Release date: 2016
Version played: Xbox One in 2016
After a biological terrorist attack destroys New York City during the Christmas season, Agents of The Division are activated to ensure peace and order are kept in the now all-but-lawless city. Developed by Ubisoft, Tom Clancy’s The Division is a third person shooter where players take control of a customised Agent of the eponymous organisation in an attempt to solve the mysteries of where the virus originated, as well as keep safe anyone left behind inside the city walls. The game itself is a sort of mix of Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer mode, with the presentation of Watch_Dogs and movement/shooting like the later Splinter Cell games, with a healthy dose of Diablo 3 or Borderlands style loot drops. Yes, there is a fair bit going on, but it is not nearly as complicated as it sounds.
+ the core gameplay is smooth and responsive. The cover-to-cover mechanics are reminiscent of the latter two Splinter Cell games, and the gunplay itself is unique, based on your choice of weapon. Marksman rifles are a necessity, but numerous assault rifles, submachine guns or shotguns all have their uses
+ the various different gear pieces are a stats-man’s dream. Six different gear slots, each with potential for modifications, all provide bonuses to the three stats (firearms, stamina and technology) mean players can mix and match to find a perfect mix to suit their play-style
+ the Dark Zone, the real meat of the game, is mostly an enjoyable experience and where the entirety of the PVP takes place. The area itself is dark and atmospheric, with the streets lined with corpses. The underground/subway areas of the Dark Zones are a personal highlight of the entire game
+ the different enemy factions are all interesting in their own ways; the Cleaners, former sanitation workers who now only want to cleanse by fire, are particularly terrifying to run into
– visually, everything is pretty much the same. All of the knee pads, sidearm holsters, backpacks etc are more or less identical, and even the character models are limited to skin colour and male or female – there are hairstyles, facial hair options and choices of scars/markings, but when everyone is wearing a beanie and sunglasses it doesn’t really matter
– currently, there is a very clear distinction between good and not-good weapons, so everyone in the Dark Zone is running around with the same handful of weapons. Much like early Dark Souls player-versus-player combat, there is the potential to be so incredibly outclasses by an opponent of similar level that any fight is over in seconds, and not for the way you’d like. In some situations this is a nice learning experience, but other times it is just frustrating to lose all your progress by someone who is heads-and-shoulders better than you, and knows it
– the game’s story is somewhat generic, and never really gets entirely resolved (I assume so that there can be some story DLC in the future)
> When playing with teammates who know what they’re doing, the game is a fantastic experience. When playing with teammates who rush into every situation and then curse you over their microphone, this game is incredibly frustrating. Finding players you can trust, and who compliment your skill set is a must.
Should you play this game: Overall, yes, this is a solid experience and with long-term planning for updates it can only get better. But unless you have friends to group with, or don’t mind shoveling through shit to find some random teammates worth playing with then it might not be for you.