The Division (Special Episode)
THE GRINDSTONE TRIBUNAL:
Excitement died off quick here, as those very enthused by the title all seemed far less by the time we completed what was on offer. Dabeer, Justin, Dreskar, Karochi and myself offer up opinions on the title this time, as only a few of us tagged along.
Oh The Division, what can I say about you? Well, before I get started, let me just come right out and say that I am actually a fan of games like Borderlands and, yes, even Destiny; so clearly this game was right up my alley. Hell, how I didn’t know about it (honestly even forgot all the stuff about it from E3) until I heard ChaosD1 and Dreskar talking about it from playing it for the Sidequest is beyond me. I mean, the game lets me fulfill my wildest fantasies of being a stay-at-home mom playing dress up AND of getting to shoot a lot; I honestly wish I could say it was perfect. Of course, as you’ve probably heard by now, this game is not perfect, and I kind of have to agree with that. Not to a point where I think it makes the game bad or anything, but you definitely need to know about all the hiccups before you get into the game. Honestly, this is actually a really difficult game for me to recommend to people, and not just because of the $60 price tag I had to pay for it. Of course, maybe it’s because I actually don’t play that many Ubisoft games that I am not fed up with their one game they keep making, and my love for Bethesda kinda makes me a lot more willing to forgive bugs than most, but I did really think it was fun; and getting to actually play with my friends made this game really great. Then again, this attitude also comes from the fact that I have some insanely good luck when it comes to bugs and crashes in these kinds of games, and if I had been playing on Dreskar’s end I probably would have been a lot less forgiving than I am. Still, at the end of the day, I do think I can recommend this game to people with a few caveats, such as watch out for the bugs and get ready for some grind. Man, this sure has been a very wishy-washy write up I’ve been doing, but then again, that really does capture my feelings on The Division. Sure, I really enjoyed it, but I recognize pretty much every problem people have brought to me about the game, and I do really wish that Ubisoft would fix a few of them before trying to move on with their expansions. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I was going to try and write more, but Dark Souls III is calling, and it has made it very hard for me to remember much more about what I thought of The Division and… actually, maybe this sentence should be the TL;DR about my thoughts in general.
Recommended?: YES, just know what you are getting into, and bring along some friends
The Division is a game that presents itself well. It’s got nice graphics, competent gameplay, and for its part, it has a story. The merits of these things are always going to be up for debate but these things alone don’t make up what the game is. What the game is, at its core, is a loot-based co-op shooter. Does it do this well enough to justify the purchase price, and your gaming hours?
No. In its current state, The Division is an absolute trainwreck. If all you care about is beating the story missions and fully upgrading your base, then you’ve already taken all the game has to offer. Those 10-20 hours might be all you spend with this game, and that’s fine – for that, it is passable. If you care about the game’s longevity and things like its endgame content, its PVP, and the loot itself, you will be sorely disappointed. As of this writing it does none of these things well at all.
Currently, The Division draws some very interesting parallels to Diablo 3’s initial launch. What many people miss out on now that Diablo 3 has had its first major expansion pack and several content patches is that during its first run, it was heavily criticized for its poor implementation of loot. Drops you received could have useless statistics, such as Strength on a Wizard-only item, and drops could be wildly inconsistent in terms of rarity and their actual stats, resulting in Rare items that could be more powerful than Legendary items simply due to stat rolls. Players were barely rewarded for playing the game – beating bosses, doing quests, killing demons – and instead took to finding farming routes, smashing pots and exploiting.
It took Diablo 3 a year and some change to completely eliminate all of these systems. The Division, as it stands currently, seems to be in the exact situation Diablo 3 was before Reaper of Souls and its massive Loot 2.0 overhaul. Loot feels bad. Rewards are skewed in favor of exploits over playing the game legitimately. That the developers took none of these lessons away from their competition, learned nothing of how to reward players, and have continued to implement only more bugs and exploits with their newest patches is frustrating, as the game has a lot of potential to be an interesting, unique experience, and it fails to deliver.
