Manhattan’s Last Stand

The Division is the story of a group of Government-activated agents tasked to be the last line of defense for the United States. After a massive viral outbreak in Manhattan on Black Friday, it’s up to these agents to find out the source of the virus in order to create a cure before all of New York (maybe even the world) is wiped out. I don’t want to go into detail about it, but the outbreak is quite scary because of how easily it could actually happen. Basically, because of the Country’s fears of going to the doctor, people went about their daily lives, infecting even more people in the process. When the time comes, The Division are activated. It could be your brother, your sister, your co-worker, the person you sit next to on the bus. These are the people who become activated and answer the call. They are The Division. The first wave of Division agents have gone rogue, so the game focuses on the second wave as they restore order.

THE DETAILS

I fell in love with The Division essentially right away. I pre-ordered the game months ago in order to receive access to the closed Beta. Two weeks later, I jumped back into the open Beta; this time with some friends. Graphically, this is one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever played. Beautiful graphics. New York City has been totally recreated in video game form. Many of the famous New York landmarks are present. The entire city was preparing for the holiday season coming up; there are lights and decorations everywhere! The Division also features an incredible day-night cycle with dynamic weather. The sun shines bright, flurries trickle down, and blizzard-esque snowstorms take away almost all visibility. Snow even piles up on your clothes if you stay in one place long enough. Now that’s detail.

The Division plays like a typical Tom Clancy game, which are primarily tactical third-person cover shooters. However, The Division comes with a twist; it’s also heavy in RPG elements, most similarly to games such as Destiny, Borderlands, Fallout, Dying Light, and more. Just about everything in The Division is upgradable, from guns, to gun parts, to skill trees, to armor. Each item collected has its own personal stats so they can be compared to the other things in your backpack. The stats are like most RPGs; green arrows pointing up are good, and red arrows pointing down are bad. You should only (and always!) use items which will increase your stats.

The Division is a cover shooter, and a great one at that. There’s a grid that sort of surrounds the player whilst in cover. Moving the camera around will show other available cover spots ahead, with a path lit up in white. Hold down the X button to quickly run to the next cover spot whilst staying in cover as you run. I didn’t discover this until the last day of the closed Beta. You can also sneak around the corner of the object you’re using as cover by holding the left stick in the direction you want to go.

The Base of Operations is where players will take on missions, purchase or sell weapons, mods, gear, and craft new items from collected materials. The Base also has three wings (Medical, Tech, and Security) which can be upgraded by completing specific missions. By completing these missions, a skill, skill mod, or talent will be unlocked with each upgrade built.

The Division’s recreated map of New York is split into level sections by the different districts. Each district has a specific level of difficulty which you should reach before entering. Within each district is a safe house. Each safe house can be unlocked upon entering, which allows for fast-travel. Each safe house provides side missions which reward the player with credits to upgrade the three different wings (Medical, Tech, Security) at the Base of Operations. This part of the game is quite repetitive because the player is tasked with doing the same 5 or 6 things for each district’s safe house. There really isn’t much of a variety when it comes to these side missions : rescue the hostages, support the JTF, defend the supply drop, all while defeating waves and waves of enemies. Ugh.

As side missions are completed, more collectables will appear on the map. These collectables include ECHOs (hologram playback), cellphone recordings, missing agents, crashed drones, survival guides, and incident reports. These collectables are all over the map and are very tedious to collect. Some of the collectables can’t be activated until the end of the game.

Each player has a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, and a sidearm. Each weapon has multiple parts that can be modified, such as scopes, magazines, barrels, suppressors, and skins. The player’s inventory Overview represents the Primary weapon’s DPS (Damage Per Second), Health (Toughness), and Skill Power. Each weapon has its own set of stats, represented by DMG (Damage), RPM (Rounds Per Minute), and MAG (size of the clip). These weapon stats either benefit or take away from your DPS, Health, and Skills. You’ll continue to find new weapons as you level up and progress through the game. It’s always good to find a weapon you’re comfortable with. Make sure not to have your primary and secondary as the same class, as you’ll be sharing the same ammo for both. There are six weapon classes : pistols, sub-machine guns, shotguns, carbines, assault rifles, and light machine guns. Try to find a nice balance (or not, it’s totally up to you on how you play The Division). I used an assault rifle as my primary weapon, and a marksman rifle as my secondary weapon for the entirety of my play-through. The Carbine can have scopes that deal a certain percentage in headshot damage. In other words, one-hit kills. There’s a scale for weapons that are more on the rare side. These are almost always depicted in different colors for most RPG’s that I’ve played. They’re usually colored blue and purple. In The Division, Standard is green, Specialized is blue, Superior is purple, and High-End is a yellowish orange. There is also a separate green gear color and a gear score that becomes prevalent in the post-game experience. Some weapons will be better than others. Visiting vendors or playing missions on “Hard” or “Challenging” difficulty will usually net you some good loot, but the Dark Zone is where the best items are. More on that later.

