Review: The Division

About this Game

Tom Clancy's The Division

Publisher

Ubisoft

Developer

Massive Entertainment

Release Date

8 March 2016

Console

PlayStation 4

Time to Plat

~60h

Platinum Difficulty

Easy

Online Trophies?

Yes

Difficulty Trophies?

Yes

Support Us

Follow Us

Cleaning Up the Streets of New York, 8 Headshots at a Time.

After experiencing one of the worst videogames of my entire trophy hunting career playing Anthem MrZhangetsu and I decided we wanted to play another shared-world shooter-RPG and The Division was at the top of our list.

We’d played the open beta a few years ago when the game first launched, but as we were already spending a minimum of 4 hours a day on Destiny and The Division was a similar but less sci-fi experience, we decided to stick with Destiny.

Now that we’re avid Trophy Hunters with a primary goal firmly in mind, we set out on a looong journey to get that Plat.

The Division Review

The Division takes place in a pandemic-riddled New York. A deadly small-pox-like virus has become unpleasantly commonplace in the US due to the use of cotton money. Released in New York during Black Friday through the use of contaminated dollar bills, tourism eventually meant that it spread across the world.

This rather novel and exciting premise sets the stage for a quarantined and desolate New York. Trash piles high on every corner and New York’s citizens break off into different factions who all think they know what is best for the city. 

In Quarantined buildings, trash isn’t the only thing piling up in bags…

Which is where we come in, in an effort to control the chaotic streets of New York and to aid the true “good guys” – the JTF – the Division was formed, a group of trained elites who have the skills and know-how to reign in New York and stem the flow of chaos.

Shoot n Loot

Gameplay in The Division is a lot like Destiny, Anthem, and any other such games wherein you have an open world filled with many linear events and missions, throughout which you will earn exp and gear which gets incrementally stronger. Your main goal being to kill enemies, collect their loot, and improve your loadout.

Given that The Division is set in the real world, the available weaponry, skills and armour are a lot more realistic. 

The weapons are regular guns as we know them IRL, they fire bullets of different sizes at different rates depending on the weaponry in question, but there are no sci-fi laser weapons or excessive explosive perks because we’re fighting other humans, not aliens or machinery.

My favourite of all the guns we collected throughout our playthrough.

Though you wouldn’t think it, because the health on the enemies in the Division is unbelievable. Some enemies can take multiple M700 shots to the head and still live to laugh about it. It makes sense to be fair, because how else would they make a game out of it? But it does take some serious suspension of disbelief. Nothing we’re not already used to, though.

In the same vein, skills are far more grounded, you won’t find yourself punching the ground to send out a shockwave of destruction, or pulling out a blade and going ninja on anybody’s ass, but some of the tech skills do reach just a little bit out of the realm of reality, with grenades which can hunt down your enemies or the ever-useful auto-turret.

Armour, again, is very realistic and there’s nothing very exciting to be found functionally or cosmetically. Tatty dirt-covered rags or military camo is just barely visible underneath protective pads and bullet-proof vests, as opposed to the hulking space-suits we might usually be used to in other such games.

For me, this lack of creativity in the rewards I would earn was a big point of disinterest. I am more than willing to put that down as a conflict of personal taste, however, the loot system does seem to be flawed in some ways as MrZhangetsu and I would find ourselves using the same gun for hours – unable to find anything better.

Geared up and ready to roll!

I specifically recall that when I was almost level 30 I was still using a Scar-H I found at level 12 and didn’t find anything which had a higher damage output for an insanely long time.

Again, as we were going through the missions on hard, I was forced to rely solely on a pretty powerful M700 Carbon I had managed to purchase at a weapons vendor because I was unable to find any single powerful Primary fire-arm except a semi-decent FAL which was very under-powered by that point and with which I struggled to kill anybody.

Gangs of New York

As I mentioned, New York split off into factions; different groups of individuals who all thought they had the right idea about how to protect their city.

