First Impressions – ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’

Ever since its first public showing at E3 in 2013, The Division sparked a whole lot of buzz, mystery, and anticipation, and at first touch, it does not disappoint. Jumping into the MMO genre of games like Destiny and Titanfall, The Division looks to learn from those mistakes and craft a singular experience for players.

The Division
Watch out for that holiday traffic
photo: Ubisoft

Set about 15 minutes into the future, The Division puts together a worst case scenario. Someone or some organization has planted a super virus (it is implied to be a form of smallpox) on money right before Black Friday. It spreads like wildfire throughout NYC and the surrounding area, thus leading to an epidemic, massive contagion and death, and eventual military quarantine. The titular Division are sleeper agents who are only called upon when every other system has failed, and seem to fall under the jurisdiction of the Department Of Homeland Security. The game picks up some time after the epidemic has gutted New York and your character is contacted by the local Division commander who is working with the Joint Task Force (the New York National Guard) in an attempt to wrest control of the city away from various criminals, looters, and a shady military organization. Starting in Brooklyn and working its way into Manhattan, the game eases you into the world by walking you through the typical control tutorials and then gives you a small section of the map to work in. Showing some side missions and initial objectives to get you into the flow of the game and the openness of the map, The Divison seems to do what Destiny is still trying to do, and that is provide an immersive experience right away and not make an online experience like this seem like such a slog.

The Division
The NYC skyline is less majestic when bullets are flying overhead
photo: Ubisoft

Upon moving into Manhattan, the world opens up and you get the full breadth of what the game has in store. Tasking you with setting up a base, recruiting personnel, and side missions that actually contribute to your resources, your base, and opening up perks, The Division seems to make grinding not so terrible because you can  get more than just experience and actually push the narrative forward in taking various side missions and doing exploring on your own. It looks like a good chunk of the story missions require you team up with at least 2 other players, but the matchmaking seems crisp and mostly seamless, and you can also set up the matchmaking to only allow your friends to join your missions. There are also robust RPG elements, with crafting and modding. You can also scavenge items you find to craft new ones and the skills and perks are varied and robust.

The Tom Clancy games have recently suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell have had some recent retools, but The Divison looks to be carving its own path, in both gameplay and narrative.

What do you think so far?  Is The Division a hit, a dud, or too early to tell? Let us know in the comments.

Tom Clancy’s The Division is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC

 

 

Mat Douglas
Mat Douglas
From Connecticut, that state between New York and Massachusetts, he enjoys well-made cookies, sarcasm, and Liverpool FC.

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