Video Games

Review: The Division

by onFebruary 6, 2017

Editor’s Note: After the game’s original release, this review has been updated following the release of the first expansion – Underground – and the second one – Survival – as well as numerous free updates and content drop to all customers which reflects on the overall score, and final verdict. Click here If you like to read the original review of the core game co-written by Nazih Fares and Mazen Abdallah.

The Division Expansion II: Survival

When it comes to The Division, a survival mode was almost an obvious choice, and yet while Ubisoft’s open world title seems pruned for such an experience, it wasn’t available at launch. After an expansion filled with procedural elements and mechanics in the underbelly of New York, Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division makes us rediscover the Golden Apple under a snowstorm, and if I may say, in a brilliant expansion with The Division Expansion II: Survival.

No need to equip yourself heavily to discover this new mode, since you technically start here from zero on this point, whether you choose to go alone or up with 3 other players. Do not panic however, you will not lose your current equipment since the mode is accessible separately from the core game and other expansions, from your base, very close to the entrance of the Underground Expansion. Your agent finds himself stranded in a snowstorm after a helicopter crash, with everything that comes with extreme conditions: cold, hunger and thirst will be your main enemies, to which you must obviously add enemy mobs and other players if you have enabled the PVP option. Time is ticking against you in this survival mode, which ultimate goal is to find potential antivirals and bring them back to the base, to survive the infection.

Arming yourself against natural elements is key. Finding clothes increasingly warmer to survive longer in the cold is a major source of upgrade in this expansion, as you need to make sure that your “temperature” gauge doesn’t hit the zero bar. Because if it is zero, it is your own life that will begin to dwindle and believe me when I say that the first excursion will be short, and require of you to focus on finding better gear and resources. By stocking on medications and antibiotics, you will also slow down the infection rate that acts as a countdown and forces you to chain goals without lying around doing nothing. Finally, we should not neglect the fact that you need to eat and drink regularly to stay in an optimal physical condition, or you’ll feel the penalty when it comes to the accuracy of your shots, but also your sight. Once that is all taken into consideration, and you’re ready for a longer trip in the blizzard, you’ll start thinking about improving your weapons and armor, especially for the parts in the Dark Zone which can prove very difficult in singleplayer, and much more fun as a team.

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While quite easy to understand, this Survival mode sets a series of simple objectives for you to achieve the core mission: build yourself a Virus Filter to enter the Dark Zone, recover the medicines, then craft the flare gun to signal that you are ready for extraction and reach the LZ without dying on the way. You will need some loot and probably a bit of luck before really mastering the survival elments and manage to complete it fully. The addictive nature and immersion within the The Division Expansion II: Survival work very well, and stress is additionally present at all times with the weather elements. In addition, whether you lose or win, you will leave with all bonus items found in the mission, which can be used to improve your core equipment in the main game: enough to constantly renew the desire to do it again and optimally finding the best gear you can get.

Although a little short when mastered, The Division Expansion II: Survival is a very well thought-out DLC bringing real added-value to the core game. Frustrating, difficult, but well thought out and addictive, this mode has more than one trump in its sleeve and is undoubtedly one of the best experience in Ubisoft’s tactical shooter. A must for any survival game fans.

Tom Clancy’s The Division Expansion II: Survival was reviewed using a Season Pass code of the game provided by Ubisoft Middle East. The expansion pass is available first on Xbox One, then out on PlayStation 4 and PC a month later. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.

The Division Expansion I: Underground

A must for any game destined to continue online, downloadable content are at the center of the world of The Division, which had so far received some ones in that were free. In general, over the past 3 month, Ubisoft online game has transformed itself with a plethora of weapon balance, patches but also free contents and excursions, while keeping the core of its gameplay, being a grindfest of loot and boss kills, which can be either great or boring for players. Now officially on version 1.3, The Division released its first paid expansion, Underground, which takes to the underbelly of New York, and I figured it’s about time we go back to the grind, and review how much the game evolved, and if it’s still hooking us as players?

