24 Hours In The Division: Repetitive Missions Trumped By Fantastic Shared Experiences
The Division has now been out for 24 hours. Plenty of discussion is being had, with even the odd bit of in-game door block trolling. How has the first 24 hours been? Does it suggest good things? Or are there silent concerns slowly becoming louder and louder? The following is a reflection on what the first 24 hours of The Division does right and wrong.
Smooth Gameplay Makes For Good Times:
The Division plays as smooth as silk. Darting between cover is simple and fluent, rarely leaving the player awkwardly exposed. Cover based shooters may be nothing new, but Ubisoft have done a decent job of implementing the mechanic into the heart of The Division. Various buffs and gadgets allow players to use cover as more than protection.
Firefights are intense, even more so thanks to a fairly aggressive enemy types. Playing story missions on hard allows for a deeper appreciation of the cover system. Falling back when under pressure is vital to success. Suppression quickly shows its importance in general play, allowing players to move between cover without taking damage.
It’ may be the most obvious feature of The Division, but the polished nature of it deserves credit.
Everyone’s A Sheep:
At first, creating your character seems decent enough. Once the world has loaded up, and players have been met…something feels not quite right. The lack of customization, both physically and cosmetically, leaves a number of players looking the same.
In games with large amounts of player interaction, looking unique is key. The Division tends to leave players picking between various shades of clothing, with only minor differences in terms of looks. Most of the more interesting clothing is locked behind pay walls or pre-order extras. It may not bother everyone, but seeing so many clones somewhat detracts from the experience
Been There, Killed That:
Repeating character models over and over is something The Division does constantly. Once you’ve entered a new district, the initial enemies you meet will be the ones you’ll fight for the next few hours. The majority of enemies are masked/hooded thugs clad in some pretty generic looks. Even the bosses start to repeat. You’ll see the same fat guy with a gun about ten times or so. Given the direction of the game, it’s to be expected, but a little variety would have been nice.
Loot, Loot, Loot, Loot:
Every encounter will be followed with a looting session. There’s a healthy amount of drops from every group of enemies, with most of it proving to be some use. Trying out each weapon type is easy to achieve given the sheer volume of weapon drops. Unwanted items can be reduced to crafting materials, which in turn allow players to build mods for their preferred weapon.
The loot system works nicely, providing the ‘carrot on a stick’ motivation for players to push on.
Again, Again, Again:
The biggest issue The Division suffers from is repetition. Side quests and other tasks all play out in a similar fashion. Go to a marked area on the map, kill everything, press a button, defend said zone, repeat. This structure is recycled time after time, in typical Ubisoft fashion. If it wasn’t for the decent gameplay, side content would be a utter chore.
Play Together, Play Hard:
If you don’t have anyone to play The Division with, don’t buy it, at least not at full price. Playing with friends is how this game becomes fun. The solo experience is dull, hollow and hugely underwhelming. Of course solo play was not the method Ubisoft had in mind. While they do support it, playing with friends is clearly the way forward. The first 24 hours of The Division saw my experience enhanced by playing missions on hard mode and playing with voice communications. Hard difficulty forces players to use all the mechanics found in the game. Suppressing enemies, tactically retreating and manipulating aggro results in a fantastic shared experience.