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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.

Tom Clancy’s The Division: Power, Security and the Superior Loadout

“Our tools keep getting better, and as a result of that, our lives keep getting better.” –Tom Clancy

Moving through Midtown East, I push through to the Warrengate Power Plant, which has been overrun with the Rikers, a grouped formed of escaped convicts from Rikers Island unified under Larae Barrett’s rule. The site provides power to Manhattan in The Division, and the Riker presence poses a threat to the island’s electric grid. After clearing the power plant out, the time has come to pay Larae a visit and put an end to her control over the Rikers. In an intense firefight with her and two cronies, I managed to defeat her. The Last Man Battalion (LMB), however, still retain full control of assets critical to helping the JTF restore function in Manhattan, and Paul Rhodes sends players to take control of a rooftop communications array. After fighting through hordes of enemies, the engineer carrying out the repairs completes his task. The restored communications allows the JTF to better ascertain the situation, and Captain Roy Benitez decides the time has come to assault a major LMB position at Queens Tunnel. Disabling turrets and making my way into the heart of the site, I clear it out and secure weapons, as well as gear for the JTF. On the offensive now, I assist the JTF in pushing their way to Grand Central Station and manage to repel a desparate final assault by the LMB. With the completion of this mission, I wrap up all but three of the main campaign missions of The Division, and the accumulated experience has pushed me to level twenty-seven.

In the campaign’s latter half, missions remain doable for solo players, but there were missions that were trying. In particular, the rooftop mission proved exceptionally challenging: while I was able to engage enemies and reach the engineer without difficulty, the boss, coupled with close-quarters fighting and limited cover made the final fight a gruelling one even on standard difficulty. I found myself wishing I had another player to help provide cover fire while I reloaded, or else could help with flanking the enemies. Eventually, I managed to defeat the boss here and was able to continue with the game, but altogether, it took me some two hours to beat the level. Larae Barrett and her leftendants were similarly challenging: their heavy weapons shredded my player, and I began exploring the different abilities here. I eventually began running with the cluster seeker mine, a powerful crowd control option against the NPCs, and upgraded my first aid ability to the overcharge mod, which provides overhealing and is perfect for solo play. Once I became familiarised with these abilities, I was able to move through missions and control crowds more effectively. I’ve also unlocked the Survivor Link signature skill; the signature skills are powerful boosts that The Division has described as being able to turn the tide of a battle and so, should be reserved for special moments. Survivor Link increases defense and resistance to damage, as well as running speed. I’ve yet to unlock the other two – Recovery Link recovers players to full health, revives nearby downed allies and provides an overheal, and Tactical Link bolsters weapon damage. For now, I’m running Survivor Link simply for the fact that I have it, but both Recovery Link and Tactical Link look to have their own value for a solo player: the former is a fantastic safety net for the event that I sustain lethal damage, while Tactical Link looks excellent for situations where I’ve got the drop on enemies and require a damage boost. As I wrap up the last missions in The Division and finish upgrading all of the wings at HQ, I’ll unlock the last of these skills and put them to the test.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • At level twenty, with a fully specialised loadout, I began moving into the Eastern side of Manhattan. Some eagle-eyed readers may note that my ammunition capacity fluctuates occasionally; this is a consequence of equipping different backpacks, some of which provide a bonus on the amount of ammunition I can carry. I’ve found that ammunition capacity is not particularly important during the campaign missions; resupply crates are found in sufficient frequency so that I never run out before important events.

  • The Warrengate power plant is modelled on the Consolidated Edison Building on the East River at 15th Street. This facility is a natural gas-fired power station that also provides steam to Manhattan, and in The Division, is the main installation where power is generated. The Rikers have planted explosives in the entire facility, with the aim of knocking out power and introducing anarchy to the Manhattan streets.

  • The interior of the Warrengate power plant is incredibly detailed; with pipes snaking everywhere, old-school valves alongside more modern implements and the like, the facility in The Division shows a combination of the building’s age and subsequent retrofitting to use newer technologies. While most of these details might be lost during an intense firefight with the Rikers, I’m superbly impressed with all of the details that have gone into interiors in The Division.

  • While The Division is intended to be a multiplayer game, players are made to acclimitise to the game’s mechanics and gear system in the campaign. The campaign was a clever means to present a story to the players, rather than allowing some folks to skip directly into the PVP elements, and while players can group together to complete missions, I found that playing through these missions alone conferred a more immersive and authentic experience.

