The new season of The Walking Dead is so cool and I can’t wait to… wait, that’s not what we’re talking about? Oh. Well, what about this new game called The Division? Yeah? Alrighty then let’s talk about that.
I’ve been playing The Division non-stop with a group of friends and we are taking New York by (snow) storm. Of course, as it is with most games, The Division isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn good. I am having a lot more fun with this game than I thought I would. I played both the closed and open betas and originally I wasn’t really impressed (then again Destiny left a bad taste in my mouth after playing their full game after the great beta). So going into this game, I set my expectations low so I wouldn’t get too disappointed if it turned out to be a more modern day Destiny. But, I was pleasantly surprised.
Some background to the game really quick. Tom Clancy’s The Division is set in New York City, midtown Manhattan around the Times Square area to be specific. A virus has been unleashed on the city during Black Friday. Many have died and the city has been evacuated. Few civilians who are either sick or missed the evacuation, are now stuck in a quarantined New York.
All that remains are the street gangs who have taken over the empty city; the self named Cleaners who seek to eradicate all traces of the virus and anyone who has come in contact with it, soldiers of the JTF, and the agents of The Division. Your mission is to research the cause and origin of the virus and bring order back to Manhattan.
The story to this game is very interesting to say the least. Most of your side missions and other activities contribute to the over arching story. You’ll find incident reports scattered around the city about what happened either during the outbreak or shortly after; cell phone recordings of individual accounts of what was going on; echos, which are 3D renderings of certain important events; and a bunch of other stuff (I’m not thinking of right now).
There are also encounters which are mostly about research on the virus, finding evidence and traces of the virus and trying to figure out how it happened. The main story is cool but not very gripping. I found that I am much more interested in collecting better gear and leveling up my character (mostly to try to better my friends). The main characters in the game don’t provide much depth and I found myself not caring a lot about them.
There are a select few who are really cool, like the tech wing guy, Paul Rhodes. He reminds me a lot of T-Bone from Watch Dogs. And even him you don’t hear much from or interact much with him, or any of the wing characters for that matter. But I haven’t found an MMORPG where that isn’t the case. Most of the time with MMORPGs, the player is much more focused on character development and becoming a badass.
Unlike regular RPGs like Assassin’s Creed or Mass Effect where the characters in the game are deep and easy to connect with and care about. To understand what is happening throughout the story, you really have to pay attention to the cut scenes, otherwise you’re going to miss a lot. However, there are so many side missions and encounters that are loads of fun and provide a lot of post end game activities to keep you entertained, which make this a good MMORPG (much better than Destiny).
The glory of the game comes from its game mechanics. The cover system, which is a big part of the game, works very well (except for me messing up which button to press when). For me (not sure about others) the cover mechanic works as good (but not better) than games like Uncharted. The other mechanics this game incorporates are 3rd-person shooter, slight parkour, character modding and weapon modding, all of which work pretty well.
The 3rd person shooter feels great at times, but also really bad at times. When you’re in an enclosed space it can feel a bit cramped, but once you’re walking around the open city, it feels natural. The “parkour” aspect of the character movement is alright. It is not on the level of Assassin’s Creed. The limit of the movement is pretty much quickly moving over an obstacle. When you’re sprinting, it works well but if you’re just walking around, there’s a bit of a lag to it and for about a second you’re stuck walking against an obstacle.
The character modding is very cool. You are able to customize everything your character is wearing from your hat to your shoes. Now not everything gives you a bonus or armor rating. The only items that give you an armor rating are your vest, backpack, gloves, holster, mask (for entering contaminated zones), and knee pads. Everything else like your jacket, hat, pants, shoes, and scarfs are purely just to edit the look of your character. It works like any other RPG and it’s great.
The other modding aspect of the game is your weapon mods. Depending on the gun you are using, you can add magazine mods, sights, underbarrel attachments, barrel attachments and weapon skins. The mods you can pick up from downed enemies or buy from your local vendor. Now they don’t usually affect your weapon stats drastically, but once in awhile you’ll find a mod that is really cool (I’m using scope that gives 20% greater headshot damage which is schaweet!).
One thing I need to talk about is the Dark Zone which is the contaminated PvP area of The Division. In this area, you can team up with a bunch of other players, up to a max of 8 instead of 4 like the regular game area. You and your group can take on NPCs and get better and more unique loot. In this zone you can also take on other players. Once you attack another player, you will be labeled as “rogue” and your location will be visible to everyone currently in the Dark Zone.
Once you kill another player, you can pick up whatever loot they’ve picked up in the Dark Zone but if you get killed, you will lose that loot. The only way to keep whatever you get from the Dark Zone is to reach a specified area and extract your contaminated gear. You also get Dark Zone credits and keys for killing players and NPCs as well as a separate level system exclusive to the Dark Zone. You will then be able to use that gear once you exit the Dark Zone.
I really enjoy going into the Dark Zone because it adds a whole new experience to the game and there’s always that sense of fear of getting killed, especially if you have a bag full of loot (trust me, it’s terrifying). Also, the Dark Zone is segmented off into separate servers depending on what level you are. Currently I am in the 20-25 server (and I’m at the top so I’m badass).
Going back to what I said about teaming up with other players, in the regular game, you can team up with a group of 4 players and take on any and all missions. However, if you team up with even just one player who is a higher level than you, all of the enemy combatants will optimize to the highest level player on your team. So if you are a level 10 and someone on your team is a level 20, even if all other players are level 10, the enemy will be closer to level 20 (usually around levels 17-20). This can be extremely annoying but the good thing about this is that it forces your team to work together more and once you defeat the higher level enemy, you gain much more experience and better loot. So I guess it’s not all bad (as long as you don’t mind dying over and over and over and over…).
Overall I really like this game. I’m having a blast exploring Manhattan and hoarding cool gear. It is not a groundbreaking game, but it is fun nevertheless. It is an MMORPG with a lot of cool mechanics and things that make it unique like a night/day cycle and ever changing weather (the snow storms are really cool).
None of the issues with this game are deal breaking. If anything, they are just annoying. Also the upcoming expansions that are soon to be released (a few are free!!! Yay broke college student status!) look really cool. If you’re looking for a game with an in depth story and characters you can care about, then this isn’t the game for you.
I recommend this game to anyone who likes playing online with friends, anyone who like MMORPGs because this is a good one, or anyone who liked Borderlands because it feels a lot like it (It’s essentially a shoot and loot). If you fall into any of those categories, go buy this game, you’ll have a great time.