March’s Game of the Month will satisfy all your winter coat fantasies, and trigger a phobia of physical money. It’s Tom Clancy’s The Division!
The Division is Ubisoft’s newest franchise in their “Tom Clancy’s” universe, joining the likes of Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Endwar (What, you don’t remember EndWar?). It’s also the latest major release in a growing but as of yet unnamed genre championed by Bungie’s Destiny: the not-quite-massively-multiplayer online loot-heavy role-playing shooter… deepbreath.gif.
The game casts you in the role of a sleeper agent within the government agency known as, you guessed it, the Division. Agents are activated in the event of homeland emergencies, such as when terrorists lace money with smallpox to be circulated throughout New York City on Black Friday. When just such an event occurs, your character is activated, ostensibly to help maintain order and aid emergency responders in the aftermath. It’s also a pretty slick way of providing players with a city-sized but sparsely-populated playground to cover shoot and corpse loot their way through alone or with 2 friends.
While the premise may not be groundbreaking, The Division builds on and solidifies this new genre into the gaming community, especially among console gamers. Comparing it to Destiny, it’s easy to get a real “Simpson’s did it!” vibe from many mechanics, including the post-game leveling system, but the Division brings its own ideas to the table, most notably the Dark Zone. This is the game’s PVP area, and where some of the game’s better items are found. Here, players can choose to cooperate and get out alive, or betray one another to claim that new beanie as their own. The mode adds a layer of social tension to gameplay, while also fitting with the themes of the game’s narrative (as long as you don’t question too strongly why teams from the same agency are gunning each other down over winter wear).
If you can’t tell, my (admittedly limited) experience with the game left me torn. But in this case (and I’ll rarely admit this) my opinion doesn’t matter here. Millions of players have joined up with The Division to reclaim Manhattan, one slightly ajar car door at a time, and you better believe the message has been received. Games like Warframe and Destiny may have been the early pioneers in the wake of Call of Duty’s waning influence, but The Division is the first confident stride forward into future of online multiplayer action games. Not to mention a step into what many are hoping is a new phase of Ubisoft design philosophy – one with fewer towers to climb. Whatever the case, The Division has undoubtedly pushed social gaming forward, and we at TSG are eager to see where the path leads.
Check out every TSG Game of the Month winner by exploring our Hall of Heroes!