Published on March 24th, 2016 | by Edwin Millheim
Tom Clancy’s The Division Xbox One Review
Summary: As part of The Division, help take New York back after a pandemic throws everything into chaos.
Take New York Back!
What the designers have done with Tom Clancy’s The Division is pretty spectacular. It’s a rare mix of single/co-op game as well as hints of multiplayer mayhem. Our multiple game play run through and missions had been played with either single or a two person agent team with myself and my fellow player and Impulse Gamer staff person (my wife) Donna.
Before I dive into how The Division delivers the experiences and if they are worth your time (even with the limited combat system), let’s give out the back ground of the story. If you have done your research on any site or the official gaming site, then you know the sequence of events that launched New York into such chaos.
During the normal chaos of the holiday season, a genetically altered small pox pandemic was released during Black Friday. Being so over crowded for the holidays, the stores are the optimal point for the pox laced money, as people rushed from store to store and once a few people had been exposed, the disease spreaders to thousands of others and fast. Because it was altered, it’s incubation period was faster than the normal strain.
The virus easily spreads with authority collapsing, then utilities soon follow with food and water growing scarce. Chaos rules now with people dying and many trying to survive plus gangs and other criminal elements create larger gangs and cause even more horrors. This is the place that players enter the game. They are part of the Strategic Homeland Division that are normal everyday people in regular times… sleeper agents if you will. Though trained to go active when needed during times of utter disaster, players get thrust into the thick of it as they try to take back New York City.
One of the first missions is to help establish a base of operations, once this is done players then go through several other story missions, and side missions that will help upgrade several different wings of the base. As the wings get upgrades, new abilities become available. The three separate sections are based around medical, security and technical wings.
Gameplay wise there are plenty of areas in New York to explore and take back by way of the missions offered and the side missions which are optional. Though the side missions do flesh things out rather nicely and makes things feel much more complete and vibrant, sometimes more so than they would have been with just main story missions. The areas of New York are separated into different districts, some 16 in all with 6 Dark Zones. All areas are divided nicely in different levels of difficulty.
The Division does a good job at making the world seem much more open since the players can travel pretty much all over the maps as they see fit and take on missions in almost any sequence they want. Most times there are different routes one can take to a mission goal and not just what the way points point you towards. Graphics and the looks of a disaster stricken city are done hauntingly well with things just looking beautiful, and others even heart wrenching in what they are depicting. The game also has a rather robust weather system and day and night cycle. There are times a fog or snow storm rolls in making gun battles even more of a challenge, even if the player has the “pule ability” which is a pulse as in much like a radar which shows where the enemy is at.
Furthermore, the gameplay is excellent in regards to mixing that third person shooter and survival gaming… with a nice helping of role playing and customization. Players decide themselves on some of the skills that the character may acquire before other skill types, what the overall look of the character is from changing face features and hair… to being male or female, and even the clothing and weapons load outs.
In terms of the RPG experience, the player throughout the game can obtain different skills, perks and talents. What the player chooses makes each character stand out from other players characters. Some skills can be changed out on the fly and in the middle of combat all but with a slight cool down period before they are usable. But all in all it makes for some interesting tactical gaming, especially during some of the more hectic fire fights.
This is how they play out;
- Skills once used by the player recharge before they are usable again. The cool down is not very long, although during intense action it can feel like a very long time.
- Talents are just passive abilities that give the player a continual bonus when the right conditions are in play. Talents can improve as the player gets to higher levels.
- Perks are always active abilities, they are not always combat oriented. Perks can give a player extra benefits such as supply lines or extra healing or even better equipment at the venders in game store.
Combat in the game uses a cover system very much like what we have seen in games like Ghost Recon. Though I am for one highly disappointed that there is no ability to kneel, nor go prone. Pretty shoddy considering there are a few classes of sniper weapons in the game. Further, depending on what type of cover you find yourself behind, it becomes rather awkward when you find you cannot look over the last couple inches of cover with your weapon to fire at an enemy.
