Ubisoft's MMO squad-based shooter, Tom Clancy's The Division, takes you to post-apocalyptic New York City after a viral outbreak has wiped out the local government and allowed looters and gangs to run wild. Your mission is to infiltrate Manhattan and assist what remains of local emergency services in reestablishing law and order.
The premise of The Division has somewhat of a 90s action movie feel to it, and that's not a bad thing at all. Throughout your time with The Division, you fight against escapees from Rikers Island, crazed New York sanitation workers, a rogue private military company, and run of the mill criminals and looters, while trying to find who created and spread the virus. The plot, while adequate to keep the game on track, is not the draw of The Division, though.
The Division doesn't immerse players with a heady story. Instead, it places you in a believable post-apocalyptic New York City. Debris and trash crowd the streets of Manhattan and gang graffiti mark your enemies tracks. Midtown Manhattan, where the majority of the game takes place, is but a small part of New York City proper, but Ubisoft's 1 to 1 recreation gives a proper sense of scale so that even that small chunk of the Big Apple seems huge.
Though the environment lacks variety, with the action taking place on city streets, non-descript buildings, and utility tunnel settings, I felt like that was justified. The Division gives you the most variety you could ask for when the setting is purely Manhattan, and players who stop to look around and pay attention to the nuances of Ubisoft's recreation will appreciate that it's a truly unique video game creation.
The setting would mean nothing though without proper gameplay, and The Division delivers on this as well. Many of the game's systems are similar to Destiny, and those who played that game will immediately draw parallels. Your primary source of strength comes from your equipment, and as you level up you can equip more and more powerful weapons, stronger armor, and better filtration masks so you can enter virus infested areas.
The weapons can be upgraded with scopes, silencers, foregrips, and other accessories to even further strengthen them, and I loved that the guns were all based on actual real-life weapons instead of generic copies. It always feels much more immersive when I have an M4 carbine equipped instead of a Frankenstein gun.
As with Destiny, The Division is about the grind. You'll need to redo missions over and over to get new and better equipment, or parts needed to manufacture it with the crafting system. This is where The Division falters a bit. The enemies in The Division can at times have a disproportionate amount of HP, and their AI is good to the point where it can be easy to panic and be outflanked at higher difficulty levels. This means you need to grind lower level missions to become powerful enough to take on higher level missions and then the process repeats.
However, you can bring your friends with you to help. Where The Division shines is team-based gameplay, it's exhilarating when your enemies are attempting to outflank your team and at the same time you're trying to outmaneuver them. Playing solo is fun as well, but the desolation of the environment can give a lonely feeling when it's you against all of Manhattan.
For those who love Destiny and are looking for a new obsession, The Division is a great buy. The basic warning I have for anyone interested in purchasing The Division is that it is a grindy game. There are players who live for the grind, and there are players that cannot stand repetitive gameplay. If you're one of the latter steer clear of this one. The Division doesn't do anything innovative or new, but it takes existing gaming conventions and packages them in an attractive and polished way. The Division launched March 8 and you can get it now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.