“Our tools keep getting better, and as a result of that, our lives keep getting better.” –Tom Clancy
Moving through Midtown East, I push through to the Warrengate Power Plant, which has been overrun with the Rikers, a grouped formed of escaped convicts from Rikers Island unified under Larae Barrett’s rule. The site provides power to Manhattan in The Division, and the Riker presence poses a threat to the island’s electric grid. After clearing the power plant out, the time has come to pay Larae a visit and put an end to her control over the Rikers. In an intense firefight with her and two cronies, I managed to defeat her. The Last Man Battalion (LMB), however, still retain full control of assets critical to helping the JTF restore function in Manhattan, and Paul Rhodes sends players to take control of a rooftop communications array. After fighting through hordes of enemies, the engineer carrying out the repairs completes his task. The restored communications allows the JTF to better ascertain the situation, and Captain Roy Benitez decides the time has come to assault a major LMB position at Queens Tunnel. Disabling turrets and making my way into the heart of the site, I clear it out and secure weapons, as well as gear for the JTF. On the offensive now, I assist the JTF in pushing their way to Grand Central Station and manage to repel a desparate final assault by the LMB. With the completion of this mission, I wrap up all but three of the main campaign missions of The Division, and the accumulated experience has pushed me to level twenty-seven.
In the campaign’s latter half, missions remain doable for solo players, but there were missions that were trying. In particular, the rooftop mission proved exceptionally challenging: while I was able to engage enemies and reach the engineer without difficulty, the boss, coupled with close-quarters fighting and limited cover made the final fight a gruelling one even on standard difficulty. I found myself wishing I had another player to help provide cover fire while I reloaded, or else could help with flanking the enemies. Eventually, I managed to defeat the boss here and was able to continue with the game, but altogether, it took me some two hours to beat the level. Larae Barrett and her leftendants were similarly challenging: their heavy weapons shredded my player, and I began exploring the different abilities here. I eventually began running with the cluster seeker mine, a powerful crowd control option against the NPCs, and upgraded my first aid ability to the overcharge mod, which provides overhealing and is perfect for solo play. Once I became familiarised with these abilities, I was able to move through missions and control crowds more effectively. I’ve also unlocked the Survivor Link signature skill; the signature skills are powerful boosts that The Division has described as being able to turn the tide of a battle and so, should be reserved for special moments. Survivor Link increases defense and resistance to damage, as well as running speed. I’ve yet to unlock the other two – Recovery Link recovers players to full health, revives nearby downed allies and provides an overheal, and Tactical Link bolsters weapon damage. For now, I’m running Survivor Link simply for the fact that I have it, but both Recovery Link and Tactical Link look to have their own value for a solo player: the former is a fantastic safety net for the event that I sustain lethal damage, while Tactical Link looks excellent for situations where I’ve got the drop on enemies and require a damage boost. As I wrap up the last missions in The Division and finish upgrading all of the wings at HQ, I’ll unlock the last of these skills and put them to the test.
Screenshots and Commentary
- At level twenty, with a fully specialised loadout, I began moving into the Eastern side of Manhattan. Some eagle-eyed readers may note that my ammunition capacity fluctuates occasionally; this is a consequence of equipping different backpacks, some of which provide a bonus on the amount of ammunition I can carry. I’ve found that ammunition capacity is not particularly important during the campaign missions; resupply crates are found in sufficient frequency so that I never run out before important events.
- The Warrengate power plant is modelled on the Consolidated Edison Building on the East River at 15th Street. This facility is a natural gas-fired power station that also provides steam to Manhattan, and in The Division, is the main installation where power is generated. The Rikers have planted explosives in the entire facility, with the aim of knocking out power and introducing anarchy to the Manhattan streets.
- The interior of the Warrengate power plant is incredibly detailed; with pipes snaking everywhere, old-school valves alongside more modern implements and the like, the facility in The Division shows a combination of the building’s age and subsequent retrofitting to use newer technologies. While most of these details might be lost during an intense firefight with the Rikers, I’m superbly impressed with all of the details that have gone into interiors in The Division.
- While The Division is intended to be a multiplayer game, players are made to acclimitise to the game’s mechanics and gear system in the campaign. The campaign was a clever means to present a story to the players, rather than allowing some folks to skip directly into the PVP elements, and while players can group together to complete missions, I found that playing through these missions alone conferred a more immersive and authentic experience.
