The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: The Division

The Division: Onslaught, Exploring the West Side Pier and The Urban MDR

“We choose to…do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.” —John F. Kennedy

The Division‘s latest Global Event, Onslaught, allows players to deal one of burn, bleed or gas effects to enemies, and players may cycle through the different effects by reloading. The end effect is dealing additional status effects damage that can temporarily immobilise enemies and take them briefly out of the fight by lighting them on fire or disorienting them. By making use of the different effects, players can control fights in a manner of their choosing and engage enemies in a novel way that adds a bit of flair to the gameplay. While this global event was active, I decided to take advantage of the status effects to see if I could acquire more exotic caches, and also had the chance to explore the West Side Pier, a new area added to the game in the 1.8 patch. The northwestern side of mid-town Manhattan was previously inaccessible, but now, two new game modes and new places to explore have been added: I’ve not explored this area until now, but it is an intriguing place with a replica of the real New York’s Aircraft Carrier Intrepid museum. Here, the different enemy factions all work together against the players, and there are no civilians or allied JTF forces: it’s one of the most challenging areas of the game to be in outside of the Dark Zone, and offers the resistance game mode, where players square off against endless waves of enemies. It’s an entertaining mode that allows one to test their loadouts, and also offers an additional avenue of acquiring gear, although by this point in my experiences within The Division, the modes of acquiring gear have largely become irrelevant – high end pieces and gear set items have dropped with such frequency that they’re all I see in the game now.

With a reasonably viable setup in The Division, as well as the all-exotic loadout, my sights have been to acquire an Urban MDR. Modelled after the Desert Tech Micro Dynamic Rifle chambered for the 7.62mm rounds, the Urban MDR is a semi-automatic battle rifle with the Distracted talent, which allows the weapon to deal bonus damage on targets affected with status effects. It hits harder than other assault rifles and is comparable to the semi-automatic marksman rifles for damage, but in exchange, the vertical recoil on the weapon is stronger in the absence of a compensator, and the weapon can become unruly without a good under-barrel grip. The weapon is at its finest when used in conjunction with the Firecrest or Predator’s Mark builds with some Tactician’s Authority pieces, which allows the gun to almost always make use of the additional damage bonus, but in Onslaught, the extra status effects also allowed me to try the weapon out without needing to extensively modify my setup. The Urban MDR can be a fun weapon to use: it has the attributes of an assault rifle with the damage of some of the weaker marksman rifles. The end result is a weapon that has increased armour damage and a theoretical maximum magazine capacity of 44 rounds that fires slowly and hits like a truck: the Urban MDR is unique among the assault rifles in how it handles, and it looks beastly, as well. This is why I was looking to acquire an Urban MDR – the weapon has special attributes that add another, interesting way to playing The Division. However, up until now, my luck had not seen me find one. It was during the Onslaught event that I joined up with a team to take on the Warrengate Power Plant on legendary, and while we were wiped once during the boss fight, I managed to use another well-timed Recovery Link during our second attempt to help give my teammates a fighting chance. For my troubles, I got a weekly cache (having finished my quota of missions) and an exotic cache from completing the mission.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Battlefield 4 does not have a pink weapon skin, and The Division lacks a P90. When the Onslaught event began, I was just getting caught up with Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. The closest I came to replicating the LLEN loadout is with any submachine gun with the pink camouflage: The House is an absolute beast, and is my favourite weapon for getting out of a tight spot. I normally go with grey or tan weapon camouflages to make myself more difficult to spot: the bright pink means I’m visible from a klick away and does not serve me well at all in places like the Dark Zone.

  • I engage rogue agents here on my own with the inevitable results. Because dying in the Dark Zone as a non-rogue no longer has any penalties to it, one of my favourite strategies is to bait rogue players into killing me repeatedly, increasing their rank and possibly trigger a manhunt. I’ve managed to do this on a few occasions: I’m completely geared towards PvE, having a maximum of a 70 percent boost to armour destruction, and so, when it comes to PvP, where critical chance and critical damage is more valuable, I’m much less equipped to do so with my main loadout.

  • I’ve found that the best way to enjoy the Dark Zone now is to simply not collect any item drops (unless they’re exceedingly rare). With no need to extract items (and the attendant stress that extractions bring), it is much easier to focus on simply clearing landmarks and evade any rogue agents that may be present. At this point in time, I’ve become geared enough towards PvE that I can burn through elites and named enemies without any effort: soloing landmarks in the higher sectors of the Dark Zone is very straightforwards now, and I’ve run into groups who’ve expressed surprise at encountering a lone player in a recently-cleared landmark that had moments before, been marked as available on the map.

  • Here, I make my way to a supply drop after helping out with a manhunt, conferring a small cut of the bounty. When I first began, I struggled to clear the elites guarding supply drops, and wondered if tactical link would be needed to deal with the enemies if I were going solo. This is no longer the case, as I’ve enough firepower to melt through the elites. I’ve heard stories of opportunists allowing other players to fight the elites while they engage survivor link and claim the supplies for themselves. My approach to supply drops is pretty blasé, and if another agent steals a supply drop I’m working on, so be it.

  • I admit that it’s become a bit more difficult as of late to match-make into legendary missions. I decided to give them a go for Onslaught, during which players have access to ammunition that deals burn, bleed and gas damage. Reloading allows one to switch the effect on the fly, and it is very effective to combine different effects together to control crowds of enemies. Here, I am fighting with three other players at Warrengate Power Plant. Notice that my weapon skins are quite plain compared to those of my teammates’: there’s a certain appeal about the desert tan colours, and for the most part, I run with simple skins to avoid standing out in the Dark Zone.

  • With this year’s E3 just a few days away, I look ahead into the future: The Division 2 was announced a few months ago, and a new trailer released earlier today, detailing the setting and showcasing the gameplay. When I first saw the footage for The Division from the 2013 E3, I was completely blown away by how beautiful everything looked. The launch version of The Division is vastly watered down, featuring fewer AR-type elements in its UI and also dialling back the visual fidelity to a considerable degree, but from a gameplay and content perspective, The Division was well worth playing through even though it may not look as impressive as what was shown in the E3. The new trailer for The Division 2 shows a very familiar game that looks like a straight upgrade from The Division. Things still look like they handle smoothly, but with a fresh coat of paint that hopefully will retain the AR-esque elements.

  • I can accept that this year’s E3 reveal for The Division 2 will might be light years ahead of the product that will be shipped to consumers from a graphics perspective. In today’s gameplay trailer, it is revealed that Washington DC will be the setting. The Division‘s Manhattan is beautifully rendered and highly authentic, but a sequel would become stale very quickly if it were to be set in New York again. I personally was hoping that The Division 2 would take us over to Asia: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul would have provided an incredibly refreshing backdrop for a continuation. An Asian setting makes sense because at the end of The Division, Aaron Keener escaped with the means to continue manufacturing the Green Poison. However, DC is a logical choice: Keener had intended to bring the world to its knees, and taking out Washington would’ve been a very powerful move.

  • The Division 2 will be set in the summer, so I wonder if there will be more interesting outfits available for selection. Besides the fact that there’s a (mostly) new setting, what would get me excited about The Division 2 would be the immediate inclusion of the same end-game content we now have in The Division 1.8.1: having gear-sets and exotics to work towards through ridiculously difficult missions, world-tiers to incentivise collecting better gear, high value targets to hunt, resistance to provide waves of enemies for testing one’s mettle and Global Events, plus the thrills of a Dark Zone would provide plenty of content for a newly-launched The Division 2, such that the most dedicated of players would not run out of things to do after hitting the level cap.

  • If The Division 2 launched with the same content as what is available in The Division 1.8.1’s base game, was set in an East Asian city and handles as smoothly as The Division does now (both from a gameplay and connectivity standpoint), it would be an easy day-one purchase for me. Given my experience with The Division, I would not hesitate to buy The Division 2 at full price – I’ve put in 135 hours at the time of writing into The Division, so I’m sure to get the bang for my buck if things turn out well for The Division 2. Here in my legendary run, I square off against a Lieutenant Sasaki. Our team got wiped out on our first attempt, and we were close to being wiped a second time, but fortunately, I activated my recovery link, bringing everyone back to life.

  • During the Onslaught event, I played missions to unlock weekly caches, which have a guaranteed exotic. When I finished the legendary mission and the weekly assignment, I returned to the base of operations to open them. Opening the weekly cache was a bit disappointing, but opening exotic cache I got from playing the Warrengate mission landed me the MDR. I was thrilled: while the MDR does not line up with my preferred play-style (I run a four-piece Striker set with the Ninjabike backpack), I wanted to have an MDR so I could mix things up. The weapon also looks exceedingly sleek.

  • My first inclination was to give the MDR a whirl: with its slow firing rate and extended mags, the MDR can take out entire groups of enemies before needing a reload. While somewhat lacking in stability, having good weapon attachments can make the weapon’s recoil more manageable. The weapon is definitely fun to use: handling like a cross between a marksman rifle and assault rifle, it burns through armour and allows for headshots to be scored. Bonus damage from the status effects in Onslaught makes the MDR remarkably effective, although its lower rate of fire makes the MDR a decidedly inferior weapon for close-quarters combat.

  • For any serious engagement in a legendary mission, the Urban MDR would not be my choice of weapon: my LVOA-C and The House have proven effective beyond any other weapon combination, so I’ve not looked back. However, with the myriad of ways to play The Division, it’s always fun to equip different gear-sets and weapons to give them a go. Here, I run through a vividly-lit alley close to the Base of Operations after blowing apart the open-world named elite and his entourage here: the warm, golden light brings to mind the moods of the Christmas season.

  • I figured the time was high for me to try out the Camp Clinton area of Manhattan – this was an area that I had previously not explored, but now that I had a setup that worked for me, and all of the exotic weapons that I’d sought to collect, I was properly outfitted to deal with the enemies here. There are encounter-style missions known as Alerts; coming in five varieties, they give Division Tech, equipment and target intel when completed. They’re quite fun to complete, but one challenge about the West Side Piers are that there is no in-fighting among the enemies.

  • Consequently, random groups of standard-type enemies can lay waste to unsuspecting players: I’ve never died to NPCs outside of mission areas until now, and for this reason, exploring the West Side Piers offers a thrill that is absent from other parts of Manhattan. As an end-game section of The Division to explore, the Division Tech earned from doing Alerts here is immensely useful towards optimising gear. I’ve burned through my Division Tech trying to improve gear pieces with reasonable configurations on them, and the updates are quite noticeable: enemies melt slightly faster, and I recover more quickly.

