It’s Christmas! Although you wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the poor citizens of Manhattan in this winter wonderland as there’s a touch of something called dollar flu going around that’s resulted in the city being locked down. As part of the second wave of a team called The Division you’ve been tasked with helping the poor locals out, rebuilding the allied base and also shooting lots of other factions who are up to no good in the face, including the Cleaners whose weapon of choice is frankly, unfair flamethrowers. The game begins with a live action intro that sets the scene and then you’re plunged into Brooklyn where you can create your character and get to grips with the gunplay. Character creation is actually a bit weak here. Weirdly there is more facial warpaint to choose from than hairstyles, and the ladies can’t even rock a ponytail!
You’ll soon learn that this MMORPG game is a cover shooter at its core and despite looking real world, doesn’t behave that way. Looters wearing just hoodies and a baseball cap take a fair few bullets to go down. Headshots do deliver more damage but don’t expect to take people down with stealth and a one shot kill. It’s not that type of game.
Once you get the chopper into Manhattan you’re set the task of setting up your base of operations. There are three locations you can get online and upgrade up to ten times and these all reflect directly on your character progression. For instance you can get different aspects of the medical bay online and get more health perks and skills. You can also switch any skills you earn on the fly which is refreshing. You won’t suddenly realise you’ve gone down a path you don’t want and regret it.
Getting these areas online also opens up tonnes more missions as well. Soon your map will be full of objectives which can be a bit overwhelming at first when combined with all the HUD info floating about on screen too.
One other thing to watch out for is loot of varying quality that bad guys will drop. You can get your hands on some really good random weapons and mods from the tougher opponents and even more top stuff from the Dark Zone, a PvP area where the currency and level is kept separate and people can, if they want, shoot you and steal your stuff before you have time to extract it. It’s risk vs reward and if anything, teaches that old lesson of not to trust strangers. Speaking of which, matchmaking is pretty good here. You can buddy up at the press of a button before main missions and work together to complete them. And you’ll need to because The Division is tough, even on normal difficulty! It’s actually quite annoying the way enemies always rush you in their droves forcing you to break cover and run back. Keep your distance and you’ll definitely last longer.
The game’s not without its bugs though. I had to come right out of a mission because I fell through some non-existent stairs in a level that hadn’t loaded in properly. It was annoying but not a major game breaker. A quick restart fixed this.
The Division is another game that will grow over the next few months as more parts of the city get opened up. For now, there is plenty to do here as you level up, expand your base and try to equip and mod that ultimate weapon that will make you a proper badass. Sure it can feel a bit grindy at times but if you have some buddies who can jump into the missions with you, you’re going to have a blast. The Division gets 8 out of ten.
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