First Impressions of “The Division”
Tom Clancy’s: The Division, feels less like a modern shooter and more like a fantasy RPG with assault rifles instead of magic powers.
I don’t own a PS4 so I wasn’t able to really power through The Division, though I doubt powering through is even plausible.
I had two days with the game, spent probably 6 hours-ish playing through the early game. I reached level 8. Died as soon as I entered the dark zone.
Albeit my highlights, I was getting near-addicted to the game, but the “one more mission” mentality eventually left me in my two sitdowns. There’s addictive potential, in the same way people get addicted to a World of Warcraft and the need to grind.
The major criticism has to do with the “grind mentality” of the game, which is good and bad. I couldn’t foresee a casual gamer really enjoying The Division because there’s just TOO MUCH.
Levels and level bars to fill.
If you’re a gamer and you like shooting things a hundred times until they keel over and die, this game is definitely for you.
I will admit to get a full grasp of The Division, you have to put some heavy hours into it, but at that point, you’d probably know if you like the game or not.
As far as The Division is concerned, as long as there’s fun gameplay, I’d recommend the game.
The obvious caveat is that there are some who may like The Division’s gameplay, and those who don’t. As there is with anything in life.
It took me a minute to warm up to the gameplay. For those who don’t like a multitude of buttons and remembering combinations quickly, The Division will be a struggle. It took me a few hours before I ever threw a grenade. The control scheme is a bit messy when tapping and holding things do two different things. It’s all necessary, but it’s clunky.
The entire game is clunky. I prefer a balance between customization and simplicity. Or if there is in-depth customization, I want it to be laid out neatly and simple. This is my second biggest gripe with The Division.
My biggest gripe is having to shoot an enemy 500 times before they die, and that may be an understatement, and this was for the average enemy. Frustration really sets in when stronger enemies and bosses come along and it becomes similar to fighting a dragon in Skyrim. The difference is that you’re shooting Andre the Giant chasing you around a room with his flamethrower.
There’s appeal to that, and I don’t blame people who enjoy that style of what I would describe as MMORPG gameplay. I’m sure some WOW players want to take offense and throw things at their computer and yell mean insults like, “how dare you compare a Tom Clancy game to our deity that is being adapted into what will more than likely be an awful movie”.
On that note, The Division is the Michael Bay version of Contagion.
But for all intensive purposes for us regular folk, this is a fantasy RPG in a shooter’s clothing while taking some inspiration from Destiny. The magical powers are replaced by magical bullets that don’t really hurt until you’ve emptied a clip into someone’s upper cheekbone. I sound really frustrated by this.. having to fire so many shots into someone before they die, and you’re probably thinking:
“Oh this guy doesn’t like The Division because he’s a super realist. He wants a video game to be similar to actual warfare.”
No. I’ve always liked the liberties that shooters will take.
But there are liberties and then there’s The Division. The main reason I don’t like having to fire a trillion bullets into an enemy is how tactically limiting it is. I learned later on that as you get swarmed by enemies, the game is meant to be played online and you basically have to have a squad to run with. But my point remains.
My craving for stealth and tactical takedowns calls out as I sneak up on some unaware enemies. I shoot one in the head with my silenced rifle, and he reacts and runs off into cover. The game becomes a series of firefights where your most vital tactics are flanking cover to cover. And moving cover to cover can be an absolute pain in the ass.
Moving cover to cover is my last major gripe with the game. Retreating back without getting lit up is extremely difficult. If you play the game, you’ll see that in action.
The most fun I had is when I started joining up with squads for missions and I had to fight a boss all by myself because everyone either left and died. This particular boss has a flamethrower so if you stay far enough way from him you’re good. But his goons run around and flank you constantly so you always have to be on your toes.
We were inside a building where on the far side is an escalator with access to the second floor. Apparently the enemies have a fear of either heights or out of service escalators so I rained hell from above them while they ran around the bottom floor.
I forgot to mention this game is no cakewalk. If you’re out of cover for any length of time, you will get lit up and riddled with bullets in your teeth. Health packs are limited and sparse which adds to the challenge if you’re into that sort of thing.
Anyways, I took out all the baddies and ran around the second floor to get proper angles to rain hell on the boss man who as I described before is Andre the Giant with a flamethrower. I complained about how many bullets it takes to put him down, but outmaneuvering him was my highlight of the day. I thought I cheesed him but he could shoot fire through the floor so I had to keep running around the floor like I was Benny Hill.
I got that son of a gun after a 15-minute firefight. Then I logged out.
Sidebar: Fighting through Madison Square Garden is pretty cool.
Telling a modern military story is the kiss of death in triple-a video games because it’s so hard to tell a truly compelling one. Call of Duty and Battlefield will likely never get it right to the point I’m surprised they make campaigns for these titles.
There’s two plots driving The Division and they’re simple enough for exposition. You’re part of an elite team liberating New York after a deadly virus was released on Black Friday. You fight off factions of deadly and heavily armed rioters which seemed preemptive to the disease, and of course, the mystery behind the disease, how to cure it and who released it. Intriguing story.
The story is a background element at best though whether it’s good or not. If the story is mediocre as far as it being entertaining, then I’d chalk that up as a victory. So I’ll reward a few brownie points for some introductory investment and the well produced intro cinematics.
In the safehouses, soldiers will give you side missions and go on some ridiculous soliloquy. One guy was talking about how he was a television star and talks about your potential to be one after you complete one of the side missions. It was a bit GTAesque, that silly stupid humor that’s never really funny. Maybe that storyline goes full circle.
Sidebar: The New York accents are hilarious.
I just want to make a mention of this. I’m not graphics nerd to the point I can sacrifice most graphical quality if I enjoy gameplay.
Despite my aversion to games with great graphics, when the graphics are this crisp and clear, it’s pretty amazing.
But yea, for as great as the game looks, it’s fairly underwhelming. I was told that the game doesn’t really get going until you reach level 30 which takes some serious hours.
Sidebar: For as much as customization as there is in this game, there isn’t very much customization for your own character. I’ve heard people get upset about this, but I’ve always felt a lot of character customization screens go overboard on details, so I appreciated how simple it was The Division.