Stevivor didn’t review Tom Clancy’s The Division, but nevertheless we seemed to enjoy it. Ben Salter said Ubisoft Massive’s third-person MMO shooter was preferable to Destiny as a solo experience, while Hamish Lindsay said he’d spend most of his time in the game’s player versus player (PvP) Dark Zone. The game’s new “Underground” DLC doesn’t directly cater to either player, sadly, but does take the entire package in the right direction.
That’s not to say “Underground” is bad; rather, it’s a very specific experience. It adds a new Incursion full of the same grenade lobbing bullet sponges that populated The Division‘s previous Raids — though this time, Dragon’s Nest adds a bunch of exploding RC cars that will absolutely destroy anyone lacking high-level gear. In short, pass on it. The real meat and potatoes of “Underground” is its new Operations — procedurally generated missions with an abundance of customisation. They’re quite novel, through their very nature shuts out both Hamish and Ben. Each player versus enemy (PvE) Operation can be played solo, but penalties for failure come in the form of an aborted mission, a lack of XP and a general waste of time. You’re going to want to group up before you set off dusting AI-controlled baddies.
“Underground” is attempting to bring Dark Zone-like mechanics into The Division‘s PvE space, assigning each Agent a new Underground Rank that can only be built up through successful missions. A higher rank will lead to better end-Operation loot drops and the ability to customise future Operations. As you rank up, you’ll be able to plan more detailed expeditions, setting an overall difficulty, choosing a 1-3 phase stint and finally adding in optional Directives. Those Directives range from a disabled mini-map to a constant, in-Operation health drain. The more Directives you apply, the better your loot as at the end of a mission.
Then, it’s back to the grind.
Operations are far better than Dark Zone looting as a solo player, as in-game matchmaking is fully co-op. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about your squad (or randoms) turning their backs on you. With guaranteed drops from bosses and a chest at the end of each outing, the move from Dark Zone to “Underground” play is a no-brainer. In a group of three Agents — randoms or friends, it doesn’t matter — you’ll mow through levels with relative ease. With four sharpshooters, you’ll hardly ever need to take cover. Most single phase Operations will take between 10-15 minutes in a group, as compared to 25-30 minute high-risk, potentially aborted slogs for those that want to go it alone. The procedurally generated nature of “Underground” means you’ll never really see the same thing twice, despite there being only six main mission types — a much better alternative than replaying old missions or again setting foot into the same ol’ Dark Zone. Granted, some set-pieces will pop up more frequently than others, but they’re very quickly chained with another subway room type that you’ve not seen together. It works.
As a lapsed player, I very quickly got my gear level up thanks to loot drops, but that’s where I hit a wall. Cash-rich but Phoenix Credit-poor, I can’t buy a single thing from any of the vendors in the new Underground Operations base. Selling newly acquired high-end items doesn’t cut it either; you can more cash from those items, not Phoenix Credits. Daily and Weekly challenges will help to increase that form of currency, but it’ll be long, hard work for most of us. Still, the path to high-level gear is pretty clear — I just have to put in the time.
In the end, “Underground” provides a dramatic new way to level up inside The Division‘s meta. People who want to lone wolf the DLC will need to have a very high level gear score before jumping in — which is hard without the DLC itself. Those who love — or loved — the Dark Zone will find it even more empty than usual. Alternatively, those who loathed the Dark Zone have a new way to upskill their character. All things considered, “Underground” is a true evolution of the MMO, provided those who had a passing interest in it can be bothered jumping back in.
“Underground” is available now on Windows PC and Xbox One, with a PS4 release coming shortly.
Tom Clancy’s The Division‘s “Underground” DLC was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher.
Tom Clancy’s The Division’s “Underground” DLC
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