Perseverance is a word that I think would best summarise my experience with Ubisoft’s open world shooter, The Division. Its been well over four months since its launch and my interest level has gone from ecstatic to lukewarm at a very smooth rate. There is so much that this game does right, but it’s just not enough to keep me playing. I want to love this game. But I’ve also got to stop kidding myself and admit that its not the game for me.
Lets start with the good stuff. The Division paints an extremely viable and highly interesting picture of a not so distant future. The setting of New York is the perfect choice for a broken down society after a major world tragedy. The aesthetic that the designers have managed to capture is also to be applauded. From insanely detailed advertising that adorns the walls to minor touches like the way different types of glass react when being shot, this game goes the extra mile in making a believable world. Matchmaking is also a wondrous affair. They make it so easy to find co-players and it works 95% of the time, every time. (Something which similar games struggle with) In terms of game modes, the dark zone must be one of the biggest breakthroughs since Call of Duty’s kill streak system and while I have not experienced as much of the dark zone as I would have liked, every time I have entered it, I’ve had a great time.
There is also lots of things the game does badly. The actual Gears style cover shooting mechanics are nothing to shout about. Clunky would be a good word. I’m sure many players have ran to a ledge expecting their character to simply jump down, only to stop and wait for you to press a button to trigger it. Its just not very fluid. The story line is also as weak as shandy. This generation of games is starting to produce story lines which rival the biggest Hollywood dramas. The story department who worked on this game should be given a stern talking to or replaced. How can they make a world shattering catastrophe so dull. Its also extremely repetitive, with not much distinction between enemy factions and all side quests and encounters blurring into one.
So what specifically went wrong? Why am I finding this game so unplayable?
I’ve come to realise that it is probably just my own gaming style. I like games that I play at my own pace. I like games with simple mechanics that deliver on more of a story telling front then a gaming challenge front. I have never even looked at my trophies list and I couldn’t care less if I’ve 100% unlocked everything in a game. I don’t mind grinding, I’m quite the collector (check out my junk collection on Fallout 4) but there has to be a reward for the grind and I don’t believe the Division delivers there. The guns and perks you receive as you progress further are simply not interesting enough for me. They all blur into one. I couldn’t care less about maxing out the best damage reduction for a pair of knee pads. I find it really tedious. Sometime it feels like you have to be more interested in chasing gear then playing fun missions. Some players probably like that. I don’t. Destiny comparisons are easily thrown around when it comes to The Division. Gear is one area that Bungie’s space shooter wins hands down with exotics becoming the stuff of legend and must find items rather then just a bunch of stats.
The Division is not for me anymore. Its a shame for me to say it because I really don’t want to let down my friends who have stuck with me and encouraged me to keep playing. I feel that backing out now is a shitty way to pay them back for their patience but I’m just not enjoying it, especially after passing level 30.
The nail in the coffin came last night. I finally sat down with a team of real life friends for my first try at one of the incursions. In my head, I had put these on a pedestal much alike Destiny’s excellent raids. The ultimate challenge. Team work at its greatest gaming level. What followed was a mediocre affair that I felt was no better then the game’s standard story missions. Sure it was harder (so hard that we didn’t quite finish it), but that was it. There were no new game play elements. No new lore or engaging story line. Just shooting, moving, shooting, moving…
For me, this has no longer become fun. If you enjoy The Division then I’m jealous. Because I really want to enjoy it too. It has got so much good stuff going for it, but likewise so much that turns me off. I’m not retiring full stop, I might pop it on periodically when my friends are online. But I certainly wont be chasing gear anymore, I’ll just be having some fun in the Dark Zone, attempting to cause a little chaos and ultimately getting my arse handed to me by people who get more out of this then I ever will. I wish you all the best!