Tom Clancy's The Division - Impression

Tom Clancy's Destiny
by Mike Apps

Tom Clancy's The Division
Platform: PS4/Xbox One/PC
Developer: UbiSoft Massive
Publisher: UbiSoft
Release Date: 03.08.2016
If issues with The Dark Zone can be ironed out, and the final product has solid endgame content, then The Division can easily turn out to be a giant timesink for RPG fans.
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First announced at E3 in 2013, UbiSoftís online RPG Tom Clancy's The Division has been a long time coming. Set in a future where the country has fallen into chaos thanks to a weaponized virus, players explore an open-world version of New York City looking for the origin of the virus. Tom Clancy's The Division has been compared to Destiny, and while they have a large number of differences, the core idea of repeatable missions and multiplayer in search of ever better loot was on display in the beta of the game. While my time with the beta left me with some major questions about the gameís longevity, overall it was a positive experience.

Players begin The Division by creating their character. Thereís a number of different customization options, but no character classes to speak of. Instead, customization happens through equipped skills and gear, which can drastically alter play style. Skills are unlocked as players level up and complete various objectives. Some of the skills featured in the beta included an area scan that showed nearby enemies, and a deployable riot shield players could use for protection and fire a sidearm at the same time. Players can equip two of these skills at once, and swap them in and out at any time. As for armor, in addition to varying levels of protection, provides bonuses to the gameís three core stats, along with various other effects on higher level items. The gameís three core stats, firearms, stamina, and electronics, correlate to ability using guns, health, and skills. Focusing on one skill or another with gear can greatly change how players approach the game, allowing for a lot of customization.

Guns have their own stats as well such as stability, accuracy, reload speed, and range. Higher level weapons will provide additional perks, such as increased critical hit chances, for example, if certain stat requirements are met. The player can equip two primary weapons and one sidearm at a time, so there is a lot of mixing and matching of gear for players to experiment with. The beta provided a good amount of gear to purchase and get as drops, so hopefully the full game will have an even larger variety.

As for core gameplay in the game, it The Division feels a lot like the latter two Mass Effect games. Itís primarily a third-person cover-based shooter, with all the typical features such as blind-fire, moving quickly between pieces of cover, vaulting over obstacles to charge in, etc. Being an RPG, enemies donít go down quickly, and elite foes and bosses are especially challenging to take down. Though skill with shooting mechanics certainly helps, the stats of the player and their gear are more important than anything else. Those attempting higher level combat at a lower level, with poor gear, will be very unlikely to succeed.

In addition to story missions, which can be tackled at higher difficulties and with a party of up to four, various encounters pop up as players explore New York. These can be simply running into groups of enemies, or mini-missions such as rescuing a hostage or helping out NPCs who are under attack. As for PvP content, The Division includes an interesting area called the Dark Zone. In this area, some of the best gear can be acquired from tough elite enemies. However, players need to successfully extract this gear from the Dark Zone, which is where the PvP element comes in. In addition to simply dying from enemies resulting in a player dropping their loot, leaving it free for anyone to take, players can go rogue. Any player can simply start shooting, creating a dangerous kill or be killed situation, where the victor walks away with everyone's loot.

There are risks of course, as this will mark the player for other players to find. A bounty is rewarded for killing rogues, though players who manage to survive until the timer expires will get a bounty of their own. The Dark Zone can be entered with a team of up to four, and can also become rogue as a team, making the area very dangerous to solo players. In addition to loot acquired within the Dark Zone, a special currency and rank can be acquired while adventuring in the dangerous area that can then be used to purchase gear at special vendors. This currency and loot naturally decrease when dying in the Dark Zone, and can also be leached from other players when going rogue or killing rogues.

The Division appears to be a very interesting game. Though there was only one story mission to speak of it, it was well polished and fun to replay on harder difficulty. The city is interesting to explore, and the variety of guns was impressive. The Dark Zone is a neat idea, but felt much too sparse in the beta. Enemies were few and far between as well as players, meaning most time was spent wandering around empty sections of city. Itís also unclear what the end game for maxed out players will look like, given the low level cap in the beta. If issues with The Dark Zone can be ironed out, and the final product has solid endgame content, then The Division can easily turn out to be a giant timesink for RPG fans. At the very least, the beta left me eager to play more.
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