Tom Clancy's The Division: Everything You Need to Know

Gamers going through massive-multiplayer-online (MMO) gaming withdrawal in the months since the last Destiny expansion was released should get acquainted with Tom Clancy's: The Division. Launched on March 8 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, Ubisoft's newest title places players in the shoes of a covertly trained government operative tasked with restoring law and order to New York City after a bioterror attack.

Photo: UbisoftPhoto: Ubisoft

Wondering if you should add The Division to your game library? Look no further than this handy-dandy primer for all of your basic questions.

What Is The Division?

Ubisoft's latest game is an open-world, third-person shooter role-playing game that focuses around a secret government organization dubbed The Division. Comprised of sleeper agents leading seemingly normal lives, The Division's sole task is to restore order in the event the government is compromised. In the game, an unknown entity has released the smallpox virus into the population on Black Friday, the frenzied shopping day after Thanksgiving, spreading the disease via tainted cash. The virus quickly spreads across the United States, bringing the country to its knees in days.

It's up to you to find the source of the pandemic and restore order. As ground zero of the attacks, Manhattan is overrun with sick people, but, even worse, basic necessities such as food and water are becoming scarce, causing survivors to riot and commit atrocities. After the initial pandemic, three hostile factions form to make your life a living hell while you go about quelling the unrest.

What Do I Need to Play?

The Division will be available on March 8 for PC, PlayStation 4 or Xbox One (sorry, Wii U and last-gen console owners). In order to start running and gunning on the PC, your system will have to possess the minimum specs.

  • Operating System: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2500 or AMD FX-6100
  • RAM: 6GB
  • GPU:  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 with 2GB VRAM/AMD Radeon HD 7770 with 2GB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Hard Drive Space: 40GB available space
  • Broadband: 256 kbps up

Why the Destiny Comparison?

The Division has been compared to Bungie's Destiny. Both games offer a copious sprinkling of loot as you shoot your way through the levels, encouraging you to play for bigger, better gear. You can also level up and customize your weaponry in both games.

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Each title lets players customize their characters' looks and fighter classes. The Division offers a hub setup similar to Destiny's Tower called the Dark Zone, where you can interact with other players outside of your immediate party for player-versus-player or player-versus-enemy action.

Photo: UbisoftPhoto: UbisoftYet Ubisoft worked to ensure The Division would be more than a Destiny clone set in New York. At a rumored 96 square kilometers, Division's open world is much larger than the various moons and planets scattered across Destiny. And while you're on a constant hunt for loot, but nothing else, in Destiny, Division agents need to employ survival tactics, such as scavenging for food, water and med kits in addition to better weaponry. 

How Does The Division Look?

Since this is a Tom Clancy title, there's a huge focus on realism, which is why developer Massive Entertainment used the Snowdrop Engine to recreate the streets, major landmarks and general atmosphere of the Big Apple. I was blown away by the level of detail it managed to squeeze in. During a mission to Madison Square Garden and Penn Station, I couldn't help to stop and take a look around. Outside of the endless reams of clear plastic and boxes of medical supplies, the transportation hub and entertainment mecca were spot on.

Photo: UbisoftPhoto: UbisoftIn addition to the slavish devotion to detail, you can expect dynamic weather conditions, including snowfall and fog. Ubisoft and Massive promise that the weather and the time of day will affect your gaming experience. Overall, you have to see it to believe it.

How Long Is it?

Early reports list the game at more than 10 main missions. That doesn't include the inevitable downloadable content, the first two entries of which will be free. The rest of the DLC will be added at later dates as part of three separate expansions. As the title is open-world, there's bound to be a side mission or two hidden in the nooks and crannies of NYC. How long or short the game is depends on how you play.

Single-Player or Multiplayer?

While the title is designed to be a multiplayer game supporting up to four players. If you're looking to amp up the challenge, I suggest exploring the Dark Zone. A quarantine zone located in Midtown Manhattan, the Dark Zone is the most dangerous place in the game, which means it's where you'll find some of the best loot. You can explore the Dark Zone by yourself or find a few players to team with. Be careful, as fellow agents can choose to turn on you and steal your hard-earned loot.

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Is There Cross-Platform Play?

Unfortunately, console and PC folks will have to play in their respective silos.

Should I Buy The Division?

Let me ask you a few questions. Is running around a photorealistic version of New York City, either by yourself or as part of a team, with highly customizable weaponry, your idea of a good time? Do you like the idea of thwarting bioterroism with just your wits and keen survival skills? Are you excited by the possibility of robbing another player of hard-earned loot in a heist so smooth it would bring tears to Doris Payne's eyes? Then the Division is right up your alley.