The Division review
Not worth the grind in its current form
- Visually impressive
- Solid combat
- Dark Zone is refreshingly tense
- Promised future updates could give it some legs
- Missions are uninspired and repetitive
- Enemy and weapon variety lacking
- Beautiful but barren city
What we received at launch lacks consistently enjoyable gameplay. That said, if you can get a regular squad going then The Division is worth a look into.
Price$ 75.00 (AUD)
I really wanted to like The Division. But after sinking more than 30 hours into the game and slogging through one repetitive enemy encounter after the next, I was left disappointed. I put off reviewing the game for too long in the hopes that I might still venture back and level up some more. However, as alluring as the impressively detailed New York City is on the eyes, the grindy nature of a largely unrewarding gameplay loop kept me from coming back.
The game’s opening tells the story of how a man-made viral outbreak ravaged New York City before you’re given control of your character who is a sleeper operative for The Division - a secret government agency whose members are seeded among the civilian population to be called upon for such a catastrophic event. It’s the thinnest of setups and outside of the occasional cut scene and ramblings between NPCs, any further attempts to fill in the story are relegated to audio logs and CCTV footage you might or might not find along your travels.
Like other open-world loot-based shooters, you
can generate your character at the beginning of the game but the character
creation is severely limited with only a smattering of different face types and
a handful of hair options for your male or female avatar. Despite the generic
character models, you’ll pickup various cosmetic attire as you progress through
the game to give your avatar a more distinct look.
You start out in Brooklyn and it’s here where you’re taught the basics of shooting and looting. The cover based third-person mechanics are solid. Stealthily moving from one cover to the next is satisfyingly easy, but you can’t crouch, jump or go prone which means that if you accidentally pull away from cover, your character will stand straight up and momentarily become a bullet piñata in the middle of combat which happened far more than we’d care to remember. The camera also struggles to keep up when it comes to close encounters which can become bothersome when axe wielding enemies decide to rush you.
After an hour or so you’ll arrive in Manhattan
and subsequently be introduced to your Base of Operations that
you can upgrade with resources earned from completing main story missions.
Upgrading your base earns you new skills for your character which range from
extending shields to drone turrets. The nice thing is that unlike other MMO
shooters you can swap skills and talents whenever you like so you won’t
suddenly realise you’ve gone down a path you don’t want to and regret it.
You’re also required to visit safe houses which are located in each district of the city since it reveals all of the side missions and encounters on the map which ultimately earn the player points to upgrade their Base of Operations. Each set of objectives in each area is nearly identical, forcing you to experience the same missions over and over until you reach your level cap. The missions all ascribe to the same uninspired design which essentially boils down to following a GPS line to an object and kill everyone or defend an object while killing everyone. There’s no attempt to mix up the action with dynamic fights or set pieces.
What’s worse is that the enemies are fairly
generic and lack variety both in attack methods and appearance. Every battle
involves either rioters, prison escapees, flamethrower-wielding ‘cleaners’ and
PMC grunts while the only point of differentiation for the boss character is an
alternatively coloured health bar.
The lack of variety extends to the weapons which are limited to five different types: Pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles. Weapons can be equipped with modifications to improve things like handling, magazine size and optics. The modification system is well implemented and the weapons also have bonus damage that increases with each weapon class. However, the lack of variety means you’re still essentially shooting the same enemies with the same gun, but the numbers popping out of their bodies are larger.
The Division can be played entirely solo though the game does require you to be connected online at all times even if there’s nobody else in the game world. You’re encouraged to play in a group with friends or matchmake with strangers for a cooperative experience and The Division is definitely much more enjoyable that way. Playing in a squad does require some coordination - a teammate hitting a few levels higher than your own is enough to throw off the balanced combat experience. It’s worth the extra effort though as you can utilise flanking routes while flushing an enemy out of cover with a coordinated move can be gratifying. Unfortunately, instead of the enemy intelligence scaling up to accommodate the extra players in your squad, the game takes a lazy approach and just cranks up the raw amount of damage they can take before going down. Couple that with the tedium of a mindless mission structure and you have a multiplayer game that quickly wears out its welcome.
The Division’s standout feature is a walled-off
PvPvE area located at the centre of the map called the Dark Zone where you can
fight alongside or against other players without any matchmaking. A player can
kill another player and take their loot but doing so will mark the player as
‘Rogue’ which enables everyone else on the server to take them out and scoop up
their winnings. It’s this risk reward system that keeps things interesting
while discovering that the strangers you’ve met are trustworthy is gratifying
in its own way. The Dark Zone has its problems: it’s heavily weighted towards
cooperation, with the punishment for going rogue outweighing the potential
Despite its issues, The Division is a very pretty loot-based shooter that with a few updates has the potential to become a good co-op experience. Some highlights of the recently released 1.1 patch added a new mode called “Incursions” which is similar to the popular raid mode in Destiny where four players on a team work together to take on a host of difficult enemies in the hopes of acquiring more powerful gear and weapons. The update also introduced a restricted form of loot trading that allows players to pick items up, then drop them for their friends to grab instead. This feature has been well received by players as it essentially gives lower ranked players an opportunity to acquire higher level gear and weapons outside of the Dark Zone drops.
Meanwhile the 1.2 update is expected to introduce some much needed balance tweaks to the dark zone and more generous loot drops. It will be interesting to see how The Division evolves over time but there’s no denying that what we received at launch lacks a consistently enjoyable gameplay loop to keep players engaged. That said, if you can get a regular squad going then The Division is worth a look into.
- Homefront: The Revolution review: A mess of a game with grandiose ambitions
- Doom review: Glorious guns, gibs, and more guns
- Report: Microsoft could debut Xbox One game streaming stick and 'Xbox TV' at E3
- Review: The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
- Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter review: A dreadful case
- 60 turns with Civilization VI: 3 key tweaks will change how you conquer the world
- Which is the Best gaming and typing keyboard that you can buy right now?
- A sorely needed Just Cause 3 multiplayer mod is coming, one way or another
- Pokémon Go is rolling out now for iOS and Android
- Has Corsair fixed the main problem of PC gaming in the living room? Corsair Lapdog review
Join the PC World newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Smart LED Bulb LB130
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Portable SSD
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 HTC U Ultra phone full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Venom Blackbook Zero 14 laptop review
Latest News Articles
- Star Citizen dumps DirectX 12 plans to focus on Vulkan-powered graphics
- Dungeons and Dragons ditches pen and paper with D&D Beyond
- Exclusive no more: PlayStation 4 games are coming to the PC via PlayStation Now
- Adding video apps like Netflix to the Nintendo Switch is a waste of Nintendo's energy
- You can download Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS and Android today
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- TPBusiness Project Manager - DigitalNSW
- CCSenior C++ .Net DeveloperWA
- FTSAP HR Functional ConsultantQLD
- CCAutomation TesterQLD
- TPFull Stack .NET DeveloperWA
- CCInside Sales ConsultantNSW
- TPNetwork AdministratorWA
- FTSystem Engineer - Level 2NSW
- FTProject CoordinatorVIC
- TPSenior/Lead AEM DeveloperQLD
- CCTest Manager with PV Security ClearanceACT
- FTICT Change AnalystSA
- FTSecurity Support AnalystNSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistNSW
- CCMigration EngineerACT
- CCSenior Technology SpecialistVIC
- FTWorkforce AnalystNSW
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Engineer (Mid level) - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- CCChange AnalystVIC
- TPBusiness Analyst - HealthQLD
- TPBusiness AnalystACT
- CCAutomation Developer - LinuxNSW
- FTSenior C# DeveloperNSW
- FTSAP Payroll and Time ConsultantVIC