Review: Tom Clancy’s The Division (PS4)

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Title: Tom Clancy’s The Division
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (29.8 GB)
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft / Red Storm Entertainment
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
Tom Clancy’s The Division is also available on.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 466 of the podcast at 102:52.

Tom Clancy’s The Division is an action role playing game with third-person shooter mechanics. It’s a cover-based tactical shooter, but it’s an RPG first and a shooter second.

The game takes place in New York City after a smallpox pandemic leaves the city in shambles. As a division agent you are activated and called into duty to help take the city back.

Gameplay:
Once you complete the tutorial mission and enter Manhattan, you are dropped into Camp Hudson. There are vendor tents and it really gives the impression that you will be coming to this area a lot. It really appears to be the game’s social space.

The sad part is, once I left Camp Hudson the first time I never returned. Once you leave the camp and you’re officially on the island of Manhattan, you are hit with the overwhelming open world aspect of the game. the first mission has you go to the Base of Operations which is at the main branch of the New York City Post Office.

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Once inside the Base of Operations you are met with the first realization of how messed up the city is. Agent Layu is your narrator for most of the game and she explains the base’s three sections to you.

You have the Medical wing, the Security wing and the Tech wing. Each of these has multiple upgrades that you will need to complete. Upon completion of select missions, side missions, and encounters, you will be rewarded with points for each wing which can then be used to upgrade parts of each of them. Doing so will unlock new abilities.

To give you an idea of some of the abilities, you can drop a health machine that creates an area that increases health regeneration. Based on some of the unlocked talents, the health machine can give additional ammo and speed up the cool down process of other talents.

… This can feel very overwhelming …
As you progress through the city killing enemies or completing missions, you have the chance to get loot drops which are all handled by random number generation (RNG). The attack power, the increase or decrease to your damage per second (DPS), stamina or electronics are all random.

Some drops could be good, some could be bad. Your character carries a backpack and its stats dictate how many items you can carry on your player at a time. When you dismantle gear you get materials that you will use to craft other gear at the base of operations.

This is where the core mechanics of The Division come into play. Each piece of equipped gear can increase or decrease the attributes of your character. This can feel very overwhelming as you try to learn and understand how this system works.

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The game does a very poor job of explaining this to you and it feels like you just need to figure it out yourself. You get better weapons that come with talents like increased critical damage, increased damage within twenty meters, increased stability after kills, and chance to regenerate health up critical kills to name a few.

But, in order for these talents to be unlocked you have to have a certain score in your firearms, stamina, or electronics. So just because you have a high number piece or armor doesn’t mean that it will benefit you as well as a lower number with better “roll” of electronics.

This can be confusing due to the fact that low end gear can be better for the type of build your player is going for versus a superior part. Your gear can get replaced so fast that it is hard to keep track of what is happening sometimes.

… Moving from cover to cover works great …
I changed or dismantled weapons three to five times in a mission because stuff was dropping at such a fast and confusing rate that it was overwhelming.

Being a RPG with cover-based third-person shooting at its core is a tough balance. There are plenty of places to take cover in the environment – behind cars, barricades, crates, and anything else that is scattered amongst the world.

Moving from cover to cover works great and is needed to ensure safety while in combat. The game does suffer a few hiccups while you are battling to stay alive during combat. Once you have taken significant damage you will go down to a knee and a red circle appears on the floor around you.

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You can crawl anywhere you choose but once the red circle runs out, you are down until you either respawn or get revived by a teammate. During the first down phase you can be healed by another teammate.

Once you have been healed you immediately stand straight up. This is problematic if you are in a heated combat session and have enemies near you. Many times I would get healed and immediately take a significant amount of damage since the game stands you up.

… you could be hunting down your friend …
There were also many times my character would get stuck in the environment, either on a crate or in the railing of a staircase. It’s very frustrating and could also be costly if you are in a firefight or trying to secure loot from the Dark Zone.

What is the Dark Zone? This is the area where the outbreak is the most dangerous. The hub of the attack happened in the Dark Zone and it was sealed off from the rest of New York. It spans the center of the map from the top to about the bottom third.

This is where some of the most dangerous enemies are hiding out. Some of them are AI and some are current Division agents. Yes that’s right, you could be hunting down your friend who’s in the Dark Zone and not on your team.

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As your progress through the area and kill AI or Agents that have gone rogue and turned against you and other Agents, they drop loot. However this loot is contaminated and needs to be cleaned.

In order to do this you have to have it extracted. In the Dark Zone there are extraction points and once you reach one, you can shoot a flare into the air letting a helicopter know you need extraction of loot.