- For a time, I stuck to engaging bosses with the belt-fed LMGs owing to their deep ammunition pools: the M60 and M249 each have 100 rounds available to them without any magazine modifications, and so, can deliver a blistering hail of suppressive fire down-range. While bosses are immune to being suppressed, LMGs nonetheless are a good option in fights where they are accompanied by minions, being able to continuously deal damage.
- On a note that’s completely unrelated to The Division, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? ~Dear My Sister~, the OVA following up to GochiUsa‘s second season, is set for a home release on May 30. I will work to have the internet’s first review for this post, and presently, I’m eyeing a post with forty screenshots. We recall that Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s first episode will release in March, right around when Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start‘s finales are: in light of this, I’m going to roll back the talks for Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start, as my instincts tell me that there’s rather more interest in Girls und Panzer than the aforementioned shows.
- TheRadBrad characterised the Lexington Event Center mission as the most disturbing mission in The Division, and right out of the gates, it’s immediately apparent as to why this might be the case: the bodies of JTF operatives are hung at the front gates, with a creepy message seemingly written in blood right below. The building is modelled on the 69th Regiment Armory, a Beaux-Arts style building that finished construction in 1906. While originally built to house the National Guard, the facility has also been used to host art shows.
- As unnerving as the Lexington Event Center is, I cannot help but be impressed at the small details in the environments; the warm lighting and Christmas decorations are reflective of the fact that the site was to be used for hosting Christmas events prior to the Green Poison’s propagation. In the close quarters of the Lexington Event Center, I switch over to an SMG: while I typically run with an assault rifle as my primary weapon, I constantly switch out my secondary weapon to suit whatever environment I’m in. Marksman rifles and LMGs are my preferred choices, although I may occasionally introduce an SMG into the loadout to improve close quarters efficiency.
- There’s an ECHO beacon in this room that details the fates of the dead JTF soldiers: a few were forced to drink what might’ve been anti-freeze and died from poisoning, some were shot and others were tortured for the Rikers’ depraved amusement. It’s worth taking a moment to look through all of the ECHO reconstructions, and here, I note that of all the factions, the Rikers are my second favourite to engage (the Cleaners remain first): Rikers are hulking brutes and are larger than the standard rioters encountered, making them easier to hit.
- Once the building is cleared of Rikers, players head to the roof where they will find Sargent Ramos, a JTF operative captured by the Rikers. With a strong hatred for law enforcement, the Rikers have taken to brutalising the JTF, but at least a handful have survived. Once Sargent Ramos is rescued, he will call in other JTF operatives to help with the battle. While having the additional guns afforded by the JTF support is nice, the operatives turn out to be quite ineffective against what’s upcoming.
- Larae Barrett is protected by two massive brutes hauling LMGs around. This was probably the first major challenge I encountered: Barrett herself stays out of the fight until the two are eliminated. I quickly found my typical approach completely ineffectual against them and experimented with a variety of skills to distract them long enough to land rounds on them. In the end, I switched over to the seeker mine, using it as a guided grenade to blow away armour and deal damage to the bosses. With enough patience and use of seeker mines, I eventually took the two brutes down.
- In retrospect, a long-range option might’ve been better against Barrett herself, but without the two LMG-wielding brutes, she’s much easier to neutralise. Several belts of LMG and a few seeker mines later, I managed to finish what was one of the tougher missions to solo in The Division. By this point in the game, specialised items begin dropping with a much higher frequency. I still break them down to convert them into weapon parts, while standard items, I sell for credits.
- After the effectiveness displayed by the seeker mine, I set about looking at modifications to my skills with the goal of seeing if I could further extend my survivability. I ended up rolling with the overdose modification for my first aid, which is focused on solo players and gives overheals, at the expense of a longer cooldown time and reduced effectiveness on allies. I also switched over to the cluster seeker mine, where the mine breaks into smaller mines that independently seek out targets. While dealing less damage than an individual mine, it’s great for causing multiple enemies to lose health over time.
- The rooftop communications relay mission was probably the toughest mission I’d faced in The Division up until this point: the mission began innocuously enough: I made extensive use of my cluster seeker mines to quickly disperse crowds and move towards the communications tower at the mission’s end. From a distance, I picked foes away before moving on, and as a snowfall moved into Manhattan, I closed the distance to the antenna.
- Once reached, players must defend a JTF engineer so that he can perform modifications to the antenna. The Rikers send several veterans and elites against the player: the cluster mines again proved their worth in crowd control, and I eventually found myself face to face with the boss, Glass, and his minion. It was here that my strategy broke down completely; I was mowed time more times than I cared to count, and the long walk back to the antenna, coupled with the wait for the exchange between the engineer and Paul Rhodes to end, was immeasurably frustrating.
