Review: Tom Clancy’s The Division

There’s so much to like about Tom Clancy’s The Division. They have done a very good job of bringing a near post-apocalyptic New York to life. The missions are logical and have good flavor. However, there’s one thing that I think the game must work on going forward, and that is the AI damage model.

The Division is aimed primarily at the same type of players as Destiny. The game offers robust matchmaking, and it’s easy to drop in or drop out of groups. You’ll be in pretty much iconic New York locations like Madison Square Garden. It really FEELS like a city under siege by the “Green Poison”, also known as the “Dollar Flu”, mostly for the way it had been spread.

The game does a good job of letting you differentiate your characters. In our latest teamup,  around Level 12 (the game has 30 levels) I was the team medic, dropping a heal basin and picking up downed folks, one of my buddies was the technical guy, dropping a turret that would suppress the bad guys, allowing us to move forward without fear of getting shot up. Our third member hung back, and used a sniper rifle to pick off anyone in the open, and our forth guy was rock and rolling with a Light Machine Gun that provided lots of high velocity lead. And the nice thing is you’re never locked into a roll, you can change perks, talents, and equipped weapons at any time (you have two primary weapons, and a sidearm, and can change them to any gun you’re carrying, or buy/make new ones in the safe zones.

The graphics are amazing. During one of our missions, a snow squall arrived, and visibility went down to near zero, and that changed how we approached taking on the bad guys. It’s hard to take them out from a distance when you can’t even see them. And this is a game that punishes characters that try to Rambo their way through the game. You know, carry a big gun, and mow down hundreds of disposable bad guys without ever really reloading or seeking cover. You get caught in the open, you’re going to feel it. Luckily, the game has a nice system of moving from cover to cover. All I had to do was aim at the next area of cover and press and hold the spacebar to run to the next location.

But, the AI Damage model is.. to put it politely, annoying. Look, I get it, you want to make people work for their green and blue drops. That’s fine. But seriously, folks, it shouldn’t take 100 or so rounds from a Light Machine Gun to drop an unarmored rioter. Destiny can get away with that stuff, due to handwavium “it’s science fiction”. But when bad guys are out in the open and take a full magazine of bullets to the dome, and all you do is drop a couple points of “armor”…. yeah. That’s what we call negative feedback. If they were any more of a bullet sponge, they’d have the last name Squarepants.

There are some other niggling issues (black screen when dropping a group, has happened twice, some server queueing times), but all in all, it’s good. Now if they just can fix the AI damage model, so they’re not taking hundreds of bullets to down one boss..

The Good: Incredibly atmospheric. The missions you’re doing feel logical and a reason to bring hope to a city without it. Matchmaking is great, and is easy to drop in and out of groups. There’s always a reason to “do one more mission”

The Bad: The AI Damage Model really needs work. Enemies have way too much HP, so instead of running battles, you’re stuck plugging away for minutes on end trying to defeat a guy wearing a t-shirt and jeans. It doesn’t work for a game that’s based in near-future, rather than far-future like other games with the same model.

Should you Buy it? I would personally wait right now until a few patches and balances happen, to see where this goes.

The Rating: 74/100