The final ingredient of The Division‘s recipe is the PvP arena that will most likely secure its future: The Dark Zone. The Dark Zone is New York’s most devastated area and it’s the only place in which another Division agent (another player) can gun you down as well as the various NPCs. But The Dark Zone isn’t just one huge deathmatch arena, and you may find that you’re actually able to help other players in defeating the deadlier enemies that await behind its doors. Of course, after you do help them they may just turn on you and blast you to pieces anyway…
What makes The Dark Zone so thrilling is just how unpredictable it is. Alliances are formed on thin ice here and you’ll always have to be on your guard. The core gameplay elements we’ve already talked about feature here, too, but your agent has a separate Dark Zone ranking and the game’s best gear can only be found here.
The incentives to take out fellow players are obvious, but those who strike first paint targets on their backs as they are highlighted as ‘Rogues.’ From there, any remaining agents in the area will be encouraged to bring them to justice. Like anything in life, The Dark Zone is immense when you’re on top, but players will complain when the tides turn and they aren’t faring so well against others. Yet, if you can’t stand the heat you shouldn’t be in the kitchen; The Dark Zone will get people’s backs up, but the ruthless unpredictability is what sets it apart from the rest of the game. It will be a major shame if Ubisoft tweak its nature to avoid complaints.
Unfortunately in the early coverage since the game’s release, much has been made of a few teething problems and many interested players may have had their heads turned away by rumours of a “broken game.”
True, The Division is not perfect; I had a few problems accessing servers early on and on a couple of occasions I stepped onto a platform or street to find myself suddenly falling through the world into nothingness. There were instances of major texture pop-ins and some issues with lag in highly populated areas, but the proportion of time during which I experience these things was minuscule compared to the times when the game was near flawless. It’s truly a shame that some commentators are so set on criticizing certain studios that minor problems are blown so heavily out of proportion.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is not a perfect game, but we’d have been fools for ever expecting it to be. It’s been an ambitious project and – given the post-release update schedule – it’s one that Ubisoft seem intent on continuing to build. It’s had its delays and its controversies around “graphical downgrades,” but these issues are not issues with the game itself. Taken out of the context of a tumultuous build-up and away from the weight of expectation, this game is a sheer triumph. It takes a simple third-person shooter and packs impressive RPG and multiplayer elements into the mix, with the end result being simply fantastic. Miss this game at your own peril.
This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 console.
It's not perfect, and in truth it was never likely to be. The Division is, however, a truly accomplished multi-genre title that has something for virtually everyone.