July 12, 2016

Tom Clancy's The Division - Underground Review

When The Division first launched, it was plagued by a number of server problems, but for those that stuck with it, they discovered a fun shooter, that was designed to be played with friends, but as time went on, the missions became somewhat bland, but with the first paid expansion, Underground hoped to remedy that.

The story for Underground is more of an idea than a full-fledged story, while you were cleaning up the streets, members of the gangs made their way underground, using New York’s vast array of Subway tunnels and sewer lines to avoid detection. Gaining access to this network of tunnels is actually achieved through your base and once you complete the first mission, you are free to explore them as much as you want. I say explore, but in reality, what happens next is the biggest change to how you play The Division, because every time you play, everything changes.

Each of the locations that you explore, outside of that very first mission is randomly created, taking different rooms, enemies and even the reason to fight through them all, meaning no two playthroughs should ever be the same. What this gives you is a reason to keep stepping back in and fighting the good fight, because you never really know what you will end up with, however you need to ensure that you are the right level, because if you are not, it will not be fun for you at all. In terms of gameplay changes, there is nothing, at least on the surface that will need you to relearn anything, but I did notice that some of the gear drops were a little different, better gear and such.

Perhaps the thing that surprised me the most with the generated spaces is that they were all very narrow and small, which is not surprising too much, being underground, but even some of the side missions given above ground will see players, entering rather large rooms down below, here that never really happened. What this means is that you can’t really develop any tactical plans with squad mates, or on your own, because there is not a lot of room to execute them, of course, you can still move about, but the size of the location is not really like anything you might expect. However, thanks to the smaller sized rooms, you can always keep a clear sense of where you need to push towards, so in reality, the more streamlined approach has its ups and downs and players will love it or hate it based on that.

The way that player progression works in the Underground is just like the Dark Zone, the gear that you earn won’t be found in the main game and also like the Dark Zone, the experience that you earn in there, won’t transfer out to the main game. Now, I myself mainly play The Division solo, but here, Underground, playing with people is more important than above ground, excluding the Dark Zone. The issues that I found playing with people, were more inspired by a lack of balance in the team strength, the first time that I played with people, I was one of the stronger players, but I was still behind the leader, the third member of the team was only level 12, which sadly did not endure him to survive many of the fights. On the flip side though, I also grouped with some players who were significantly better at the game than I was, sporting higher levels and even better gear and it made me basically just a tag along. When I went through the maps solo, it proved to be a challenge, but it was one that I enjoyed.

The new content itself does not look any different from the spaces you are used to exploring and given that there have been some missions take place below ground before, the continuity of the design is much appreciated. Some of the new gear does look different to what you might expect, but that in and of itself is to be expected. Sound wise, things are a little different, mostly because you are underground, and while it is true there is not a lot of noise on the streets when you are walking about, once you head below, there is even less. But the absence of noise is not a bad thing, it helps give that feeling of isolation and claustrophobia.

Underground is not going to bring you back to the game if you grew tired of it, what it offers is a more streamlined approach to combat and a whole new levelling system to enjoy. It will likely annoy you that the spaces are more confined than you would have found above ground, but given the replayability of what is on offer, I am sure it will balance out.

Thanks to Ubisoft for supplying the expansion for review

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