Looters picking at fresh carrion.

The main group who you’ll be hearing about the most is “JTF”. The Joint Task Force is a militarised group made up of Firefighters, Medical Staff, Police Officers, and any other government-affiliated group left behind in New York after the Outbreak. Supposedly the good guys in a world where everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing, this group borders on pathetic, to be perfectly honest. You’re constantly running to their rescue and it really is no surprise because their AI is absolutely useless.

The first enemy group you’ll run into though are just regular citizens of New York who have chosen to respond to the collapse of society with aggression. Rioters, Looters, Small-time thugs, these guys are not highly-trained combatants but can still cause you plenty of trouble during the early hours of the game.

Next, you have the Cleaners, our favourite group to fight. The Cleaners very much believe in the cleansing power of fire, so they take to areas known to have even the remotest signs of the virus and they burn everything in sign with flame-throwers and incendiary tech.

So why do we love fighting them? Where there are flame-throwers, there are gas tanks, and these guys walk around with huge tanks on their backs or hips. A few perfectly placed shots on these canisters and they begin to release jets of flame for a short moment before they explode completely, taking out anyone and anything in their immediate vicinity. It’s total carnage and insane, satisfactory fun.

Two Cleaner explosions at once. Gotta love it!

Of course, on the scales of the universe, in order to maintain balance, for every enemy we love to fight there must be an equal and opposite force which we hate to fight. The Rikers Gang. This group of irritants are escaped convicts from the Rikers Island Prison, and there are many things we dislike about this group;

  • They are in infinite supply! How were there so many inmates in one prison? Honestly, you can kill hundreds of them and still see hundreds more in the next hours of gameplay.
  • They make us look bad. We’re supposed to be highly trained military combatants but they’re just criminals. There’s no way every single one of them could be so well-trained. Though I suppose it is mostly just aggression and they are from one of the most notorious prisons in the US.
  • Why do they co-operate with each other? They’re criminals, the worst of the worst criminals at that. Most of them will suffer from mental issues which make them less attentive or prone to lashing out, but for some reason they’re a perfectly well-organised group of sound-minded combat experts? I don’t buy it.
  • The worst thing about them is that they ignore the game’s great cover system. Every enemy makes fantastic use of the cover system, helping you to learn it’s nuances and challenging you to use it better, but Rikers will just run at you with total disregard for cover. A single Riker with a Shotgun is more trouble than a whole group of any other enemy type.
These poor JTF didn’t stand a chance against the Rikers.

Lastly, there is the LMB. The most organised and highly-trained group in the game, these guys are okay to fight as they use more predictable and realistic tactics, but they’re also pretty powerful and prove to be a decent challenge. 

Heavily armoured and swimming in advanced weaponry, the LMB – or “Last Man Battalion” – is a private military originally paid for by the 1%. They have very little regard for the human lives they claim to protect

Caring About the Environment

One of the greatest things about The Division is the environment. Since you spent a lot of time exploring the once-bustling city of New York the developers were presented with the need to make the city feel like a lost cause; feel like it’s recovering from riots, lootings and outright street-based warfare. 

Trash-bags are piled high on street corners. Grizzly scenes of murder and primal threat hauntingly ward people away from entire streets. Enormous buildings and entire blocks of the city are completely quarantined, wrapped in daunting black tarp. Evidence of the cleaners rages on in the streets as fires burn for days and char-coated rubble tells stories of buildings that once were. The city is a beautiful landscape of a horrific world which could be, and we love it.

Haunting scenes like this are found dotted all over New York City.

Clearly a lot of care was put into this environment. You can’t go anywhere else, you can’t hop from planet to planet or fly across the globe to new locales, New York is all the game gives you, but it does it so well.

Divided into Burroughs and filled with story-telling detail on literally every one of the city’s corners, there is always something new, exciting, awe-inspiring, or creepy to be found in these pandemic-rattled streets.