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Now before we start, let me remind you players that might have left The Division for another game, or were too busy to pay attention on how much happened in the past three month. On April 12th, Ubisoft released patch 1.1, nicknamed Incursion for free, introducing a new activity with the same name, which is pretty much a sort of raid with high level enemies and high-end loot to gain. It also added numerous features, including loot trading, gear sets (compete sets of gears that once all equipped would active special abilities) m daily and weekly assignments, new weapons and some under-the-hood performance updates. In May, patch 1.2: Conflict was introduced, adding a second free incursion, two new difficulty modes (Hard and Challenging) for incursions, search and destroy missions, the ability to hijack extraction in the Dark Zone, ISAC assignments, new gear sets, and much more. All these were free to all players, and now that we have the first paid expansion – Underground – you will have to either buy it at a standalone price of $14.99 or part of the Season Pass sold at $39.99, which also includes the next two upcoming expansions, and all is playable first on Xbox One, releasing 30 days later on Sony’s consoles.

Now with Underground, Ubisoft promised big changes, and not in the form of just adding one extra incursion, but more: new weapons, obviously, but also new kits for all types of players, a few dozen outfits unpublished to show off, without forgetting the traditional passing of new missions on heroic or expert. Except for the hardware kit and two other novelties that we will discuss below, the remaining elements now is available to all players who downloaded the 1.3 Patch. First of the two new products, is the arrival of a new incursion named “Dragon Nest” which finally convinced me after the previous two. Full-bodied, well-paced and even a bit sadistic to amaxophobic players due to the plethora of traps, the main premises of this incursion is to hunt down an elite group of cleaners which have a new weapon capable of destroying your entire base of operations.

But with Underground, the bulk of the expansion lies in the exploration of – well you guessed it – New York city’s underground through a set of operations. These operations are basically randomly generated small missions set in the underground areas of the city, which on paper is a laudable idea, as it prevents the same experience for every player on one hand, and on the other hand to vary the premises and objectives without the player having to redo an assignment loop at high level. But as soon as the set appears, the more you play, they quickly feel redundant as you end up falling upon a bunch of sets and elements that evoke a feeling of deja vu and break the initial pleasure of rediscovering each level. We can still welcome the addition of random traps, admittedly somewhat easy to find but have the merit of adding a touch of diversity to exploration.

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These operations are all launched from the terminal, a new area located under your main base of operation and from which you can choose to customize your operation and adding numerous factors to make the experience more fun. Yes, because to provide you with a good reason to redo these operations, you are being introduced to a new Underground specific progression system with experience points and levels, each unlocking new stages and Directives to be applied in mission. These Directives are like the skulls in Halo, adding penalties to your team to complicate your task but in parallel increase the quality of the loot and XP boosts. In addition to these two elements, it is obviously possible to adjust the difficulty to increase as well what you get at the end of each operation, because for once, this is the most reliable way to get good high-end loot, as it always end with a high-end boss and high-end loot chest. If the time needed to finish these operations is equal to a story mission, I regrets however quickly the lack of the mood you find in the streets of New York, replaced by a set of compositions certainly well done and built, but a bit bland and boring in after a while.

My experience is mixed for this first true expansion of The Division, both carrying a good idea – the randomly generated “dungeons” – and a terribly repetitive concept. The creation of random levels based on a collection of predefined pieces seemed particularly wise to illustrate the labyrinthine character of the New York underground, but after several operations, we start to miss the fresh air and open street of the Big Apple. Nevertheless, Ubisoft has still managed to add something new, and we value their effort on improving the Division experience for all players, and for the hardcore fans, they got everything they need: fresh new content and new loot to collect like a madman collector.

Tom Clancy’s The Division Expansion I:Underground was reviewed using a Season Pass code of the game provided by Ubisoft Middle East. The expansion pass is available first on Xbox One, then out on PlayStation 4 and PC a month later. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.

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The Division – The Original Review published on March 19th, 2016

The Division - VGProfessional Review (1)Gently pushed back to March, after being announced more than two years ago, The Division is Ubisoft’s latest in the Tom Clancy’s franchise. Considered one of the most anticipated titles of the year, it’s time for all of us to dive into the vast post-apocalyptic streets of this Third Person Shooter and MMORPG fusion of a game. If our review took a while to be published, myself and co-writer and editor Mazen Abdallah took our time to fully experience the game, try all of it without omitting any aspect, and evaluating performance, of the servers and matchmaking, as well as go deep into end-game content.