  • The USS Intrepid Carrier Museum can be seen here; the original USS CV-11 Intrepid was commissioned in 1943 and participated in several battles in the Pacific Theatre. After the Second World War, Intrepid was decommissioned, modernised and then recommissioned. Among its most noteworthy operations were the recovery of space capsules from the fledgling American space programme and in 1974, was decommissioned once again. It became a museum ship in 1984, and today, is a well-known destination in New York: the museum ship featured in National Treasure as a location where Ben Gates evades the FBI with help from rogue treasure hunters.

  • When I travelled to New York in 2011, I had a chance to visit the USS Intrepid for myself; Manhattan is a very active and busy place that gives Hong Kong a run for its money, and the traffic jams here are legendary. The Division really succeeds in capturing the strange sense of quiet following the Dollar Flu pandemic, and this is one of the main reasons why I ended up getting The Division despite having sat on the decision for nearly two years. I was dissuaded by the fact that the game did not have much in the way of end-game content, but by the time Patch 1.8 was introduced, The Division had much more to do even in the absence of the additional DLC content.

  • Having a good amount of armour destruction allowed me to survive a ways into each of the resistance missions as a solo player. These endless missions are a fantastic test of one’s gear and setup: with my four-piece Striker set, augmented by the use of a Ninja Bike backpack that lets me gain the ammunition bonus of the Lone Star set and the improved resilience against elite enemies from the D3-FNC build, I’m balanced to deal damage, absorb it from tougher enemies and also can operate on my own for longer before running out of ammunition.

  • With the proper setup, one can reach the tier two resistance caches on their own. There was a bug where one could get tier five equipment from caches earned from playing resistance on tier one difficulty if one switched back to tier five before opening them, but this particular issue has been rectified now. I’ve still yet to learn the waves and patterns of the resistance mode, having only spent about an hour experimenting with the different maps and their layouts: there are some tricks to improve one’s performance and make the most of the SHD tech pickups, which are used to unlock new areas, supply crates and gear caches, but with The Division nearing the end of its lifespan, I’m not too sure if it’ll be worthwhile to put too much time into things.

  • My original interest in the resistance missions were that they were said to be a fantastic place to farm for classified and exotic gear. However, considering the amount of time it takes to get to them, I feel that for folks who do not have any of the DLC, playing through legendary missions, weekly assignments and entering the Dark Zone is the more efficient route for getting gear. When available, Global Events are unmatched for collecting classified gear items.

  • In fact, looking through old conversations out there about The Division, I’ve noted that in older patches, classified and exotics were extremely rare. They’re not easy to obtain for a reason, but in my experiences, I’ve managed to amass a sizeable collection of exotics and have made some progress in collecting classified gear pieces as a predominantly solo player who occasionally teams up with others to complete legendary missions. That I’ve managed to do so is no small feat, and I’m a bit surprised that I was able to get this much milage out of The Division. This is what motivates the page quote: I recall that early in The Division, players were having trouble getting their gear scores up.

  • Having now done everything within the base game for The Division (except for the Incursions), one wonders if I have any plans to buy the DLCs. The answer is no: while it would open up new game modes to explore, most of these are dependent on teamwork for an optimal experience. The only DLC that would work for me is Underground, since this can be soloed, but I’ve heard that it’s also very repetitive in nature. Rolling for 15 CAD at full price, I’ve seen sale prices bring it down to 4.50 CAD. If the next Steam Sale offers a comparable discount, I might just take the plunge and pick it up.

  • Of course, for the next Steam Summer Sale (which begins in eleven days), my eyes are on Far Cry 5. While the discounts won’t likely be too substantial, considering the strong sales numbers, if I can get a price reduction closer to forty percent off, then I will pick up the game. Otherwise, I can hold off: I’ve heard that Far Cry 5 handles similarly to its predecessors from a gameplay perspective, but my main interest in the game was its setting, and this isn’t something I feel like I’ll be missing out on too much should I decide to wait for a better sale. While Far Cry 5 might be a game I’m on the fence about, this past weekend has also seen the release of new Battlefield V trailers and gameplay footage from EA Play.

  • The resistance modes were the first place where I encountered drones, which come in two types. Standard types have a red targetting laser, and shock drones have a blue laser. I’m not particularly fond of the latter, as they can leave players exposed to other attacks. Fortunately, with their weak armour and health, they can be disposed of fairly quickly.

  • In the footage of Battlefield V, I’ve seen the new fortification and team play mechanics, new maps and weapons, as well as the new UI. Fortification will provide a new way to counteract destruction, and seeing destruction play such an instrumental role in a Battlefield title means an increased emphasis on teamwork and tactical play. The only maps we’ve seen so far are in Norway, but the snowy terrain and aurora look absolutely gorgeous. The War Stories will also be introduced over time, and without a premium model, the game looks like it will keep on giving after it is purchased. I expect that Battlefield V could perform very well even without Steam Summer Sale-type events, and having seen a proper bit of gameplay for it, my decision on Battlefield V will largely be determined by how smooth the netcode is at launch.

  • If Battlefield V‘s launch is at least as smooth as that of Battlefield 1‘s, then it will be a very easy decision as to whether I pick up the game shortly after launch. For now, we return to The Division, where I’ve been playing around with the MDR and my all-exotic loadout. Having had the chance to try out the all-exotic loadout, it is a satisfactory all-around setup where I sacrifice firearms damage for more skill power. While quite entertaining to use, with all of the different bonuses the pieces confer, it is not as specialised towards my personal play style, and so, I don’t use it for team-oriented missions. Conversely, running all exotics for hard main missions isn’t too bad: that the all-exotic loadout is balanced means that it’s versatile enough for one to handle most missions without too much difficulty.

  • At some point in the future, I aim to return to the West Side Pier by day to see what it looks like here. With a reasonably effective build and more or less, all the weapons that I was looking to acquire, I have a feeling that my days spent in The Division will be more exploration driven now: I’ve still to complete all of the encounters on the eastern side of Manhattan, for one, but now that my gear allows me some survivability, I’m not too worried about dying while running around and simply taking in the scenery, which looks fabulous. I’m running The Division at high settings at 1080p and have a consistent 60 FPS on my five-year-old setup (albeit a setup with an upgraded GPU from 2016), so one factor that will directly impact my decision to buy The Division 2 will simply be whether or not my machine can run it.

  • Here, I fight in the last of the resistance maps, set in an underground facility called the Powerhouse. So far, while I’m very excited about Battlefield V and look forwards to seeing just what The Division 2 entails, most of the anime community is completely disinterested in the innovation that these games have. Much like some are downright dismissing the titles I find noteworthy, I am of the opinion that Nintendo’s E3 showing is unlikely to be impressive for me: games like Super Smash Bros and Kingdom Hearts do not look to be pushing the envelope for the technology powering games.

  • I’ve noted that the posts here on The Division (or other gaming posts) are given a cooler reception relative to my anime posts. I’m rather aware that my entire reader base consists of fellow anime fans who may or may not share my interest in shooters, and I think that the average reader coming here is likely looking for analysis of themes, explanations of plot points and random remarks on various scenes for anime. However, while these posts seem to offer a limited return for the effort it takes to write them, I note that I write this blog for myself as well as for readers – this is an electronic journal of sorts for me, and I enjoy recalling my adventures in games as much as I do writing about anime. While we’re on the topic of this blog’s logistics, I’ve decided to disable comments for posts older than two years on the basis that 1) this reduces spam and 2) it would be somewhat disingenuous to discussing older posts with readers when I cannot fully recall the rationale for some of my thoughts.

  • With this being said, I’m more of an anime blog than a gaming blog, so the focus of things will always be more anime-oriented. We thus look ahead into remaining posts for June, which we are not even halfway through yet. I am certainly going to write about Amanchu! AdvanceComic Girls and Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. As well, I am planning a special set of posts for the summer solstice, and I am also considering doing another post for the Terrible Anime Challenge series. Finally, news has reached my ears that Harukana Receive is going to begin airing on Friday, July 6. I’m debating whether or not this series will get an episodic review for the present, but even if it does not get an episodic review, if there was one anime for the summer season I am writing about, it is this one: at the minimum, I will follow the same format for Amanchu! Advance for Harukana Receive.

  • With the MDR now in my arsenal, I’ve more or less collected all of the exotics that I’ve set out to acquire. This is the all-exotic loadout I’ve always dreamed of having, and with this done, I feel that I’ve gotten the fullest from my solo experience of The Division. I may occasionally return to mess around with the West Side Piers missions and Dark Zone, as well as to try my luck with weekly mission caches (getting a Bullfrog would be quite nice, even if it is extraneous), but I think for the present, I am in a position to take a bit of a break from farming for gear in The Division and focus my attention on other things. So, readers disappointed that I’m not writing more about anime will likely be less disappointed: besides the remaining shows of this season, and the other Terrible Anime Challenge on the table, I’ve finally finished AIR from Kyoto Animation. I will be writing about AIR, and as well, my copy of Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai has finally arrived: no promises yet, but I am going to try and watch this ahead of Canada Day.

When I returned to the terminal, I bought global event caches and got a Damascus, an exotic M9 pistol. Opening the weekly cache landed me Shortbow Championship pads, which I had a superior version of already and proceeded to scrap. I turned to the last item, the exotic cache I got from finishing Warrengate Power Plant, and opened it. Against all odds, I got the Urban MDR. Despite its low gear score of 258 and average talents (Focused and Commanding), I finally had an Urban MDR in my inventory. I re-calibrated it, replacing Commanding with Brutal. I subsequently optimised it so it would hit harder and then took the weapon out for a spin against the various open-world named elites, and the free-roaming enemies of the West Side Pier. With the effects from Onslaught active, it’s proven to be a fun romp: the weapon is very efficient with its ammunition, and when an extended magazine is equipped, one can go through multiple veterans or entire groups of standard enemies before needing a reload if their aim is true. While the MDR’s semi-automatic fire is not suitable for my preferred Striker setup (I run with the House and LVOA-C exclusively now for missions), and it is dependent on status effects to be at its most effective, the MDR is nonetheless a fun weapon to use even in the absence of a dedicated setup: it’s great for mixing things up and experiencing things a little differently. I’ve heard that this weapon is incredibly rare in The Division, and consequently, being able to get an Urban MDR on my last exotic cache was such a stroke of dumb luck that I can’t believe it. While I’m seemingly on a hot streak, maybe I ought to get into Kantai Collection, where I’m sure dumb luck will let me register for the game and maybe subsequently solo Kantai Collection‘s 6-5 events with the basic loadouts that would make veteran players salty.

