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The Division Review

The Division is a huge game, sprawling the depths of Manhattan, which has been devastated by a weaponised virus that has left cars abandoned in the streets and given criminals all the incentive they need to rule the streets. Post-apocalyptic Manhattan is not a nice place to be, which is why the city has called for The Division.

Taking the guise of a third person cover based shooter with RPG elements and a lot of loot, your character, which you can customise at the beginning of the game, is tasked with taking back the streets - like a sort of one man army, except you're not alone because thanks to this being an entirely online only affair, teaming up with a squad of your friends or indeed, a group of strangers, is only one click away, making the task of cleaning up Manhattan a little less daunting.

Things kick off with a little surprise, as you find yourself starting off in Brooklyn, with the game offering up a few training missions which help you get up to speed with how things work. It's all quite straightforward really, although it did take me a while to figure out how to use grenades, as it's not really done in the usual way, but really not as difficult as I thought. After completing a few missions you'll soon head to Manhattan, taking out a few enemies along the way, before opening up access to the base of operations which is your main point of contact for the story missions, upgrading your equipment and gaining new abilities.

The main aim when in base is to complete missions which will then open up the three main wings for the city to make use of. The three wings consist of Medical, Security and Technical and after completing the initial three missions to open these up, you'll complete further missions and side quests, which will allow you to upgrade each area. Once opened and upgraded each area will provide your character with new skills, talents and perks, each of which give you an advantage on the streets, be that remote turrets, portable cover or the option to heal your squad mates. It therefore becomes essential to complete the missions, although doing so also has other advantages too, such as levelling up your character and gaining you new weapons and equipment, which you can choose to sell or even dismantle, allowing you to gain greater weapons or even build your own using the game's crafting system.

Having initially tried a few of the main missions on my own I'd have to say that I don't recommend this. The Division is very unforgiving, so if you are on your own then you constantly find yourself respawning and trying again, it's much better then to find a squad and team up with them and although it'd be ideal if this squad was full of your friends, I still had a lot of fun and success playing with random people. If you would prefer the solo experience then tackling the encounters is probably a wiser thing to do. Encounters vary in size, giving you a set objective and generally pitting you against a wave of enemies; again they aren't exactly easy but you should just about manage after a few attempts.

Even just wandering the streets of Manhattan is dangerous as the map is huge. While there are some fast travel options, if you want to explore then you'll be on foot a lot. Given that the city is under what amounts to mob rule, there are criminals everywhere, so just exploring has a chance of getting you killed and that's because enemies in The Division are tough. They'll flank you, run at you with baseball bats, set you on fire and just strike you down when you least expect it. Manhattan is not for the faint of heart so you'll need your wits about you if you're keen on getting through the city and staying alive.

When you do decide to team up and take on the main missions, you'll notice that the enemies scale depending on the amount of players in your squad. This means that missions are a huge challenge, so don't be surprised if you're often reviving your team or they are retuning the favour. Missions can feel a little repetitive, but always become more difficult and usually wrap up with you facing up to a tough end of level boss, although they are worth the grind as the rewards will show.

You'd think the huge map and numerous missions would be enough to keep anyone busy, but I've not even mentioned the Dark Zone which opens up an entirely new aspect to the game. The Dark Zone is the player vs player or player vs really tough enemies zone. A place where rules are made to be broken, should you venture there. It's also where all the best loot is. The Dark Zone has its own level system, so the more time you spend there, the better the equipment you'll be able to make use of. The twist here is that any equipment you do find has to be extracted by helicopter, so by finding an extraction point you'll call one in and then defend your gains from both random enemies and any rogue players who decide you are easy picking as the clock counts down until extraction. This is why being in a team is always an advantage.

Going rogue is an interesting concept. Whether you do it on purpose or accidentally shoot a team mate, hurting another marks you as a turncoat, at which point you can either hide till the heat dies off or fight for your life. There's plenty of incentive to hunt down rogues as the rewards are greater, so it seems that it's better to stay on the good side, unless you are a confident player.

The Dark Zone is yet an other part of this wonderful looking game that offers a huge area to explore, split into different zones, each of which offer a more difficult challenge as you gain in stature. It's great that such an area exists within The Division and it's even better that it flows seamlessly into the main game.

Graphically, The Division looks wonderful. The snow covered streets, abandoned cars and looted stores really give Manhattan that authentic post-apocalyptic look. The frame rate is pretty great too, with only a few comical glitches making an appearance in what is an otherwise excellent experience.

Being an online only titIe, I wasn't really sure what to expect out of Ubisoft's latest, especially when taking into account the amount of time it's been in development. It turns out that it's as fun as it is addictive, so thanks to The Division, you'll find me in Manhattan.

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Review by: 

Joe Anderson (Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta)

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Looks great
+ Plenty to do in a constantly busy world
+ The Dark Zone adds a new twist
+ Multiplayer squads add a fantastic sense of teamwork and achievement


- Some comical glitches
- Main missions can feel a little repetitive

Edited On 10 Mar, 2016

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