I have played The Division for longer than 4 hours, but this review will focus on the first few play session, albeit with the knowledge of someone who has reached the maximum level and experienced all of the story missions.
I am a veteran of Bungie’s Destiny MMO FPS. The Division has been touted by some to fill the void Destiny could never really solve. Some of those include weapon acquisition and leveling relationship, PvE content, PvE balance (with near constant dev fiddling) and the all powerful RNGesus (Random Number Generator). Does the Division fill those voids? Yes and no.
The Division operates like most Tom Clancy games, but simplified, or so I’m told. Its a 3rd person shooter which is not normally my cup of tea. I tolerate it because the RPG elements attract me. Overall it controls fairly smoothly. Getting in and out of cover can be cumbersome. At inopportune times I find myself rolling instead of ducking into cover as intended. Also, after a revive, your character will be immediately standing; fire fight or night. This has cost me and team members a few times.
The story moves along briskly. Its not exactly Shakespere, but adequate. Much better told than Destiny, however. Voice acting is top notch. The bystanders in the safe houses and main Post Office can get annoying. Some are crying, others repeat the same lines over and over again. I’M TALKING TO YOU GUY WHO’S BACK IS F’D UP! Someone get him the meds he needs! He’s everywhere too.
The leveling system is simplistic. Opting for straight experience to gain an increase. The level cap for now is 30 and is easy to achieve. The weapons are capped to your current level. Higher level = more powerful weapons; but not necessarily better weapons. You will find that if you receive a Blue weapon or purple weapon, the add-on perks will be worth more than a damage increase. Part of the game is how you outfit yourself and find a particular strategy. I had fun collecting weapons. My particular choice was primary assault rifle, secondary shotgun and sidearm with 12-15 shots. Similar to my Destiny favored loadout. There are sniper rifles (Marksman rifles), light machine guns and sub-machine guns as well. They vary within their respective categories very little in my opinion.
The abilities, perks, and other boosters set the game apart. Each strategic in nature depending on what strategy you wish to pursue. They are earned completed story missions and upgrading your home base. There are three wings, each focusing on particular abilities: Medical Wing, Security Wing and Tech Wing. There’s no need to get too in depth on the abilities. Their use is explained well and the rate at which you receive them is adequate. I never felt overwhelmed. I will say that I prefer seeker mines; although the fire spitting turret is my first love. Nothing like setting the enemy ablaze and mowing them down with numerous shotgun blasts.
Is it fun? Yes. The glitches, of which there are many, will eventually be fixed (I hope). The fun is in the 4 person fireteam missions and the Dark Zone (go alone at your own risk). I bought the season pass because I thought the beta warranted it. I likely will not play this game as much as Destiny for several reasons. Destiny is a larger game with a huge scope and grand convoluted storyline. The Division is about ground tactics while Destiny is about strategy in small team and six person anything goes. The weapons in the Division limit you. No comparison really.
I rate the game as Buy Later unless you are very interested. If you’re on the fence, wait until the first DLC release and see how the game holds up. If so, jump in. Its a game you can play for a bit and hang it up without missing anything. Most missions don’t exceed 40 minutes or so.
Jacen Hardy’s Take:
I like the Division. It’s not Destiny and that’s a very good thing. The gameplay reminds me of Rainbow Six Vegas and Vegas 2 or even Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. The story is kind of there, but has ways of catching you by surprise. What impressed me the most was the (mostly) seamless online interactions as opposed to Destiny’s constant loading screens between worlds. This game is best experienced with friends. I didn’t find it nearly as fun when I wasn’t playing with BScotch and Jonathan Alan. My favorite part? The endgame isn’t hugely compelling. That means I can play this until I hit level 30 and then put it back on the shelf until the DLC comes out.
Jonathan Alan’s Take:
“Are your friendly?” These were the first words I heard as I entered the Dark Zone from another player who had has rifle pointed at me. This is a place where you are constantly watching your back for other players while trying to escape with all the loot you have just collected. In the DZ all loot you pick up is contaminated and cannot be used right away. Instead you have to travel to predetermined locations to call in a helicopter and extract your loot. It takes one minute and thirty seconds for it to arrive. This may seem like a short amount of time, but when waves of enemies are rushing towards you it feels like an eternity. Meanwhile other players receive a notification that you called for an extraction. Now is the time to start asking “are you friendly?” to the players that come to your location. The last thing you want happening is to be shot from behind and have your loot stolen as soon as the helicopter arrives.
If you hoping to find better loot than what you currently own then the Dark Zone will add longevity to your game. But if you are looking for an activity to further the plot or increase your characters abilities then it is better to leave the Dark Zone alone. This will save you from the frustration of finding your first yellow drop only to be shot from a guy named N1njASkillz4756.