Tom Clancy’s The Division was on our radar for an extended period of time, even before the Beta… and it was one of the closest followed pre-launch games next to Far Cry 3 in our records. The Division is categorized as an (RPG), but it’s way beyond that characteristic for sure. The Division is more like an Hybrid between a 3rd Person Cover-Based Shooter, just like Splinter Cell Blacklist… MMO and RPG all-in-one! It’s just amazing how all that works in synchrony to bring you the experience like Tom Clancy’s The Division offers!
- Extremely Addictive Game-Play
- Intelligent Progression System
- Adrenaline-Packed Multilayer
- Glitchy & Constantly In Development
- Very Repetitive & Excessively Grindy
- Lacking Cinematics & Cut-Scenes
When we first started testing the Closed-Beta, the experience was just exhilarating! The story of The Division is set in a very realistic scenario, where a terrorist organization in America infects millions of dollars in cash with a deadly virus, and puts the infected currency into circulation on the day of Black Friday! It’s extremely captivating, especially when you have read the Book of The Division called “New York Collapse” If you have set your mind to fully enjoying this game, and you have the time to do so… we highly recommend getting the book, which is a collectible item by the way, and read it along at the start of your game. It’s a mind-blowing experience, and it shows just how well planned this franchise was. We really hope Ubisoft keeps making well thought out games like Tom Clancy’s The Division in the future, and keep the game live as much as possible without switching to a new Title too quickly.
Very Seamless & Extremely Well Done!
The game starts off with the introduction cut scene, explaining how the virus effected New York and possibly the world. While in the intro segment, the game does a really good job transitioning the story from the current situation to the agent, and smoothly introduces the player to the scene. At this point the player sees the avatar, and the avatar is basically standing next to an abandoned Taxi-Cab, where you swiftly shut the open door of the cab and the reflection of the glass becomes the character customization screen. It’s very seamlessly done, and it’s extremely well done! From this point on you follow the story line in any sequence desired to complete objectives, clear areas and obtain items in order to advance your command center and character, unlock all the available areas of the command center and become a more efficient killing machine. In this 1st phase, you are heavily following the game’s story as it’s being narrated. You learn all the necessary skills and inventory management techniques required to manage your character properly.
Once all the missions and areas in the city has been discovered and enabled on the map, the player then can start entering the Dark-Zone, which is basically a PVP area for all the bad asses to go to when they max out all their gear score and skill levels. Well… at least that’s what we thought, as it was like just like that in the Closed- Beta, Open-Beta and Official Release Versions. Once the player base started expanding for the Division and the diversity of players became exponentially apparent, Ubisoft decided to change certain things… which in return made the game very different! I will explain this in detail, from many different points of perspective so the genuine gaming experience and the thought process can be captured accurately, as it’s important to know how these changes affect the players.
Having said that, the Closed-Beta and the Open-Beta of The Division, were very different. It was the dream game any gamer would ever want! The progression system was super promising, and even at official launch, it offered the exact system as in the Betas. So, to be more specific… there were no [Gear Score Brackets] in the beginning. This might sound like a very unimportant attribute… but, it was a huge deal breaker in terms of “buying the game early to get a head start”. This and few other important things are what we’re going to talk about here today.
So after the 1st major upgrade and the patching roll-out, things went south for a lot of serious players. In actuality, these changes absolutely ruined the game for a lot of gamers, who Pre-Ordered the game months ahead of time, dedicated over 300+ hours in the beginning to get ahead of the Non-Beta players, then found out that they can only use that “Power-Advantage” in the same group bracket which every Pre-Ordered player was in… essentially, making it ridiculously difficult to have any power advantage against anybody in this same [Gear Score Bracket]. Everyone was basically the same… Bullet-Sponges! In some cases, players were altering their stats to be ranked lower in the bracket system… and these Rogue players were exponentially more difficult to kill in a lower bracket levels, as 99.9% of the players in lower brackets had no firepower to respond back properly, and manhunts would turn into mass murder scenes without much resistance. It was so bad, that the entire thing turned into an aggressive cheat-fest.