The Division: Counting Cards, Blackout and New Legendary Missions

“No matter what you or anyone else does, there will be someone who says that there’s something bad about it.” —Tom Clancy

The Division‘s latest update brought to the table two new global events, modifications to the gear system and drop rates, added two new legendary missions and also introduced a host of bug fixes to improve the experience for players. With Division’s 1.8.1 patch live, this is a game that’s continued to keep on giving – a far cry from when it first released, there seems to be no shortage of things to do at the endgame to keep things interesting. The latest Global Event, Blackout, introduces the shock ammunition modifier, which allows players to stun enemies and deal increasing damage as one runs or fires. The stun from shock ammunition provides players with a few critical seconds to duck behind cover or reload, and additional damage makes it easier to tear through The Division‘s infamously tough enemies. The end result is non-stop entertainment in making use of shock ammunition to explore the two new legendary missions: 1.8.1 adds Amherst’s Apartment and Grand Central Station as missions with The Division‘s toughest difficulties, and these two missions are well-suited for the mode. Besides new legendary missions, changes to the caches available for purchase with GE credits have been made, allowing players to purchase caches that guarantee pieces of classified gear from a certain set. Exotics have also been modified: exotic weapons that can be purchased from the vendor will no longer drop, and all exotics are now added to the pool of items that can drop from light zone bosses. These changes indicate that The Division, contrary to claims otherwise, is still going strong: Ubisoft has made it clear that en route to the upcoming The Division 2, they will continue to motivate players to get the most of The Division.

Having spent all of March in global events, I managed to acquire an all-exotic loadout through the legendary missions that I’ve played through. These missions are no walk in the park and for the most part, simply cannot be soloed by a majority of the players. Having tried them, I can attest to their difficulty, but since my last post, I’d also had some time to tune my loadout more finely, replace some gear and also optimise my favourite weapons. As a result, I’ve noticed that as of late, I’ve been able to melt enemy elites and veterans without too much difficulty: while working on weekly assignments, I’ve returned to the Dark Zone and burned my way through supply drops and even finished my first-ever contamination event solo. In legendary missions, I’ve become much more useful to my team, dropping enemies in less than a single magazine. The improvements to my performance have made legendary missions less daunting: the new missions are much more manageable than the old ones in that can be finished more quickly. The narrow passages and corridors of Amherst’s Apartment and Grand Central Station funnel the LMB soldiers into chokepoints that make them vulnerable to concentrated fire; a reasonably well-coordinated team can easily hold out and triumph in firefights. I’ve also begun to run with recovery link now, which has proven useful far beyond the other signature skills for legendary missions. During one Grand Central Station run, I lost my entire team to the final wave of named elites in the mission’s final segment. I was the last individual alive, and because I had recovery link, I was able to revive my entire team. This gave us enough of a second wind to complete the mission, and as the Blackout global event draws to a close, I’ve had a chance to enjoy the new legendary missions and acquire some new exotic weapons.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In order to complete the weekly assignments, I needed to return into the Dark Zone. It suddenly strikes me that beyond the fourth sector, I’ve not actually explored the Dark Zone in too much detail, and here, I clear a landmark in the third sector on my own during one memorable evening where a group of rogues were running around and eliminating anything that crossed their paths.

  • All of the group’s activities were showing up in the feed, so I made it a point to avoid them if they were powerful to shrug off repeated attempts from other players to take them out. Because I was mainly in the Dark Zone to hunt cleaners, we thankfully did not cross paths: besides cleaning out cleaners roaming the streets, I also descended into the contaminated zones to get at the cleaners down there.

  • In the Dark Zone, I’ve largely been unsuccessful with claiming supply crates because I was ill-equipped to deal with the elite enemies that spawn in, but with my current setup and the Blackout global event, I found that I was tearing through enemies like a hot knife through butter. I was able to claim several supply crates during my time spent in the Dark Zone, and these offer items that do not need to be extracted.

  • I’ve never soloed a contamination event up until now, and the only time I had done one of these previously was with a group that I randomly joined with. During that particular run, I managed to find a Big Alejandro, an exotic light machine gun, but lost it to a group of rogues. This time, however, I was able to clear a contamination event on my own and got a Medved for my troubles. Extracting it was an exhilarating experience, although since this wasn’t an MDR, I would not have been too bothered if I had lost the Medved – this is an exotic shotgun that fires slugs in place of buckshot.

  • While the Dark Zone might be the most lawless and desolate part of Manhattan available for players to explore in The Division, there are places that have a neat atmosphere to it. This street, brightly lit with its Christmas decorations, does not look anywhere nearly as intimidating as those parts of the Dark Zone dominated by biohazard markers, plastic coverings and endless garbage bags, for instance.

  • At the time of writing, I’m rank forty in the Dark Zone, and I believe that at rank fifty, I’ll have access to those high gear-score blueprints that would allow me to craft the weapons I most enjoy using. At this point, however, this seems a little unnecessary: I’ve more or less found all of my weapons through drops from regular combat, and I’ve found the setup that works best for me. I run with the LVOA-C with Destructive (increased armour damage), Unforgiving (increased damage output when low on health) and Accurate, and my House has Accurate and Deadly (increased critical hit damage).

  • These rolls seem to have worked exceptionally well for me, and so, I optimised my weapons to their maximum gear score of 286. I subsequently returned to the legendary missions to see how the weapons would perform, and The House truly shines. It is considered to be the best exotic weapon: its unique talent is “card counter”, which allows half of the magazine to do twenty percent more damage per shot. Coupled with a respectable firing rate of 850 RPM and the fact that the weapon can be fully customised, The House is an absolute beast of a weapon that makes it the exotic to have.

  • In practise, The House is obscenely powerful even without the Destructive talent: the weapon talent can be exploited by counting bullets, allowing a skilful user to consistently deal more damage with the weapon. I personally find the notion of card counting an amusing one: a fellow I know once declared that he would count cards in Poker, even though the method is intended for Blackjack and other card games in its family. We had a good laugh that game, and I ended up breaking even, winning back my buy-in.

  • I picked up my first house in a Superior Global Event Cache, and over the course of my time in The Division, found two more Houses. Neither of the new ones have as good of a talent roll as my first, but I’ll likely keep them around and see if I can roll better talents on them at a later date: as a firearms-oriented player, electronics-dependent talents are not my cup of tea. It really says something about a weapon when it is able to make even legendary missions more manageable – since I picked up a House, I’ve not failed a legendary mission yet.

  • In previous missions and events, I ran with the survivor link, which grants increased damage resistance and movement speed. While useful in some circumstances, it turns out that for legendary missions, the recovery link is superior in every way – being able to revive an entire team is beyond valuable. During one run at Grand Central Station, we’d cleared all of the LMB and were preparing to fight the four Agents that appeared. My teammates were probably still new to the Grand Central Station mission, and immediately, I found myself the only member of the team still alive. In the voice communication, one of my teammates shouted “T, T!”. The signature skill is by default, mapped to the “T” key.

  • I had been saving my recovery link exactly for such a moment: observant readers will note that I selfishly run with overheal and tactical pulse: I make extensive use of both talents in a given mission to stay alive, and having overheal allows me to get enough health to escape a pinch even if I’m out of med kits. I thus activated my recovery link, saved my entire team, and we regrouped to defeat the wave of agents. The map became littered with various items, and by this point in The Division, high end items drop with such a frequency that superiors have become utterly worthless.

  • With my experiences, I am now going to continue running recovery link as my signature skill for all legendary missions: while I initially figured that tactical link could be useful for boosting damage against bosses, and that survivor link could be great for escaping a difficult situation, being able to save one’s entire team makes the missions much more straightforward to complete. Why is there a random post on The Division, one might ask? The answer is two-fold: first, the Blackout event will be ending in a few hours, and second, this post was actually supposed to be a talk on Gundam: The Origin‘s sixth movie, but it seems that I underestimated how long some things take to become available on this side of the world.

  • Gundam: The Origin‘s sixth (and presumably, final) instalment screened in Japanese theatres yesterday. While the first to fourth instalments were available to watch very quickly after screening in Japan, this sixth movie has followed the fifth in release pattern. I believe that there will be a chance to see it later this month, so I will be writing about The Origin, just at a later date. Aside from The Origin‘s delay, yesterday was, by all counts, an ordinary Saturday on this side of the world. I ran a few legendary missions, and then stepped out to a pleasant spring afternoon to relax at a local bookstore, before heading off for dinner. It was steak night, so I ordered a medium-rare sirloin steak with sautéed prawns, asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes.

  • There’s nothing like a juicy, flavourful steak and tasty prawns to accompany some of the best weather we’ve had all year, and moreover, it’s great to see spring return to the world. Trees are starting to bud now, and grasses have become verdant with the warmer, pleasant weather. Spring has also returned to the world in my workplace: after a difficult year last year, it seems that things are turning around now. Of course, talking about it would mean going off topic, so I’ll leave this discussion of reality and return things back to The Division.

  • Here, I begin pushing into Amherst’s Apartment: the narrow confines of the mission means it’s actually quite difficult to get flanked, and despite the waves of well-equipped LMB soldiers, this legendary mission is also one of the quickest and most straightforward to complete. After some teammates set up a support station, it was a simple matter of switching over to the LVOA-C and firing until there were no more enemies left. In most games I’ve matched into, teammates have typically run with a support station, and when placed properly, these can be as useful as a well-timed recovery link: they automatically revive downed players.

  • If a nearby teammate is downed and I happen to be reasonably safe from fire, I will attempt to revive a teammate, as well. I have come to greatly enjoy legendary missions in The Division because, aside from incursions, these are the missions that really encourage team play. Because every member of a team is interested in the mission rewards, they will work together and help one another out even when they are not communicating by a microphone. It’s a far cry from the chaos of the Dark Zone, and seeing the cooperation in legendary missions have also made me appreciate the Dark Zone more.

  • I admit that it can sometimes be a bit irritating to matchmake and not find any groups available, or else match into a group with only one other player, then watching as the other player disbands the group because not enough people showed up to do a legendary mission. However, when things work out, they work out well. I’ve run into some interesting people during the course of my legendary mission runs in The Division, and I’m glad that by this point in time, people are not being kicked for having too low of a gear score.

