A The Division agent looking down a New York street.

The Division Gets Survival Mode DLC

Massive Entertainment’s latest expansion might be about to change the fortunes of The Division franchise.

The Division has had a rough ride; some loved it, but many abandoned the snow-swept streets of New York within a few months of release.

Admittedly, I’m one of the players who abandoned The Division soon after launch. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time gunning down escaped convicts in the subway (I did, maybe a little too much), but I just lost interest in the Dark Zone. There’s only so many times a man can get shot down while extracting before he walks away.

A recent patch has, by all accounts, drastically improved the experience, but it hasn’t been enough to lure me back in.

In part, my loss of love with The Division came from playing solo; the few occasions I have played with friends were vastly enhanced experiences, but all the same, I felt The Division needed more for solo players like me.

Enter the Survival DLC.

The Survival DLC was announced at E3 in June, but details have been few and far between until the developers revealed much more during a surprise livestream earlier today.

Survival is a paid expansion, completely separate from the standalone experience. The expansion is set on the same map as the main game but reworked to be full of snow and with an altered scenario.  A snowstorm is tearing through New York City, and you are one of 24 Division agents, each controlled by another player, being flown into the centre of Manhattan to retrieve some vital anti-viral drugs. Needless to say, the helicopter you’re being flown in on crashes, and you’re separated from the other agents and stripped of your gear.  With only a few green items and a pistol to your name, you have only two hours to complete your mission.

Players will find their character cold, dehydrated, hungry and ill, the symptoms of which will all need to be managed to survive. A combination of medicine and painkillers slow down the disease, while hunger substantially slows health regeneration.  Thirst affects vision and awareness, while cold gradually kills the player. Agents need to scavenge to survive, looting abandoned apartments, burning crash sites and breaking open caches.

Agents need to scavenge to survive, looting abandoned apartments, searching burning crash sites and breaking open caches. Items that were previously worn for aesthetic reasons – coats, hats, scarves, etc. – now have a rating to show their warmth factor, reducing the chill draining your agent’s energy.

The Survival DLC adds new hideouts throughout the city, each including crafting tables which skills can be enhanced. Agents do not start with skills – they must be earned, all over again. But, finding these new hideouts will be difficult, as the new mode also removes the game’s mini-map.

The good news for new players, along with those who abandoned The Division soon after launch, is Survival can be played by those who have the DLC regardless of character level. There are PvP and PvE modes, with a bonus score being given to those who opt for the PvP option. Needless to say, in PvE players can’t kill each other, but competing for survival supplies adds a competitive edge to proceedings. When an agent is downed, the other players are notified – to decide whether to allow them to die and steal their gear, or save them.

Once you’re downed, you’re depending on a rare medkit or the good grace of a fellow agent to save the day. There is no respawning in Survival; once you’re unconscious, you’re finished.

Players who die part-way through the two-hour session will be given a score that may earn them rewards, though those will pale in comparison to the players who complete the sessions and successfully extract.

A confirmed release date has yet to be set for the Survival DLC, though PC players who bought the game’s season pass before last Thursday can play a beta version of starting this afternoon via Uplay.

Adding a survivalist instinct to the Division’s formula may just be the fresh edge the franchise needs. Who knows, maybe this will be enough for me to jump back into the streets of New York City myself.