To make matters worse, further awkward moments take place if you are trying to dive roll away from your covered position say from a grenade that’s about to go off… sometimes you find yourself re-sticking to the same cover point you had just been trying to dive away from because for the Xbox One command to stick/get to cover is press the A button… BUT the dive roll is a double tap on the same button. Confusing!
Once you have gone into combat several times you start learning about the types of enemy you are facing, and soon know the best tactics to take them out. While many of the missions and battle start to become almost the same, there is enough here to make it fun, unless you get bored easily. I for one never tire of timing a shot when an enemy is trying to throw a grenade at you, and your round causes them to drop it at their own feet and it goes off. Great fun!
Missions and encounters have their own highs and lows of course with some fire fights being same old same old, while main mission fire fights turn into real nail biters. Just for fun, we even tracked a few patrolling enemy and they for the most part do have some set patrol areas. We did track two enemy who went from one zone to a higher level area, though their levels had still been within both zone levels which was interesting.
Also, the level of the enemy get higher depending on what zone you are in which makes them harder to take down. Plus some encounters happen in waves or even mobs of enemies at once and from multiple sides. So making a tactical check on what are the best points of defense before tripping an encounter are paramount to success. Tactical retreats using cover fire as you and your team get to better positions and some breathing space can make all the difference in the final outcome of a battle. There are times where two rival gangs may start fighting each other. If you stand by and let one side or the other win it may be easier to take down the gang that won or you can throw caution to the wind and go for more experience points and take them all on.
As I noted earlier on, players can go through the game as single player or teaming up with friends or match making with other agents can make some of the missions easier. You can play through the main game this way of course, but alongside the main campaign and storyline there are several areas where it is more like the wild west, and the designers of the game through the story as it unravels explains why even fellow players who are supposedly on the same side as yours may suddenly turn on you in these Dark Zones.
The Dark Zones are more like the Wild West in some ways because a fellow player you are working with in the Dark Zone may suddenly turn on you in their greed and otherwise base slime balliness. These are agents that have gone rogue. So don’t necessarily trust any agents you meet in the Dark Zones unless they have been part of the team for a while.
Case in point, Donna our fellow Impulse Gamer writer here in the United States Offices went solo in the Dark Zone to check things over and to see what could happen with a single player experience. She happens onto another agent who was fighting and having a hard time of it against enemy AI in the game. So she helped him out and they went on their separate ways… a little later she finds some other enemy and engages them with her weapons… then starts getting hit from behind. It was the same player she had just helped not moments ago. He continued engaging her so it was no mistake… rogue agent! So she went ahead and put a couple rounds their way and killed that character ending the argument right there.
However the Dark Zones are NOT all about player Vs. Player. Players can still team up and go against the much more powerful enemy AI that are in the Dark Zones, or they can choose to go rogue. It’s a choice and can make encounters with other players and or groups tense. If the players in question take the game further than what’s intended and actually role play it out before they start shooting makes The Division very unpredictable.
Will an uneasy alliance take place? Or will they just agree to go their separate ways and live and let live… or will the guns start blazing? I for one am anxious to see other ROLE PLAYERS who actually understand the whole concept of interacting play in this game. The Division is one of those rare games that the players themselves, have the potential to rocket it into something so much more than what it already is be it in the main game or in the Dark Zones.
The Dark Zones no matter how you cut it are far more dangerous than any other part of the game. Though there are higher rewards for the higher risks. The gear and items that one can get in the Dark Zones are of the highest quality… but once gotten players have to call in a chopper to extract the loot. So getting any items and fighting all the way to the items and then to the extraction is only half the battle. Imagine now you have to wait for the chopper to show up and get the stuff out of the Dark Zone for you… then you may find yourself having to defend the stuff until a successful extraction.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is a tense ride with a few pot holes that do not distract too dearly from the overall experience.
Have fun, play games
Title: Tom Clancy’s The Division
Genre: First Person Shooter