Tom Clancy’s The Division: Underground DLC Review

July 22, 2016

When I originally reviewed Tom Clancy’s The Division back in April, I praised it for the experience it provided and how Massive had avoided many of the problems that have plagued Destiny since its launch. One of the problems they avoided was leaving people without an idea of what would come next, confirming some of the expansions and DLC people could expect in the coming months after launch. The first of these expansions, The Division: Underground, takes away the structured missions of the story and current end game, and instead randomly generates missions for you and your friends to play through. They’re an enjoyable experience, but aren’t without their faults. Especially if you plan to play on your own.

The Division: Underground opens with a mission designed to ensure that you’re at a high enough power level to be able to play the randomly generated missions without being obliterated. Gear drops often from the enemies you kill, quickly powering you up if you haven’t played a significant chunk of the current end game. This is a great way for Massive to ensure that returning players aren’t unnecessarily gated off from this new content, but also doesn’t stop current players from enjoying the opening of the DLC. After finishing the initial mission, you are prompted to enter the new social are the Tactical Operations Centre, where you are introduced to the real meat of The Division: Underground.

Within the Tactical Operations Centre you are presented with a large table, which is where you can either join a random operation created by another player or create your own. Creating an operation allows you to set a difficulty, each one including the suggest gear level you should be at to complete it. Additionally, you can also use intel found on previous operations to set some extra modifiers. These modifiers give you extra experience, which goes towards the new Underground level system, and extra rewards upon completion of your operation. The first modifier you unlock removes your mini map, which makes finding some enemies particularly difficult in multi-tiered rooms, but also brings an extra element of the unknown to the operation.

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Once you have selected your preferred difficulty and modifiers, it’s now time to wander over to the train and take a trip deeper into the subway to the randomly generated area the game has created for this operation. To do this, the game selects a number of rooms and haphazardly places them together into a large map separated by doors you have to open. The game then also randomly picks objectives for you, like clearing out a room or protecting generators, and places a number of hazards throughout the rooms as well. What results is a more confined experience that funnels you from room to room, but also has a lot of variety and customisability. Loot drops from defeating the boss at the end of each operation, as well as from a treasure chest presented right after the boss’s death, and keeps you progressing in power. Overall, the more linear nature of the operations keeps funneling you towards the action and keeps the experience exciting and the loot succeeds in motivating you to keep coming back for more.

The only part I personally perceive as a big negative is one of the core concepts of The Division: Underground, that all operations are no-respawn areas similar to the weekly Nightfall missions in Destiny. While I have never complained about not being able to respawn during Nightfall missions, The Division has one issue that Destiny largely avoids: relatively frequent lag. As an online-only experience, any network issues including lag are an issue, but this is magnified when death means that you lose everything. Dying due to enemies not taking damage or from damage to yourself being delayed due to lag leads to a lot of frustration while playing. I would be lying if I said that on more than one occasion I was left fuming after losing an entire operations progress after lag kicked in and I was shot through walls.

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The other frustration comes from if you tend to play by yourself, as I do. The benefit of a structured mission is that you can learn the patterns that a boss will follow, as well as the positioning of where enemies spawn, as you die through particularly difficult parts of a mission. The randomised nature of operations means that this is impossible, as once you die you’re out of there. It’s not unusual for a group of enemies to spawn right behind you while you’re in what you thought was some great cover, leading to a quick and cheap death. It’s a system that helps keep the game fresh, but also means that playing without a group is ill-advised and can be frustrating.

Overall, The Division: Underground is a great new way to play Tom Clancy’s The Division, and brings about a new sense of frenzied non-stop fighting and action that wasn’t always present in the slower story mission. The new loot and the constant rate it drops at keeps you willing to jump into the grind and makes you feel powerful. However, if you are a solo player or face a lot of network issues, you will likely be frustrated as you lose operations due to lag and cheap enemy deaths as enemies’ spawn behind you.


Lots of new options as you progress in levels
Can be customised to suit your preferred difficulty level


No checkpoints and randomised enemy placements make this bad for solo players
Network problems like lag can cause you to easily die and lose progress through no fault of your own

Overall Score: