The biggest disappointment for the Division is how close it comes to being a true MMO but then backs away and settles for being an ARPG with multiplayer features. There are shared spaces through the game, none of them as prominent as the Dark Zone, but there is at least one in each area. Safe houses are gathering points where agents can meet up and head out into the field. They also serve as restock points and quest hubs. There is also a group finding function that allows players to link together at the start of story missions. However, there is no capability to “bump” into other Division members in the open world. While you are a member of an elite team, there is nothing in the narrative that says you are the only member. It’s a known fact that there are others out there. It’s not only conceivable but probable that you would run into other Division members while attempting to clear the streets of New York. While this may not be preferable to all players it should at least be an option for players to turn on or off.
Two other areas where the game stumbles is the focus on currency collection tied to repetitive missions, and how static the world is. Early on the world feels like it is dynamic, but in truth quests and events are tied to the same location. Even street skirmishes between warring factions will take place in the same spot. They never seem to move a block over. They just keep fighting for the same corner, over, and over, and over…. Side missions and side quests for currency also follow a pattern. Find x amount of boxes in this location and then upload the data to the cloud, defend supplies from goons, or kill bad guy x and her goons. There is very little variety and you are forced to complete these quests if you want to complete your base. You won’t earn enough experience or currencies from just completing the main story to reach level 30 or restore your base to 100%.
The Division presents an interesting story, which would work well as a Tom Clancy novel, with a unique twist on the shooter formula. While you will be required to perform repetitive tasks at points to advance through the game this tends to be more a trapping of the ARPG genre than this particular game. Team up with a few friends and you can quickly breeze past these sticking points. In typical Ubisoft fashion there were a number of glaring bugs at release and still a few patches later I find myself falling through holes in the world. Patches are coming quickly so hopefully sometimes soon these will no longer be an issue. Even with its blemishes the Division establishes itself nicely as a new tent pole for Ubisoft and the Massive Entertainment studio and lays the foundation for future expansions to come.
This review was conducted on a PC with a review copy provided by Ubisoft’s PR team.
Gameplay: 9 | Cover and concealment tactics make for an exhilarating experience. Accurate shooter with variety of guns that impact your style of play. Finds the fun with lots of loot to choose from. Currency grinding can become repetitive.
Visuals and Sound: 10 | Fantastic looking game. The sound is top notch too. With a decent set up you can hear which direction shots are fired from. This goes a long way towards creating an immersive experience.
Polish: 6 | The Division should have been left in the over for another few months to bake. Launch day issues plagued the game when a number of players couldn’t start the client due to graphical issues. I had problems with it on two different computers. While Ubisoft is working aggressively to fix the bugs I’m still falling through the world in spots 3 weeks later.
Longevity: 7 | Once you complete the story missions there isn’t much left to do but run the missions over again in challenge mode or farm the Dark Zone for end game currencies.
Value: 8 | The base game and free DLC are worth the price of admission and you can easily get 20 hours out of the game before it becomes too repetitive. If you want to make it through to the end of the story; however, except to feel a sense of deja vu towards the latter levels.