  • For a time, I stuck to engaging bosses with the belt-fed LMGs owing to their deep ammunition pools: the M60 and M249 each have 100 rounds available to them without any magazine modifications, and so, can deliver a blistering hail of suppressive fire down-range. While bosses are immune to being suppressed, LMGs nonetheless are a good option in fights where they are accompanied by minions, being able to continuously deal damage.

  • On a note that’s completely unrelated to The DivisionGochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? ~Dear My Sister~, the OVA following up to GochiUsa‘s second season, is set for a home release on May 30. I will work to have the internet’s first review for this post, and presently, I’m eyeing a post with forty screenshots. We recall that Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s first episode will release in March, right around when Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start‘s finales are: in light of this, I’m going to roll back the talks for Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start, as my instincts tell me that there’s rather more interest in Girls und Panzer than the aforementioned shows.

  • TheRadBrad characterised the Lexington Event Center mission as the most disturbing mission in The Division, and right out of the gates, it’s immediately apparent as to why this might be the case: the bodies of JTF operatives are hung at the front gates, with a creepy message seemingly written in blood right below. The building is modelled on the 69th Regiment Armory, a  Beaux-Arts style building that finished construction in 1906. While originally built to house the National Guard, the facility has also been used to host art shows.

  • As unnerving as the Lexington Event Center is, I cannot help but be impressed at the small details in the environments; the warm lighting and Christmas decorations are reflective of the fact that the site was to be used for hosting Christmas events prior to the Green Poison’s propagation. In the close quarters of the Lexington Event Center, I switch over to an SMG: while I typically run with an assault rifle as my primary weapon, I constantly switch out my secondary weapon to suit whatever environment I’m in. Marksman rifles and LMGs are my preferred choices, although I may occasionally introduce an SMG into the loadout to improve close quarters efficiency.

  • There’s an ECHO beacon in this room that details the fates of the dead JTF soldiers: a few were forced to drink what might’ve been anti-freeze and died from poisoning, some were shot and others were tortured for the Rikers’ depraved amusement. It’s worth taking a moment to look through all of the ECHO reconstructions, and here, I note that of all the factions, the Rikers are my second favourite to engage (the Cleaners remain first): Rikers are hulking brutes and are larger than the standard rioters encountered, making them easier to hit.

  • Once the building is cleared of Rikers, players head to the roof where they will find Sargent Ramos, a JTF operative captured by the Rikers. With a strong hatred for law enforcement, the Rikers have taken to brutalising the JTF, but at least a handful have survived. Once Sargent Ramos is rescued, he will call in other JTF operatives to help with the battle. While having the additional guns afforded by the JTF support is nice, the operatives turn out to be quite ineffective against what’s upcoming.

  • Larae Barrett is protected by two massive brutes hauling LMGs around. This was probably the first major challenge I encountered: Barrett herself stays out of the fight until the two are eliminated. I quickly found my typical approach completely ineffectual against them and experimented with a variety of skills to distract them long enough to land rounds on them. In the end, I switched over to the seeker mine, using it as a guided grenade to blow away armour and deal damage to the bosses. With enough patience and use of seeker mines, I eventually took the two brutes down.

  • In retrospect, a long-range option might’ve been better against Barrett herself, but without the two LMG-wielding brutes, she’s much easier to neutralise. Several belts of LMG and a few seeker mines later, I managed to finish what was one of the tougher missions to solo in The Division. By this point in the game, specialised items begin dropping with a much higher frequency. I still break them down to convert them into weapon parts, while standard items, I sell for credits.

  • After the effectiveness displayed by the seeker mine, I set about looking at modifications to my skills with the goal of seeing if I could further extend my survivability. I ended up rolling with the overdose modification for my first aid, which is focused on solo players and gives overheals, at the expense of a longer cooldown time and reduced effectiveness on allies. I also switched over to the cluster seeker mine, where the mine breaks into smaller mines that independently seek out targets. While dealing less damage than an individual mine, it’s great for causing multiple enemies to lose health over time.

  • The rooftop communications relay mission was probably the toughest mission I’d faced in The Division up until this point: the mission began innocuously enough: I made extensive use of my cluster seeker mines to quickly disperse crowds and move towards the communications tower at the mission’s end. From a distance, I picked foes away before moving on, and as a snowfall moved into Manhattan, I closed the distance to the antenna.