  • Outside of The Division, DICE has made Battlefield 1‘s They Shall Not Pass DLC free for all players. I still recall buying the premium pass a year ago so I could play through the new French maps, and looking back, I have absolutely no regrets about my decision. Buying the DLC simply means paying to save time and play earlier. I will be doing a post in the near future on what it’s like to return to the French maps, which I’ve not played too extensively since the other DLCs came out: after more than a year of having bought the premium pass, I’ve finally had a chance to take the wheel of the Char 2C in a game of conquest, and the experience alone is meritorious of a blog post.

  • Over the past two weeks that Blackout was running, I’ve gotten more exotics than I’ve cared to count. While the Urban MDR continues to elude me (I’m looking for one simply because the gun looks cool; the MDR is best suited for a skills-oriented build), I’ve picked up a new Big Alejandro to replace the one I lost in the Dark Zone and it’s been a fun weapon. As well, I’ve also got a Heel now (an exotic DMR) and new shotguns, plus plenty of duplicates. Exotic weapons and gear can be useful, but for the most part, they serve a more illustrious role for me.

  • My loadout has not changed too dramatically since I last posted: I have an improved Strikers kneepads and a new M9 pistol that holds more rounds than my previous M1911. As well, The House has become a more regular part of my loadout since I learned of its exceptional performance. My gear score has also increased slightly, to 283. This pretty much brings my current post on The Division to an end, and looking ahead, I’ve actually got a bit of a surprise for readers: I have plans to do a mini-series for Yuru Camp△ this and maybe next month. I did mention that May looked a little sparse for anime, so as time allows, I will be doing something fun for Yuru Camp△. As for The Division, I will be returning when the Onslaught event kicks off in the future.

There is still one more new global event, titled “onslaught”, which will run at some point in the future. Similar to blackout, it is a damage modifier, and once it is live, I will likely take a look to see just how much of an impact the multiple damage effects have on gameplay. At this point in The Division, my quest to collect more gear pieces suited for my style continues, and while I originally thought it appropriate to stop here on account of repetitiveness, it turns out that playing through the endgame is much more entertaining than expected. While missions are repetitive to some extent, playing with a full squad of players against overwhelmingly powerful enemies have made each return to a legendary mission unique. Similarly, the uncertainty of ambush and betrayal in the Dark Zone adds a certain thrill to the game. In the fifth world tier, I’ve had reasonable success in matchmaking with other players to tackle legendary missions, and in the Dark Zone’s toughest tiers, the presence of manhunts and rogue agents continue to keep things exhilarating and fresh. My days in the Dark Zone now are largely PvE, although I also make a game out of evading rogue agents and, on good days, seeing if I can extract gear before rogue agents show up. The presence of other players makes it quite clear that The Division is certainly not barren or devoid of players: even now, there’s new content for players to enjoy. After blackout winds down, I’m going to take a short break and return to see what onslaught will be about. Perhaps, if my luck holds, I may even get an Urban MDR.

Tom Clancy’s The Division: How Global Events and Yuru Camp△ Led to the All-Exotic Loadout

“I’d rather talk to people who do things than complain about other people who do things. I say they’re idiots.” —Tom Clancy

Since I last wrote about The Division, I’ve put in an additional forty hours into the end-game. The Division 2 was announced, and an unveiling will likely occur at this year’s E3; in the build-up to this, Ubisoft has held a month-long series of Global Events, which modify gameplay throughout The Division. There are four types of events: Outbreak, which focuses on headshots, the close-quarters Assault, the bombastic Strike, and Ambush, which favours tactical play. These events add a considerable amount of incentive to revisit The Division, and by my admission, I’ve spent the past month playing almost nothing but The Division: the modifiers introduced by Global Events have made it possible to pull off stunts that ordinarily would not be possible. I’ve managed to solo challenging missions on my own with these modifiers, and have even partied up with random players on legendary missions. These missions feature LMB forces that are far deadlier than standard enemies: for most players, solo play in legendary missions is not an option, and so, like Rin of Yuru Camp△, who learned the joys of camping with a group, I’ve come to experience a side of The Division that I might have otherwise skated over. The Global Events were a powerful motivator in leading me towards the Legendary missions; in these missions, I found a completely different side to The Division, facing enemies unlike anything I’d seen previously. Through basic teamwork, I managed to help out my groups in prevailing over foes of overwhelming calibre, earning new equipment and gear in the process to build an all-exotic loadout, something that I was looking to accomplish ever since reaching level thirty.

In the process, it would seem that I’ve more or less experienced the thematic elements of Yuru Camp△ from Rin’s perspective as a consequence of the Global Events. Although it’s take little persuasion beyond the possibility of exotic caches, playing with a group of randoms in The Division aligns very closely with Rin’s learnings in Yuru Camp△: much as how I went through a majority of The Division as a solo player, completing missions and counting on my own wits and resourcefulness to get by, Rin enjoys the solitude of camping on her own, calling on her experience to plan out a time that she enjoys. However, when she begins travelling further on her own, the unknown surprises her and leaves her uncertain of what to do next. Reaching higher world tiers in The Division was a similar experience: there comes a point when solo play in The Division breaks down: without that perfectly rolled gear set and weapon talents, in conjunction with the right skills and perks, players can be eliminated very easily, much as how Rin would require more experience before camping further on her own. However, with a party to work with, teamwork allows individuals to achieve together what would be very difficult to accomplish independently. Rin discovers this when camping with Nadeshiko, and I found this out in The Division during the Global Events, when I accidentally used matchmaking and joined a group of players doing a mission I could have soloed. The advantages of a team led me to wonder what legendary missions were like, and I decided to try the Time Square Relay mission; Rin similarly consents to camping with Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena when remembering Chiaki’s assistance and the companionship that Nadeshiko provided when they camped at Lake Shibare. For her open-mindedness, Rin is rewarded with an unparalleled camping experience, and for my troubles in trying out group play in The Division, I now have an all-exotic loadout.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • One of the challenges in the Dark Zone at world tier five is that unlike the other world tiers, which were largely empty, there are plenty of people in the tier five Dark Zone. Extracting gear solo is nigh-impossible not because of enemy NPCs, but other players looking to prey on solo players. As a result, I’ve largely stopped using the Dark Zone to get good gear, but the Dark Zone remains fine for just entering and testing one’s loadouts against the tougher enemies in here.

  • I would suppose that it could be fun to collect gear for a good PvP build, then call in extractions and attach onto the chopper a single item of no value, then attack the players who’ve turned rogue for fun. A simpler method that wouldn’t involve any new gear on my part is to simply run around to every extraction site and request an extraction: besides saturating would-be-rogues with enough bogus extractions so they wouldn’t know where to run, calling in extractions would also spawn enemy NPCs that can be killed for Dark Zone experience. My journey to leveling up in the Dark Zone has slowed to a crawl ever since the Global Events went live, as I’ve been quite interested in seeing how the different modifiers impact gameplay.

  • Today’s page quote is another Tom Clancy quote; as a bit of a stab against armchair experts and those believe virtue signalling has value, I similarly believe that the only people whose opinions are worth respecting are those who do something: it’s far easier to talk to someone who’s actually gone and done something, as opposed to people who while away their days on the internet and never end up putting in an effort to create or do something meaningful. A Place Further Than The Universe deals with taking this first step: like Yuru Camp△, the anime reminds viewers that these first steps can be easier with friends and well worth it. So for all the folks out there who count themselves as inadequate, I would argue that it’s never too late to start out on this journey and become people who do and make, rather than people who can only complain.

  • Different players have different strategies for dealing with rogue agents; after being killed by a rogue on one occasion, I coordinated with another solo player to get some revenge. For my troubles, I got some Dark Zone funds and recovered all of my gear for extraction. On another occasion, I was killed by a group of rogues, tried coming back for revenge and got their leader down to around half health before he opened up his comms and apologised. I get that people are playing in the Dark Zone for fun, and I’ve accepted the risk of dying to rogues, so when rogue players happen, my inclination is to simply respond in kind for fun, so if a player no longer wishes to play the rogue game, I’ll leave them in peace.

  • I’ve had a non-trivial number of exotics drop from Light Zone bosses: my first-ever drop was the Caduceus assault rifle, which was one of the two exotics featured during the open beta: the Cassidy was the other weapon. At the time, I did not have enough Dark Zone funds or rank to buy one, so one of my goals upon reaching thirty was to acquire some of these named weapons. Before one of the earlier patches, exotic weapons appeared as named high-end weapons, but named weapons eventually became exotics, with their own colour scheme. Light Zone bosses only dropped the Caduceus, Tenebrae and Skulls MC Gloves, but a patch will allow all exotics to drop from anywhere in The Division.

  • The biggest advantage about being in a team is that I can run with skills that I might not otherwise use. For challenging missions, I’ve felt that the most useful skills are the life support variant of the support station and then a combination of tactical pulse and flame turrets (which set enemies ablaze and deal damage while preventing them from firing). Seeker mines are also useful for flushing opponents out, and the ballistic shield in conjunction with a four-piece D3-FNC set could also be useful in drawing fire away from teammates.

  • For my part, I’ve been running with a 4-piece Striker set, with an extra piece from the D3-FNC and Lone Star set so I could gain an advantage while using automatic weapons. In conjunction with the Ninjabike backpack, I gain the D3-FNC’s 15% protection from elites and doubled ammo capacity from the Lone Star set. This is my preferred PvE build, allowing me to solo reasonably well. I’ve heard stories where players were kicked from groups for having low gear scores: gear scores are only a rough indicator of one’s actual performance, and one of the reasons why I remained at gear score 278 for the longest time was because the gear I was running with actually worked.

  • I explore the northeastern side of Manhattan, just north of the General Assembly. By night, the area is quite beautiful, with all the blue Christmas lights aglow, and it is here that the more impressive-looking buildings are found. Of course, the area is populated by roaming LMB, so exploring is no walk in the park, but now that I’m properly outfitted, the NPCs roaming the Light Zone are no problem at all to deal with.

  • The northern ends of the Dark Zone, from sectors seven onward, are supposed to be home to some of the Dark Zone’s toughest NPCs, and the mission to reach the sector nine safe house was a harrowing one. I found that running in the Dark Zone and killing groups of NPCs is a lot less stressful than attempting to extract gear from it: in my experience, would-be rogues tend to leave one alone if they do not have any gear.

  • During the assault global event, I decided to give the legendary missions a whirl and spawned in with a group of well-equipped and coordinated players in the Times Square Relay mission. I typically run with survivor link for this mission so I can increase my resistance to damage and speed while carrying the fuse parts. This legendary mission is probably the most straightforward to complete; players fight against waves of LMB soldiers, but there’s enough cover and open spaces so that one can simply put down a support station and then slowly pick away at the enemies incoming.

