Visions are always one thing, but how they end up turning out can sometimes differ from what was in a person’s mind. Tom Clancy’s The Division has extraordinary ambition and the potential for something great is there, so it’s just a matter of Ubisoft bringing together its seemingly exceptional parts to create an excellent whole.
Let me just say, I don’t know how and I don’t know why Destiny continues to be compared with this game. They are two very, very different games and that comparison can go ahead and die forever. Instead, it only took a few missions into the several hours I played the game to realize this just what you would expect from a Ubisoft open-world game: loads of fun with lots and lots to do.
Main and side content are littered across the vast and dense areas of Midtown Manhattan, where the game takes place. All of New York City may not be in The Division at launch, but it doesn’t need to be, given how thick this game world is.
Whether you are playing the game inside, outside or underground, the game seems to have plenty of character and personality. Walking down the streets of New York can lead to discoveries, and those can range from providing aid to a suffering civilian to reliving events of painful days past through the eyes of an Echo. The open-world seems to have much to uncover and learn.
People who were worried about The Division being thin from a campaign or open-world standpoint should rest easy. No matter if you play with friends or alone, there is a lot to be distracted by as you move from one mission to the next. I am someone who tends to toe the waters when it comes to PvP, so I can confidently say I’m not worried about being bored or running out of content to eat up outside of the Dark Zone.
I hear this question a lot: what do you do when you aren’t shooting? Exploring New York will be one of those things as there are collectibles and items for players to be on the lookout for, like the aforementioned Echoes. I’d like to recommend Ubisoft add in a door closing achievement or trophy. That needs to happen.
The game has three different main mission types or threads: Medical, Tech and Security. Those three missions types will be important in how you upgrade your Base of Operations, which has a lot to sink your teeth into, a lot. Gamers will earn XP and resources from these missions and in turn, they can upgrade the Medical, Tech and Security wings of their Base of Operations. Upgrades will mean new perks and benefits for players, in addition to improvements being visible.
Inside your Base of Operations are vendors who you can purchase weapons, armor and other goods from. Each seem to have their own currency requirements in order to purchase them and the same can be said for crafting items. I was able to craft an upgraded shotgun through the dismantling of several weapons I was not going to use. Those leftover resources gave me the required amount of weapon parts for the new weapon. The way currency is setup in the game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see microtransactions implemented. As a progression perfectionist/addict, I have a feeling I will be spending way too much time trying to completely upgrade all three wings of my Base of Operations.
Overall progression versus our Dark Zone progression seemed to differ in how fast we leveled up. Sure, you can lose progression in the Dark Zone and that may offset this, but a kill for me in the Dark Zone netted over 300 Dark Zone XP, while a kill in the open-world at times only netted 42 main XP, when fighting at the same overall character level. It remains to be seen whether or not overall progression will be a pleasant or unpleasant grind as you work towards the max, which is 30.
You know about Skills, but what you might not know is that you can mod your skills. For example, the Seeker Mine Skill had five different mod stages for you to go through, and then a sixth to create the master version of it. If my memory serves me correctly, there are around 20 different skills for players to choose from, across the three different types: Medical, Tech and Security.
Modding exists within your weapons, of course, as gamers can add scopes, suppressors, extended mags, skins and other items. Talents are another form of perks to help embellish your Skills and play style. They yield certain things like added damage, decreased cooldown times for skills and a lot more. Gamers can equip up to four Talents when they have progressed up to the required level.
Combat seems to have a solid foundation and does reward players for working together as a team. The group I played with saw us thrive when working together and we had little problem dispatching enemies, no matter if they were elites or basic enemy types.
Combat is intense and the enemy AI seems to be quite aggressive, which will force gamers to play on their toes versus sitting back and sticking to the same gameplay strategies. Moving from cover-to-cover was a risk, so it’s not like players will be able to run around areas while in combat because if you do, enemy AI will more than likely take you down. Oh and if you were wondering, yes, The Division does have a melee attack for close encounters.
I’m not sure about the cutscenes in The Division and the true role they will play outside of just being there. Through the time I had with the game, they just seemed more hollow than meaningful, because “hey, it’s a AAA game and we need cinematics for a AAA game.” I feel this way because it felt like the players are the ones who are really telling and uncovering the story, seeing it through their own individual eyes, and cinematics aren’t necessarily required in order to accomplish that. Perhaps I’ll feel different after witnessing the game’s story in full context though.
Ubisoft did confirm that there will be free updates and DLC that come to The Division after launch, in addition to paid DLC plans, though they did not specify on the latter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other areas of New York explored in the form of expansions, but that is just a guess based on not all of NYC being added in the launch version of the game.
For a game that has endured quite a lot over the course of its development, I’m extremely optimistic about Tom Clancy’s The Division. The game has all the makings for a long-lasting experience, one that innovates in a very competitive open-world genre and one that could be a breakout hit of 2016.