Before we start this review, let me tell you that I was worried about the game. While portrayed like a messiah expected to revive shooting game fans with new multiplayer experiences, The Division is unfortunately may have taken too much attention for their own good. The reason is simple: After the Alpha and Beta testing, players were divided between surprise and disappointment, especially after so many pointing the finger at graphic downgrade, and sadly Ubisoft’s latest tracked record with ridiculously unstable launch and bugs galore. So since most of you had the same fears, I’m here to tell you that The Division is a must-have title… but not exactly for everyone. I’ll tell you why in this extensive review of Ubisoft’s newest IP.

With The Dvisision, Ubisoft made a gamble to develop a fully connected gaming experience, equivalent to one we all know, which is Destiny. While the resemblance to MMO fusion does not stop at this point, there’s many inspirations and mechanics borrowed from known games. After creating your character in a rather fun way, you’ll need to get your Agent to level 30, by gaining experience in the main story missions, side missions, collectibles and other actions with NPCs. This growth in level allows players to rise its stats, and boy there’s a lot of them! Stats are not shallow, and even comparing The Division to Destiny wouldn’t be fair. Yes, there’s similarities, and Destiny has the trio of Intellect, Discipline and Strength as well as Defense and Attack singular stats on your gear, and all sorts of extra perks, there’s not much calculation and focus on numbers and percentages. The Division on the other hand, has another trio called Primary DPS (your firearm power), Health (well, your Stamina and how much you can endure hits) and finally Skill Power (which is based on your Electronic tools, like turrets and such. The Division magic power if I may say). But that’s not it! Adding to this all of the extra load of stats that you can boost and prioritize them to build a sort of specialization like focus on being a Medic to your team, a tank, a support, etc. While a lot of person will do the comparison with Destiny since it’s also a shooter, there’s one thing you need to fully get: The Division is an RPG first, and a third-person shooter secondly.

To optimize these stats, you’ll have to start learning on how to minimize undesired or unimportant traits and maximizing desired ones, with the help of all the 9 equipment slots, six for gears and three for weapons. Does that remind you of something? If you are long-time addicts of games like the Elder Scrolls, Diablo or World of Warcraft (too many years for me), then that efficient calculation between priorities and needs is commonly known as Min-Maxing (in the gaming jargon of our time). Firearms are equiped into primary, secondary and sidearms (with unlimited bullets) slots, and range from SMG to Marksman Rifles, with can be compared with each other through so many many layers of ratings, stats, grading and talents. Each weapon has a core damage power, which calculated with the rate of fire and magazine cartridge size give you a damage per second (or DPS) like any respectable RPG. My only problem with this side of The Division is that although weapons are impeccable in 3D rendering, there’s not much variety between the weapons. I get that the game is set in present time, so I’m not expecting a gun that shoots photon rays, but more firearm models and manufacturer could’ve been nice, than sticking to finding yet another AK-47. Or maybe that’s just me, who knows?

As for the six other slots, they are reserved for gear, including your Body Armor, Knee Pads, Holsters, etc. Other than improving the general stats of your character, there’s also attributes bonuses that are added per loot roll like extra XP per kill, added Armor or Health. If all of this wasn’t already too much for gamers that expected another Third-Person Shooter, there’s a modding system that allows you to boost your weapons and gear with – you guessed it – mods including scopes, silencers, boosters, etc. All very good ideas that allow players to focus on their character in different specialties, but I’ll admit it was quite difficult to understand during the early hours.

The Division is an RPG first, and a third-person shooter secondly

All these weapons and armor are classified into 6 categories of rarity, distinguished by a coloring scheme going from gray to yellow, followed by green, blue, violet and gold being the ultimate. In some ways, this color code will be very helpful to pick only the most valuable equipment and leaving the pointless ones, especially as your backpack is limited in capacity. For those of you who are wondering about the other kind of customization options, rest assured that you’ll be able to inspect your gear, as well as change cosmetic attires lie baseball caps, military shoes, chino pants… Even if the distinction between some items is not always obvious.

Also, do not hesitate to regularly clean up your inventory when it gets overloaded, by deconstructing unnecessary or lower grade items, or reselling them at one of the many vendors in hideouts and your base of operations. In early game, deconstructing weapons is better to my opinion, as it will give you weapon parts and/or tools, and fabric or electronic parts for gear parts, which will be needed to craft new and better gear. Trust me the sooner you can get to crafting, the better it will be for you, instead of wasting money on buying weapons in the early game, as long as you have the right blueprints.

