Sunday, March 13, 2016

First Impressions of The Division

I picked up Tom Clancy's The Division on the weekend. It's a pretty interesting game.

The Division is an RPG 3rd-person shooter. The setting is near-future New York, after a smallpox outbreak causes the city to descend into chaos and anarchy. The Division are a bunch of US government sleeper agents, who are activated for this emergency and sent in to restore order and fix New York.

The graphics are quite nice, and they did a stellar job with New York. It's laid out nicely, and feels like a real city in breakdown. There's garbage everywhere, thugs roaming the streets, wild dogs and rats, and civilians trying to survive. There's all sorts of atmospheric details.

The game is online-only, and is sort of multiplayer. Basically, it makes intensive use of phasing. Normally, you're in a separate phase by yourself, so it feels very much like a single player game. But safe houses and zones are a shared phase, so you see other players running around there.

You can also search for a group, either in general or for specific missions. If you do, you're pulled into the group's phase, and only your group exists there. I haven't grouped very much, but it's a nice system for beating a mission you're having trouble with.

Combat is pretty standard shooter fare, with lots of taking cover and moving from cover to cover. Only with results based on your gear and stats, as in an RPG. So far, I've found that if your weapon is decent, the game feels like a shooter. If you're behind the curve, it feels a bit weird to be emptying multiple clips into a normal hoodlum. And like RPGs, there's random loot with stats, as well as abilities you can talent into.

So far, The Division is a pretty decent game, with an excellent setting and production details.

Random Thoughts
  • I'm pretty early in, but I find the entire concept of the Division (the organization) kind of weird. What's the point of embedding sleeper agents in your own cities? Why not just stick with the Army reserves or National Guard? The game makes a big deal out of Division agents possibly being someone you know, or "even your friends". I can't help but wonder if this a symptom of the widening gulf between social classes in the West. Maybe the university-educated gentry class finds it more likely that their sons and daughters would join a clandestine paramilitary organization, rather than joining the actual Army.
  • Or maybe they just wanted an excuse for the characters to wear civilian clothes and have multiple civilian outfits.
  • Most of the tech seems believable, if slightly in the future. But there's one element, which lets you build a holographic image of the past with sound, that seems really fantastical to me. I suppose it gives a very immersive sense of what happened to New York, but it just screams "magic" to me, and jars me out of the world they've created.


  1. A very nice review. Thanks a lot.
    Always online and Ubisoft? I'll take my money elsewhere.

    1. This part of the game is rock-solid so far. I purchased the game through Steam. I had to set up a uPlay account the first time it launched. After that, however, it's been seamless. Double-click the icon and it goes straight into the game. I haven't had any issues with lag or connection problems.

      Honestly, more games should aspire to this level of production quality.