By @TheMarkDalton

The Division is finally here. One of the most anticipated games of recent times has landed on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. We first heard about The Division in December 2013 where it was dubbed for release in fall of 2014. The game was then delayed to 2015 and then delayed again to 2016. 

The storyline behind The Division is that a unknown strain of a flu virus has wiped through New York city during the mayhem of Black Friday sales. One by one, basic services fall and society collapses into chaos. You are activated as part of The Division, a unit of tactical agents living among society whose task is to save what remains and take back the city.

We are in somewhat of a unique position with The Division. There were no advance copies of the game distributed anywhere prior to release. Sure there was a closed and open beta but the actual final copy of the game was not given to any reviewers before the release date.

Look around online, every article right now is labelled “in progress” in some way as gamers get to grips and start diving into the game. Yesterday I managed to rack up just shy of five hours, so how has the experience been so far?

Initially there were major problems with the game for the first couple of hours. The Division is completely online, you can’t use it without a connection so if your internet is down for example, the game is then completely useless. If you live in an area where the connection is poor then your experience may be considerably different than those who live in an area with a good connection. It is definitely something which needs to be taken into account before you buy it.

Initially after the game released at midnight users (myself included) were experiencing a host of errors and problems as the servers were getting hammered with high traffic. Games were dropping out or lag was disrupting gameplay. However things quickly settled down and I’m happy to report there have been no further problems since.

The main part of the game takes place in lower Manhattan but to get you warmed up you are dumped into Brooklyn for a tutorial session. The Brooklyn section of the game is a glorified tutorial which lacks personality. Don’t let it put you off, you won’t be there long.

You find your first safe house, learn the basics of combat and cover, tackle some side missions and then face your first skirmish in a small main mission. This gives you the chance to experiment with the teaming up system or tackle the missions solo. So why all the hype around the game? What is so special about it?

You are taken from Brooklyn and flown over to Manhattan, this is where the game begins to excel. The city looks stunning, it feels alive and walking down of the streets surrounded by high rise skyscrapers makes it feel even bigger than what the map shows it to be. Its eerie, there are some civilians around the streets trying to find any food or water that they can.

There is no authority in place, you really get the feeling of a city in ruin. A city where people have just dropped belongings and tried to run. Cars piled up at the entrance of the Lincoln tunnel abandoned as people tried to escape the city. Roaming the streets are gangs of rioters and lunatics in general.

The task at the moment is to establish a base and to get it up and running by rescuing the likes of doctors and the police commander so that you can get various wings of the base up and running and then upgrade it as you progress in the game.

I am still early into the game and at the moment have a police commander and doctor rescued so the task is now to complete missions which allows you to buy upgrades for the wings and this will give you access to perks an abilities.

This is a game based around loot, try to get as much of it as you can because you are going to need it. So far I have been absorbed by the inventory on offer and the crafting system which all appear to be excellent. As you pick up items in the game you will release that you are not going to need to keep a hold of everything. You find stuff which is better than what you have, so you can deconstruct your old gear which gives you items to allow you to craft new gear that could help you in the game.

There is also a great mod system for your weapons where you can add items such as scopes, holo lens and lots more. The game has an addictive upgrade system which makes you want to keep levelling up so you can upgrade your gear and do a better job of kicking ass.

So far there has been a lot to do in the city, some streets are eerily silent which is fantastic to walk down in between massive buildings. However an encounter is never far away and you find yourself taking on missions, side missions or just stumbling upon random encounters on the street.

Time will soon tell if The Division keeps users sucked in but so far there has been a lot to like. At the moment the task I have set myself is to check out what the game is like as a solo player. Ubisoft is adamant that you don’t have to team up with others and that solo players will not be abandoned. So far I have been taking on missions as a solo player and I have been able to progress through the game without getting frustratingly stuck on a part of it.

The question now is will the game remain like that or will there come a point where you have to team up with someone because you simply can’t do it alone. Its nice that the matchmaking option is there and if I end up having to use it.

You can buy The Division in game stores today or of course you can grab a digital download copy from your console.


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