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The armament is also supplemented by numerous types of grenades including fragmentation, electric, incendiary, which are selected and launched with the left arrow button of the D-Pad. An original choice of button layout that takes a while to get used to, is also paired with the opposite arrow for its use medkits and consumables (water, energy bar, food) that offer temporary bonuses or even activation explosive bullets for example. Consumables can save you from dangerous situations, but often forgotten in the heat of the moment, especially since they need couple of milliseconds to activate.

The choice of weapons alone will not influence on the direction you want to mold your character since you can assign two skills (and a third super-skill later in the game), from three distinctive skill-trees, which gradually unlock as you progress in the story. Obviously, skills will be essential for missions to high level of difficulty missions that needs cooperation. These different skills are classified in three different categories that form the player into a role of healer, support or tank. But the best thing is that unlike a fully rooted RPG, roles can be changed mid-game to counter a dangerous situation, like reviving a teammate with a projectile first aid, or make a diversion by tossing a stationary anti-personnel turret. And like gear and weapons, even mods can be activated on skills, offering stat changes, or even variations lie turning a bullet-firing turret into a mini-flamethrower.

Since the announcement of The Division 3 years ago, Ubisoft has widely spread the scenario of the game, which puts you in the shoes of a member of the Division, a secret unit trained to deal with disasters, out of government and law enforcement agencies. A last resort of sorts. These elite members are ordinary citizens at first, and await activation. It is precisely their help that is requested after the spread of a pandemic small-pox virus in the midst of Black Friday, transmitted through contact and contaminated dollar bills that left the city of New York in chaos in just a few days. Now there’s something you should know: if you are into trying this game for the sake of the story only, then don’t waste your time. Seriously, there’s nothing captivating about it, which is sad considering it is based on one my all-time favorite author: Tom Clancy. And weirdly enough, it’s not like the story is bad; it’s badly told throughout the map via a galore of collectibles for you to run to, and decipher to put piece together to how the world really ended on Black Friday. So without food, water and electricity, Manhattan has become the playground for four factions that you will face over the course of story missions, but also in the open world map live instances and randomly generated fights.

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Rioters are the first faction you’ll meet in the game. They seem unorganized and reckless, and usually follow around a boss, like any good common thug, which claim a neighborhood for its own gang. Watch out for the Bruisers, which can be a pain, as one of the only fully-melee based enemies.

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The Rikers, named after the infamous New York prison, who took advantage of the chaos to escape and gang up. They are roaming and spreading terror in the streets, just for the sadistic love of control and power.

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The Cleaners, equipped with flamethrowers and napalm grenades, are former Department of Sanitation employees, who follow the motto that they should burn all that is suspected of carrying the virus, wether it’s a building or innocent people.

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The LMB (Last Man Battalion), is a private military company that was hired to protect the interests of Wall Street’s biggest companies, but were left behind as the situation worsen. They are now seeking full control of New York to establish their new world order.

These four factions takes a while to get used to and differentiate with time, as they are mere human beings, and not some sort of alien or mystical race like in most other MMORPGs. But you’ll realize that Cleaners are usually in orange contamination and hazmat suits, Rikers are dressed with gear looted from law enforcement, Rioters in hoodies and face masks, and the LMB are in full military and tactical mercenary gear. Regardless of their looks, you should mostly focus on learning which types they are by their overhead icons, such as rushers, tanks, medics, etc.

The progression of the story revolves around a single goal, which is to rebuild a base of operations in Manhattan, in the iconic James A. Farley Post Office. This building is split into three wings (Medical, Tech and Security), and will be up to you to put them back on their feet, thanks to a series of supply points to amass, by finishing specific themed mission and side-missions. Each wing has a series of upgrades and “rooms” to unlock, which will change the visual appearance of entire base of operation, but also open up your skills, vendors, and perks.

