Roleplaying game elements sometimes tend to creep into titles that don’t fully belong to the videogame genre. For example, Capcom’s Onimusha series rewards players for slaying enemies with the ability to enhance weapons and armor. Shooter/RPG hybrids would especially become commonplace in recent console generations, with some titles handling the formula well such as the Borderlands and Mass Effect series. Among the more recent contributors to the hybrid subgenre is Tom Clancy’s The Division. Does it mimic the success of other shooter roleplaying games?
The protagonist the player creates can wield two main firearms with finite ammunition refillable at safe houses and a sidearm with infinite ammo, alongside various equipment enhancing defense. Players can outfit guns and occasionally armor with mods, with the bulk of the player’s gear coming from killed enemies wandering the streets of post-plague New York City. Players can buy more powerful equipment from shops at safe houses, with money gained from selling old equipment and completing missions. They ultimately receive a number of offensive and defensive abilities based on how much of their base of operations they restore.
Both killing enemies and completing missions rewards players with experience for occasional leveling, with a cap of thirty levels, which therefore necessitates the player acquire better equipment, assigned with a numerical rank when of the thirtieth level, if they want to have an easier time. Unfortunately, an easier time can be hard to come by in the game, with plenty nasty difficulty spikes and occasional trouble even with lower-level antagonists. Dying in the middle of a mission area revives players at the last checkpoint (which sometimes have inconvenient and inconsistent placement), while sidequests force the player to retrace their steps most of the time from a nearby safe house. The game is definitely beatable, but it’s obvious the developers intended the game’s audience to play collectively.
Despite a few initial tutorials, one can easily forget how to execute common functions in The Division, and some areas would benefit from better maps, particularly buildings where the player has to activate virus scanners in a limited time. The camera can also be finicky, with players nearly blind behind, particularly frustrating when enemies surround them. The interface isn’t a complete writeoff, however, as one can instantly warp between unlocked safe houses, although frequent long loading times abound, with a sizeable startup intervention.
Regardless of the Tom Clancy name, The Division can’t find salvation in its story, with a blank-slate protagonist, underdeveloped adversaries, a thin main quest, side missions that don’t contribute much to the chief narrative, and the like.
The game does, however, feature top-notch voice acting, although the soundtrack isn’t very much to write home about.
The high point is the visuals, aside from the low-health critical annoyance.
Finally, finishing the main quest can take from two to three days, with plenty of sidequests and extras to pad out playing time.
Overall, Tom Clancy’s The Division is very much a promising game, given its tempting multiplayer features, although one needs to subscribe to PlayStation Plus to get the most out of extra features such as the Dark Zone, where the player can potentially acquire powerful gear to help with the main quest, and although it has other things going for it such as enjoyable exploration, good voice acting, polished visuals, and endless replay value, the solo experience can be somewhat grueling, alongside finicky control and camera angles, a blank-slate hero and storyline, and an unmemorable soundtrack that seems commonplace among Western RPGs. Those who subscribe to PlayStation Plus might just find the game enjoyable, and while Ubisoft has promised a forthcoming patch to resolve some of the aforementioned issues, this reviewer wishes that the developers had resolved its problems before releasing the game to the public.
This review is based on a solo playthrough..
+Likely solid multiplayer experience.
+Post-plague New York City can be fun to explore.
+Great voice acting.
+Plenty to stretch out playing time.
-Solo experience can be grueling.
-PlayStation Plus required to get a better experience.
-Finicky camera and controls.
-Blank-slate protagonist and story.
-Generally unmemorable soundtrack.
The Bottom Line:
Likely enjoyable multiplayer RPG, average single-player experience.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Game Mechanics: 6/10
Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Playing Time: 2-3 Days