- The problem in the fight was the unique combination of Glass carrying a lethal close quarters weapon, having a powerful minion, and the fact that the rooftops offer no cover or long-range options, forcing players into close quarters. Furthermore, if players decide to attempt the long range option, Glass or his minion will make straight for the engineer and shred him in seconds. I tried a variety of tricks here, including deploying a support station with the life support modification so I could revive myself, but this was not too effective. Of all the missions in The Division, this was the one point where I wondered if I would have to break my solo-streak and matchmake with someone to help me overcome the challenge.
- In the end, I managed to lure Glass into the lower area, hammered him with the seeker mines and grenades, as well as sustained fire from an LMG. He eventually fell, and I took to dealing with the remaining minion: without Glass around, the fight was considerably more straightforwards. After two hours, I finally managed to beat the mission: it was a thrilling moment, showing that enough determination meant that the journey to level thirty could be done solo, after all.
- Under a brilliant blue sky, I began the Queens Tunnel Camp mission to infiltrate and seize control of the LMB communications hub. I’ve been looking through some older discussions of The Division, and one player managed to go from level one to thirty in the span of ten days, including the completion of all of the wings. Considering the difficulties I faced with some of the missions, I wonder how many hours of those ten days were spent just playing The Division. If we assume this player put in roughly the same time that I did, then it would take around forty five hours to go from level one to level thirty. This works out to around four-and-a-half hours of The Division each day, which is hypothetically feasible provided one has a considerable amount of free time on their hands.
- By comparison, I prefer taking my time and enjoying the sights (read “I have work and other titles to play”). Even though I’ve got some thirty eight hours of time in The Division by the time I hit this side of Manhattan, the game continues to impress me with its visuals. The buildings have become taller and more imposing, creating a fantastic skyline. On the topic of that particular individual, I think one of my goals in The Division will be to beat his gear score after hitting level thirty.
- After punching through the tunnels, I entered a large room doubling as a makeshift server room. After clearing it, one of the NPCs had dropped a superior piece, my first of the game: these gloves far surpassed any of my other equipment. From here on out, superior equipment drops became far more common for me. I’ve heard that some folks have gotten superior gear through the Dark Zone or through crafting, but one element about the road to level thirty is that equipment becomes obsolete very quickly: playing the game normally will allow one to fully update their loadout to be effective as one levels up, making it unnecessary to expend funds and crafting materials on new equipment.
- The Dark Zone offers a different experience for obtaining gear: some players recommend entering prior to level thirty in order to both gain a better understanding of game mechanics, become familiar with the layout, and to access better gear. However, my trick was to kill a few of the named enemies that I encountered in the regular areas to update my gear prior to the campaign missions. Here, I finish with clearing out the LMB so I could subsequently disable the servers and communications grid.
- Once communication assets are under friendly control, players have one more task: to take control of the munitions depot and weapons stockpile. The LMB are encountered with increasing frequency towards the game’s end, and unlike the other factions, possess superior armour, weapons and tactics. I was expecting a fight akin to the one encountered with the Rooftop Communications Relay mission, but having level-appropriate gear meant I was able to neutralise the LMB sent to engage me without any issues. I usually end up deconstructing the awards that missions give me, since better gear often can simply be found by playing the game.
- After the Queens Tunnel Camp, the final security mission is Grand Central Station – after disabling the automatic turrets, players must take back the site. I’ve heard that the mission has a game-breaking bug where the turrets will remain active and cannot be disabled if one dies before hitting a checkpoint after the turrets but after disabling them. I’m glad I played a bit more conservatively during this part: the prospect of active turrets is an unsettling one, as these weapons can shred a player in the blink of an eye, and nothing short of finding a panel to disable them will work.
- I therefore count myself as extremely fortunate that I did not encounter this particular issue during my run of the Grand Central Station; apparently, the bug is still occuring in the game as recently as July 2017. One of the largest train stations in the world, the current Grand Central Station building was finished in 1913, and subsequently hosted an art gallery, as well as acting as a venue for musical performances. The station saw renovations during the 1970s, and presently, is undergoing expansion, with a new terminal opening in 2023. While featured in The Division, the mission does not actually see players enter the building.
- The tracks tunnels and collapsed tunnels underneath the station suggest at the chaos that was introduced following the Green Poison epidemic. I’ll take some time now to provide an update on what’s happening here for the remainder of February now that we’re a ways over the month’s halfway point – first order of business is that I’m rescinding my plans to write about Violet Evergarden at the halfway point as originally planned. While the world the story is set in is incredibly rich in background and vividly depicted, my experience tells me that Violet’s journey to understand the phrase 愛してる(romanised aishiteru) will span the entirety of the fourteen episodes the anime is set to run for.
