Following my first impressions of The Division Beta what seems like many months ago, I actually waited a few days before I used a voucher to get the game and season pass combo as a way of giving The Division another go. Looking back, my main concerns were having enough things to do to keep an audience interested and also whether Ubisoft would be able to stand up and be counted in the sandbox style gaming arena. So now I have decided to revisit the game and provide you with a little look at what to expect.
Firstly gameplay. This is a third person, cover and shoot them, littered with MMO style antics. In an attempt to break into that very popular market, Ubisoft designed and developed a great sounding game. The things I like are the HUD, map, the gear menus and the ever changing weather in this game and since recently playing Uncharted, I am pretty accustomed to the third person style. However, I just feel like something is missing and I can’t quite tell what. Other than me constantly climbing over obstacles rather than taking cover behind them even though there is a signal for which button to push to do the one you would prefer, everything else is good. Enemies get increasingly more difficult as you would expect and as a result you have to play the game in order to acquire the better gear to defeat the bad guys. If you don’t like third person shooters, then you possibly won’t get on with this title, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a try.
Now let’s talk about the missions. The main story is one that didn’t really interest me if I’m honest but the map is littered with so much that you may be distracted from it for quite a while. The missions for the most part are variations of go to a place, rescue someone or turn something on and shoot waves of enemies ending in a battle with a significant elite leader. There are around 18 main story missions which you can play through in a team or try to go alone. They’re ok, fairly challenging and do require some tactics with respect to what character builds you have available to you. If you decide to replay them once daily and weekly challenges are open to you at level 30 on a higher difficulty, prepare to be in for a harder fight, our group actually couldn’t get passed the first wave on one of them!
Side missions and encounters are where you really gain experience and my top tip would be to try and do as many as you can early on. While everything will scale to your level and the level of the boroughs that you wander through, you can start to get credits, supplies for your base of operations and blueprints for better gear. Although the side missions are usually the same thing over and over but slightly more difficult due to level and increasing waves of enemies, you can spend hours doing these and be pretty content. They are also worth doing just for the supplies for the medical, security and tech wings of your base to enable you to unlock upgrades which will in turn reward you with talents and perks that will assist in building then character you want. Whether you are a medic or the turret master, you will serve a great purpose if you work on it from the beginning. Once you’re base is fully operational with each section at 100%, you will have all talents and perks available to you so there is scope to mix up your load out and try other things out. I have pretty much been the medic throughout but would be interested to change that now I’ve hit level 30.
As far as your character goes, after the initial opening sequences when you finally arrive in the city, you can use clothing, armor and weapons to start making your agent a little more individual. I didn’t spend too long in character creation because the choices weren’t that vast but have spent some time tinkering with my outfits to look suitably haphazard in this apocalyptic setting where you take what you can get. Gear is similar, if it drops you equip the highest damage or armor and go from there being ruthless with stash and backpack space as both are limited. I tend to also find a gun, mod it to be the best it can be and then use nothing else trading in for parts or credits depending on what I need. I rarely purchase gear from vendors unless I’m really desperate because I might need my credits later on for something really awesome. Once you hit level 30, gear starts to have a score. A little like the gear system in World of Warcraft or Destiny’s light level, you will want to build your score up to do Incursions and the higher level missions. I’m currently at gear level 100 with another 40 to go before I will be able to do an Incursion. I’m assuming the higher score you have, the more damage you will be able to give and take but I have only just hit level 30 so I still have a lot to learn.
Going back to the story side of things, a way of piecing together what is actually going on is by finding phone recordings, Echos, missing agents, survival guides and other forms of intel. I quite like the phone recordings as some cover the panic, some are a little dark and some are quite funny. All are snippets of what was going on while the city of New York descended into chaos and madness. I’m still not sold on the story in all honesty. It’s not bad but it lacks some sense of closure or hope as you continue to run around redoing missions and attempting to clear the map of any side missions or collectibles you missed (which I have started to do and it is going to take a while). Ubisoft are great at encouraging you to find these things so you can piece everything together and learn what happened when the city essentially died.
Then there’s the Dark Zone. Possibly my least favorite part of the game. I like to walk around, explore and take out enemies. I don’t like being shot in the back by some higher level agent who wants to steal what I’m extracting before I can turn around to take them out while they are rogue. I also don’t like people baiting me to go rogue so they can try to kill me or my group to gain more XP and rewards. It’s highly irritating and it completely spoils the experience for me. Even in a group, I’m just waiting for someone to provoke us and because we’re lower Dark Zone rank and gear level, we are getting wiped out in a matter of moments. While I understand people like to be horrible to each other in real life and the video game world, it is very frustrating. Maybe I just need to spend more time in the Dark Zone and man up, but I’m reluctant to waste my time. In theory, the Dark Zone is a bad place. Roving gangs of Rikers and Rioters with Elite enemies likely to show up and drop some better loot around every corner and at times it does get your pulse racing. Due to the gear being contaminated in this area, you have to extract it by calling in a chopper, fighting off enemies and trying to stay alive until your loot is safely away. If you die, you lose XP from your level, credits, gear and Dark Zone keys that you may have acquired. Friendly fire is ill advised as you will go Rogue and then essentially have to fight off everyone else as they will try to kill you. Other players have a tendency to walk in front of you so that you shoot them enough by accident that you’ll go Rogue and they’ll finish the job. Due to this, I don’t really think I’ll continue with going into the Dark Zone for more than an extraction or two, just because it spoils the fun for me. If you’re into that sort of thing though, the Dark Zone is your playground to ruin other players days.
All in all, I’m still torn over The Division. I have a real love/hate relationship with it and I put this down to expecting a little more than what we received. I like playing with my friends but now I’ve finished the main story and hit level 30 I’m not sure I’ll continue the grind for better gear. Other than putting myself through the torment of the Dark Zone, the only thing left to keep me playing is trying all of the missions on higher difficulties which I will definitely enjoy but I’m not sure it will be that fruitful and eventually, I’ll have little reason to play until the Season Pass content brings new missions. It is an enjoyable game when you have people to play with and if you like this style game then it will probably keep you coming back for more. I find it easy to pick up and spend hours on but I could quite happily do that with Destiny, Elder Scrolls Online or even Call of Duty. I’m looking forward to the Season Pass content, provided Ubisoft don’t have a repeat performance of the Incursions issue and actually fix the problems with the game rather than punishing the players who have paid out and just want to have a good time. The game has some issue and because of this, I am still undecided on how I feel about this game which is incredibly frustrating! As a result, I would probably suggest waiting for a price drop and if you like it then pick up the Season Pass. I’m now just hoping that Ubisoft deliver with the future content. What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy The Division? What do you like about it? Let us know in the comments and maybe, just maybe I’ll see you in the Dark Zone.