Return of the ALPHA Rogue with Patience & Vengeance!– ALPHA Rogue Gaming Network
Early phases of The Division had a lot of statistical adjustments performed in the back, which ended up rendering almost all the builds absolutely useless. At times it felt like there was really nothing you could equip your character with to be safe… Weapons would not do much damage, armor wouldn’t hold off much of the damage. It was terrible! The icing on the cake was the Dark-Zone Level drop… that was the most frustrating point of this game, where the character with a high-end gear setup couldn’t survive in the Dark-Zone for 2 minutes. We ended up just completely abandoning the game for about 6 months due to the frustration with these changes. Then eventually coming back and picked it up where we left off after Ubilounge’s demo play-through, as the amount of content Ubisoft added and demonstrated at Ubilounge was amazing and extensive! This is how we like things to be done! Exceeding the player’s expectations. It really showed Ubisoft’s dedication to this game, and that is why this game is so amazing till today. And that’s not even half of it, the amount of new content Ubisoft has planned for this game in the near future is spectacular!
Having all this in mind, that game also had its share of problems and glitches which were almost excessive, despite the game being in a “working state”. Some of these issues were absolutely brutal to gameplay. For rare loot and rare currency, the game would literally force you to either go in the Dark-Zone for PVP grind, or waste your time in the PVE area and bore yourself to death without much accomplishment… especially when you had mixed bag of gear, high enough to be better than what the local and DZ Vendors offer, but bad enough to not be able to hold your own in the Dark-Zone. Not even mentioning the fact, that after you obtained a mid-range gear score even under regular circumstances, the vendors would have no higher-level weapons or equipment for you… even with all the skills and perks configured to squeeze out as much as health and damage possible from your character. The Closed and Open Betas, including the Official Release version, had something totally different in stock. The gear you were upgrading was essentially useful, and towards the end of the leveling up phase, you actually had a gruesome set you could dominate the Dark-Zone with. This was not the case in the upgraded model of The Division.
The entire trial and error process of the development team during this time-frame was really a bittersweet experience, as all the tactics, strategies and gear setups which the player initially spent hundreds of hours on building and polishing out, absolutely went into the trash can. I mean, you had to literally build your character up and figure out what’s the best setup now with all the fundamental changes added to the game, which ultimately changed the entire game structure. As the hardcore fan-base started to get discouraged and gave up on the fact that “if I put more time into the game, then I will be ahead of everyone” mentality, the game started to hit rock bottom lows on statistical charts.
However, after taking a lot of abuse from the player base on social media and forums, The Division development team started listening to the players and eventually saving the game with the DLC content. Despite being saved by the bell, this was extremely unpleasant experience as a whole, which could have been avoided if things were not rushed so much. After all, it is time we’re spending on these games… time is more valuable than the amount of money paid to purchase the initial game. Therefore, not only players get a bit of bait-and-switch with the money they spent as the game keeps switching things up in the back and running the gaming experience, but also waste valuable time and effort they put into playing and advancing the character.
Consequently, without much remorse, these changes get implemented and sure enough tons of players just stop playing the game, and that’s never good for business. Ultimately, if the player feels like their time is not valued by the developer, they are not going to put any more time in the game. For example, If I spent 300+ hours on The Division, and I was comfortably farming DZ3-DZ5… and after the upgrade I can’t even play in DZ1 for 2 minutes without getting devastated by few shots from a random AI unit, not even talking about a boss unit… at that point it’s pretty much over for the game. We’re moving to another game till this one is revisited by the developer, especially a platformer like Tom Clancy’s The Division. In the future, hopefully if the game is statistically stable enough, we will come back to it once more… which was the case with The Division. But if not, then generally the fan-base moves on to the next best title, and that is absolutely understandable.
On the contrary, all this could have been avoided, if companies in general stop rushing out games with unrealistic investor deadlines. The game needs to be finished first and fully tested under realistic server loads, then released to the public… because it’s the public that guarantees the next title’s faith, not the investor. The investor will invest in any game they think it’s going to make them profit. Investors also do not have much emotional attachment to the franchise as the players do… so it’s extremely important to put the player first! Think of it this way, if the division was released in 2018… it would be very close to what it is today. But that was not the case here… the game got release super early to start racking up media coverage and money, and at the end everybody’s time got wasted! I don’t want to say the game was waste of money, because the game gives you solid content for your money… the problem is the inconsideration for people’s time from the Development point of perspective. That’s all that needs to be corrected… in other words, the development firm needs to wait till everything is 100% before release.
