The Division is here, and promises a lot. Maybe too much? Will having three different genres (TPS, RPG and MMO) under its belt in fact divide its interest? Let’s find out.
Right away, you’ll notice The Division’s great visuals. It’s version of New York is the truest rendition I’ve ever seen in gaming. From its apartments to its skyscrapers, it’s pretty much spot on. The game is also pretty darn beautiful. It has great lighting, and very detailed surroundings. And if we want to get a little technical, it’s textures aren’t half-bad either. The only problem I ever had on the graphical side was a very weird texture pop glitch that did make it a little hard to do part of a mission. It was annoying, but that was the only instance I’ve ever seen of it. Besides that, the game’s visuals were great.
While we’re talking about graphics, it’s worth mentioning how many explosions take place in this game. A LOT of them. It seems like every other mission involved blowing up napalm containers or huge gas containers. Heck, I’m not complaining. The particle effects (fire, electricity, etc.) were handled great. The fires roared and were definitely a sight to see.
What you’ll also notice from the start is how well The Division’s cover system works. I love how fluently all the game’s maneuvering can be done. It’s seamless and requires quick-strategy. I always felt like a badass after rolling away from a grenade that an enemy threw at me. It’s a great departure from the mindless mechanics set by other games. I like the shooting itself too. It’s satisfying and it’s good takes time to take down an enemy. It makes everything seem more significant. In this area, The Division nails it.
In The Division, your player’s skills relies on three different build-able sectors in your base of operations. These categories are Tech, Medical, and Security. Each category has their own respective skills to unlock, and are unlocked by using points earned for those specific sectors in certain missions. This concept makes players build up their home base in order build up themselves. I liked the idea, especially since I’m the type of person to never go back to a home or a base after the game starts. It’s a refreshing progression system.
The skills I speak of also depend on which category they belong to. For example, the Tech category contains thing like sticky bombs and portable turrets. While the medical category has skills that revolve around healing yourself and your teammates. The Division also has talents and perks. Talents are passive skills that add permanent buffs to your character, like 30% less damage when taking cover and things like that. Perks are also passive, and add things like med-pack space or grenade inventory. Definitely a different system than I would expect, but no complaints. I like it. It helps to add more of a grind factor.
Speaking of grind, The Division does have some good loot, especially in the Dark Zone (more on that later). You’ll constantly find yourself coming upon a new shotgun or assault rifle that deals more damage than your old one. Don’t expect a fast paced Diablo or Borderlands loot style though, because The Division instead takes it’s time to gratification and makes the game last longer in doing so. It’s pacing in this regard may be questionable, but I personally didn’t mind. Others though may not be pleased. Weapon and pieces of armor usually have their own mod slot that leaves a lot of room for upgrading and tweaking. Each piece of equipment will likely contribute to your character’s 3 main attributes, DPS (Damage Per Second), Health, and Skill Power. This means you have to make decisions on what you’ll keep and what you won’t. That new chest plate might add 46 DPS, but it takes away 50 health. Do you keep the old or take the new? This is a system that we’ve obviously seen before, but it’s done differently in The Division.
The Division isn’t exactly a game based around survival. You’re practically handed ammo through various restock crates found usually every other room. You also are handed a large amount of ammo, and your pistol has unlimited rounds. This isn’t a bad or good thing, but I’m just letting you guys know that this isn’t a replacement for games like Day Z or other survival based MMOs. This, in effect, brings more attention to The Division’s AI and shooting mechanics during combat. Which is only good for one of those two things. And since I already talked about the shooting, I think you know which one.
The Division becomes a little tricky when talking about AI. On one hand, enemies and bosses all level up with you, making no encounter ever easy. On the other hand, the AI are very dull and all fit into one of two categories. Regular enemies with flamethrowers or bosses with flamethrowers. This was largely disappointing. I’ve always liked a traditional formula of a level where you beat up all the regular enemies and then at the end of the level comes the behemoth, but The Division negates that formula with AI who are all the same and are bluntly just stupid. In a full on MMO, this wouldn’t be as much of a criticism. But since this is a hybrid Third Person Shooter/RPG first and an MMO second, it has to be. It was honestly a shame, since I loved the combat In this game.
The Division’s story spans for about as long as the game’s 30 level experience cap. It wasn’t short by any means, but it definitely wasn’t very long either. Honestly, it was a very normal campaign. The only reason I say normal and not bad, is because the game’s leveling and upgrading mechanics did give me a reason to play those missions. The characters weren’t great either. At times, characters will show some emotion and engage in back-and-forths with each other, but most of the time are boring and sometimes pitiful. It seems like a story that was made just because it had to be, and not something that was excitable. Again, this would all be acceptable if it was a full-on MMO. But it’s not, so it’s not. This makes me think that The Division doesn’t know what it is or what it wants to be.
The Division’s co-operative component’s work smoothly. It’s easy to jump into any of the game’s missions with up to 3 friends. Enemy levels will round out based on all four of your levels, which is better than then them being solely based off the host’s experience. Playing with friends made combat in The Division even more fun and exciting. This, and the integration of skills that can benefit your whole team made it clear that this was the way to play The Division.
Now, since I think I’ve covered the rest, let’s talk about the Dark Zone. The Dark Zone is where The Division shines. In the Dark Zone, the whole game changes. It’s no longer about the story or the AI, it’s about loot and how you’re gonna get it. The Dark Zone is essentially the area of the game where PvP comes into play. It holds the greatest loot you’ll find in the game. But it comes at a price. Not everyone will be able to get this loot. Some will find it and others will take it. That means you’ll have to kill to walk out rich. You’ll find yourself becoming an animal and wanting to shoot at anything in your sight solely because of greed. The Dark Zone holds nothing back, and while your there, neither will you. This is where I had the most fun with The Division. When it threw its characters and story behind and went blazing. It even has a higher level cap then the rest of the game with 100 levels. So A+ for the Dark Zone.
The Division is indeed a very divisive game. Split between three different genres, it doesn’t always know what it wants to accomplish. But it does know how to deliver a refreshing progression system with nice core gameplay mechanics and a great cooperative experience. Overall, it does more things right than it does wrong.