This is far from a simple thread of missions to missions, as most of them are different, and fortunately rather long, but still have the same structure: face waves of enemies from one area to another, then meet a high-level armored “boss”. And by armored, I pretty much mean bullet-sponges, which might seem weird at first in the theme of the game: 5 headshots were needed to kill an elite Rioter, who visually is donning the armor equivalent of a breakdancer. Then I forgot that in games like Uncharted, you had human enemies that would sustain an entire clip through the chest, while wearing no shirts at all. In the end, I’m playing a game, and will get used to the fact that everything in gaming could be logical.

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Just like Destiny, you can play The Division alone, but it’s clearly meant to be a coop experience, even more than Bungie’s title. The progression is faster because the experience gained by action of a group, is equally shared. The Division also allow you to play or replay missions at higher difficulties – Normal, Hard, Challenge – to earn more XP and even get new drops and loot rewards. And trust me, when I say that you’ll be needing friends if you want to get that perfect piece of gear or those rare Phoenix Credits (we’ll get into more details later on, in this review). And if your friends are not online, there’s a – weird to get used to –  matchmaking system that allows you find quickly or join total strangers. Or if you feel quite lucky, you can always find roaming agents in the streets, or the numerous hideouts across the city, which act as meeting points before tackling side missions, free-roam, smaller instances, and of course suit up for the Dark Zones.

The Dark Zone is undoubtedly the nerve center of The Division. It’s fun, nervous, and has all the ingredients for a good time. Completely inadvisable to go alone, this anarchic place is one to roam with a small group, not just because of the enemies, but because of its PvP mechanics. In the Division, Dark Zones is the only area of you can fight other players or group, in a completely sealed area which is accessed by checkpoints, but with a twist: there’s no traditional multiplayer modes – Like score-based team deathmatch – and it’s a free-roaming jungle where the mightiest only survives.

You first goal in the Dark Zone is to forget everything you expect of a PvP area. Once you take that in consideration, you’ll realize that Dark Zones are insanely complex areas that can be loot farming routes for some players, treacherous alliances for others. Your second goal is to kill AI enemies, find “named” opponents (also known as mini-bosses), to be able to get higher quality loot drops, and collect DZ credits (that zone has it’s own levelling system and currency). The problem is that you can only carry so much loot in this area, and due to its high level of toxicity, gear in Dark Zones needs to decontaminated before use. To do this, your equipment picked up from enemies or chests in the area will need to be sent to your Base of Operation, via one of many extraction zone, where you call upon a helicopter pickup. Where the plot thickens, is that other groups of players in the area will see the extraction in-the-making on their map, and might as well ditch what they were doing to hunt you, in an attempt to steal your loot. If that were the case, the player – or groups – will turn into rogue for a given time, trackable to all players in the area, with a bounty on their heads. Surviving being a rogue for a short period of time will give you premium boost of experience points, but if you don’t, then you lose even more, including the loot you just stole. Weirdly enough, I’ve haven’t seen agents turning rogue, as it used to happen during the Open Beta, and it seems people are actually willing to help you, then to backstab them.

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Now graphically speaking, The Division is not like the quasi-photorealistic videos we saw back at the reveal of 2014, but the game is still very beautiful. It almost seems to have been improved since the second beta to my delight. Ubisoft are known for their massive work on open-world games such as Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry, but it shouldn’t stop you to be amazed at the titanic work it must’ve been, to be able to model Manhattan like that. For those of you who’ve been there, or even seen its landmarks whether in videos, you’ll be amazed by the sheer scale of the world recreated.

Loading time are almost inexistent, except when you have to join a group during matchmaking, booting up the game after the start screen and fast travel to areas; these can be quite long on console. But the great part is that throughout roaming the city, entering Dark Zone, inside the story missions, if you play well, you’ll end up barely seeing that darn loading screen. The city seems to be preloaded and “refreshes” every time you enter a part of it, with new randomly generated events happening, enemies appearing from buildings, etc.

Time and weather also has its own cycle, which can offer some truly beautiful changes of scenery, as a park adorns a snowy dress, or the sunrise between tall skyscraper, or even the gloomy mornings, with a thick fog. The city is obviously well staged, with remnants of barricades, mass graveyards, body bags, or even rats roaming the streets. Since the virus hit during Black Friday, holidays and thanksgiving decorations in residential areas are still everywhere, and reinforce the impression of the end of the world. Some buildings and apartments are also open, which often contain cosmetic loot and other sorts of stuff to scavenge, but don’t feel that varied. Finally, there’s the multitude of collectibles to gather in the city (a bit too many) which will help you relive the tragedy, especially by activating “Echos”, a sort of augement reality scenes, created by security footage, images reconstruction database, with sound effects and dialogues of past events or even hear key testimonies of civilians.