  • Once reached, players must defend a JTF engineer so that he can perform modifications to the antenna. The Rikers send several veterans and elites against the player: the cluster mines again proved their worth in crowd control, and I eventually found myself face to face with the boss, Glass, and his minion. It was here that my strategy broke down completely; I was mowed time more times than I cared to count, and the long walk back to the antenna, coupled with the wait for the exchange between the engineer and Paul Rhodes to end, was immeasurably frustrating.

  • The problem in the fight was the unique combination of Glass carrying a lethal close quarters weapon, having a powerful minion, and the fact that the rooftops offer no cover or long-range options, forcing players into close quarters. Furthermore, if players decide to attempt the long range option, Glass or his minion will make straight for the engineer and shred him in seconds. I tried a variety of tricks here, including deploying a support station with the life support modification so I could revive myself, but this was not too effective. Of all the missions in The Division, this was the one point where I wondered if I would have to break my solo-streak and matchmake with someone to help me overcome the challenge.

  • In the end, I managed to lure Glass into the lower area, hammered him with the seeker mines and grenades, as well as sustained fire from an LMG. He eventually fell, and I took to dealing with the remaining minion: without Glass around, the fight was considerably more straightforwards. After two hours, I finally managed to beat the mission: it was a thrilling moment, showing that enough determination meant that the journey to level thirty could be done solo, after all.

  • Under a brilliant blue sky, I began the Queens Tunnel Camp mission to infiltrate and seize control of the LMB communications hub. I’ve been looking through some older discussions of The Division,  and one player managed to go from level one to thirty in the span of ten days, including the completion of all of the wings. Considering the difficulties I faced with some of the missions, I wonder how many hours of those ten days were spent just playing The Division. If we assume this player put in roughly the same time that I did, then it would take around forty five hours to go from level one to level thirty. This works out to around four-and-a-half hours of The Division each day, which is hypothetically feasible provided one has a considerable amount of free time on their hands.

  • By comparison, I prefer taking my time and enjoying the sights (read “I have work and other titles to play”). Even though I’ve got some thirty eight hours of time in The Division by the time I hit this side of Manhattan, the game continues to impress me with its visuals. The buildings have become taller and more imposing, creating a fantastic skyline. On the topic of that particular individual, I think one of my goals in The Division will be to beat his gear score after hitting level thirty.

  • After punching through the tunnels, I entered a large room doubling as a makeshift server room. After clearing it, one of the NPCs had dropped a superior piece, my first of the game: these gloves far surpassed any of my other equipment. From here on out, superior equipment drops became far more common for me. I’ve heard that some folks have gotten superior gear through the Dark Zone or through crafting, but one element about the road to level thirty is that equipment becomes obsolete very quickly: playing the game normally will allow one to fully update their loadout to be effective as one levels up, making it unnecessary to expend funds and crafting materials on new equipment.

  • The Dark Zone offers a different experience for obtaining gear: some players recommend entering prior to level thirty in order to both gain a better understanding of game mechanics, become familiar with the layout, and to access better gear. However, my trick was to kill a few of the named enemies that I encountered in the regular areas to update my gear prior to the campaign missions. Here, I finish with clearing out the LMB so I could subsequently disable the servers and communications grid.

  • Once communication assets are under friendly control, players have one more task: to take control of the munitions depot and weapons stockpile. The LMB are encountered with increasing frequency towards the game’s end, and unlike the other factions, possess superior armour, weapons and tactics. I was expecting a fight akin to the one encountered with the Rooftop Communications Relay mission, but having level-appropriate gear meant I was able to neutralise the LMB sent to engage me without any issues.  I usually end up deconstructing the awards that missions give me, since better gear often can simply be found by playing the game.

  • After the Queens Tunnel Camp, the final security mission is Grand Central Station – after disabling the automatic turrets, players must take back the site. I’ve heard that the mission has a game-breaking bug where the turrets will remain active and cannot be disabled if one dies before hitting a checkpoint after the turrets but after disabling them. I’m glad I played a bit more conservatively during this part: the prospect of active turrets is an unsettling one, as these weapons can shred a player in the blink of an eye, and nothing short of finding a panel to disable them will work.

