The first paid expansion from Ubisoft for The Division is now out across all platforms, and I have to say, I am not sold. The expansion is called Underground, and takes players underneath the streets of New York in a randomly generated fight of routine kills. There are new features throughout, but the fundamental flaws remain.
Tactical Operations Centre
The Underground opens up after a brief introductory mission to offer you more of the same. The Tactical Operation Centre is the primary place to call home with this expansion, and provides you with similar areas of vendors and crafting stations etc.
Just like Destiny's Reef (everyone compares it to Destiny), the Tactical Operation Centre is the new hub of the expansion. Here you can meet up with friends, or other random players, and hopefully join a merry troop on a sequential grind of 'guns meet bad guys'.
New Mission Modes
New mission modes do add a new element of grind to this game. The difficulty now goes all the way to Heroic, and requires only the most committed of players to work as a team to get the job done. To stand any chance of successfully completing one of these missions however, you will need to stock up on lots of snacks, because you are expected to do a lot of bumping and grinding (I don’t mean in the fun way).
To make it interesting, on top of the various difficulty levels, a new Underground Rank has been introduced. I assume, this was just in case you were getting bored of grinding your way through the various missions above ground. Just like up top, the journey to your higher rank, will grant you more XP, and access to more stuff. The big sell to this expansion is the:
randomly generated urban dungeons of the underground
The idea is to randomly generate a new dynamic every time, however, the sequence quickly becomes the same phased gameplay over, and over again. The only lure is the hope, that you will receive some new gear and swivel in your chair with joy (yay!). In addition to the differing map layouts (rooms), are the new environmental traps and hazards to overcome, such as gas leaks or electrical cables to burpee jump over. The placements of these are randomly generated in a new location each time, unfortunately, putting them in a different spot does not make it new and exciting.
When choosing to start a mission, you can also mix it up a little more by adjusting the modifiers. The modifiers attempt to change the monotony of this expansion by adding a new predicament to the encounter. After you have played a few combinations of the modifiers, the focal point is once again evident - grind for new gear and XP.
In addition to all the difficulty and modifier choices, save points have been removed to add a new level causality. This does add a level of commitment that has not been seen in this game before. Everyone hates to make it so far, only to die, and find yourself back at the beginning.
New Gear Sets
The Division is admittedly a loot hound’s wet dream, with its never ending assortment of Gear Sets. Just like in Destiny, the goal is always to acquire new gear for the betterment of your character. This is continued in the expansion with loot chests, crafting materials and the opportunity for Gear Sets drops from boss fights. The quality of gear still correlates to the difficulty of gameplay, and a gear score range applicable to your character.
What is the point of grinding your way into some fancy new kill pants, if you don’t have a matching gun? Obviously none! The Underground expansion includes every new weapon to complete your annual purge, along with the enticement of accessories (z-snap that).
Just like the Gear Sets, you can earn them, craft them or buy them from your vendor of choice. The above image gives you the gist of what is on offer. Nothing really new here in principle, just a new mixed bag of arsenal to collect.
I am conflicted on my view of this game i.e. even though it's monotonous, the game is so well made. The level of detail in this game is fantastic. The game mechanics work well, multiplayer seamlessly ties everyone together and the array of customisation and diversification should make it addictive. The problem for me though, is I feel like a trained monkey doing tricks for nothing more than a serving of bland same same.
Overall I think the problem with The Division is that there is no heart to this game. This is especially evident when trying to play The Division solo – it has no single player qualities for me at all. It’s like trying to play a game of pool at the pub by yourself. Yes, you may practice your skills, but it is not the same as the atmosphere and banter you share with your friends. If anything, The Division, and Underground expansion, only serves to bring people together under the guise of shooting the same enemies, in the same phased dynamic, over and over again. For me personally, the Underground expansion by Ubisoft, only appeals on the very randomly generated occasion.