  • The items awarded for completing a legendary mission aren’t always impressive, but what does make legendary missions worth attempting is the fact that they award exotic caches, which contain a guaranteed exotic item and provide some Division Tech, as well. I’ve found that besides their illustrious nature, their performance in combat actually varies. There are some occasions where an exotic weapon or gear piece is useful – the first Caduceus I got wasn’t too bad spec-wise, and I ran with it in conjunction with the M700 Tactical.

  • With my older loadout, I predominantly kept my distance and sniped enemies: the M700 was powerful enough to deal serious damage to enemies in Legendary missions, and I switched over to the Caduceus to finish off enemies at closer ranges. Here, I am partying with another group in the Warrengate Power Plant mission. We started off with a team of three, and another player joined the group later. Despite its close quarters environment, I was able to make use of my marksman rifle, picking off opponents from a distance while teammates did the remainder of the work.

  • The main reason why running with a team in legendary missions works is primarily because a diverse array of skills increases survivability and damage output. As well, save for explosives and offensive skills, enemies can only focus on a single target at a time, so having teammates allows one player to run distraction while others finish an opponent off. After a harrowing twenty minutes, our team managed to complete the mission, earning me yet another exotic cache that put me one step closer to an all-exotic loadout. During this mission, I died and was revived by a support station more times than I cared to count.

  • The Napalm Production Site mission on legendary really depends on the team one is running with: a coordinated team with properly configured weapons and skills can do quite well. On my first run, I succeeded in clearing the map to collect the mission rewards, but during one memorable attempt, our team continued to get wiped, and since it was getting late, I ended up leaving the group so I could catch some sleep.

  • This was no fault of the group’s, but rather, the lateness of the hour: we had gotten to the very end and were wiped twice by the agents we were up against, but I had an early start the next day. One of the reasons why this mission had been more difficult was because of the Strike event, which sees enemies exploding when killed. While they deal minor damage to those around them, the effects overall are not particularly impactful, so players cannot count too much on them to help them. Assault was a fun global event: at close ranges, players deal increased damage.

  • On missions where there is a need to slowly carry a heavy object to a target point for insertion, I always run survivor link. Almost all of the teammates I’ve matched with run recovery link: I cannot begin to state how useful this is, since I’ve been saved by a teammate’s recovery link more times than I’ve cared to count.  When used in the right situation, a player can revive his entire group to keep their run going. Slow and steady wins the race in legendary missions, so I’m tempted to say that a team of four, running three recovery links and one survivor link is probably the way to go – tactical link boosts damage, but the number of enemies encountered means that the decreased time to kill ends up being less important than being able to keep teammates alive.

  • I’ve heard statements dating back a year that state The Division was on its last legs, and this seems to vary at present: there are some instances where matchmaking is as simple as hitting the button and then joining another party, but I’ve also had situations where matchmaking was unsuccessful. Overall, I think that matchmaking is only really necessary once one gets close to the gear score limit; below that, acquiring new gear is reasonably quick.

  • The ambush global event is by far my favourite: standing still, one can do considerably more damage against opponents. The effects were profound enough so that I could solo the Lexington Event Centre mission on challenging mode with my standard overheal and tactical pulse skills. The roof and basement segments of the mission are the most challenging, but with the ambush effects active, I was consistently hitting for 1.2 million points of damage with my SRS A1 rifle on critical headshots. Since finding one, I’ve made extensive use of it to great effect – in the absence of the global events, it hits for around three hundred thousand points of damage when landing a headshot, and can take out most Light Zone bosses in two shots.

  • The M4 rifle was a weapon I did not use with any frequency while going levelling up in The Division – the damage was not quite there despite its accuracy. However, once I picked up the LVOA-C variant, the LVOA-C became my go-to assault rifle: I’ve recalibrated it so it has the destructive talent, which bolsters damage to enemy armour. In conjunction with the armour damage bonus that assault rifles have and its high rate of fire, I’ve found the LVOA-C to be the perfect weapon for solo missions against armoured opponents: I can melt through them without too much difficulty.

  • My curiosity was piqued, and I decided to give the Rooftop Comm Relay mission another whirl: with my current setup, I walked through the mission and melted all in my path. Defending the engineer at the end, during which I had to fight Glass and one of his cronies, had been a considerable challenge when I first went through the mission, but having geared up, it turns out that Glass was no challenge. I’ve tried to focus on armour damage, and some of my gear pieces have bonus elite damage, so unlike my first run, this one ended very quickly.

  • Curiosity led me to attempt the General Assembly mission on my own: for the most part, I was aware of the fact that at hard difficulty, the missions do not pose a significant challenge for me, so entering the mission, my main interest was to see how capable I was of dispatching Colonel Bliss’ helicopter without resorting to the automated turrets that I made use of when beating the game for the first time.

  • As it turns out, eliminating Bliss’ helicopter turned out to be an exercise in patience. I would’ve liked to see more vehicular bosses in The Division, along with more anti-vehicular options in the game, as well. This is something that could be done for The Division 2: one of the things I mentioned back during the days of the beta was that travelling from point A to point B was quite slow, but this was before fast travel was unlocked. While going on foot has since proven to be okay in The Division, and vehicular combat is not strictly necessary, it would still add a bit more variety to engage enemies in vehicles.

  • The main question now is whether or not I would pony up for The Division‘s DLC, once I’ve done everything in the endgame (I still need to give Resistance and Incursions a whirl, plus the HVT missions). The answer is going to be a no: while I greatly enjoy The Division, the fact is that The Division is a game that’s reaching the end of its life cycle, and there are other titles that I’ve neglected as a result. I still need to complete the “Behind Her Blue Flame” missions in Valkyria Chronicles, play more Skullgirls to gain a better idea of how I feel about the game, and go through Ori and the Blind Forest.

  • With the Ambush event over and things returning to Strike for an encore, I decided to give Lexington Event Centre another whirl on challenging, but got my face kicked in at the roof. I predominantly snipe in The Division and only fall back on automatic fire when enemies begin closing the gap: by sniping, I pick enemies off at a more methodical pace, allowing me to control the engagement. As a result, when enemies get closer to me, I am no longer in control: this particular play-style means that I run with a Striker set, which confers damage bonuses for landing consecutive shots with automatic weapons.

  • I enjoy being a marksman, and while one might say that having a Sentry’s Call or Hunter’s Faith set would let me capitalise on this, my reasoning for running a four-piece Striker set is so I increase my damage at closer ranges. I snipe to whittle numbers down, and then using the Striker set, in conjunction with a good assault rifle, I can tear through enemies quickly. Classified gear is hard to come by, so I decided to diversify, slotting in a single piece from the D3-FNC set to gain protection from elites, and a single Lone Star piece so I can increase my ammunition capacity.

  • All of this is facilitated by the NinjaBike backpack, which acts as a wildcard for gear sets: rather than specialising in any one style, the NinjaBike backpack allows me to enjoy benefits from a variety of gear sets and I’ve attributed having this to helping improve my survivability in various situations. Apparently, the NinjaBike backpack was less valuable in earlier builds, helping players dampen their losses in the Dark Zone when they were killed.

  • During one legendary mission at Times Square Power Rely over the past weekend, I joined a match where I was made leader. I switched over to a pulse turret and the recovery station: by now, I’d become reasonably familiar with the way enemies spawned, and so, did my best to keep the group alive. I must’ve done alright, if no one in the group quit out at any point, and while one guy disconnected, we were joined by another fellow who definitely carried their weight. I noticed that no one was running the recovery station, so I used it to help keep teammates alive at choke points, and the pulse turret helped me keep Sargent Wilbur busy: he’s immune to all damage except that dealt to a small plate on his backpack, but pulse turrets work on him. While my turret chipped at his health, a teammate snuck behind him and finished him off. With the other threats dealt with, our mission ended successfully.

  • While we might be into April, I’m a bit surprised that winter has not left us yet: forecasts predict cooler weather for at least another week in my parts, and I’ll be looking forwards to when spring really returns to the world. In The Division, the perpetual winter weather is perfect for atmospherics, in-game, but in reality, winter weather is known to have a profoundly negative impact on one’s well-being. With this in mind, one of the things I’ve longed to do since buying The Division is to play this game, after work or on a lazy Sunday, during the hottest day of the year.

  • Before I wrap up this post, I will show readers what my preferred PvE loadout looks like. The NinjaBike backpack acts as a wildcard, allowing me to run a four-piece striker set and gain two-piece bonuses from the Lone Star and D3-FNC set. I will mix things up depending on what I’m doing, but this loadout’s really worked well for me. As my primary weapon, I run the LVOA-C with the destructive perk, which allows me to rip through enemies with relative ease, and the SRS A1 acts as my secondary. I have deadly and destructive on it, which makes it great for longer range engagements. I admit that my setup was inspired by TheRadBrad’s, although he runs with a six-piece Classified Nomad set for survivability in the Dark Zone. Since I don’t PvP, I’ve opted to go with a damage-oriented build: if I could customise the naming for my loadouts, this one could probably be called “The Shimarin”.

  • Here’s a setup I’d never thought I’d ever be able to collect: the all-exotic loadout. This loadout is made up of Barret’s bulletproof vest (increases damage while skills are on cooldown), Ferro’s oxygen mask (continue shooting even while on fire), Shortbow Championship pads (grenades explode slightly faster), Skull MC gloves (damage increase if one has no gear set bonuses active) and Colonel Bliss’s holster (sidearms hit harder the more consecutive shots one lands) in addition to the NinjaBike backpack. I’m running the Liberator and the Centurion. As well, I also happen to have The House SMG, which I got during a very lucky drop. It’d be awesome to have an Urban MDR and Bullfrog, but until the RNG favours me with these weapons, I’ll continue to run with what I’ve got.

Admittedly, I’ve perhaps played a little too much of The Division over the past month; the climb through the world tiers and corresponding increases in gear score have been a remarkably fun journey. The uncertain thrill of being in the Dark Zone at tier five means that I’ve largely kept to running around landmarks and supply drop events: extracting gear that I’ve found has typically resulted in my being attacked by groups of rogue agents. Since I’m geared for PvE rather than PvP play, such encounters usually end with my death, but a sign of The Division‘s maturity is that I don’t necessarily need to go into the Dark Zone to get Phoenix Credits and gear. Rogue players don’t tend to attack people without the contaminated loot bag, so I’ve had no difficulty in running around the Dark Zone, clearing out landmarks and occasionally going for supply drops. The short of it is that The Division‘s been great fun, and with the announcement for The Division 2 a reality, one can only wonder what the sequel will deal with: the first game left quite a bit of the narrative open, and with Aaron Keener still on the loose with the chemical makeup of the dollar flu, there’s plenty left to explore from a storytelling perspective. I’m personally hoping that The Division 2 will be set in Asia: Hong Kong or Tokyo would represent fantastic places to set The Division‘s gameplay, and beyond my own speculations, it’ll be very exciting to see just what lies in store for The Division. For now, however, purely for bragging rights, I can say two things: first, I’ve got an all-exotic loadout (practicality notwithstanding) and second, I’ve surpassed MeoTwister5 in terms of gear score.

