyed playing the game. I did complete the single player campaign, which is a huge accomplishment for me because as I previously mentioned, I am mostly an online multiplayer type of gamer the majority of the time. If you are a fan of Destiny or Tom Clancy games, then I suggest at least checking it out before you decide to purchase. There are minor flaws, just as any game has, but nothing game breaking. I don’t think that you will be disappointed. I give the game 8/10.