The Division – Everything that you need to know

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Role-playing mechanics, loot, shooting and enemies who need plenty of lead pumped into their skulls. And for once, I’m not talking about Destiny! Ubisoft’s big tent-pole game for the year is almost here, and interest is running high in what appears to be a fancy-pants RPG with some meaty shooting layered on top of it.

Of course, it could be something wildly different to what we’re expecting, but who knows? Fortunately, we do know some stuff, gleaned from years of development and a hands-on session or two. Let’s get to it.

Where?

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New York City. A hive of scum and villainy, with danger lurking around every single corner of this bacterial cesspool of despair. And that’s just on a regular day of the week. The Division has you exploring what’s left of New York after a biological attack has turned the isle of Manhattan into a massive death-zone.

Thanks to an event known as Black Friday, in which tainted bank notes helped transmit a deadly virus across the US of A, New York is but one of many cities that have fallen out of government control and descended into anarchy.

When?

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The nearish future. Probably.

So what’s my role in all of this?

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It’s been three weeks since everything went to hell on the mother of all Black Fridays. With the US government stretched to their limits as they attempt to reclaim the formerly united states of America, Directive 51 is activate. As a newly sanctioned covert ops operative, you’ve got carte blanche to do what you need to do so that law and order can be restored.

But don’t expect any military backup, as you’re on your own behind enemy lines. Fortunately, there’s more than one Directive 51 agent operating in New York. Time to team up.

So how does it handle then?

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There’s been a lot of comparisons to Destiny when it comes to The Division. But whereas Destiny is a shooter dressed up in MMO and RPG gear, The Division is a proper RPG that is itself dressed up in shooter and cover-based action garb. It’s all about your personal growth as an agent, from cosmetics to the gear you carry with you.

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There’s two key factors that craft your gameplay experience as an Agent: Loot and Skills. Skills naturally provide permanent upgrades, with various disciplines unlocking the skills that suit you best. On top of that, Talents serve as passive buffs that enhance your skills in the field. Loot is what you’d expect it to be: Grab good gear, have better results when out in the wild and staring down the wrong end of a flamethrower.

How many skills to pay the bills?

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Three in total: Medical, Tech and Security. Medics provide support and keep your team alive, Security agents specialise in defence and Tech operatives get a lot of fancy toys to play with. What makes The Division a little bit different to similar setups, is that these skills can be swapped out on the fly, thus creating a deeper tactical opportunity for players and teams. Hopefully.

I take it that a simple bullet to the head isn’t going to be a viable strategy, no matter what John Wick has to say.

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Nope! That’s the RPG side of The Division coming into play. While a bullet to the head is good, you’ll need to level your way up and increase your skills if you want to start popping off a few insta-kills on lower-level foes.

What’s this BOO that I’ve heard so much about?

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That’s your Base Of Operations. A personal headquarters, your BOO is a stronghold that you get to constantly upgrade throughout The Division. At the bare minimum, you can use it as a storage room for all your loot. Start working on some missions however, and you can turn your BOO into a factory for skills, upgrading your abilities and making your agent that much more deadly.

You’ll also find vendors, mission requests and loot while you manage your skills before heading out into New York.

So what do I actually do in The Division?

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You shoot, you take cover and you shoot some more while praying that your bullets will actually be effective. What The Division is attempting to do, is to make a seamless world for you to explore. New York is one massive playground of various boroughs, with every single effort that you put into a mission contributing towards the end goal of saving the city.

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From side quests to main missions, your actions are going to help save New York. And those missions may involve killing dangerous gangsters, protecting repairs on sewage systems or rescuing hostages.

This zone is a little bit dark…

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That’s the aptly-named Dark Zone. There’s no proper multiplayer mode such as deathmatches or capture the flag in The Division, with social online activities being found in these hotspots. Dark Zones are filled with enemies, and features no friendly fire option when you’re dealing with another player that you encounter. Pretty much the most dangerous area in all of New York, safety isn’t guaranteed in the Dark Zones.

Can I trust my friends in the Dark Zones?

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Probably not, and definitely not if I’m in your team. While working as a cohesive team will help you save the day and earn some great loot, you’ll also be able to stab your friends in the back with bullets and steal all of hard-won loot. Just be aware, that the second that you go rogue, everyone else will know about it, and trust you even less.

Right, how about a taste of the game before it’s out then?

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You’re sort of in luck. If you’ve pre-ordered, you can take part in a closed beta this weekend from January 28, with Xbox One players getting a whole extra day. Be aware though: It’s a  hefty 26gb download.

So when is it out?

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March 8, hombre. (RIGHT NOW)

Platforms?

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PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Microsoft’s massive black box is the lead platform on The Division, so it may be worth keeping your options open for that platform. Here’s what you’ll need to run it on PC.

Further reading

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Last Updated: April 3, 2017

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Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Which answers everything except the question I want answered most – what’ll it be like SP?