  • I therefore count myself as extremely fortunate that I did not encounter this particular issue during my run of the Grand Central Station; apparently, the bug is still occuring in the game as recently as July 2017. One of the largest train stations in the world, the current Grand Central Station building was finished in 1913, and subsequently hosted an art gallery, as well as acting as a venue for musical performances. The station saw renovations during the 1970s, and presently, is undergoing expansion, with a new terminal opening in 2023. While featured in The Division, the mission does not actually see players enter the building.

  • The tracks tunnels and collapsed tunnels underneath the station suggest at the chaos that was introduced following the Green Poison epidemic. I’ll take some time now to provide an update on what’s happening here for the remainder of February now that we’re a ways over the month’s halfway point – first order of business is that I’m rescinding my plans to write about Violet Evergarden at the halfway point as originally planned. While the world the story is set in is incredibly rich in background and vividly depicted, my experience tells me that Violet’s journey to understand the phrase 愛してる(romanised aishiteru) will span the entirety of the fourteen episodes the anime is set to run for.

  • Consequently, I do not feel that I can offer a complete and fair discussion of the anime at the present. The end result is that I will be returning once Violet Evergarden is finished to do a whole-season talk on the show, but for now, I do not believe that I can write about Violet Evergarden on account of my incomplete understanding of what the anime’s aiming to deliver to audiences. DICE has also announced that Battlefield 1‘s Apocalypse DLC is set for release on February 20, which was much sooner than I expected. These factors together influence my decision to push the Violet Evergarden talk back, and in the meantime, folks can look forward to some screenshots of Battlefield 1‘s final DLC (although I am quite certain some will unfollow me for this heresy!).

  • In the real world, work’s been a bit slow as of late, although it’ll definitely pick up in the near future. On Friday, I sat down to lunch at a nearby British pub for a delicious, well-seasoned medium-rare steak sandwich and fries. We’re now in the Family Day long weekend, and I spent most of the day playing through The Division, doing the encounters to accumulate enough wing supplies to bring each wing to a hundred percent completion. After lifting in the morning, I went to pick up some 干炒牛河 (beef hor fun) and 陰陽飯 (fried rice with a white shrimp sauce and tomato-chicken sauce). It’s been snowing the entire day, and I’m greatly looking forwards to sleeping in a little tomorrow and Monday.

  • Returning to The Division, I finally approach the Grand Central Station terminal, and after making short work of the LMB soldiers here, regroup with the JTF, who inform me that I am to dig in and repel the impending LMB assault. Naturally, this corresponds with a boss fight, and I found that the cover I so judiciously made use of on the way to the terminal now became an impediment, making it difficult to engage the LMB attackers rushing my position.

  • As with the Rooftop Communications Relay mission, the close quarters made it quite difficult to get a good shot at Captain Foley from afar, and at close quarters, I was annihilated. However, over the span of the next half hour, I figured out that Foley would not get closer to the player so as long as I did not use my seeker mines or grenades, and so, was able to fire on him until his armour and health were depleted. The firefight was so intense that my M60’s barrel began glowing red, as visible here. It’s such a nice touch that The Division included this detail. With Foley in the books, I wrap up the penultimate of the wing missions in The Division.

  • Exiting the Grand Central Station mission, I have an all-superior loadout. This is something I never imagined I’d be able to reach after The Division‘s beta ended, but here we are. Having tested it against free-roaming bosses in the light zone, I’m reasonably confident that I’ll be able to reach level thirty in no time at all, although once I hit thirty, the goal will be to transition my entire loadout into high-end items, as my current gear is rendered obsolete. During The Division‘s open beta, a handful of high-end items were available to players to encourage exploration, although these weapons would only be present in the beta: high-end items are only open to level thirty players in the final game. I missed out on getting them owing to lacking the Dark Zone funds and level during the beta, but having looked at their stats again, it turns out that even specialised weapons in the final game far outstrip them in performance.