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If the size of the map does not appear exceptional, it is more than enough due to the absence of vehicles or in general life of the city. A choice a little hard to get used to – after being used to games like Watch Dogs with a booming Chicago – but also because there’s so much distance to run to get to most points. Thankfully, there’s a fast-travel that helps you teleport to the hideouts discovered, or better yet, directly to a player in your group. It is also at this time that one undergoes few seconds longer loading the game. Otherwise, these loading are concealed in “animated” corridors where the character is forced to walk instead of running and used to limit the waiting phases.

The Division isn’t really perfect though, or pratical sometimes. The map is greatly animated, though stuffed with icons, which you can’t selectively deactivate. The transparent menus – reminding me of Dead Space – is beautiful to look at, but might be too small for my tase. Other concerns are a bit more problematic like enemy AI is very uneven: If some of them will not hesitate to attack you, throw grenades to get you out of cover, or even intelligently flank you, others remain weirdly standing on roof of car, or rush in weird illogical positions.

The Division - VGProfessional Review (2)On the topic of the PC version. By Mazen Abdallah

The first thing I commend The Division for is having a wonderful feature which auto-detects the best settings for your hardware. PC gaming can be a headache with all the tweaking, and it’s nice to have a setup that works great out of the proverbial box. For my GTX 970, running at 1920×1080, it set everything to high except for the sunrays. You will have to update your drivers to the latest ones, of course.

I was doing 40-45 fps on the game’s auto-detected settings before the driver update, and it shot up to a buttery 60fps after I got the latest Nvidia drivers. The action-heavy scenes did lead to slight drops, but it was very manageable. I pushed all the dials to ultra and I hovered around 60, but it would drop to the 40’s much more frequently, especially in action-heavy bits. With the little numbers popping up, the explosions and all the motion, you’ll be in the thick of it for most of the game, so I recommend sticking with the auto-detected settings for a smoother ride. If you want to run everything on ultra AND get a smooth 60fps, you’re going to want to go for a beefier card like the Geforce GTX 980 or even the 980Ti series.

In terms of how pretty the game looks, it is visually stunning. The textures are pristine, and the level of detail is astounding. Massive and Ubi really pushed for this game to shine, and you’ll see the hollow remains of the city of New York in all their bleak detail.

So what about gameplay? Well, The Division falls into a very specific type of gameplay which is Third-Person Shooter. If you like let’s say Gears of War, Ghost Recon or even GTA V, with their slower pace shooting strategies, cover-to-cover movement, and more emphasis on plan first – shooter later, then The Division will be something you’ll enjoy with of course RPG elements (which we’ll talk about more further on). If you don’t, then I’ll have a tough one trying to sell this game to you, as it won’t work for you if you’re going to expect – what most people believe – “another Destiny”. That’s the thing, it’s not, and get used to it. If you’re reading this furiously right now, hope I didn’t hurt your feelings.

The Division gameplay is very similar to the likes of Ghost Recon Future Soldiers (another Tom Clancy game of course), with even the likeliness of its “futuristic” gear such as Instant Deployable Turrets. Your agent will go cover to cover, using the city and the elements as his shield, and awaiting the perfect opportunity to retaliate with a burst of your Assault Rifle by using the precision of a “Rainbow Six” FPS aim. The Division shooting and gameplay mechanics aren’t the smooth in-control sensations you will get in a FPS, with double jumps and quick movements, and will require a lot to get used to if you haven’t played a TPS before. I love the fact that your strategies are also deliberately changing depending on which faction – Rioters, Rikers, Clearners or Last Man Battalion – and which type of enemy you are fighting, which require to be more aggressive or more cautious.

When not in combat, you roam around the city in movement feeling of Watch Dogs, with simple run and climb mechanics with a hint of Assassin’s Creed animations, as you go from one mission to another, and get lost in Far Cry style side missions and random events on the way. It’s strange, but the more I play this game, the more I feel like Ubisoft tried to merge everything they learned from its other franchises, to make a complete package.