    • Hammersteyn

      Like Destiny, or if you’ve never played it, like Valentines day for single people if I had to guess?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Forgettable? Well that’s disappointing. :/

        • Hammersteyn

          You play on your own, but you miss out on a ton of perks is what I meant.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            Valentines day is full of perks? I don’t know what exactly to say about that…

          • Sageville

            Isn’t it just the Dark Zone you need to avoid then?

          • Hammersteyn

            I think so, but isn’t that where all the good loot is?

          • Sageville

            Typical, the world is on the brink of armageddon and Hammer is all about loot, not the saving of the planet… I thought we knew you Hammer, so sad….

          • Jonah Cash

            I suspect that I will try and solo some of this first before I start asking you elite Whatsapp(ers) for help with getting something bigger than a BB Gun!!

          • Sageville

            Still scared of technology I see….

            This could have been us, but you ain’t playing….

          • Jonah Cash

            Hahahaha!! That is just awesome!

          • Hammersteyn

            But,but I need loot to save the planet. You cant fix a substation without tools and knowledge even though Eskom tries to prove me wrong every day.

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      Hahaha!!! They should have named this Tom Clancy’s The Chaos Theory Division…

    • It’ll be okay – but you’ll be missing half the fun. (Testing commenting on Firefox)

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I’m #foreverSP – apparently I’m already missing half the fun. 😉

  • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

    Bloodie agents

  • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

    How bad will the ping be?

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      I don’t think we need to worry about that – Uplay won’t work for the 1st week anyway.

    • GooseZA

      The alpha was very playable. Noticeable lag but not horrendous.

  • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

    Can I MORDOR innocent civilians?

    • Hammersteyn

      You can Planetside 2 your squad mates 😛

      • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

        Don’t remind me, and it is WORSE with TR, damn red twats

  • Jan Prins

    Wait wait wait. I do not give a flying hoot about how bad a shot you are , in real life a bullet does not care about your shooting stats…

    • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

      In real life you still need to be able to aim to shoot something, and just remember, headshots do more damage in both

      • Jan Prins

        Not so. Head shot, even a lucky shot in real life can kill. So this game is BS! Utter BS!

        • I think you are getting confused between video games and real life…

          • Jan Prins

            Nah. I hate it when I shoot a guy in the head, and he merely shakes it off. In games that is. I have never shot someone in the head in real life.

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            I have, many times.

            Though they also didn’t die, just shouting interesting words.

            Then again, what can you expect with a paintball bullet/pellet

          • Jan Prins

            Must find Paintball arena. And friends to play Paintball with. Will you be my friend?

          • The Grand Admiral Chief Prime

            As Admiral Ackbar said, IT’S A TRAP!

          • HairyEwok

            I shot a mannequin in the head once…. he lived to tell the tale. So just imagine the people in the game are flexible mannequins running around.

  • iusedtobe(a)regular

    I read the article and I still cant make out if this a SP with MP or just straight on MMO.

    • We don’t really know yet to be honest…

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        Do the Dev’s know?

        • Sageville

          They have probably developed an un-flipable MP / SP switch somewhere, especially given Xbone is the lead platform…

          • And yet people still sit like fanboys creating whatsap groups to worship the game? *RUNS

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            Whaaah? Well, if the in game chatting doesn’t pull through… You know, whatsapp, but can you imagine what a mess that’d be…

  • Using New York city is like another series of Naturo…

  • Sageville

    Do you guys always review on the “Lead Platform”?

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      I know the Xbone is heavy, but I don’t think it’s made out of lead.

    • We tend to – as that’s the one the publisher sends though. We will try get as many of the available platforms as possible though.

  • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    So much to read and still no clear answer as to whether it’ll be fun with or without friends, and the hype train for this is already steaming ahead, cautious curiosity, I say…

  • Mabenito

    Soooooo PS+ required?

  • BacchusZA

    Guys, any idea what time the Beta download goes live? I keep clicking refresh on Steam but it’s still not available 🙁

    • It’s available to pre-load on Xbox One right now, and should go live tomorrow on Steam.

      • BacchusZA

        Bah, was hoping it was today :/ Eh, no biggy, Telkom are giving me 12Mb/s down these days, so I should still manage to get it down in time for Friday.

        Thanks for the feedback, Tim 🙂

  • HairyEwok

    I would have been fine in this scenario…. Black friday is for people with money, luckily i have none so i would probably be an agent in the end…. or one of those fanatic flamethrower guys.

  • can’t wait to get into the Beta starting on Jan 28 (XBOX One0 and Jan 29 (PS$ and PC). Still not too late for you, check out all preorder offers here: https://twitter.com/GameEditions/status/691633441004134402

  • BacchusZA

    It seems the pre-load for the beta on Steam went live sometime last night / this morning, & comes in at 25GB or so.

    • PestControl

      I finished my Uplay pre-load this morning… Think it was closer to 29GB. Took around 2 hours and 45 min to download.

  • Hockeyfan1664

    I hope they add more places to discover, because the beta territory felt pretty empty for an mmorpg.

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