A Review in “Division”

The Division, by Massive Entertainment and published by Ubisoft, has been out for a little over a week now.  I have not played it non-stop.  I have not even reached the maximum level.  Honestly, I’m trying to take my time and enjoy the game.  This is working as intended.

I’m not a reviewer, but I’m still going to give my thoughts on this new type of game.  I’m not sure that it really fits in any one type of genre.  It’s a third person shooter.  It’s a loot driven game.  It’s an RPG.  It’s a shared world game.  What else?  It’s not quite an MMO, though.  It’s a very nice blend of several aspects of other game types.

It’s Destiny, but better in most respects, and I’m saying that from the viewpoint of having enjoyed playing Destiny.

I also should really do this on a computer instead of my phone.  Ah, well.

This is from my experience so far on the XBox One.

Character creation and Customization:

Blah.

Character creation is nothing comparable to, say, Fallout 4 or Black Desert.  You get several choices of face types, hair types, piercings, tattoos, and really that’s about it.  Personally I think this isn’t something that can destroy a game, but I also think that in this generation of consoles and gaming computers that there should be more options to customize your character’s look during initial creation.  His particular creator is lazy.

The faces actually look mostly good.  The hair even looks decent as well.  The tattoos can only be placed on the neck (male anyway, haven’t made a female) which is odd.  You can change the saturation of said tattoos, but that’s it.

There is a little more to customization one you get in game.  There seem to be a decent number of appearance items that you can pick up.

Your “armor” doesn’t change your appearance all that much.  Kneepads and your backpack come to mind while I’m sitting here at work.  These are actually visible.  Otherwise you have those appearance items that you get to try to find all over New York.

Hats, scarves, jackets, shirts, pants, and boots.

Baseball caps, SWAT helmets, beanies, pom pom beanies, skullcaps, flap hats, military style hats, and a few more I’m sure.

If I ever wear a pair of skinny jeans either in real life or in The Division, then I demand that someone shoot me.  In the knee.

B- – Creation is subpar.  Appearance items brings this grade up.

Graphics and the Environment:

Wow.  That’s all I can really say.  I’ll start by saying that my opinion on this is based solely on how it looks to me.  Resolution and refresh rate are not taken into account at all.  I’ll leave the technical stuff to the technical people.

Snowstorms.  Fog.  Christmas lights at night.  Fire.  Trash.  Not quite feral dogs.  Breakable glass.  Car doors/trunks/hoods that you can close.  Okay.  That last part isn’t that important.  Why are there so many cars with doors that are only cracked open?  Weird.

The snowstorms and fog seriously affect your visual distance.  This can literally change the way that you play.  You really cannot see anything past about 20 meters or so (again, not technical) during a snowstorm.

I really like the environment.  The ambience.  There are are people randomly saying things from the windows of their homes.  There are people talking to each other in the street and even done trying to open car doors that seem to be locked.  These latter individuals will back off quickly and leave when you approach them.  I’ve atm pushing matches in the street.  I’ve been barked at by a could breeds of dog.  Rats scurry around pretty much everywhere.  Birds take flight when you get near.  Groups of Rioters and Cleaners will fight against each other, even in the Dark Zone.

There might be too many trash bags though.  An evacuating populace would not create more trash on their way out of town.  Then again, a quarantined populace probably would.

The world itself looks great.  Walking down a street and being blinded by the setting sun is so very awesome.  That’s my technical term for it.  You’re welcome.  The day/night cycle makes the immersion so much better.  Night time brings on the Christmas lights as well as the neon signs.

The world itself is also very large.  At least it feels very large since you are walking or sprinting everywhere.  The streets are packed with disabled vehicles and road blocks, so there are no vehicles and no way that you could drive them around if they were available.

A – The visuals are stunning, even if it’s a post-epidemic scenario.  Maybe even because of that.  The ambience is distracting in a great way.

I’m rambling, therefore
I shall ramble some more.

Story & Missions:

There is a story.  I’m having a hard time putting it together.  That’s not entirely true.  I feel like I know what’s going on.  I also feel like the telling of it could be done differently.  I’m not a game creator, however, so take this opinion with a grain of salt.

The story has a good beginning.  You know who you are supposed to be: a Division Agent in a sleeper cell in New York City.  You know what happened to cause your activation.  You know what your job is.  After that, though, you end up doing different missions that progress what you know.  This is for, but I sometimes feel like it’s too free roaming in that respect.  You can do the available encounters, side missions, and story missions in whatever order that you want.

Upon further reflection, however, I think the previous paragraph may be slightly in error.  The story missions are level gated in a sense.  They have recommended levels which can prevent you from competing those out of order.