Tom Clancy’s The Division: That First Foray Into The Dark Zone

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” –John F. Kennedy

The Dark Zone is the final frontier in The Division, being the central part of Manhattan where those afflicted by the Green Poison virus were taken for quarantine, with the aim of curing them, but with the overwhelming number of victims and constant threat of riots, the area remained a contentious one. The JTF that were initially sent in, along with the armed forces, eventually withdrew once the power went out, leaving their equipment behind. This area has long been advertised as the pièce de résistance of The Division, being a lawless, unregulated area of Manhattan that rewarded risk-taking and punished the unprepared. Featuring tougher enemies, and gear that must be extracted, the Dark Zone offers a completely different experience in The Division, and during the days of the open beta, I entered to gain a sense of what the area was like after reaching the level cap. When the beta concluded, I decided that if I were to ever pick up The Division, I would likely spend a bit of time just to explore the Dark Zone. However, being an area where I could easily be eliminated by powerful enemies or rogue Agents, I decided to reach level thirty in the game first so I had access to the full set of skills, talents and perks to maximise my survival and ability to acquire gear in the Dark Zone. My experience in the beta was that folks largely kept to themselves, and there had only been a few instances where I found myself being hunted down by groups of rogue Agents: the Dark Zone’s main threats were tougher enemies, which I wondered whether or not I had been sufficiently equipped to deal with.

With some trepidation, I thus entered the Dark Zone’s lowest tier, and immediately after exiting the checkpoint, I found myself under fire from a group of veteran enemies. Ducking behind cover, I emptied my weapons in to them and levelled up seven ranks by the time the firefight was over. Picking my way through the deserted streets, I stumbled across a landmark and found myself face to face with a group of elites and a named boss. The firefight that ensued was a brief one that saw me triumphant; with a host of newly acquired high-end items, I made my way towards an extraction point and sent my items off for decontamination. Subsequently, a supply drop landed nearby, and I cleared out the host of elite enemies guarding it. During this hour in the Dark Zone, I only ran into one other player, who arrived at the extraction point to get his gear out of the Dark Zone. We briefly provided covering fire for one another while waiting for the helicopter to arrive and parted ways after our gear was secured, but beyond this, I’ve yet to run into other players in the Dark Zone. Lacking any ambient music, roaming civilians and radio chatter, the Dark Zone emanates a completely different feel compared to the other parts of Manhattan, which is referred to as the Light Zone – there’s an unnerving stillness here, and coupled with details in the environment, such as the mountains of body bags and burned out structures, the area conveys a sense of foreboding and tension not found even in the campaign missions in The Division.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My old post on the Dark Zone was published precisely two years ago, although things are rather different now in many regards. After finishing Unknown Signal, I began hunting named elites in the light zone to ensure my entire loadout had gear score items (as opposed to items with levels); this brought my gear score up to 177. There are a host of means to attain good gear – the main way to acquire equipment that fits one’s play-style is to purchase blueprints for weapons, gear and accessories of interest. The best blueprints and items can only be bought with Phoenix Credits, which drop from named elites and caches, as well as being earned through completing daily and weekly missions. The payoff for these credits through group missions, considering the time spent, is actually quite small.

  • This is why I’ve returned to the most desolate part of Manhattan after two years: the payoff seems to be a bit more suited for my play-style in that I can enter the Dark Zone, explore contaminated areas and fight Dark Zone enemies to earn caches, and then extract the items. Dark Zone enemies include standard ones, as well as veterans and elites; their presence is denoted by purple and dull yellow health bars. What make them tougher is the fact that they are protected by armour that must be blown away before the health itself can be whittled down. In large groups, these enemies can be devastating for solo players, making it imperative to make good use of cover and crowd control techniques: some skills make it easier to manage large groups by stunning them or distracting them.

  • While I largely ran with assault rifles and LMGs in The Division‘s campaign, occasionally shifting over to a marksman rifle as the need arose, the end-game is rather different. I’m running with SMGs more frequently now owing to their improved accuracy and short reload times; in close quarters, this allows them to quickly stop enemies rushing in. Their additional critical damage bonuses make them perfect for a highly mobile play-style, and in conjunction with a good marksman rifle, allows players to handle threats at all ranges effectively. However, my preferred primary and secondary weapons largely depend on both what my requirements are, as well as what the most difficulty-appropriate weapons I have available are.

  • Because I’d not entered the Dark Zone previously, I leveled up twice from shooting out one veteran NPC, and in the space of ten minutes, reached Dark Zone rank ten after engaging a named elite. Here, a gear set piece is seen dropping: characterised by a teal marker, items in a gear set will confer bonuses if one has more than one of the pieces equipped. They specialise a player for certain roles, and The Division also introduced the concept of loadouts so players could quickly set themselves up to be effective as a support or offensively-driven player to help a team out, switching out to gear more suitable for solo play in other instances.

  • I can’t quite remember if Landmarks with elite enemies were present in the open beta, but in the full game, they’re populated with elites and named elites. Clearing them out will provide rewards for the player. Unlike the Light Zone, named elites will respawn in ten minutes rather than four hours, making it possible to devise a route for killing off the elites, moving to the next area, and then returning to kill them off again. In this manner, players can amass a sizeable collection of items and caches in the Dark Zone.

  • The large yellow bag with the biohazard markings on it telegraphs to other players that I’m carrying contaminated items, including caches. Some folks suggest running the Dark Zone and leaving all drops, using the Dark Zone only to level up until one reaches rank fifty, after which the vendor in the sixth zone will begin selling blueprints. This is to dissuade would-be rogues from stepping in and stealing one’s gains. However, since the beta, the Dark Zone’s mechanics have changed so that going rogue usually is more detrimental than beneficial. Further to this, players cannot accidentally become rogue by shooting at non-hostile players. Instead, players must announce their intention to turn rogue.

  • Extractions are among the most stressful events in the Dark Zone: once player fire off a flare, it telegraphs to other players that an extraction is in progress and immediately results in the spawning of several waves of NPCs who will swarm the extraction zone. Some extraction sites are notorious for having close quarters environments that are difficult to defend against: the parkade in zone two is one such instance, and I died here several times to NPCs before running in, pulling out my dropped gear and making for safer extraction sites in zone one.

  • My first ever-attempt at securing a supply drop was met with success because I happened to be nearby: once deployed, I ran over and opened fire on the elites guarding the box. After scanning them with the tactical pulse, I moved in and mowed the lot of them down. I’ve attempted to capture supply drops on a few occasions; it’s important to have enough time to reach them, since they are guarded by elite enemies. I have access to a trump card to help with the fight: besides using consumables to boost damage and stacking this with the tactical scanner pulse, there’s also the signature skills.

  • The observant reader will note that I’ve got the tactical link signature skill here. Doubling rate of fire, halving reload time and dealing bonus damage, the tactical link skill is The Division‘s equivalent of Trans-Am or the NT-D. I’ve not used in the Dark Zone at the time of writing, but while testing it, I managed to cut a named elite down within a space of ten seconds. Like the Trans-Am System and NT-D, signature skills vastly boost one’s performance for a short period and then requires a long cooldown, during which the skill is unavailable for use. Here, I receive the contents of the supply drop. Once items from a supply drop are acquired, the drop self-destructs, and these items directly enter the player’s inventory.

  • Here is the moment where I run into the only other human player in the Dark Zone during my first few hours. We provided covering fire for one another while awaiting the extraction, and went our own ways after that; one feature I noticed here was the ability to hijack an extraction. While this could be amusing, truth be told, there aren’t enough incentives to do this.

  • The post title is admittedly inspired by ARIA: The Animation. I finished watching all three seasons of ARIA a year ago, and never got around to writing about it. Peaceful, cathartic and presenting an exceptionally well-built world, ARIA is counted to be one of the greatest slice-of-life anime of all time, bar none. Having seen it for myself, I can see where this assertion comes from, and further remark that if remastered in a faithful manner, I could see myself watching all three seasons of ARIA again.

  • Like the Light Zone, there are subway entrances in the Dark Zone that invariably lead to contaminated areas. Most subway areas in the Dark Zone have a contamination level of four, so it will take a level four filter to keep one alive in these areas. Entering with a filter below this level will result in the filter wearing down until the player sustains damage. The subway tunnels occasionally see contamination events where the contamination level rises up to six, instantly killing all those who enter. At level five, players may enter to try and take out named elites. Clearing an area successfully will provide players with new equipment that go directly into their inventory.

  • I’ve yet to try out the contamination events, mainly because I’m always quite far from a subway entrance when they occur, but on my trips into the subway tunnels, I’ve always found a good number of crates to open: this is where most of my sealed caches come from, and while they may not always provide the gear one seeks, they are a fantastic source of Phoenix Credits. There are named elites that prowl the tunnels with their entourage of minions, and they will drop items, as well as Phoenix Credits, making entry into the tunnels a good idea (provided that a contamination event isn’t just about to begin).

  • Because The Division is a gear-based game, where the end goal really is to collect increasingly better equipment by ways of a variety of events, there’s innumerable discussions out there on what builds are optimal for a given play-style. Gear Score is invariably at the centre of all discussion, and one important thing to note is that a higher gear score item might not inherently be superior to a lower gear score item. I constantly tinker with my weapon talents are active, as they confer additional bonuses that help with my survival. There will come a point where I will re-roll weapons, but I feel that at World Tier Two, the time is still early to be spending resources on Blueprints and recalibration.

  • The relative quiet of the Dark Zone means that I’m usually forced to completely clear an area on my own, but one of the older tricks is to get a few good shots off against enemies; if other players finish them off, one will still get credited with Dark Zone experience. Going from these screenshots, the Dark Zone has not changed too much since the days of the beta, and it does feel a bit nostalgic to be running through this part of Manhattan again.

