The Dark Zone is one of The Division's most interesting aspects. Unlike the rest of Midtown, if you enter the Dark Zone, you'll be placed into an instance with a couple dozen other players whose level range is close to your own. I would very much recommend heading in with at least one friend.
Enemies are much stronger in the Dark Zone, and will usually drop higher quality gear than you can get outside. They'll also drop Dark Zone Credits, a separate currency used to buy items from vendors at the zone's entrance. In here, loot is "contaminated" and you can't just waltz out of there holding onto it. Once you've decided you've had enough hunting and want to check out your spoils, you'll need to head to an extraction zone and summon a helicopter to haul your loot away and give it a good scrubbing.
Here's where the game becomes a bit of a social experiment: in the Dark Zone, you can choose to work together with other players, or you can shoot them in the back when they're not looking and snag all of the Dark Zone loot and a portion of the DZ Credits they're holding. When someone calls for extraction, all other players in your instance are alerted. In my experience, about half the time you're trying to extract, someone's going to try and show up to ruin your party. Extraction takes 90 seconds, after which, the helicopter will wait for about 30 seconds for any players to attach their gear for cleansing.
The Division is a living game, and through a combination of paid and free add-ons, should grow to have more to do. For the moment, it's good for about thirty or so hours before you've got nothing left to do but grind the daily challenges for Phoenix Credits and prowl the Dark Zone. Soon, an endgame activity known as Incursions will be added, and it seems like this'll be The Division's version of a raid.
As a solo experience, The Division is a fairly repetitive grind with a handful of interesting set pieces throughout the campaign. As soon as you add extra players, or crank up the difficulty, the I find it to become vastly more enjoyable.
The Division vs. Destiny
There are a fair number of comparisons that can be made between The Division and Destiny. Both have a lackluster story, both have character classes (to a degree), and both require new content doled out at regular intervals to sustain them. There are a fair number of differences as well, e.g., The Division uses cover-based shooting mechanics, Destiny's landscapes are beautiful in a fantastical way while The Division paints a grim reality, and The Division utilizes cover-based shooter mechanics and strategies. None of that matters. When comparing The Division and Destiny, the question isn't one of "will I like one if I like the other;" if you like loot shooters then the answer is yes. No, the real question is "will The Division push Destiny to be better, and vice versa."
As The Division stands now, there is room for improvement. The same was said of Destiny at its launch and it took that team one year to turn things around. There is some hope that The Division will be able to make the same shift faster, as they would have a kind of "lessons learned" via observation of what happened with Destiny. What's more, Ubisoft and the rest of the dev team have a real opportunity in these next few months to really impress its player base and attract new players to the game while Destiny is figuring out its new content cycle. If they can, then perhaps Bungie will have to respond in kind. What we should all be hoping for are two games that provide two experiences that are rewarding and just different enough that both can be played and enjoyed by the same group.
The Division vs. New York City
Ubisoft and Massive should be commended for the authenticity of NYC represented in The Division. They took one of the most iconic cities in the world and managed to create a beautiful and believable post-outbreak urban environment. While we're currently limited to a compressed subsection of midtown Manhattan, the areas that are on display are surprisingly accurate to their real life counterparts. As someone who travels into the city numerous times a year I not only saw the obvious larger landmarks (Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Bryant Park, etc) - but smaller areas were accurately recreated. I frequently take the ferries into the city from Weehawken, NJ and several buildings near the waterway were accurately on display. When my wife ran the NYC Marathon last year, my daughter and I sat on a bench in a small park outside some apartments near 34th and 2nd Ave, and in the Division I was taking down Rikers in that very park. It was sort of surreal.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up through missions played online or take your team into the Dark Zone at risk of clashing with other hostile players.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.