You’ll then be waiting ninety seconds before the helicopter arrives and anyone in the general area now knows you have called for an extraction. Other agents can come and extract with you, or they can kill you and take your loot. There will also be a few AI enemies that show up trying to stop you.

… amazing just how the lighting and weather affects your character …
Visuals:
Now after I spent all this time downplaying some of the mechanics, there is no denying that the game looks amazing! It IS New York City! It really is. Plenty of people that I’ve spoken with who have either have been to New York or live there have told me that the city does look just like it does in the game.

The day/night visuals are gorgeous, especially when walking around the city and turning a corner to be blinded by the sun. I’ll be running from one street to another and seeing something shiny down the alley only to realize I was fooled yet again by the sun shining on the buildings.

It’s also amazing just how the lighting and weather affects your character. Numerous times I found myself fascinated by the fact the during a heavy snowstorm, the snow would stick to my jacket and my hat but only to the side that was facing the incoming snow.

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Audio:
The more I played the worse the audio got, cutting out for no apparent reason. When playing in a group, the audio cue for a teammate being down never happened. Then you look and are surprised your buddy is crawling to you before he bleeds out.

While in firefights against the AI I constantly heard “they killed Alex!” I heard that quote way too many times. As a matter of fact, the AI had a lot of the same lines of dialogue even when you were facing “different” types of enemies.

… no matter what you do …
Online/Multiplayer:
Other than a few minor launch day connection issues, the online functionality of The Division has been great. The one major issue that I have with the group aspect of this game is how the game balances level differences.

The game takes the highest level player in your group and scales all encounters off that player’s level. So let’s say you’re a level eleven and your friend is a level twenty-five. You will be facing level twenty enemies no matter what you do.

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The game doesn’t let the highest level player fight any enemy lower than five levels under their current level. So level twenty characters will never see an enemy lower than a level fifteen no matter where in the world they are.

I understand why this mechanic is in the game, however, I do not like or agree with it. The mechanic is in the game so that high level players don’t carry low level players through the base content too quickly. But this makes the experience for the lower level player terrible.

… I felt like I was useless …
Since everything is leveled higher than your current level, you do little to no damage and take a lot more damage than equal leveled players take. The few encounters that I played with friends who were at a much higher level than me were just not fun.

I felt like I was useless and it was also frustrating to not be able to even take a shot without it downing me. Other than that, the game is a solid online experience. Playing in the open world or in the Dark Zone works and fast traveling to teammates outside the Dark Zone is a great feature.

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Conclusion:
So The Division has a decent story for an open world game. The environment is super cool and accurate. The enemies pretty much all behave the same. The gear management system is crazy and overwhelming, so this game must suck, right.

Not really. This is fun to play as a base game. Your first playthrough as you level your character from zero to thirty is great. The storytelling in each mission is very good and you get a true hatred for the boss you will be fighting at the end of the mission.

Playing with friends is tons of fun. The glitches encountered are frustrating and annoying but none of them ever made me want to stop playing the game. The Dark Zone is fun and stressful at the same time. The foundation of this game is great.

Ubisoft and Massive Games really do have a great base that they can really build upon and make this something that I would love to play every week. However, as of typing this review there is no true endgame content in the game.

It will be over thirty days from launch before any new endgame content comes to The Division. Sure, once you hit level thirty in base game you can go into the Dark Zone and grind your level all the way up to ninety-nine. Then you can buy new gear or blueprints that you can craft with all the parts you get from dismantling all the junk gear the game drops for you, but why??

… what is the point of me continuing to grind through this game …
Gear Score is a new term that has appeared in the game when they started talking about new end game content they’re launching on April 12th 2016. But it’s nowhere to be seen in the game as of now.

So why keep playing the game? Why run the daily missions and challenge missions, which by the way are not any different than the original mission except the fact that the enemies have way more health and throw a lot more grenades.

Not having what I consider any true endgame activities within the first fourteen to twenty-one days of launch is a huge fail in this game. The Division is designed to be a game that is played daily but in my opinion it has no draw to keep me signing in every day.

There is no guaranteed better drop or even a drop that could increase my Gear Score. Why? BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT GEAR SCORE IS. There will be a recommended Gear Score to run the new endgame content but that number won’t be known until the day the content drops. So what is the point of me continuing to grind through this game if I don’t know what the grind is for?

If you like RPG’s and enjoyed playing games like Uncharted or any Assassin’s Creed, then you should enjoy this game. If you like gear management and messing with minimum and maximum numbers you will enjoy this game.

If you’re someone that wants to know that you’re doing better and getting stronger or getting ready for the hardest content in the game, then you will have issues with this.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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