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The ‘Destiny Killer’
Tom Clancy’s: The Division
It’s not hard to talk about what Tom Clancy’s The Division does well in the early hours. The solid 3rd Person combat, RPG elements that are surprisingly deep, and an authentic environment really immerses you in a virtual Manhattan. However, with every positive aspect, there is something negative to go along side it.
Manhattan is beautiful. However, despite being always-online, the world feels entirely empty and static, with repetitive cut-and-paste missions that grow tiresome as you hit around level 15-20. A lot of what Manhattan has to offer is spread across different zones with long stretches of walking that are event-less. There are no true random events, which the game could certainly use to make the world appear more dynamic, which it certainly is not. You will never come across another player character unless they are in your squad, or in safe zones that almost feel exactly the same. The only material reason to come back to a zone you’ve completed are for boring collectibles, which generally do not give you a concrete sense of what really happened in this post-apocalyptic NY. They feel unnecessary. Manhattan becomes a city of conveniently placed people to shoot, and a bread-crumb trail from objective to objective.
The narrative starts off strong, but it becomes a real slog through the games mission system. The main missions, which feel more unique, unfortunately suffer from campy dialogue, and forgettable characters, which makes you ask yourself this pertinent question, “Why am I even risking my life for this person?” And… the final boss, without spoiling it for any of my readers, is a literal joke, a laughable joke.
Game-play is something The Division does well. It feels really good, taking nods from Epic Game’s Gears of War franchise. Cover is important, as is covering fire, as enemies can, in fact, be suppressed. However, with enemies that really absorb bullets like a sponge, it takes all the tactics out of the game. Still, the action relies on sharp shooting, and rewards players who have the ability control the realistic recoil of some of the games weapons, which can be customized in whatever way you see fit. Many different types of scopes, magazines (not clips!), barrels, etc. Each of these have different rarities, and different aspects of the gun you can increase or decrease, depending on your play-style.
If only loot was satisfying to get.
Most of the games weapon’s, armor, and clothing looks the same. A player character at level 3 looks almost identical to a character at max level. If only the character creation system had a bit more depth to add a bit of diversity to player characters.
Progression feels fragmented. For example, the best way to acquire new gear is through the Dark Zone. However, you do not increase your player character level within this zone, only the DZ (Dark Zone) level. The system feels muddled and disjointed. New skills do not come with leveling up. The only way you are able to unlock new and useful abilities are by upgrading your Home Base, which can be tedious grind through copy-and-paste missions. Defend a cache, rescue the hostages, and defend an officer, to name a few. You will either find yourself at a high level with only average gear and a few skills, or a character with many skills and little gear. This makes it hard to accurately gauge how strong your character really is, comparatively speaking, to other players of your level.
Sadly, once you hit the level cap, The Division’s End-game content is sparse and repetitive, with the focus on daily missions, and farming Phoenix credits to purchase some of the best weapons and armor in the game. Or, you could enjoy the Dark Zone, which is the most thrilling dynamic element of the game.
The Dark Zone is a large, PvP/PvE area, where rioters roam the streets, and other players could very well be your allies, or your enemies, depending on their agenda. There is always a sense of danger here, which adds to the tension and how dynamic the area really is. A squad-mate could help you one minute, and the next, he/she could ambush you for your loot. The temptation to kill a low level player is oh-so satisfying. However, there is very little incentive for taking the life of another Agent, especially with how much you are punished as Rogue, with XP loss, Dark Zone keys, and loot dropping to player who took you out. This results in an environment, which is considered to be ‘lawless’ PvP zone, to become a slightly more fun PvE zone, with some player versus player engagements thrown in the mix. The developers effectively ruined what could have been a fantastic zone.
The Tom Clancy license did not help this game, and honestly, it forced the developers to play it safe in regards to its game-play aspects. The game needs more variation, and a more in-depth narrative that is griping and immersive. The Division definitely has potential, but it lacks the heart to really bring out what the game does well.
VERDICT: 5.5/10 A game that can bring something unique to the table, but fails to do so.