To celebrate the launch of our review of Tom Clancy’s The Division for PS4, Xbox One and PC we are giving away in conjunction with Numskull and Ubisoft a Stainless Steel Mug & SHD Emblem T-Shirt
Question is simple: When was The Division fist show to Gamers?
A. Gamescom 2013
B. E3 2013
C. EGX 2013
D: PAX Prime 2013
E: GDC 2013
F: TGS 2013
Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org with either A, B, C, D, E or F, please include your name.
Now for the Review Enjoy
Here it is as last people. The Division is a game I have followed since its first showing at E3. Numerous delays have kept this game back and I’ve savaged any information I can for the best understanding of this game possible. I played both betas and bulked up my PC to prepare for its arrival.
And the start has already been rocky. The game servers tanked the second the American mainland launch began and players were left game-less for two hours. The Day one patch contained surprisingly few glitch fixes and performance enhancements. And very good news for those of you on XBO, DLC is arriving for you thirty days early; though it’s a shame my review copy was restricted until after the game launch.
The Division will push through this though. While at heart this game is a simple cover-based shooter with RPG mechanics and those core elements have not changed from the beta, the game frames those mechanics round a well-thought story and a beautiful, if battered, Manhattan Island.
Straight away you get thrown into the action as your agent is activated in Brooklyn. Here is the game’s tutorial hub, giving you a simple overview of the action and situation in a much quieter environment before moving you into the affray that is Manhattan Island. The gameplay has not changed a huge amount from the beta, and those who are familiar with either of them will feel right at home here.
The bulk of your character is in the role-playing elements. While the hope for initial in-depth character creation is dashed for a rather thin face creation, with the most possible options being with tattoos. Thankfully this is the only lacking option within the customisations tools, and weapons, clothes, talents, perks and numerous other categories are all fully fledged and working with other people you can create an effective team.
It’s important to note this depth transfers to many elements of The Division. New York looks like it has been through hell, as is a typical sight for gamers, and has a complex authenticity. Ubisoft has put a lot of work into making the playground as realistic as possible. Places felt familiar to me from my visit of New York many years ago and it gave the situation a sense of presence; this was New York City, and it was in trouble.
In terms of gameplay, the actual game boils down into two parts: Cover-based shooting and inventory management. While time will be spent with the other RPG elements such as the base management the missions force you on to this linear path for the main part of the game. The gameplay, as I have said before, is rather like Borderlands in that respect. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing however it does bring up a big issue which I will discuss later.
The Division’s big positive is how right it utilises the RPG elements of the game. From the large amount of customisation to the little elements most people won’t notice, the RPG elements work, and they work well. Combined with an interesting story with few-yet-interesting characters and an absolutely gorgeous environment means that The Division is a game which picked its mechanics right and used them right.
But the big problem with it becomes present a few hours in: Cover-based shooting does not have the longevity for a game as large as The Division. Consider other games with the cover-shooting mechanic as its mainstay, GOW, Uncharted and the like. The story of these games are only a few hours long because it is the only mechanic and people will get bored; the mechanic is rather singular with no real ways to modify it to an extent it warrants extension. Yet The Division is expecting you to put days into the game, to keep pushing to gain incrementally better weaponry and the cover-based mechanic cannot be sustained for that length without it getting boring.
And it does. While the first few missions put you in some big name locations over time the repetitively just starts grinding away at you. While playing the game with friends does mitigate this and gains you a few extra hours the only way to not drive yourself mad is to take the game in small blocks, which is not what an RPG is designed for.
This does frustrate me. I’ve not had a bad time with the game at all. The game is well-rounded. Weapons and other customisation, whilst missing hilarious overpowered and wacky looking versions are consistent with the story. The looting is relatively consistent and therefore enjoyable. But all this adds to an experience which starts high and gradually degrades the longer the play session is.
The Division also arrives with a plethora of questionable design choices and a litany of bug. Apart from the now-infamous Laptop Glitch, bugs are reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed Unity, and can include falling through floors, guns wildly flailing in front of characters, enemies blinking across an area; they’re all there.
And so, just under two years are first seeing it at E3, The Division is a definitive double-edged sword. On the one edge you have a well-thought story set in a fantastic environment which practically demands 4-player cooperation. The loot system is well-balanced and incremental and customisation is plentiful in most areas. On the other edge the mechanic wears thin too quickly for the desired gameplay length and a litany of bugs and poor design choices mar the experience.
The Division is a good game. That’s it. It’s not an award winning masterpiece and it’s not digital trash. It’s exciting enough to avoid boredom, polished enough to forgive glitches and feature-filled enough to make it an experience you should play. And for that, it gets a 7/10.