Besides continuing to push through The Division‘s campaign as a solo player, I’ve also managed to upgrade my entire loadout to superior items. A step up from specialised gear, superior gear is characterised by their purple icons and vastly improved statistics compared to equivalent level specialised items. I’d long heard that players begin seeing superior items drop at mid-twenties, and this turns out to be true. During the Queens Tunnel mission, I encountered my first superior drop when moving into the server room; these gloves ended up being a ways better than anything I had previously, and as I continued with the missions, I began swapping out more of my inventory, replacing specialised items with superior ones. Having reached level twenty seven now, my entire loadout consists of superiors, and I’ve been experimenting with different setups to ensure a reasonably balanced setup, as well as to ensure that my equipment unlocks the pair of weapon talents available to superior weapons. These talents are separate from player talents and will passively improve the weapon’s performance in some way. My current setup uses the Enhanced G36 assault rifle, as well as the First Wave M1A marksman rifle. Occasionally, I will switch my marksman rifle out for an LMG or with the M44, which is the single most powerful weapon in my inventory: a critical shot can hit for up to eighty thousand points of damage. I’ve been trying these weapons out against the open-world bosses that roam the streets of Manhattan, and the M44 is obscene – five rounds are enough to neutralise some bosses from full health and armour to zero. With this kind of firepower, I’m curious to see how I fare in the upcoming missions, the Russian Consulate and General Assembly.

Tom Clancy’s The Division: Journey Across Manhattan and Reaching Level Twenty

“I’m afraid if I dig any deeper, no one’s going to like what I find.” –Jack Ryan Sr., Clear and Present Danger

Over the past month and some, I’ve pushed further into The Division‘s narrative: with the Base of Operations minimally functional, I’ve retrieved samples of the virus from the contaminated greenbacks in a large shopping mall and returned them to Dr. Kandell, who works out that the virus is a manufactured and genetically-modified form of smallpox originating from one Gordon Amherst. In addition, with the flamethrower-wielding cleaners threatening Division operations, players are sent to deal with their napalm supply hidden in a construction site. Along the way, players slowly recover infrastructure necessary for Manhattan to function again, and make a chilling discovery; the first wave of Division agents became rogue after they were overwhelmed with the breakdown of order. These agents began working with the “Last Man Battalion” (LMB), a private military organisation that swore revenge against the government for leaving them behind with no support after the initial responders were ordered to withdraw. Completing missions have led to much more being revealed about what’s happened in this frightening vision of just how fragile society is, and in the twenty-four hours I’ve spent in The Division, I’ve also developed a bit of a better understanding of the game’s mechanics far more than was possible in the beta, allowing me to better survive firefights and continue with my solo experience of the journey to level thirty.

I’ve found that the levelling system in The Division is quite reasonable: while it will take some time to play through, at no point in the game did I find things too unimaginative, jejune or repetitive. Playing through the different main missions and side missions, each with their settings and premise, and listening to the dialogue meant learning more about what’s led to the events in-game to occur. While there are only three kinds of enemies, the different locales make the firefights interesting. This is the way to move through the ranks at a smart pace: encounters offer limited experience points compared to playing through main and side missions. During my time in The Division, I’ve also worked out my own strategy for dealing with items; I tend to sell all items that are of the standard quality or below for credits, while breaking down specialised items for crafting parts. In becoming more familiar with the game, talents, skills and items, I’ve become a bit more durable over the course of my solo run. Surviving firefights become a matter of making use of cover and equipment to turn the tides against overwhelming odds, and I’m feeling as though this is what it means to be a Division agent: resourcefulness and determination against adversity. After twenty levels, The Division‘s main campaign remains highly enjoyable as a solo player, and I’m curious to see what is in store for me to as I push towards the full level thirty.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I stand in front of the Broadway Emporium here prior to starting the next of the main missions, which involves entering the Broadway Emporium mall and hunting down infected greenbacks for traces of the virus. The wide open spaces of this building make a long-range bolt-action or designated marksman rifle a highly useful tool. At this point in The Division, my primary weapon was an assault rifle of some sort, with a long-range weapon as a secondary weapon.

  • In The Division, assault rifles are the middle-of-the-road weapon choice that is ideal for the campaign: they offer a good balance between fast firing rate and accuracy at range. Not quite as damaging as submachine guns at close quarters and not quite as precise as a marksman weapon, they are quite versatile and can be paired with almost any other weapon type in the game. I’ve stuck with a good rifle, usually the SCAR-L or G-36, as I’ve progressed through the missions.

  • While New York itself looks amazing, the buildings that players can enter are depicted in equally impressive detail: barring the flames licking the mall’s structure on the right of this image, there’s evidently a Christmas vibe in the building. Things such as abandoned merchandise and general mall clutter add to the sense that New York was evacuated in haste prior to the events of The Division, giving a superior sense of immersion.