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So what exactly is the end-game? Don’t really expect raids like World of Warcraft or other Online RPGs, but more of an end-game strategy on-par with Diablo III. Every day, daily missions will be unlocked on Hard and Challenge mode, which will turn every enemy into a level 31 Purple and 32 Elite Enemies respectively. These missions are difficult, and require a well-balanced team of Agents with a diaspora of skills, and try to strategize on getting a buffer/medic, a pure support, and carries that will push forward and get the cleaning shots. Even with the best gear, these missions can take up to two hours to end, and will reward a rare item and 15 Phoenix credit on Hard mode, and a guaranteed high end item (level 30 and even 31) alongside of 30 Phoenix credit.

Wait a minute… What is Phoenix Credits? This third currency is on par with Dark Zone credit, which is an end-game currency, awarded as we said after finishing challenges, killing named elites (anywhere even in Dark Zones). So what do you with it? Well, you spend it obviously but in numerous places instead of one like the Special Gear Vendor in the Base of Operations, Dark Zone vendors and even the Recalibration Station in the Tech Wing to reroll end-game gear with new stats and “perks”.

Now let’s talk more about the Dark Zones and their significance in the end-game part of The Division. While most the Dark Zones become a bit easier once you reach the level cap, Dark Zone Bracket 05 and 06 become hell. It’s a lot of level 32 enemies, and almost impossible to go alone, thus recommend forming a group or joining a random one, which will help leveling up the Dark Zone experience level, which reaches to 50 maximum.

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Then of course we have the case of upcoming content coming to the game via free and paid updates from Ubisoft, including the first Incursion in April, called Falcon Lost. Incursions have little news about them at the moment, and all we know from the developer is that they are end-game activities for groups of four, require lots of preparation and emphasize on team-play. Plus, looking at the content calendar for the year with The Division, it seems like more Incursions will be added, as well as new challenge modes and Dark Zone activities. So here we are, there’s plenty to do in The Division, once you hit the level cap, but I’m only sad that I’ll never feel like I stand out, as the “cosmetic” appeal of the end-game loot doesn’t really differ much from a lower grade one. But then again, we’re not in a medieval fantasy themed RPG, where your end-game armor is made of gold, with a bright silky Phoenix cape and Chain-mall leggings.

Tom Clancy’s The Division was reviewed using an Xbox One and PC downloadable code of the game provided by Ubisoft Middle East. The PC version was tested by Mazen Abdallah on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. The game is also available on PlayStation 4. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.

What we liked

Original Game
• New York in all its morbid beauty
• The Dark Zone
• An interesting cooperative experience
• It's not easy, and I love the dificulty level
• Solid gameplay
• Skills and classes that complement rich RPG calculations
• Complex and slick inventory menu
• The game is localized in multiple languages including Arabic for the Middle East
• Enormous lifespan with free new content coming throughout the year

Underground Expansion Pack
• Well brought procedural ...
• More traps
• A convincing new "incursion" following the two previous free ones

Survival Expansion Pack
• The new objective system
• Learning through failure
• New York under a snow storm is a marvel

What is not fun

• A story a bit typical
• A game not to be played alone
• Weapons and cosmetic equipment are not varied enough
• Not a fan of the musical theme
• There's no visual-inspection mode on vendor purchases
• Enemy AI is uneven

Underground Expansion Pack
• Still a grindfest which can be a letdown for some
• The Underground does not have the charm of New York streets
• A bit expensive for the proposed content

Survival Expansion Pack
• Inevitably Repetitive
• Can get a bit buggy because of the weather effect

Editor Rating





Replay Value

Final Score

Our final verdict

The Division ultimately is a real success for Ubisoft. An old but effective gameplay, is faultless visually at painting every street and every building interior of New York. Too bad some screen clipping and framedrops are cursing us console players, but that's not enough to truly spoil the experience. The game is a must-have for those of you who love the richness of a true MMORPG, with a hint of Third-Person tactical Shooter gameplay, like a Diablo III and Ghost Recon: Future Soldiers merged into one game. After over 70 hours of gameplay, I'm still nowhere near finish, and enjoying this game, its choices, its gameplay and experience. See you in New York, fellow agents

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