The story isn’t only about doing the missions however. There are over 200 collectables, such as phone recordings, survival guides, incident reports and intel about missing first wave Division agents, and ECHOs which can recreate past events using available data pulled from smart phones and surveillance cameras. This all adds to the story by giving a voice to the members of the various factions, survivors and people who suffered. Gathering all of these are not difficult, but the game can quickly turn into a running simulator, even with the use of fast traveling.
For being a Tom Clancy game, The Division has enemies that take an obscene amount of ammunition without flinching, taking some of the trademark realism out of the game. Not only are the enemies bullet sponges, there is no sneak tactic allowing you to perform silent takedowns. This can lead to frustrating situations, but certain abilities make it possible to stun or suppress enemies, allowing you to move up or focus fire.
I find the cover system great for the most part. While it is frustrating to be stuck on cover when I am trying to run away, the ability to run from cover to cover without directing the character makes pushing up on enemies feel tactical. Some cover will even deteriorate after the enemy or your squad provides suppression fire, allowing for a sense of strategy
The Division offers a lot of customization from mix and matching abilities and perks, using the traditional MMO trinity of DPS, healing and the defensive “Security” which acts as buffs and tanking. There are some cosmetic customizations as well, primarily regarding the clothing that you wear. The character creation however is lacking in options. Outside some basic presets, there is very little customization. Your character doesn’t even have a name and is referred to as just ‘Agent’; your character has no voice, and while some might prefer that, I found it distracting that my player character had such little to say about the story or situations they found themselves involved in.
The endgame for the Division is on the weaker side of things if you are a solo player that doesn’t like to match up with random players. Otherwise, challenge mode, daily missions and the Dark Zone makes for decent endgame material, if lacking in sustenance, and could greatly benefit from some free content updates and mechanical tweaking.
Challenge mode was surprisingly difficult and can be extremely rewarding depending on the high-end loot drop you get. Tactics are important here, as all enemies are heavily armored and will shred through your health. Have a solid approach, plenty of patience and a team of agents you trust, and you will come out victorious.
The Dark Zone is The Division’s take on PvP, and is the place where you can extract excellent superior and high-end loot but run the risk of being shot in the back by another agent during extraction or while you are running down the street. I suggest going in with a squad that has your back so that you can survive the high level NPCs and other player agents.
The Dark Zone runs on a separate ranking system in tandem with your base level. Unlike the safe house vendors outside the Dark Zone, you have to be at least a certain rank in order to buy things from Dark Zone vendors or to open chests. However, if you die, you lose experience and ranks. If you go rogue and kill another player and die, depending on your timer, you can lose even more experience. This can turn into a vicious cycle requiring more grinding than necessary, especially given the lack of rewarding loot.
From running through the streets of New York gathering all of the intel needed to find a cure for a hand crafted virus, to chasing down rogues in the Dark Zone, playing the Division has been a positive experience for me. As long as Ubisoft keeps a steady stream of new content, the Division will be fun to play for quite awhile. If you can get past the few flaws and enjoy the social experience, you will enjoy playing this game.