Tom Clancy’s The Division has had a long and complicated development cycle. First announced at E3 in 2013, the game suffered numerous delays since then. Not only that, but Destiny came out a year-and-a-half ago, and in many ways, it beat The Division to the punch. It offered a shared world online multiplayer experience that mixed traditional RPG elements with those of a first-person shooter. But Destiny also dropped the ball in many ways. The final product worked in some ways but was also woefully lacking in others, which caused some to wonder if The Division would make similar mistakes. And The Division is coming out after a particularly bad period of broken and incomplete games upon release. Some of these broken games were made by The Division publisher Ubisoft, a company with a less than stellar user rating due to their pricey DLC and reliance on microtransactions.
So with all that said and done, The Division has finally released. Because it’s such a massive experience and is online-dependent, we’re taking our time with this review. These will be our thoughts in progress.
The first thing that happened when I booted up The Division was that I couldn’t get on. The servers didn’t seem to be working. I restarted the console and was able to get in on the second try, but a quick Twitter research showed I was not the only one with the problem. But once I did get in, the game run pretty well.
You play as an “Agent” of The Division who will be forever addressed as “Agent.” You are part of the second wave of a group of Division soldiers who were embedded in New York City in case of an event like this. You’ve been activated after a virus has decimated much of the city. The first wave of Division agents are mostly gone, so if they are activating the second wave, you know things aren’t good. And they aren’t. New York is barely holding it together; it’s clear the virus has done extensive damage to the city. It’s not quite I Am Legend bad yet, but the instability is nearing a breaking point. Your team has been authorized to do what’s necessary to restore order. Mostly that involves mowing down gangs of rioters and looters so far, but there is a bigger picture here. You’re working to also discover the origins of the virus and stop the gangs vying for power.
The game takes place shortly after Black Friday in downtown NYC so you’ll come across lots of cold weather, snow, and Christmas decorations. So far I’ve only come across members from The Cleaners and The Rikers gangs. The Cleaners are named because they intend to clean up the city through fire, so anytime you see gangs of guys with flamethrowers, that’s most likely who you’re coming across. Rikers I think are escaped convicts from Rikers Prison. I’m assuming there is a third gang I’ve come across but have yet to identify. Mostly when moving from objective to objective, you come across small to moderately sized gangs of rioters and looters.
Once you’re activated you have about an hour of getting to know the game, and it’s what you expect. You go to a safe house, get a mission. You go and take care of the mission, and once you’re familiar with the basic mechanics you’re sent to Manhattan proper. (To all the native NYCers reading this, I apologize if I get all my geography wrong.)
After I get to the island I had to fight my way to my base. Once there you start to upgrade it, but first you have to rescue various personnel who can help you unlock its full potential. You have to upgrade your security, tech, and medical wings. Upgrading these unlocks perks and skills for your character. (Note, simply getting experience to the next level is not enough to unlock skills, you have to upgrade your base). Missions typically offer you rewards and supplies for a various wing of the base. It’s a good incentive to upgrade your base, and aesthetically you can see the changes as you progress which makes you feel like you’re accomplishing things. That being said there are only 10 upgrades per wing, and I worry I’ll have it finished before too long.