  • For main missions, going in at the recommended level or a level above will usually yield the best experience for solo players: in The Division, the player’s level corresponds with the sort of equipment they can utilise, and having good gear is necessary to survive encounters with enemies. In cases where I encounter enemies at my level, sufficiently good gear has allowed me to absorb multiple round without losing a bar of health, and similarly, encountering elite enemies with weak gear means I can lose my entire health bar in the blink of an eye to one or two rounds.

  • With this being said, it is possible to survive and emerge triumphant in firefights against enemies of a higher level: good use of cover and abilities go a long way in improving survivability even when one’s weapons and gear are not quite up to snuff against tough opponents. Early on in The Division, players don’t need to worry too much about specifics in gear, such as talents or other attributes. My first goal was to gradually begin replacing all of my worn gear with standard gear, and by level ten, I had all green items.

  • The construction site details in the napalm production site mission are nothing short of impressive, and making my way through the area, my first goal was to destroy the napalm tanks. They can be set off using a pistol, even at range, and this conserves on primary ammunition: the pistols in The Division have unlimited ammunition. While this is unrealistic, it was a deliberate design choice to prevent players from running out of options when their primary ammunition was entirely spent.

  • I’ve never actually run into a situation where I’d run out of ammunition before: supply boxes are sufficiently frequent during the campaign missions such that I can always remain well-equipped before stepping into a major firefight. Resupply boxes out in the field will only restore one’s stockpile of ammunition; special boxes at safehouses will fully replenish grenades and med kits along with ammunition.

  • During this mission, I found myself pinned down by a sniper as the sun began setting, but as I had a LMG handy, I was able to suppress the sniper, switching over to my G36 rifle to finish him off. The suppression mechanic in The Division works against non-boss enemies: when they are affected, they will stay in cover and not return fire until the suppression has worn off, giving players a chance to close the distance between themselves and their enemies or gain a moment’s respite to heal up or reload.

  • I’m averaging a consistent 60 FPS in The Division: my GPU is no longer the bottleneck and I can play the game on higher settings than I did during the beta. The fresh snowfall here, coupled with the orange light pipes on the ground, gave this scene a highly unique composition. The locations where campaign missions are set are designed similarly to dungeons in other MMORPGs, being quite linear as to direct players down a certain path, but the levels artwork is of a superb quality.

  • The Napalm Production Site mission ends with a faceoff against the Cleaners’ leader, Joe Ferro. An ordinary sanitation worker with a fondness for radio, Ferro turned into a psychopath in the aftermath of the virus and believes that the world must burn in order to be cleaned of the virus. As a boss, Ferro is equipped with an uncommonly powerful flamethrower and has heavy armour, although being a Cleaner, he also carries with him fuel tanks that can be shot to deal massive damage. In my fight against him, I lured him into the top floor and took advantage of his low mobility to defeat him: ducking away and circling him to evade his weapons meant I could empty magazine after magazine into him without fear of reprisal.

  • The most impressive feature in The Division is probably the weather and lighting effects, which can completely change the way the game feels. While I’m running out in open daylight here under beautiful skies, there are plenty of opportunities to gaze up at the moon by night, or else find oneself caught in white-out conditions. The New York area has historically seen major blizzards and extreme weather, and on average, the city averages around 66 cm of snow per year.

  • There are numerous encounters scattered around the streets of mid-town Manhattan, but because they offer relatively small amounts of experience compared to side missions and main missions, I only participate in them if they’re between me and another objective. Missions are common fare: recovering supplies and fending off enemies, defending supplies from enemies, helping JTF forces defend against enemies or disrupting arms deals that invariably lead to firefights with enemies. I don’t go out of my way to complete them, but they can be fun for testing out new weapons that players have acquired.

  • I’ve never been too fond of the missing person side missions, since they involve a great deal of running around and occasional bit of getting lost, but in general, side missions are quite enjoyable. They’re particularly useful if one is trying to reach the level requirements for a main mission, as they offer good experience and gear pieces.