  • The gas station visible here on the left is adjacent to my favourite extraction zone: during my run in the open beta, I camped behind a pile of crates while working on a presentation on the Sunday before the beta was set to close. I was in the middle of my final graduate course and was working on a presentation of some sort. This was prior to my travels to Laval, and I remember that the weekend of The Division‘s open beta was a busy, if fun one. It feels fantastic to return with full gear and explore the area again.

  • The Division has seen considerable changes since it launched back in March two years ago, and I’ve read that higher Dark Zone sectors no longer give better gear: as of the current patch (1.8), all sectors have the same drop rates. What does separate the higher sectors from the lower ones is the number of named elites: players well-equipped to fight in higher sectors will simply get more gear. Of course, curiosity will lead me to explore some of the higher sectors, and there’s a mission in sector nine that I’ll eventually look at completing.

  • The Library in Sector Two was infamous during the open beta: I recall being waylaid here by rogue Agents, and other players have recorded the same. Back then, I was not equipped to deal with them and so, played the evasion game, while TheRadBrad manages to take them out in a hilarious manner. These days, the Library is a landmark home to some named elites, and the amount of open space here meant that it was viable to sit back and snipe them.

  • After clearing out this landmark, another piece of classified gear dropped for me. I initially wondered what the drop rates on classified gear was, but it turns out they’re not as rare as I thought they were. The “rarity” metric is actually somewhat misleading and is better described as quality (e.g. “high-end” items have more desirable attributes than “superior” and so on): at level thirty, high-end items drop more frequently than anything else. I played World of Warcraft years ago, and initially assumed that “rarity” corresponded to “probability of getting the item”; I imagine that the same thing holds true in World of Warcraft as it does for The Division in that rarity is only a measure of quality.

  • It suddenly strikes me that I don’t have any pictures of the Dark Zone being a “dark” place, so I’ve added this extraction here to rectify that. The Dark Zone is a relatively quiet place by day, but at night, it becomes downright eerie and even intimidating. The atmospherics in the Dark Zone are unparalleled, and very few games have managed to create such an unsettling atmosphere as effectively as The Division has: every time I exit the Dark Zone, it’s like a great burden has been lifted from me. The tensions are tangible, and this is one of The Division‘s greatest strengths. I intend to see just how far I get on my own before either I reach the gear score limit, or the servers shut down: I’ll return occasionally to write about The Division, but in general, readers can expect this blog’s usual repertoire of anime posts to resume.

Having entered the Dark Zone and successfully extracted my gains on several occasions now, I’m going to continue exploring the higher-difficulty areas at a much more casual, relaxed pace: my main aim in The Division now is to improve my gear score such that I reach the final world tier. Once this is done, I will continue to enjoy exploring Manhattan’s last unexplored realms without worrying about being blown away by exceptionally powerful enemies or rogue Agents, as well as for bragging rights. I’ve heard that the Dark Zone is an unfavourable place for solo players, but I am curious to see the extent to which this statement holds true. With a bit more time in the Dark Zone, I’ll also unlock a special vendor and begin accumulating enough Phoenix Credits to buy some interesting gear: it’ll be quite interesting to test just how far one can get on their own in The Division, as well as seeing whether or not solo players can acquire exotic weapons and gear without joining any groups. Besides the Dark Zone, I’m also curious to see how I fare in some of the end-game missions and assignments; I’ll occasionally return to recount my experiences in The Division, as well as share some of the more amusing or entertaining things I’ve come across in the end-game. Finally, there are a handful of encounters and side missions on the eastern side of Manhattan that I’ll need to wrap up.

Tom Clancy’s The Division: Russian Consulate, General Assembly and the Unknown Signal

“Ideas are important. Principles are important. Words are important. Your word is the most important of all. Your word is who you are.” –Tom Clancy

As it turns out, having all superior gear entering The Division‘s last set of campaign missions translates almost directly to the ability to tear through the levels and waste even named enemies without much difficulty. The Russian Consulate is the first of the missions I had left in my story: after learning of virologist Vitaly Tchernenko’s knowledge of Green Poison, the player is sent to the Russian Consulate at Murray Hill so he can be extracted and questioned. Fighting through the ornate halls of the consulate, players eventually reach the library where Tchernenko is hiding. However, despite being able to convince Tchernenko to accompany the player, LMB arrive and extract him. In spite of this, players are able to gain access to Tchernenko’s work, allowing Dr. Kendall to investigate the virus further. Players must also fight another First Wave Division agent. Once the consulate is cleared, players move to the United Nations building in the General Assembly with the goal of taking out Colonel Bliss, who is making a last stand. Moving into the UN building, players will take on two rogue First Wave agents and eventually square off against Bliss himself. Tchernenko is nowhere to be found, and while the remaining forces in Manhattan can begin working on the vaccine for the Green Poison, as well as begin restoring function and order to Manhattan, the loss of Tchernenko in conjunction with the disappearance of one Aaron Keener suggests that he managed to escape Manhattan, with the aim of using a more virulent form of the Green Poison and the highly sophisticated Division technology to bring the world to its knees. Once Bliss is defeated, players receive an unknown signal in which Keener addresses the player, inviting them to join him and his conquest to rule the world; in the chaos and despair, First Wave agents were swayed to betray the Division and joined Keener. Faye Lau also congratulates the player on having done so much to help bring order back to Manhattan, but remarks that even with things under control, much still remains to be done.

While The Division might be a tactical third person role-playing loot shooter, its premise is certainly an interesting one worthy of consideration: through exploring the various locales of Manhattan, listening to conversations amongst Division agents, JTF staff and various recordings scattered in the world, it becomes apparent as to just how extensive the damage to society was through the introduction of a weaponised biological agent modelled off a virus thought to be eradicated by vaccinations. Inspired by Operation Dark Winter, The Division explores the government and society’s ability to respond to a fast-moving pandemic: Dark Winter had found that existing infrastructure was not equipped to handle biological warfare, lacking surge capabilities. Further to this, the results showed that the media would not be effective in conveying information, slowing down citizens’ access to medication and potentially exacerbating panic. In general, Dark Winter was a sobering reminder that the complexity of modern society, and the interdependence of different systems on one another made our society highly vulnerable to attack. Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector explored this from the cyberspace perspective, and The Division reminds players time and time again of just how destructive pandemics can be considering how ill-prepared our infrastructure and policies are: it is only through the intervention of a powerful stay-behind force and the resolute belief in doing good that The Division‘s protagonists are able to slowly bring society back from the brink. While suggesting that it takes extra-governmental power and an uncommonly strong faith in people for society to survive given our current infrastructure, The Division also shows that people who believe in others, as well as themselves, can be successful even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I bet no one was expecting a thematic discussion on what The Division is about here: when The Division is mentioned, people’s minds immediately go towards the Dark Zone and the uphill journey of accumulating good gear. However, for me, The Division is more than being merely about collecting gear: it’s a powerful bit of speculative fiction that warns us of just how vulnerable our societies are and what can happen if the right people do the wrong things. The game is a reminder that we shouldn’t take stability and security for granted, and that these are things working hard to preserve.

  • Of course, I imagine that these social topics are far removed from the minds of the players, so I won’t go into too much more details about it in the figure captions. Here, I make my way further into the Russian Consulate after clearing out the first group of LMB soldiers. The ornate decorations are quite befitting of a Russian site, and I note that I’ve not played a game set in a ostentatious locale with Russian or European architecture since the days of 007 NightFire. It was therefore such a treat to be able to walk through these environments again in modern-generation graphics.

  • I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this previously, but I’ve known about The Division since late 2013, when I was perusing a gaming magazine at the local bookstore. The premise intrigued me, as did their E3 demo footage, which blew me away with its impressive visuals. While the finished product is quite different than what the E3 presented, my intrigue in the game remained; by early 2016, the open beta for The Division was announced, and I was excited to play it. I think I got around eight hours into the open beta before it ended, spending it doing the two available story missions and in the Dark Zone.

  • When the beta ended, I remarked that The Division would be worth buying if it could deliver sufficient content. While reviews initially dissuaded me, Ubisoft has been adding to the game, and the journey to level thirty is a reasonably-lengthed one. I took forty-two hours to reach level thirty, and this includes time spent exploring the game, as well as adjusting my loadouts. I bought the game on a sale back during Black Friday last year; by my metrics, I’ve already gotten my money’s worth for the game, since it now costs less than a dollar per hour spent in the game.

  • The Russian’s intelligence capabilities are alluded to in this mission: upon finding the server room, radio chatter deals with what the Russians are doing with this amount of processing power, and it is remarked that normally, this would go towards reconnaissance, but in light of the crisis, the processors are turned towards genomic applications. It turns out that Tchernenko has been using the grid to sequence himself, and Dr. Kendall requires all of this data to continue research against the Green Poison, but before the data can be downloaded fully, it is remotely terminated.

  • One of the cool things about The Division that very few games have implemented in full is a dynamic day and night cycle, so one thing I’m going to be looking forwards to is reattempting this mission as a daily mission during the day: in 007 NightFire, players can only fight through Drake’s Austrian castle by night, and I’ve long wondered what the place looks like during the day. In The Division, day and night cycles mean that there will be opportunity to explore this level again.

  • The interior design of the Russian Consulate switches between classic Russian and more modern styles. While the spaces in the consulate are mostly close quarters, a good marksman rifle is surprisingly effective in some areas with more open spaces. On a per-shot basis, the M4 is the most powerful bolt-action rifle I’ve encountered: before stacking critical damage bonuses on top of it, I could hit consistently for around 75 thousand points of damage with headshots. Its main disadvantage is a slower firing rate and small capacity. To make the most of this weapon, one must land consecutive headshots, which is very difficult considering the mobile nature of The Division‘s firefights.

  • I usually experiment with a variety of weapons to see what works and what does not; the M1A is probably the best marksman rifle in the game, striking a balance between firing rate and damage per shot. Optics are rare to come by, so one of my goals at the end-game will be to buy blueprints for a good set of high magnification sights. The artwork and lighting create a warm environment befitting of the diplomats and politicians that work in this building.

  • Along the way, I found a green laser sight that looks amazing. In shooters, I’ve been very fond of green lasers because they are much more vivid than red lasers; green light stimulates more photoreceptors than red light, which is why our eyes are more sensitive to green wavelengths than any other wavelengths. I recount a story in my undergraduate studies, where I paid more attention to a lecture if the instructor was using a green laser simply because it stood out more. Consequently, having blueprints for a green laser sight would also be quite nice.