Extra seasoning for the story comes on the form of video and phone recordings.

Perhaps I really have to rethink everything.  I’m thinking about it as I Swype this out on my phone.  The storyline doors not revolve around you, the character.  It’s more of a big picture.  Even some of the NPC’s in your Base of Operations mention things basically about the” “next man up.”  If you died then they would just assist the next agent that takes your place.

Anyway…

Side missions and encounters have enough variety at this point (level 12) that I can’t truly complain.  Yes, there are multiple instances of mission types being reused, but there are others that make me enjoy doing them.

  • Rescue hostages
  • Kill this group or that group
  • Assist the JTF
  • Recover/Protect supplies
You get the picture.  There is little you can do for something like this, however.  In thinking of a real-world situation like this, I believe that actual missions would be very much the same an also very much repetitive.

B+ – This score should probably be higher.  Things are likely better than I’m giving credit for since I haven’t gone far enough to really get a feel for things.

NOTE:  I seem to be having a hard time keeping my thoughts on what I intended on writing up.  Taxes made for a short interlude this afternoon and attempting to do anything when you are at work is pretty much stupid.  Onward I go!

Gameplay:

Oh, gameplay.  You are so very important.  Very very important.  If the gameplay is not good, then there are no factors that can possibly be a game’s saving grace.  Fallout 4 was a very good example of this for me.  Gorgeous game.  I felt the gameplay itself was boring as hell.  I literally got bored playing it.  That’s bad.  Maybe that’s just me, but that’s my example.

I won’t get into how well the guns shoot and whatnot.  They shoot.  You point them at your target and you pull your trigger (by the way, I absolutely LOVE the Xbox Elite controller.  /drool).  I will, however, mention mods.  One thing that I’ve always found lacking in certain shooters is the lack of being able to customize your weapon with a different scope or add a suppressor.  Each gun in the Division seems to have a different number of slots for mods.

  • Spray
  • Scope
  • Magazine
  • Underbarrel
  • Barrel

I honestly can’t remember what the 4th slot is called, so I shall call it the underbarrel even if there are no grenade launchers that you can attach (thank god).

The spray is just a cosmetic.  You can get them the same way that you can get any appearance item.  Scopes range from short range to long range sniper scopes.  Magazines are generally going to be increased magazine size or a faster rate of fire.  The underbarrel holds various grips and laser pointers.  The barrel, of course, will hold suppressors and such.

While the game itself is in third person, sniping is done in first person.  Clicking down on the right thumbstick will put you in an Aim Down Site position (ADS).  This makes sniping oh so much easier.

Co-op.  This I really like.  Yes, I do.  Do missions with friends if you’re not experiencing any difficulty.  It amps things up a bit.  Also, do them on hard with said friends.  It’s much more fun.

That’s how it’s felt to me.  However, I have to admit that I don’t know exactly how it works, and I don’t generally play the missions on normal when I do them with my brother-in-law.  I haven’t been able to get any of my clan from Destiny to play, yet, so I’m not sure how things would be with 2 additional group members.

The missions that you complete grant you supplies used to upgrade your Base of Operations.  This is interesting to me, even if it’s somewhat slow going.  You also have to decide how you’re going to spend your supplies.  I highly suggest looking through everything that’s available and plan out how you’re going to do that.   You should also pay attention to the particular wing that you’re upgrading while you’re doing it.  It changes bit by bit.  More people start showing up at your Base as your progression continues.  It’s a very nice touch I think, but this isn’t necessarily part of this section.  Hah.  Go tangent, go!

Note that I did not get into talking about the Dark Zone.  I’m not entirely sure what I think of that gank fest (My first and only experience solo post-launch.  Those poor saps didn’t even get any loot from me.).

B+ – If this were a first person shooter, then I would score it higher.  That being said, you can actually see a lot more of the area while in third person, so the perspective makes sense.

Overall:  A- (Bonus points for future roadmap)

I love this game.  Period.  At least so far.  I may have to revisit this outlook once I reach max level.  Hopefully I can get at least two more members of my group for the raids that will be coming out in the next couple of months.

That’s another thing to touch on.  Future content.

It’s already been said that there will be free releases coming up in the next two months.  Next month will bring the first raid and in-session item trading.  May will bring yet another raid and changes to the Dark Zone.  We’ll see what happens, but the future seems fairly well planned out, and that’s a bonus.

I cannot, at this point, criticize anything too harshly.  I just haven’t found anything that I just really don’t like.

So, again, take my opinion with a grain of salt.  If you like loot-based open world RPG shooter games, then I would definitely say give The Division a go.  Just give it a chance.

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