  • The Times Square Power Relay mission is unique in that most of it takes place on the streets of New York rather than inside a building or subterranean location. After a brief fight through the subway system, players return to the surface to continue with their mission. Like the building interiors, subways and other underground installations are incredibly detailed. The Division is probably what Enter The Matrix would have looked like had the latter been developed in 2013 rather than 2003.

  • Amidst the deserted roads of Manhattan near Times Square, I take cover behind a vehicle as enemy forces begin arriving. A fog covers the area, giving it a bit of a chilling quality, and my loadout meant I would engage my opponents from a distance. The long-range weapons in The Division take the form of either bolt-action rifles or the semi-automatic DMRs. The latter can kill an at-level enemy with one headshot, while DMRs cannot do the same but compensate with their superior rate of fire, and because rate of fire is valuable in a game where opponents occasionally swarm players, I value DMRs as my long-range solution.

  • For the longest time, I continued to run with variations of the SVD Dragunov: I’ve got a classic style one here with the wooden stock, but I prefer the more modern-looking versions with the synthetic polymer stock. The original Dragunov was conceived with the aim of being a squad-support weapon rather than a dedicated long-range weapon. With a high rate of fire, light weight and even attachments for a bayonet, the weapon is widely recognised and appears in a diverse array of films and games.

  • I run into the infamous bullet king for the first time here, and as I was sporting weak weapons well below my level, I couldn’t deal much damage to him, forcing me to make a tactical retreat. I would later return at level fifteen, armed with a level-appropriate weapon and promptly wasted him. Best known for a glitch that allowed players to farm drops from him because he continued to respawn so as long as his minions were still alive, this issue has long been fixed, but the roaming bosses are a great way to collect some level-appropriate specialised weapons.

  • Investigation of Amherst’s apartment also provides an opportunity to explore the inside of Manhattan apartments, which, while a bit on the smaller side, are nonetheless well-furnished and offer their occupants with a good amount of living space. I most vividly recall Lord of War‘s Yuri Orlov, who lived in The Prasada, which is located at 50 Central Park West and West 65th Street. Originally built in 1907, the building was renovated in 1919 and offers a beautiful view of Central Park, as well as the surrounding cityscape. Amherst’s apartment is obviously not as ritzy.

  • We’re around halfway into the first month of 2018, and by now, most of the Christmas decorations have been taken down. January is long considered to be one of the more depressing months of the year primarily because of the fact that the festivities of Christmas are over, and the cold weather in conjunction with reduced daylight hours leads to a reduced production of serotonin, in turn resulting in reduced happiness. Eating a good diet, with more fish, and frequent, regular exercise seems to be effective at warding off the blues.

  • Of course, players are treated to what could be counted as a year-round Christmas in The Division on account of the fact that it’s always winter and the Christmas lights are always up. Now that I’ve got The Division, I wonder what it’s going to feel like when I return to the game in the middle of summer; where I am, July and August daily highs average around 23°C, a far cry from the frigid start we’ve had to the start of 2018.

  • A few days ago, I caught wind from Girls und Panzer‘s official Twitter channel that Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s first episode will be released on BD and DVD on March 23. Using this as a precedent, there will be three-month gaps between the theatrical screenings and home release for each of the six parts in Das Finale. Of course, there’s been no news of when episode two will be screened, but I imagine that Das Finale will follow a similar pattern as that of Gundam Unicorn or Gundam Origin, releasing episodes every half-year.

  • Some die-hard fans of Girls und Panzer have taken the pain of travelling to Japan for the singular purpose of watching Das Finale and reported their impressions of it to online forums, where fortunately, the discussion has largely been suppressed by folks who wish to stay away from spoilers. Even if they are only flying in from the Philippines, where a plane ticket from Manila to Tokyo is roughly the half the price as flying from Vancouver to Tokyo, such an endeavour is ultimately a hugely wasteful application of funds.

  • Earlier today, I sat down for dim sum in Chinatown. One of my longtime indicators of how good a place is for dim sum is the quality of their har gao or dai zi gao: the best ones are prepared with a thin wrapping that is sturdy, and there should also be plentiful shrimp on the inside. It’s been around nine or ten years since I last went to the restaurant that I visited today, but their har gao and sui mai are as good as I remember.