  • The firefight in the library is intense, and there’s a heavily armoured LMB soldier in here awaiting players once the rest of the LMB have been neutralised. Tchernenko has locked himself in a panic room and will only agree to go with the US Army, but once players put him on the line with Kendall, he agrees to accompany the Division to safety. Before players can get through to him, the LMB forcibly take him. There’s no way to rescue him in The Division, but players will not fail the mission for having been unsuccessful in recovering Tchernenko.

  • I am briefly reminded of my days in graduate school when Kendall and Tchernenko begin discussing their work; Kendall is familiar with Tchernenko’s findings as a result of a previous conference. It’s been some time since I published to an academic conference, and in Laval, my paper was selected as one of the best papers, after which I was invited to submit an extended paper to the International Journal of Virtual Reality.  My current work is far removed from VR and AR, but as the field of apps and software is constantly evolving, it is not implausible that I may eventually returning to some VR and AR work.

  • The long, open courtyard at the Russian Consulate is why carrying a good long range option is wise: the courtyard is filled with LMB soldiers, including an elite sniper who can blind players. By this point in time, LMB elites and rogue Division agents will employ the same skills that players have access to. Earlier in the server room, a support station was dropped, allowing enemies to heal themselves, and later, the Division agent Hornet is equipped with cluster seeker mines. This is a somewhat challenging fight in the absence of good equipment, but with a marksman rifle, things become more manageable.

  • After cleaning up the first wave of enemies, I cautiously made my way towards the waypoint. It turns out that red light visible here is merely an emergency light and not the laser sight for a turret or some enemy sniper’s marksman rifle. Because there’s no way to save Tchernenko, there’s no real rush here to pursue him at full speed – once players reach the end of the courtyard, the objective changes, players instead must defeat Hornet in a one-on-one battle.

  • Hornet has the power to hack turrets that players deploy, so strategy guides recommend using seeker mines against him. After eliminating the remainder of the minions accompanying him, Hornet will keep his distance, and this is the part where the marksman rifle really shines: I had no difficulty putting Hornet away, standing in stark contrast with the protracted fight against Scarecrow. When I began the Russian Consulate mission, it was nighttime, but by the time I got to the end, day began breaking.

  • Finishing the Russian Consulate mission illustrated that I was ready for whatever final challenges had awaited me, and with this mission in the books, I decided to wrap up some of the remaining side missions before I continued, as well as get my wings up to full completion. Completing all of the main missions won’t yield enough supplies to finish each wing, so players must also do encounters. The encounters are generally quite short and can be done quickly, and there isn’t too much variety in the encounters.

  • Yielding sixty supply units apiece, encounters entail rescuing hostages, securing supplies, recovering supplies, assisting JTF or else activating virus research data stations scattered throughout Manhattan. Of all the encounters, my least favourite ones are the ones where I must bring supplies back to a container and the virus research ones: the latter involve data scanners that are hidden about, and it takes some time to find all of them.

  • I was short one upgrade for each of the medical and tech wings after finishing the Russian Consulate mission, so my first priority was to gather enough supplies to fully upgrade them. During the process, I leveled up twice: the reason why there aren’t many screenshots of me doing these missions is because they can be a bit dull, and so, I’ve chosen not to show them. It took around an hour and a half to wrap up enough encounters to fully upgrade each of my skill wings.

  • As sunlight breaks over Manhattan, the entire area is thrown into sharp relief. The downside about reaching level thirty ahead of finishing the General Assembly mission was that I would be fighting enemies scaled up to me in terms of strength and durability, rather than the level twenty-eight enemies that one would ordinarily encounter, so I also took out a few of the roaming bosses in the light zone to get some upgraded gear. I thus entered the General Assembly mission with the MP5 ST.

  • Armed fully with each possible update, I made my way to the far east side of Manhattan to take on the General Assembly mission. At level thirty, my level indicator has changed into a proficiency indicator, and ever four hundred thousand points, I earn a proficiency cache, which contains high-end items, possibly exotic (named) items and some Phoenix Credits. This currency allows players to buy blueprints for top-tier weapons from the vendor at the base of operations.

  • While I initially started the General Assembly mission with the cluster mines, I switched back over to the tactical scanner pulse, and here, I’m running with the Tactical Link signature skill, which would confer increased damage. I’ve noticed that experience gain is much higher for surviving firefights and killing named enemies at level thirty: this is plenty of incentive to make headshots, which now provide a much larger scoring bonus.

  • With the JTF providing support, the players are free to make their way into the UN Assembly building to continue with their mission. The laser sights for the automated turrets are visible here, although players needn’t worry about them: the JTF will address these, as well. I’ve found the JTF to be moderately effective, especially with regards to giving enemies something else to shoot at besides myself, and so, after picking up some explosives, it’s a straight shot to the parkade area underneath the building.

  • It is nice to have the pulse option again: being able to locate enemies is critical, and the added bonus of dealing additional damage against enemies that have been scanned makes firefights more straightforwards. Paired with a good submachine gun, even the purple and dull yellow enemies no longer were a serious threat. I’d been running assault rifles as my primary up until now, but the higher damage output at close ranges means that I’m finally open to using them in my primary slot. Assault rifles, on the other hand, have better range and accuracy, making them good all-around weapons.

  • The United Nations was established after the Second World War in 1945 to replace the League of Nations in maintaining international order and stability, and while it has been credited with successes, especially peacekeeping missions during the 90s, the UN today is ineffectual in its function: sanctions against rogue nations go unheeded, peacekeeping missions are fewer in number and their concerns have even shifted towards the irrelevant, such as a well-publicised but exceptionally poorly-written report on cyber violence. The report in question is filled with grammatical errors, insufficient citations (which even included a link to a C-drive directory) and suggests that all online hate is motivated purely by identity politics.

  • The UN’s credibility took a further hit when two individuals, self-proclaimed “experts” in the field, were invited to address the commission: they were, in effect, championing the idea that telecommunications should be censored so that their feelings are not hurt, while on the flipside, certain individuals should be allowed to say whatever they please. All of this occurred back in 2015, prior to The Division‘s launch, and since then, it seems that for the most part, this UN report, and whatever those two speakers had to say, have fortunately not had too much of an effect in either the enjoyability of games and the flow of information within the internet.

  • The negative impact that the people participating in virtue signalling have had on the world is what motivates the page quote: Tom Clancy believed that one’s word, their commitment to something, is singularly important, and this is something that those who engage in virtue signalling lack. The fight against the second rogue Division agent here in the UN Assembly, and the sheer resistance players encounter, is a fantastic visual analogue for the sort of pushback people might encounter while trying to convince the world of the fact that virtue signalling folk are acting to further their own interests without a genuine commitment to the cause they are supposedly promoting.

  • After beating the second rogue Agent in a short firefight, the time has come to take on Colonel Bliss himself. While radio chatter suggests he got away, it turns out there’s a chance to stop him yet. Bliss was originally assigned to protect Wall Street assets and performed his duties with honour until his men were abandoned. He thus joined with Aaron Keener and has employed the LMB towards furthering Keener’s goals, but is betrayed by Keener. Unlike the other bosses, who fought on foot, Bliss is in a helicopter that has access to a powerful chain gun, missiles and flares.

  • While a properly outfitted player can focus fire on Bliss’ helicopter and blow its armour away without using the automated turrets, I was minimally equipped to deal with the armour and so, I used the turrets as suggested. Once the armour is gone, any weapons the player has got will quickly weaken the helicopter and destroy it. In the aftermath, a host of high-end items dropped to the ground, and after playing around with my loadout, I found the stats that worked best for me. I subsequently proceeded to the final mission, titled “Unknown Signal”.

  • Besides playing the living daylights out of The Division, this has been a relaxing, if somewhat eventful, long weekend. I spent the whole of yesterday taking it easy (as well as tending to some cleaning), and today, I went for a bit of a walk with one of my friends on account of the nice weather, before going out for Chinese New Year dinner and catching up with family (among the things on the menu included wonton soup, grilled ribs, deep-fried pork, yi mein and crispy chicken). There’s a science fair tomorrow morning that I’ll be helping out with, as well, so as soon as I mash “publish” on this post, I’m hitting the hay.

  • The last mission leaves a bit of an open-ended conclusion to The Division, and what happens next is anybody’s guess. I’ve heard unverified rumours that The Division might be getting a sequel, and it would be quite interesting if another similar game were to be set in a European or Asian city, involving another Division’s efforts to stop Keener. His escape with the virus blueprints is particularly chilling, so a story aimed at stopping him would be the most logical next step. For the time being, however, I’m done with the main campaign, and I’ll be occasionally returning to The Division to get my gear score up, accumulate more Phoenix Credits, and experience the end-game at my own pace.

  • This is what my final loadout looked like when I finished the General Assembly and Unknown Signal missions. With this, it means that I’ve done something that some feel to be a nightmare: I’ve completed The Division‘s entire campaign solo, without once using specialised ammunition or deploying my signature skill. I did not spend any of my credits on gear, and all of these high-end items come from the drops acquired during General Assembly. Looking ahead, I don’t think there will be any more anime posts for this month – Battlefield 1‘s Apocalypse comes out tomorrow, and it seems I’ve hit level thirty in The Division at just the right time for this update. I’ll be returning to see how the new maps and weapons play out since trying them out in the CTE. As well, I’ll also be making my way into the Dark Zone to see just how survivable it is for a solo player in the near future.

All of the missions in The Division are visually impressive, but this is especially apparent in the final two missions, which definitely feel at home in a Tom Clancy novel. The interior of the Russian consulate is well-decorated with distinctly Russian elements, feeling very similar to Rainbow Six Seige’s Kafe Dostoyevsky (itself modelled after Cafe Pushkin): from the well-furnished office spaces and chandeliers in the great halls, to the bar and pool room, the place simply seems like a place where allies of the Jack Ryan administration or the Campus might operate out of. Similarly, the vastness of the UN Assembly building is captured in superb quality. The fight against a rogue First Wave agent happens in the very same council chamber where major decisions affecting the UN’s policies are made. Even amidst the chaos of each mission, I nonetheless found the time to really enjoy the environments that I was exploring. At this point in time, I adopted a slightly different play-style: switching out my cluster seeker mines for the tactical scanner pulse, I returned to the approach I utilised previously to scan out enemies before jumping into the fray, and this time, with bolstered critical damage, I began making more extensive use of the submachine guns, which I’d largely ignored up until now. Coupled with a good marksman rifle, picking my way through these missions was superbly entertaining and also much more straightforward than I anticipated. I thus ended my campaign of the game in a solid manner, and will begin my journey into the endgame with a gear score of 137. My first task is to bolster that up, and then decide where I will go from here.