By Scott Southard, Kyle Holmer, and Jarrod Jones. The operative word is ‘survival’ in UbiSoft’s The Division, though you’d be excused if you thought it was actually ‘murder’. Yes, the slate-grey aesthetic of the Dead Zone absolutely lends itself to the moral quagmire of a post-outbreak New York, but that doesn’t explain away why you’ll find yourself outright killing your fellow man for nothing more than getting that North Face beanie first. You’re playing through a scenario that is frighteningly all-too real, and yet the game encourages you to pull the trigger in a nigh-consequence free environment. Does that freak anyone else out?
Aside from that mortifying quandary, there are a few other questions that The Division has dredged up in our minds, so we decided to take a moment and ponder over some of the other parts of Ubisoft’s latest that make absolutely no damn sense at all.
1. Everyone is wearing North Face for some damned reason.
When entering a freshly bloomed post-apocalyptia, especially in the midst of a Mid-Atlantic winter, I would imagine that clothing would be fairly high on everyone’s refactored list of immediate needs. Which begs the curious question: How did every member of The Division end up with a brand new, fully stocked wardrobe of this season’s Patagonia catalog? I’d imagine that with the rush to action and all of the rampant looting, folks would have to grab what they have, scrounging together layers or old parkas rather than hoarding stashes of the inherently uninteresting post-frat winter wear. — SS
2. What. Is up. With the jumping jacks.
You can’t go an hour plowing through the Dark Zone without coming across some joker jumping in place like he’s in seventh grade P.E. class instead of a demilitarized death zone. Of all the emotes that come in The Division (there are six in total) jumping jacks feel almost as if the developers are actively mocking me whilst I mercilessly mock other players: as I hurl my avatar’s hands through the air amid whizzing bullets and hurled grenades, I’m often reminded that I could have easily spent that thirty seconds doing a few jumping jacks of my own. After hours of The Division, god knows I could use them. — JJ
3. New York Is A Damn Drug.
While both massive and detailed, the majority of post-civilized New York is a complete bore to wander through. The graphics are serviceable for a current generation shooter, but the entire game suffers from the often-criticized “grayness” that was covering every inch of 360/PS3 era games. More importantly is the sheer lack of life or opportunity within this desecrated version of the Big Apple. There’s little to no reason to spend any amount of time exploring this sprawling metropolis outside of the forgettable collectibles; Ubisoft took one of the most recognized and vibrant cities on the planet and turned it into extensive window dressing. In an open world game no less. — KH
4. Bullets may as well be pebbles when you’re a n00b.
I get that a loot-based shooter needs to have upgrades. I really do. The cycle of shooting bad guys with guns and then picking up the better guns they dropped to shoot tougher bad guys is an inherent necessity of the game. But there’s still that nagging notion in the back of my head that says, “Shouldn’t that guy just die when you shoot him twelve times in the gut with a shotgun? Does it really matter if you’re a more experienced member of a paramilitary organization when it comes to plowing convicts in the face with an AK-47?” I mean, a headshot is a headshot, especially in the hyper-realistic Clancyverse. The lack of congruity is confounding. — SS
5. “One is None” isn’t a ‘Talent’ — it’s friggin’ sorcery.
Talents in The Division are kinda like mixing vigors in BioShock: they create a complicated and efficient ability that requires a certain amount of gameplay to unlock and can only be employed after they’ve been equipped. That’s all good stuff. But The Division isn’t some erudite morality fantasy, it’s a hard-assed, gritty-kitty, cover-and-shoot action game. So when I come across a Talent like “One Is None” — where you can keep a bullet after cinching a clean headshot that just murdered your targeted looter (whose only crime was that he wanted to live, dammit) — I feel like there ought to be 100% more aliens and dragon-faeries floating around this chaotic hellhole. — JJ
6. PvP is Built Entirely On a Single, Albeit Brilliant, Gimmick
The Division’s version of PvP (or PvPvE as Ubisoft calls it) is the Dark Zone, where players wander around in a sectioned off portion of New York completing some completely forgettable missions while facing off against both AI, and (surprise!) player-controlled enemies. The catch is that while your primary goal is to complete these environmental objectives, at any point you can decide to open fire on other players wandering the wasteland. This will allow you to potentially steal their gear, which is not only rare, but will trigger a timer in which you can send it off to be decontaminated. The catch; this will temporarily label you as a rogue for every other player to turn against. It creates a tense environment where at any point, you or a group of randoms can turn on your squad to selfishly gank their precious high level gear. It’s legitimately genius and creates some genuinely awesome moments, but the problem is the moment-to-moment gameplay in the Dark Zone is boring as hell. The entirety of the Dark Zone is built upon this assumed tension and if you’re working with a group of legitimate do-gooders, you’ll end up trudging through a pile of the most generic, overused multiplayer missions you’ve likely ever seen. — KH
Check out the LOAD FILE review of ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’, here.