More Of The Same, Just With Easy Loot – The Division’s Underground Expansion Review
Ubisoft’s The Division has been all over the shop since its initial release last year. Continued experimenting with ways to improve the game has produced mixed results. The first major expansion, known as ‘Underground’, is yet another attempt to freshen the game up, but is it successful?
The main feature of Underground is the randomly generated areas, forming the core of the game. As you’d expect from the name, all of these areas are set within the sub way. Each area hosts a set of core games, all of which still require masses amount of shooting. There’s a fair level of challenge at play, even on the basic setting. With no respawns throughout each area, failure can come quickly and often.
Ubisoft Massive have done a fairly decent job of making each area feel slightly different. Make no mistake about it, there isn’t a world of difference between the areas, but they’re not offensively similar. Small tight corridors, choke points and environmental hazards compliment the hordes of enemies found at each turn. It’s a little disappointing that there’s no new foes to take on. We’ve been battling the same faceless enemies for months now, things could do with spicing up.
Each mission within the Underground can be altered with ‘Directives’, enhancing the challenge of each zone by handicapping players in multiple ways. Disabling mini-maps, hiding damage indicators and increased shared cool downs are just some of the options. As you’d expect, the experience and loot gained is improved, rewarding players richly for their exploits.
The issues at the heart of Underground is most of it is hidden behind an wall of experience points. The Division has long been obsessed with grinding and increasing levels, be it in the Dark Zone or farming Phoenix Credits. Directives and various areas are unlocked upon reaching certain levels, with the most interesting content requiring the player to be level 15+. Experience is gained by simply playing through Underground areas, time after time.
It’s nothing new, nor does it feel like anything too refreshing. No new mechanics, no new bosses or much of anything to speak of. Pop into cover, shoot the enemy, follow the objective marker and repeat. If the core of The Divsion’s gameplay still appeals, this is more of the same. The sheer amount of grinding can sour the experience, though hardcore fans will probably be accustomed to such demands by now.
Loot still plays a huge role in the experience. Acting as a carrot on a stick, high end and set items are thrown at the player in abundance. While seeing those bright yellow and green shades drop does carry a rush, the ease of it all somewhat cheapens the loot. There’s no longer a sense of prestige to such quality drops, even more so given how quickly decked out players become.
Underground also adds a new incursion known as ‘Dragon’s Nest’. Arguably the most accomplished of the three incursions, Dragon’s Nest is tough but enjoyable. There’s a fair mix of enemy types that pour pressure on the players, forcing them to remain active. Each section is rounded off with a boss battle, with the final encounter being a test of patience more than anything else.
Those who dropped out of The Division sometime ago may find enjoyment in what Underground has to offer. While loot feels a little too easy to obtain, it does provide a easy route back in for returning players. The randomly generated areas don’t out stay their welcome, even if things start to repeat after a few hours.
Dragon’s Nest is a solid addition to the game, supplying genuine challenge. It’s unfortunate that there’s yet another levelling system forced into the game. Grinding out Underground levels really does test a player’s patience, even when there’s a constant stream of quality loot coming in.
Underground won’t change the mind of jaded players, or the image of the game, but it’s a solid addition that Division fans will enjoy.