For those of you who don’t know, Tom Clancy was an amazing spy fiction/military fiction writer who spawned dozens of novels, of which were based several films and even video games. Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell and EndWar are all games that have essentially come out of work directly influenced or written by Tom Clancy. So what does Tom Clancy have in store for us this time around?
Well, you are a sleeper agent of The Division, which is tasked with ensuring the continuity of government in case of a disaster. In this case, the disaster is the spread of a smallpox epidemic on a Black Friday, with the virus being embedded on bank notes. As time progresses, the epidemic sweeps New York and essentially turns it into somewhat of a ghost city.
This is where you come in, after the first way of Division agents mysteriously disappear, you are called in with the second wave to help secure the city. To help you in your task, you work with the JTF, or Joint Task Force, which is basically what’s left of emergency responders. Together you work to clear up the city and make sure that the government’s authority still holds.
The story is pretty interesting and compelling, and at the very least, acts well to draw you into the game. Unfortunately, the narrative throughout the game is rather lacking, pitting you against 3 factions, all of which are increasingly harder to deal with as you meet them, and all of which you have to take down. Honestly, the impetus for playing the game is pretty much what you would find anywhere else: Kill bad guys, new bad guys arrive that are harder, kill those bad guys too.
Without giving too much away, there’s also the fact that the ending is left open-ended and is obviously set up either for a sequel, or some kind of story DLC. So basically, there’s no real closure or ending to the game, which is a very sleazy way to ensure future sales. So basically, you will be paying whatever you pay to buy the game for an incomplete story.
That being said, the narrative of the world itself is built really well, with phones, case files, drones and a bunch of more stuff to find which gives you more insight into the world you’re playing with. I would even go as far to say that the narrative given to you by finding these items is much better crafted than the world itself, to the point where they begin to tug at the heart strings. So at the very least, exploration has a really good reward: Immersive narrative.
Let’s also get this out of the way: the game is absolutely gorgeous. From the buildings covered in protective yellow hazard sheets, to the garbage laying on the street, to the cars strewn across the streets, the whole game looks incredibly pretty and really sucks you in. The UI is minimal, which really helps with immersion and there’s some really fun little touches that add to the atmosphere, like being able to close car doors by moving next to them.
The weapons also look really sweet and feel very real. Adding a suppressor changes the sound, adding a scope really makes you feel the extended range, and so on. You also have clothes that you can pick up and customize your character with, so that’s another layer of immersivness.
Speaking of weapons, this game is a loot-based shooter, much like borderlands, so the majority of the RPG aspects revolve around min-maxing your gear. In this regard, there’s a lot to play around with, at the very least, with the number of items available in the game. Of course you have your range of weapons, from shotguns, to LMGs and assault rifles, with the happy exclusion of Rocket Propelled Grenades (which would just destroy the tone of the game).
Unfortunately, there’s always a catch, and in this case, it’s the over-saturation and relative uselessness of higher – end items. While most games treat legendary items like . . . well, legendary items, The Division seems to not care much, since there’s quite a lot of them dropped in certain areas, and you might not even bother picking them up, other than for crafting mats. To be fair though, the developers have realized that there’s an issue and have begun trying to fix it, with the Incursion update being one of the first steps, which brings in armor sets.
So what about the gameplay? Well, it’s a cover based shooter and it’s a pretty good one at that. The AI aren’t the smartest, but that doesn’t really matter, since your job is to stay on the move and not get pinned down. Like any bullet-sponge mob, it’s all about running and gunning, keeping the mob just out of reach while you unload several clips into them.
Enemies come in three types based on the color of their health bar: Red, Purple and Yellow. Each color is more difficult than the last, and at the higher levels mobs also have armor which you have to whittle down. There’s also named mobs, which have a chance of dropping some high-end loot.
Of course, some people might say that the bullet sponginess of the mobs distracts from the immersion, and they’d be right. After all, hoodies don’t offer much protection. That being said, the game is still fun, and if you can overlook that little break from immersion, then you should be fine.
Aside from the main mission and the solo map, there’s also the Dark Zone, which is the game’s PvP area. The best loot is in here as well as some interesting mechanics. Since it is a completely contaminated zone, you have to extract anything you look to be decontaminated. To do that you have to call in a helicopter which comes after a certain amount of time, and the flare you shoot off alerts everybody nearby, whether NPCs or other players. As you can imagine, it’s quite tense waiting out the timer when there’s a chance you could die at any moment and lose all your gear.
I’ll also mention that I lied a little when I mentioned the solo map, since you can actually invite people into your instance of the world and play together. Usually this transpires in the form of joining groups to take on story missions on higher difficulty setting with better rewards. There’s also the new raid that came with incursion, which acts like an end-game, PvE dungeon.
So what’s the final verdict? Well, Tom Clancy’s The Division, is an interesting and immersive game, with slightly repetitive combat and a bit of a gear grind. That being said, most games in this genre are like that, so if you can overlook those aspects, you should really enjoy this game a lot. The story isn’t complete and in that regard the game losses score, but overall, it can still offer a great atmosphere and several hours of fun.
What do you think of The Division? Did you enjoy the game? Let us know in the comments.