  • Besides har gao and sui mai, we also ordered a fried shrimp dim sumfeng zhao, sticky rice, seafood yi mein and a variety of other things. The restaurant in question is located right at the heart of Chinatown, and while it’s a smaller restaurant, their food is fantastic. As we wrapped up our lunch, a snowfall rolled into the area, and the city center began feeling like the streets of Manhattan during a snowfall. The snow continued to fall on and off, and it’s expected to slow down later tonight. Back in The Division, I walk through one of the side pathways through a park area, and I’ve got a suppressed pistol equipped. Suppressors in The Division are supposed to extend the range that enemies can be shot at before they actively engage the player, but in practise, beyond making one’s weapon look cool and sound slightly different, they’re not too effective at the ranges I typically engage enemies at.

  • When Faye Lau discovers an Agent transponder signal emitting from the Police Academy, the player is sent to investigate. Fighting through the building, players soon learn that a Division Agent has gone rogue, and is forced to engage him in order to complete the mission. These rogue agents are much tougher than standard enemies and even bosses, as they have access to abilities and talents of their own. Furthermore, they can hack players’ turrets and drones.

  • It was during the fight against Scarecrow, one such rogue Agent, that I began making more extensive use of the LMGs in The Division: they can either be magazine-fed or belt-fed. Magazine-fed LMGs have a higher rate of fire and shorter reload time, while belt-fed LMGs can deal more damage per round and have a much greater ammunition capacity. Their accuracy improve as they are fired, making them highly effective against bosses, and I quickly found that a properly-outfitted M249 was my ticket to victory over Scarecrow.

  • I’ve heard that The Division is perhaps one of the best video game depictions of Manhattan around, with Crysis 2 not too far behind. I’ve only ever visited Manhattan during a vacation back during 2011, and Manhattan is a fast-paced, hectic place to be, more so than even Hong Kong. The unique premise of The Division offers a chance to explore a virtual version of Manhattan without all of the hustle and bustle, showing that for all of the incredible buildings and activity in Manhattan, it’s really the people that make this place special.

  • I eventually acquired a specialised M60: while slower-firing than the M249, it is able to consistently output damage, and so, it was with this weapon that I took to my fight against the named boss Corporal Wright. Sustained fire tore through his armour and made quick work of him and his minions. Named bosses roam the streets of Manhattan, and in the regular parts of Manhattan outside of the Dark Zone, respawn every four hours. At my level, they drop specialised items, but I’ve heard that they can also give high-ends and phoenix credits once players reach level thirty.

  • My opinion of free-roaming in the grid roads of Manhattan hasn’t changed since I played the beta, but the ability to fast travel between locations significantly cuts down on time spent running through the city streets when one is on a mission to finish a story-related level. However, there are times where exploring slowly can be fun, and the presence of crafting parts, special cases and bonus areas incentivise players to take the time and smell the roses, as it were, in-between missions.

  • By level twenty, I’ve achieved something I’d been looking to do since I finished The Division‘s open beta: all of my gear and weapons are specialised. My next goal will be to gradually convert my entire loadout into superior items as I draw closer and closer to level thirty, and as time allows, begin replacing those items with high-end items. My journey in The Division will continue as I push towards the northeastern corner of Manhattan, where I’m expecting a showdown against the LMB, but for now, I’m going to turn my attention towards a reflection on Kotomi’s arc in CLANNAD: I can’t believe it’s mid-January already. Upcoming anime posts will include the after-three talks for Violet Evergarden and Yuru Camp△; there are a large number of interesting shows this season, and of these shows, I might also write about A Place Further Than The Universe if time permits.

Despite my time spent in The Division, I’ve not ventured into the Dark Zone as of yet: my interest in The Division is first and foremost, fully experiencing the campaign in all of its glory. However, the atmospherics in the standard areas of New York remain superb, and even after twenty-four hours of The Division, stepping out into a snowstorm or watching as a sunrise bathes the Manhattan skyline in a morning light never seems to get old. The Christmas atmosphere furthers the charm of The Division, and it is superbly enjoyable to wandering around the parts of Manhattan that were inaccessible during the beta. While I’m entering a game nearing the end of its life-cycle, I’m making steady progress towards my first milestone. The endgame is entirely focused on improving my gear, and while this could be a bit of a chore, I’ve heard that the better items have a good drop rate since the game’s patches. It will be interesting to see if I can improve my gear score once I do hit that first milestone, but for now, my sights remain resolutely set on making it to level thirty so that I can fully experience the events following Division agents after the second wave’s activation.