Looting is very important in The Division. Loot can be collected in a variety of ways. Enemies drop them, they can be found in abandoned houses, in secret areas during missions, and especially, in the Dark Zone. Looting outside of the Dark Zone mainly consists of weaponry, clothing, tools, and crafting components. Looting within the Dark Zone? Not always a piece of cake…

ALONE IN THE DARK (ZONE)

The Dark Zone is The Division’s largest contaminated area, spanning a chunk of central Manhattan. It’s best to only go there with friends, but even then it’s not always safe. Why? Because the Dark Zone is where you’ll encounter other players, and they’re not always friendly. The rare loot you’ve collected in the Dark Zone? They want it, and they won’t hesitate to kill you for it. Items from the Dark Zone require an extraction via helicopter. That is, of course, if you survive long enough for it to arrive.

I took a three month hiatus from The Division to play Uncharted and DOOM, and the Dark Zone is a much scarier place than I remembered, and much different from the Beta version. Rogue players are always present. It’s a very horrifying feeling to know that anyone could turn on you at any second. You always have to be watching not only your back, but your surroundings, and of course, the maps. Most of my Rogue encounters resulted in my death. This happened quite often. Players who go Rogue have to wait for a timer to expire before they can go back to being a non-hostile again. Rogues like to use this to their advantage. They’ll kill and steal, hide out until the timer expires, and then repeat. Some Rogues will even camp right outside the Dark Zone checkpoint and saferoom entrances and prowl on unsuspecting players. Rogues who do enough bad things will have a longer timer and a Manhunt will be executed. If Rogues are in a group, it’s best to stay far out of their way. They like to hunt players down, especially if an extraction flare is lit. Like a moth to the flame, extractions draw silent Rogues to the players who are just trying to safely get some new items.

TROPHIES

After a three-month hiatus, I returned to The Division to tackle the remaining trophies for the Platinum. I had to replay all 16 missions on hard, complete a mission on Challenging, finish up the last few remaining collectables, and worst of all : Dark Zone trophies. I hadn’t even stepped foot into the Dark Zone yet. Actually, I hadn’t been in the Dark Zone since the Beta(s). To make things worse, I was playing by myself. For the Dark Zone trophies, I had to :

Extract an item at all 8 locations – This proved to be quite a challenge. Some extraction areas are easier than others. The problem is that enemies hang out there and more enemies appear when the extraction flare is lit. The two areas I had the most trouble with were near the top of the map. In DZ03, there is an extraction area in a park that is loaded with enemies and a Named Elite. Another area in DZ05 was very difficult because it included Level 32 Purple and Yellow enemies. However, I found a very interesting method to get this final extraction. Flamers make their patrol rounds near this extraction point. When they come near the area, the two rival factions fight each other. I was able to sneak my way in, light the flare, and extract, without killing a single enemy.

Kill 10 Named Elites – This wasn’t too difficult. I just spammed the Named Elites that were in DZ01 for the trophy.

Kill 20 Rogue Agents – This was my final trophy, and definitely the most difficult one. As stated before, Rogues are no joke. I spent the majority of the past week and weekend attempting to stalk and kill Rogues. I only managed to kill about 5-7. Honestly, it’s a miracle I was able to get that many. Luckily, my friend was able to help me boost for the rest of the kills to wrap-up.

CONCLUSION

The Division is an open-world that’s full of things to see and do. Whether you’re saving New York by completing missions and side missions, or discovering story elements through Intel such as Echos, incident reports, cell-phones, and survival guides ; there’s enough to keep the player busy. It’s also a game that best played with friends. Venturing into the world alone isn’t for everyone; especially the Dark Zone. I played The Division a bit differently from others. I stayed away from the Dark Zone until after I maxed out at Level 30. I spent most of my time grinding to Level 30 by doing the main missions and the side missions for each safe house. Doing these side missions helped me level up rather quickly. I felt that the main story missions were a little off on the recommended levels. For instance, I found it was easier to play them at one level above the recommended level. Playing them at the exact recommended level was quite too difficult. I played The Division for a total of about a few days. There are 16 main missions in total. I found the final mission to be very anti-climactic. The end-game material is comprised of replaying the missions on different difficulty modes for better gear, free DLC updates, paid DLC updates, and the Dark Zone. After Level 30, the game introduces a Gear Score. The higher your gear level is, the better your Gear Score will be. The paid DLC content adds a brand new leveling system on top of the pre-existing ones. Either way, it’s a long grind that I don’t really wish to experience anymore. My friends and I had our fun with the game, and may return once in a while. For the most part, we got what we wanted out of it. I got what I wanted out of it. Besides, I’ve got a backlog of games that need my attention! I can’t spend forever on a single game. As nice as it is that Ubisoft Massive has added free updates and daily missions, The Division is not a game I can see my friends and I coming back to very often (like GTA Online and Rocket League). The Division is, however, a great game, and a very beautiful one. The Division managed to reel me in and keep me satisfied, where Destiny failed (although, I believe it deserves a second chance). I did enjoy my time with the game, with the exception of the Dark Zone. I’d like to see a sequel that takes places somewhere else and follows the spread of the virus as it works its way throughout the United States. if not, it appears Wildlands may be able to whet my appetite.

Enjoy the slideshow of collected screenshots below. The pictures are mainly to show off how gorgeous this game is. I didn’t take pictures during enemy encounters for obvious reasons, so there won’t be much action in these. These screenshots are basically just things that I discovered whilst playing the game. They might not sell you on the game itself, but they may make you realize how special the graphics are, and how there’s something eerily beautiful about the sudden collapse of a central city.

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