Where do I start with a game like The Division, I’m sure most of you have already read various reviews and the like from around the internets, so i’m just going to fill you in on my experiences with the game so far.
In all honestly, I like it. It’s a good game. Will it become a great game? I think if Ubisoft can support the game enough and build off the good things they have implemented so far it very well could become great.
I began my adventure as a Division Agent on game launch day, I was travelling during BETA testing so my first experience of The Division is the day I dropped $70.00. By this time all the talk of servers being unstable and of people lining up to use a laptop had dissipated. So I missed all the dramas and hilarity. I wish I knew about the jumping jacks glitch for door ways however as I’m sure I would have loved to troll a few friends with that one (if you don't know what I'm talking about check YouTube right now). My experience was mostly fine. The guns felt good, the cover system controls seem to be ok, but compared to a cover system like in Gears of War’s it left a lot to be desired. In all seriousness I can make it work. I just have to remember to hold “X” inbetween cover movements and not tap it. Shortly after the opening mission you're placed in Manhattan and make your way to Pennsylvania Plaza, clear out the US post office and setup your new shiny base of operations. After you catch your breath, admire your digs you're then tasked to make your way across the road to the perfectly recreated Madison Square Garden for a rescue mission.
This is the thing about The Division’s New York City. It is incredibly accurate to the real thing. Apparently Ubisoft has completely scaled the entirety of the 5 boroughs (we still have 4 to come) into the game world for us to explore. And as someone who recently visited the city that never sleeps I will say this, Yes, this is New York City. Every time I login and look at the map I say ok I know this place and that place. When I finally made it to Times Square I was looking up and down the streets knowing what areas of interest were where and when to make the turn without using the in game GPS. For those that don’t know the city they will be able to make their way around effortlessly with the in game systems and GPS. But for locals of New York, I can imagine you calling out directions and arguing about the best way to get across town in game.
Getting through the MSG mission is relatively painless and by this stage the game's combat system starts to really take hold. Sadly even with all the skills and options you can get as you progress through the campaign you really only face the same few enemy types over and over again. Each enemy faction has slightly different variations but most all function the same. You’ll have charging melee enemies, some with shields. Then you have shotgun enemies and assault rifle enemies. Then throw a tech enemy with grenades in there for good measure, maybe a sniper and that's your standard encounter. Moving through the game's side missions and encounters will see you fighting several variations of the above, some side missions will also throw in a boss battle at mission end. After a handful of hours playing The Division a lot of the missions will start to feel repetitive, especially if like me, you're a completionist and have to finish them all before moving on to the next area.
The Division’s main story missions follow the usual tropes found within the video game space, but they do offer interesting encounters varied enough to drag you through your journey to level 30. In one particular mission I was searching for virus samples to help develop a cure, while turning on sprinklers to douse fires that threatened to destroy the infectious material. In another I was carrying and protecting an over sized fuse box that runs Time Square in an effort to restore power to that part of the city.
While I’m sure these missions are much more fun with company, playing the game mostly solo I have found the grind to level 30 to be exactly that. A grind. It's not that the game play is bad it's just once you unlock a few skills and have a an array of decent weapons at your disposal the game doesn’t do much to force you in changing up strategies. The biggest change I made was switching out a healing skill for one that pulses enemies locations while also giving you a juicy crit damage bonus. And that was 6 levels ago. Granted I’m not level 30 yet and have a ways to go, but given that the enemies have only gotten a ever so slightly more challenging, I don’t feel there isn't much reason to change my tried and tested strategy of throwing out a sentry turret while sniping off enemies as they pop up from cover. When any bad guys move in closer I just whip out my assault rifle and take them out.
The other part of The Division that has everyone talking is the Dark Zone. Honestly I think this maybe the best part of the game. It’s such shame that a lot of people will be put off by the PVP (player vs player) aspect of this area. For those that are unaware of what the Dark Zone is, it's a place in central Manhattan you can enter and face off against much more difficult enemies for some of the “best loot in the game”, similar to dungeons and raid areas you would find in most MMOs.
While I haven’t found any gear there worth writing home about I did find the experience to be incredibly nerve wracking and high in tension. Slowly I moved through the streets avoiding enemies until I was sure I had the advantage to take a group out. One of the biggest hooks about the Dark Zone is that all gear collected requires you to extract it via helicopter to quarantine to allow use in the rest of the game. This is usually where other agents who have gone rogue will be lurking and waiting for you to let your guard down long enough so they can steal what goodies you have found. I found one agent clearing an extraction point. Initially I helped clear it out, and I honestly did wave at him before I put a bullet in the back of his skull. Sorry buddy, no hard feelings but you should have waved back. I don’t care if you were busy taking fire. Mwahahahaha. Here's the catch with going rogue however, be too naughty and kill too many people and you will be a marked man where every other division agent will have your location highlighted on their map. You become marked for death and a prize target for anyone in the area. If you escape however you will earn yourself a nice pile of DZ credit to spend on some of the best vendor gear in game. This risk/reward element of the Dark Zone is the strongest part of The Division and leads to some very intense standoffs and constant doubt about who you can actually trust.
Like I said earlier I’m not max level yet, so I haven’t had the joys of trying out the end game content yet but from all accounts things are good. At the end of the day however, if you like RPG’s and shooting things then this a much recommended game. You will have fun and enjoy this. Whether or not the game holds my attention long term or not remains to be seen. Until then I have some more cleaners to kill.
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