The Division Trophy Experience

Collection Obsessed

We tried to focus purely on the main missions as we played through the Division but it proved difficult not to stick around and be completionists about each area. 

The game reveals collectables on the map in an area once you’ve completed every side-quest and encounter in a location and so having such a formulaic and satisfying way of completing each zone of the map, we approached each location in the following order:

  • Main Missions
  • Side-missions and Encounters
  • Collectables

With each locale, we’d either work our way clockwise or anti-clockwise at each stage of the above approach to access each event or collectable in a very orderly fashion. This proved to be an immensely satisfying process as we watched the map become less and less cluttered through our continued efforts.

The in-game map

During this time we managed to also complete trophies for reaching level 30 and completing certain story missions.

Upon reaching level 30 we were able to use some level 30 high-end items we had stored in our stash crate which we got for purchasing the Gold edition of the game, which included all of the DLC content.

By equipping this content we were able to skip all the way through the post-game difficulties called “World Tiers”. It starts at World Tier 1 where all enemies in the game are level 30 and goes up to World Tier 5. 

There was also a trophy for equipping high-end gear in every slot, which was made infinitely easier by immediately having this gear available and surely shaved a lot of time off the time-to-plat.

Trophy for equipping high-end or exotic gear in every slot.

Having this gear which qualified us for World Tier 5 and keeping the game at World Tier 1 meant we were hugely overpowered for everything still to come, so we finished up all the main missions and fully completed the last couple of zones in this laughably invincible state, netting the many collectable trophies and a few miscellaneous teamwork and ability-based trophies too.

Having completed every main mission and encounter on the map we obviously then had enough points to upgrade every wing in the Base of Operations, which is another 3 trophies completed.

Go Hard or Go Home 

With the base game’s main objectives completed all that was left was to complete additional trophies, some Dark Zone trophies and a single misc trophy which required us to use a Signature Skill 100 times.

There are 3 Signature Skills available, each earned by buying the 1000-cost upgrade for each wing in the Base of Operations. Signature Skills take around 6.5 minutes to recharge meaning it takes a minimum of around 11 hours of gameplay to earn this trophy. Upping the World Tier difficulty also increases this recharge timer. Due to this, we would not complete this trophy in this stage.

I used the Tactical Link signature skill, which increased damage output.

But we sure used our signature skills plenty while completing all 16 missions again on Hard Difficulty. After 4 of these, I earned the trophy for completing 20 missions in a group (with a friend online). MrZhangetsu earned this a few missions prior as he originally played this a while ago with one of our other friends.

Once we had completed all 30 missions on Hard difficulty we had to complete one on Challenging. We chose one of the shorter missions which was called Lincoln Tunnel Checkpoint.

A Dark Time in our Lives

No, I’m not talking about our Anthem playthrough again, this part goes out to the Dark Zone. Which, as it turns out, did actually suck a lot at first too.

Our first moments in the Dark Zone involved a lot of avoiding other players. It seemed there was a rogue agent at every event we attempted and they were always insanely overpowered. Anyone still playing this game would have been playing for months, maybe years, rather than the couple of weeks MrZhangetsu and I had occupied the Division servers.

This Rogue Agent was nice enough not to kill us. Not the first time we saw them, anyway…

One of the things we needed to do was complete an extraction at each of the 8 base-game extraction points in the Dark Zone, however, when you activate an extraction point it becomes a glowing beacon shouting “there are other players here” which attracted every rogue agent in the vicinity who would mostly travel in packs and were hungry for the opportunity to kill us.

Despite our best attempts to defend ourselves, our weapons did little more than tickle these over-levelled power-house players who all seemed to have the ability to constantly recover their health making them essentially indestructible. We didn’t stand a chance.