- Consequently, I do not feel that I can offer a complete and fair discussion of the anime at the present. The end result is that I will be returning once Violet Evergarden is finished to do a whole-season talk on the show, but for now, I do not believe that I can write about Violet Evergarden on account of my incomplete understanding of what the anime’s aiming to deliver to audiences. DICE has also announced that Battlefield 1‘s Apocalypse DLC is set for release on February 20, which was much sooner than I expected. These factors together influence my decision to push the Violet Evergarden talk back, and in the meantime, folks can look forward to some screenshots of Battlefield 1‘s final DLC (although I am quite certain some will unfollow me for this heresy!).
- In the real world, work’s been a bit slow as of late, although it’ll definitely pick up in the near future. On Friday, I sat down to lunch at a nearby British pub for a delicious, well-seasoned medium-rare steak sandwich and fries. We’re now in the Family Day long weekend, and I spent most of the day playing through The Division, doing the encounters to accumulate enough wing supplies to bring each wing to a hundred percent completion. After lifting in the morning, I went to pick up some 干炒牛河 (beef hor fun) and 陰陽飯 (fried rice with a white shrimp sauce and tomato-chicken sauce). It’s been snowing the entire day, and I’m greatly looking forwards to sleeping in a little tomorrow and Monday.
- Returning to The Division, I finally approach the Grand Central Station terminal, and after making short work of the LMB soldiers here, regroup with the JTF, who inform me that I am to dig in and repel the impending LMB assault. Naturally, this corresponds with a boss fight, and I found that the cover I so judiciously made use of on the way to the terminal now became an impediment, making it difficult to engage the LMB attackers rushing my position.
- As with the Rooftop Communications Relay mission, the close quarters made it quite difficult to get a good shot at Captain Foley from afar, and at close quarters, I was annihilated. However, over the span of the next half hour, I figured out that Foley would not get closer to the player so as long as I did not use my seeker mines or grenades, and so, was able to fire on him until his armour and health were depleted. The firefight was so intense that my M60’s barrel began glowing red, as visible here. It’s such a nice touch that The Division included this detail. With Foley in the books, I wrap up the penultimate of the wing missions in The Division.
- Exiting the Grand Central Station mission, I have an all-superior loadout. This is something I never imagined I’d be able to reach after The Division‘s beta ended, but here we are. Having tested it against free-roaming bosses in the light zone, I’m reasonably confident that I’ll be able to reach level thirty in no time at all, although once I hit thirty, the goal will be to transition my entire loadout into high-end items, as my current gear is rendered obsolete. During The Division‘s open beta, a handful of high-end items were available to players to encourage exploration, although these weapons would only be present in the beta: high-end items are only open to level thirty players in the final game. I missed out on getting them owing to lacking the Dark Zone funds and level during the beta, but having looked at their stats again, it turns out that even specialised weapons in the final game far outstrip them in performance.
Besides continuing to push through The Division‘s campaign as a solo player, I’ve also managed to upgrade my entire loadout to superior items. A step up from specialised gear, superior gear is characterised by their purple icons and vastly improved statistics compared to equivalent level specialised items. I’d long heard that players begin seeing superior items drop at mid-twenties, and this turns out to be true. During the Queens Tunnel mission, I encountered my first superior drop when moving into the server room; these gloves ended up being a ways better than anything I had previously, and as I continued with the missions, I began swapping out more of my inventory, replacing specialised items with superior ones. Having reached level twenty seven now, my entire loadout consists of superiors, and I’ve been experimenting with different setups to ensure a reasonably balanced setup, as well as to ensure that my equipment unlocks the pair of weapon talents available to superior weapons. These talents are separate from player talents and will passively improve the weapon’s performance in some way. My current setup uses the Enhanced G36 assault rifle, as well as the First Wave M1A marksman rifle. Occasionally, I will switch my marksman rifle out for an LMG or with the M44, which is the single most powerful weapon in my inventory: a critical shot can hit for up to eighty thousand points of damage. I’ve been trying these weapons out against the open-world bosses that roam the streets of Manhattan, and the M44 is obscene – five rounds are enough to neutralise some bosses from full health and armour to zero. With this kind of firepower, I’m curious to see how I fare in the upcoming missions, the Russian Consulate and General Assembly.