On the physical realm, Tom Clancy’s The Division being a Huge Triple-A title… the announcement for Collector’s Edition was inevitable. Ubisoft announced the Sleeper Agent Edition shortly after they announced the official release date of the game, which was around the time of the Closed-Beta, and we were so excited about this title and the items that were going to be released with the Sleeper Agent Edition, that we decided to purchase the Collector’s Box right after the end of Closed-Beta! Boy that was a mistake… everything was sold out! It was like the “Collector’s Box disappearance phenomenon!”. Everything had disappeared from the entire “inter-nets”, but we ended up getting one through our trusted sources, which will be talking about in a separate review. Nevertheless, got the item and got somewhat disappointed when started going through the gear and print materials. I will talk about this in detail, as we look at Collector’s Editions very closely, and like mentioned in various reviews, all items absolutely need to have value… or else there is zero point to even think about getting a Collector’s Boxes for video games.
After waiting for few months to receive the Sleeper Agent Edition, we quickly realized that the main item which was the watch of the agent was just a “look and don’t touch” item. The reason being was the quality of materials being so low, which made the watch nearly fall apart on the wrist with the slightest movement under normal circumstances. This was exceptionally frustrating, as the Sleeper Agent Edition almost capped at $300 at the time, and the watch was literally the only reason anyone would pay that much money to get Collector’s Box. Now going back to the watch… the glass material was made from extremely low-quality composite, and simply touching the screen left permenant finger prints on the glass.
There was absolutely no way to shine the glass back to factory cleanness again once you touched the glass, because somehow the glass inherited the natural oil from the finger and absorbed it right into the material’s deeper layers. So, having said that, the most important item of this collection which was supposed to be a practical and useful item, was not only embarrassingly useless, but also super degradable as well, as the rubber coating from the watch and the bezel faded away quickly from rubbing on jeans and tables, bringing us to the conclusion that it’s just a “show and don’t touch” item. Oh, by the way, did I mention that the watch was not water proof? That’s right! You could not even wear it while washing your hands, making it literally impossible to function throughout your daily activities without taking it off every time you had to wash your hands.
Ultimately, paying attention to the materials used, and the manufacturers used when it comes to Collector’s Editions, especially for Triple-A titles is crucial! The final materials and vendor selection team needs to be as passionate towards the game as Designers were when they designed the Collector’s merchandise. We see the quality in designs, but when it comes to the actual items… they are extremely low quality most of the time, and it almost feels like the fans are being taken advantage of because of their passion for the merchandise. The only thing that was somewhat useful in the short run, was the “Armband / Pouch”, but the material for that was gloss type linoleum, and we all know what happens to glossy linoleum when you bent it few times. It breaks apart!
So clearly, none of these items were meant to be used as Ubisoft illustrated them to be, and it had a price of close to $300 when all the shipping and handling was added. So now the box with all its “look but don’t touch” items is sitting quietly on a display shelf where it belongs. We can’t use any of the items due to the degradation factor, but hey, it’s a Collector’s Box, deal with it! XD It’s just heart breaking, but too late. Ideally, we would love to have a really nice matt black metal frame for example, that was more resistant to everyday use, with all the orange lighting on the top crown actually working with some type of a useful effect. In addition to giving more functionality to the watch and possibly making all the buttons useful. Frankly, serious Collectors really look for that 1 item that’s amazingly well done, rather than having bunch of items that are just thrown together to make the marketing materials look a bit fuller on camera.
Now for the final judgement as far as Tom Clancy’s The Division goes in its current state… it’s an amazing game with enough content to keep you playing for hundreds of hours non-stop! It’s super addictive, well designed and cleverly developed to make your entire gameplay experience not only entertaining, but also learning and mind expanding. You’re constantly organizing your weapons, gear stats, perks, special abilities and group collaboration abilities, while planning ahead of what you’re going to become and what it’s going to take to reach that goal! Ultimately, you want to have the best gear for PVP, as at the end… you must test your might and skill to see how you rank among others. In other words… the player needs to get ready to go Rogue! It’s this moment of truth and the adrenaline rush, which keeps players coming back over and over again to perfect their character and gain that slightest edge over other players who are simultaneously doing the same! It’s an amazing experience, comradery and virtual friendship development process which players have never experienced before in other games! If you have not picked up The Division yet, what are you waiting for? Dive into the universe of Tom Clancy’s Division, and save what remains of our humanity!