Tom Clancy’s The Division Review
Hello and welcome to the review! Let us waste no time and jump right into it.
The Division was released on the Eighth of March earlier this year. Created and published by Ubisoft, it can only be played online. It is an open world, third person FPS with RPG and MMO style elements that I’ll go into more detail later in the review.
Before the game was released, there was a Beta build released for both console and PC players to test. Players were able to play a limited amount of content for about a month’s time. Even though the game was released almost two years later than originally planned, it garnered mostly positive reviews from critics and users.
What Exactly is the Game?
To me, The Division is what I call a “third-person looter-shooter”. What that means is the game is a first-person shooter, played in the third person perspective, with a focus on acquiring different gear and equipment of varying rarities in order to make your character better. The game has a lot of RPG and MMO inspirations and styles, which take away from the realism of the game and paint the game as more cartoony and not to be taken seriously.
The looting system is inherently a RPG mechanic, one that is seen in games such as World of Warcraft and League of Legends. It involves your character acquiring items of different rarities with varying bonuses and effects. As you level up your character, you encounter more rare items. The end-game content of The Division, as with many RPG games, is the acquisition of legendary items, which are the most powerful and coveted.
Certain MMO elements are present as well. All enemies have a level and health indicator above their character. When you shoot enemies, depending on how much damage you inflict, a number will pop up detailing exactly how much damage you did. I think that this kind of game mechanic works well in games like EVE Online and WOW, but The Division is a FPS trying too hard to be something that it isn’t, an online MMORPG.
Another RPG element that is such a big problem for me that it requires its own paragraph is the issue of “bullet sponges”. This refers to enemies that will gain health and damage resistances based on your own level.
Depending on how high of a level you are, some enemies might very well be unkillable for a solo player. Of course, The Division isn’t designed to be played solo is it? The very difficulty of the game fosters cooperation between players. While this is all well and dandy, it doesn’t help that it might take a team of four people ten minutes to kill one high level boss enemy. In a MMORPG, this is standard game mechanics. But as I’ve mentioned, The Division is a FPS game that is trying too hard to be a MMORPG. I believe that many players are not used to seeing these elements intertwined into what is supposed to be a FPS. Many FPS games like the Battlefield franchise and the Medal of Honor games pride themselves on being realistic. However, the Division does the exact opposite. In any FPS game, it shouldn’t take a team of people ten minutes and dozens of magazines to kill one enemy. If you’re going to create a FPS MMORPG, for example Destiny, at least know that what you’re creating isn’t going to be realistic. Destiny is pretty much The Division except instead of being set in Manhattan, its set in a fictional universe which is a lot more believable.
Comparison to Destiny
While I have Destiny on my mind, I honestly believe that the developers of The Division took a lot of inspiration from Destiny. It wouldn’t surprise me if The Division was trying to copy its success. Destiny is a “looter-shooter” just like The Division, but it’s purely first person. It’s also set in a fictional universe, so the developers had a lot more freedom to create what they really wanted. The Division did not have that luxury. Tom Clancy games are often renowned for their realism and difficulty, and while the Division might have been difficult in its own way, it certainly wasn’t realistic.
Back in 2014, when game trailers were shown at E3, players were awed by the graphics and how the game looked. However, the game that was released in 2016 was not what players were shown in 2014. The game had been downgraded, the graphical content minimized, in order to keep the game on par with what the console variants would look like.
Ubisoft has a history with this, the same thing happened with another game named Watch Dogs, players put up a huge stink about that one too. Another important point, is that the original trailer that marketed the game to players, was made using the graphics from how the game looked in 2014. Up to the day the game came out, that original trailer was still being used to market the game to players, even though by 2016, The Division looked nothing like the trailer anymore. At the very least, Ubisoft was disingenuous about what the game looked like. At worst, they lied to their customers about the quality of the content they were paying for.
I give The Division, as a video game, a six out of ten.
Critics have given the game mostly positive ratings, as seen by the below articles on IGN and Metacritic.
Shooter games are one of my favorite genres, which is why it disappointed me that The Division was such an amalgamation of genres, that it barely resembled a shooter game anymore. I wouldn’t have cared had the genres blended together cleanly, but they did not. The MMO elements made the game look less realistic and even cartoony, and the RPG elements might have been rather good, but these elements are being added to a franchise that is supposed to pride itself on realism. Tom Clancy must be rolling in his grave. One of the biggest issues is the fact that Ubisoft lied to customers about the quality of the game, sure this can be argued both ways, but at least think about it from my perspective. If you were shown a game that looked really cool, but it wasn’t going to come out for a year or so, of course you’d wait. Wouldn’t you be upset if the game was released looking nothing like what you remember? What if it looked worse? What if content was missing? We also can’t forget the fact that Ubisoft used a trailer to market the game that wasn’t representative of what the game would look like. All in all, the game just didn’t work for me. And I also lost even more respect for Ubisoft.
This concludes my review of The Division. If you enjoyed my content, follow me on Twitter and Facebook to get notified when I post reviews!
If you are still interested in the topics I have presented here, I suggest you check out these videos by Jim Sterling and John Bain.