After two hours of evading other players and doing our best to complete extractions the server finally quietened down and we were able to proceed relatively uninterrupted. Though more than a few times, we’d have Rogue Agents camping outside the Dark Zone checkpoints, essentially spawn-killing and forcing us to abandon our objectives in that area until a later time.

Luckily, once the extraction points had all been used at least once by us, we were free to complete the other dark zone trophies with minimal interference, due to the lack of a beacon letting everyone know where we were.

Our final extraction.

Our next objective was the trophy for killing 10 named Elite enemies (yellow health bar). The issue was that as we were in a group, we had to take turns being the one who killed the named enemy as it was getting the killing shot 10 times which awarded the trophy.

So we did that, making our way from Landmark event to Landmark event, where a named elite would be guaranteed, we courteously took turns being the one to get the killing shot. Except for one occasion where MrZhangetsu and I hit a named enemy with hunting rifle headshots in the same second and he accidentally claimed the kill on my turn, for which he was unnecessarily and disproportionately apologetic.

And so it came down to the final trophy. Killing 20 rogue agents. Each.

As I mentioned, every rogue agent we came across was practically immortal. In the whole time we were trophy-hunting in the Dark Zone (about 6 hours) we never once managed to kill one and here we were with a trophy that required us to kill 20!

Luckily this trophy can very easily be boosted with a friend, here’s how we did it:

“For Justice” trophy boosting method

First, we entered the Dark Zone as a group, starting from the same checkpoint. Doing this ensured we were both in the same Dark Zone instance. Then, MrZhangetsu left my group and held to enter Rogue status. As a Rogue, players become killable and have the ability to kill other players, essentially activating PvP.

While he was in a Rogue state, I killed him. One down, Nineteen to go. Rogue players need to wait 30 seconds before they can respawn at the nearest checkpoint, so during this time, I activated Rogue status for myself and then waited in the same spot for MrZhangetsu to respawn, exit the checkpoint and then kill me. At which point he entered Rogue state.

In total 40 kills had to be exchanged so that we would both get 20 rogue kills, and it took about 50 minutes to an hour, mostly because other rogue players kept turning up and ruining things for us given how invincible they tend to be.

One solo Rogue agent was able to completely destroy both of us no matter how hard we fought back, at which point we would fast-travel to a different checkpoint and try again. I hate online trophies.

Getting that one final Rogue kill.

Eventually, that trophy finally popped and MrZhangetsu – who had previously spent some time grinding out the Signature Skill trophy – earned his Platinum. I, on the other hand, still had 13 more Signature Skill uses to go, which would take an irritating 1.4 hours. 

So, I fast-travelled to the street just outside the base of operations, where I knew I’d be safe from attack, and stood there for well over an hour, hitting + to trigger my signature skill every 6.5 minutes. 

Once I neared the last skill use needed to earn myself that platinum, I found a nice location to use it and ensure my Platinum Screenshot looked nice!

Not too shabby, eh?

Time Breakdown

Per-locale mission & collectible runs

Hard Difficulty Mission replays

Dark Zone Trophies

That concludes my The Division Platinum Trophy Review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!

You can follow us on Twitter @GetPlat and Instagram @platget where we’ll be sharing updates, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games we’re working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!

Verdict

Play

The Division is a solid Shared-World game with an interesting campaign and enjoyable shoot-and-loot mechanics. While it's not the most exciting game out there, it offers some entertaining moments of challenge and satisfaction. Though I feel I would have enjoyed it much less were I not playing it with a good friend, so not really worth platting otherwise.

Pros

  • Collectables done in a satisfying way
  • Impressively Intricate level of detail in environment

Cons

  • Enemies are absolute bullet-sponges
  • Occasional frame drops
  • Dark Zone frustrating and lacklustre

Silver Trophy

I can't help but feel like - while the game is certainly decent - it would have benefited from something more. Perhaps more weapon variety or world events, I'm not sure what exactly, but outside of first impressions the game doesn't offer much which is exciting or unique.

About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

More from TheDblTap