This is a game where my mood has soured on it the longer I have played and had time to feel all the bad design choices mount up. Hell myself and Karochi have even talked for several hours about making a better game using this setup, and wanting to see actual depth and nuance to the combat and the enemies you will be facing. As it stands it is iconic ubisoft crap, farmed out and pushed out the door with all the usual game crippling bugs and issues you have come to expect from Ubisoft. None of the characters are memorable, they are all flat and of little consequence and the Division itself is the biggest most ineffectual hypocrites in existence. The JTF are presented as useless, bumbling idiots who get in the way, and I can see why they said the actual armed forces like the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps weren’t activated, as they would have had the situation handled in a matter of hours and the JTF’s sheer incompetence paints a bad light on the National Guard. If they had pulled that shit with the main branches of the military there would have been a riot.
Now I say all this but still want to point out that you can have an enjoyable experience in this game. The key is forgetting that this is a Tom Clancy game at all and thinking of it as a near future borderlands clone instead. Oh and to the jerkoff who complained about us not talking through the potential of the game to have every building explorable, guess what sperglord? It’s still only 1% of buildings you can enter. Gee, if only we could call that from a mile off during the beta as well.
Recommended?: YES, however wait for a massive sale, it is not worth even 30.
Did someone at Ubisoft mix up their fucking design papers? No, this is not an MMO. No, this is not a Tom Clancy game. Is it fun though? Sure, I guess.
Was this going to be a narrative driven journey where you and your fellow agents brave the different factions and trying to save Manhattan? Was this going to be a game where you play through the initial introductory shit-tier story to get to the actual meat of the game, the PVP? Was this just trying to be a fun loot fest squad based shooter in a decently interesting setting? No matter how you look at it, it fucked up. For a story based game the story’s not developed enough. For a PVP based game the progression towards unlocking the PVP takes way too long. For a loot fest the actual loot and upgrades aren’t interesting or unique enough to carry the game. It’s not bad, it’s just not good either.
Want a relevant Tom Clancy game? Play Rainbow Six Siege. Want an MMO? Well then you’re not looking in the right place to begin with.
At least there weren’t any towers to activate.
Where do I go with this? I don’t know. Well, I’ll be forthright in saying that I don’t hate this game. Helped that beside the original Splinter Cell, I wasn’t really a fan of any Tom Clancy game property, so that brand stamp had little sway in my choice to look at this game or enjoy it. Hell, it was more detrimental than anything at first. In playing the game though, I do find it a genuinely fun, if not frustrating game that speaks the to the void left in my MMO shooter heart ever since Defiance did… whatever the hell it thinks it’s doing now.
I do tend to get stupidly delighted whenever I find a gear upgrade, yet I don’t feel the need to min-max what I own. I don’t consider myself a loot hound, but just like Borderlands, I enjoy seeing what’s available upon every mission and loot drop and get genuinely excited when I have a whole new upgraded set of weapons I’m itching to try out. I prefer to play to my playstyle, and that seems to hold up well enough in PvE.
PvP, is a whole other story.
I don’t know what Dreskar and the like are fucking on about by saying you rarely find rogue players. The Dark Zone is a trollish nightmare of “fuck you” every time I so much as walk through those fucking doors. Where are these cooperative players ya’ll keep apparently running into? When I go in solo, I pretty much have a target on my back, and yeah, while I was going after rogues when I saw them, I more often than not would get shot to shit by nearby players who weren’t even initially rogue, and I never even remotely threatened. I could even hear them over the VOIP saying “I’m going to fuck this guy up.” Then again, if my YouTube comment sections are any indication, I’m a industrial-grade high-powered electromagnet for assholes. I don’t have fun in the Dark Zone. It makes me want to murder people in real life.
So the story and the PvE is mostly where I like to roam, and yeah,it’s bullet sponge central. I’m honestly intrigued by the story, and I don’t feel it’s as pretentious as Dreskar makes it out to be, and there’s a lot of moments that gave me chills and made me legitimately uncomfortable. Any Echo involving the Rikers or the Cleaners never fails to get my blood boiling. But, yeah, these enemies, as sound as their foundation, are so cartoonishly evil it’s hard to take seriously at times. I’m hoping we see them get a bit more grounded in later packs, or we at least get a faction with some REAL moral ambiguity, and Ubisoft can stop trying to have it both ways, by trying to create sympathetic villains that aren’t also completely garbage human beings.
You’re a confusing thing, Division, but I think I’ll keep you around for a bit longer… See where this ride goes.
Recommended?: YES, though I can’t really suggest it if you’re expecting some legit Clancy here.