60 hours. I am 60 hours into the Division and I have some high points, a few math jokes and concerns with how this game starts, runs, and its end game so far.
The first thing that stands out to me the comparison that many people are making between Destiny and The Division. I think, and I have heard others echo as well, that besides being a shooter and a game with a gear treadmill, the comparison between these two should be dropped there. The Division to me plays more like a Diablo 3 style game. Why you may ask? Well, both games share a much steeper gear treadmill than the Destiny/Division debate. The Division, like Diablo 3, is also heavily influenced by stat min maxing. The last big similarity I think comes down to how your gear is gotten. I don’t remember where I saw it but someone made this point by, funnily enough, Comparing it to Destiny. In Destiny, you are time locked from grinding your gear out. Only one raid per week, per character can really slow down your progress in hitting the ‘end game’. Switch over to The Division and Diablo 3, you can grind all day every day if you want to hit the top as quickly or as slowly as you wish. I spent a full 10 hour day just running hard mode missions so I could get a Pahkan.
Speaking of guns, lets talk about the combat itself. Each of the weapons in The Division, feel pretty darn good, and they also feel different from each other, even two of the same weapon types. For example, you can get two different versions of the Assault rifle, and they can handle differently, hit harder, shoot faster, etc. Of the five weapon types, Sub Machine gun, Assault Rifle, Marksmen Rifle (snipers), Shotguns, Light Machine gun, each gun type feels and responds with their own heft and responsiveness. Gun play, when fighting enemies your level, feels responsive and enjoyable. . . . when the servers are not lagging.
One of the biggest drawbacks from combat are the lack of stable servers. I have seen, and been effected by, server lag spikes which delay the reaction in which enemies respond to you firing upon them. Unload a clip, nothing seems to happen then suddenly enemies start warping towards you, and you are at a sliver of health due to focus fire. Incredibly annoying and as you move up through the difficulty ranks can prove to be deadly.
Other issues that come immediately to mind are the many, many graphical glitches that you see running by other players. Enemies and players violently twisted so they are looking away from you while firing, the riot shield splayed out perpendicular with the ground when its equipped, and floating weapons, as in the screenshot above (whose names I have blacked out). Let’s also not forget everyone’s favorite time, falling through the world! These, along with the initial atrocious load times for the first week, are some of the major issues that are coming out. The load times actually have been improved quite a bit, yet loading into a mission from the LFG system still takes a while. The last major issue currently plaguing the user base is the dreaded MIKE error. Whoever MIKE is, he can go fuck himself, because it’s incredibly annoying to jump into a game, finish a mission for phoenix credits, then get booted from the game and have to redo all that work again.
Aggravating technical gripes aside, there is still a lot of fun to be had with The Division. Running around the world gives you two experiences in spades. The first is how beautiful the city looks in this wasteland of garbage, burnt out buildings and strewn cars. The other is how empty the game is. You can go minutes without encountering anything when playing solo, as in the PvE area your only interaction with players are those in your group, or the hubs in the form of Safe houses. Enemies are set in their respective locations and do not vary very far from it. Some enemies have a small “patrol” path, but even that does not introduce any surprise once you learn the routes.
As you go through your Missions, the primary story driver, you also have the ability to complete side missions, encounters and hunt for collectibles. On said missions, as stated above, your story progresses and you slowly take back sections of Manhattan from the various groups of enemies that infest it.
Each faction has their own respective “gimmick”. The Rioters are your bog standard enemies, usually plentiful and have nothing overtly unique about them. The Cleaners are the faction of sanitation workers who wield flamethrowers. These guys are not usually any harder than the Rioters, but up close the flame throwers can actually chunk down your health very quickly. Their “ultras”, at least that’s what I call them, can be scary at first, as they boat a monstrous range with their heavy flamer thrower, yet popping the tanks strapped to their sides and back usually make short work of them. Rikers are the prison population unleashed, and have a couple of nasty units. Firstly, the shot gunners, who are a pain in the ass on the Challenge/High end Dark Zone encounters should be your number one target. The Rikers “ultra” is a heavy machine gunner which like the Cleaners, as a backpack with a vulnerable spot to cause massive damage to them. Unlike the cleaners however, it is much harder to get to. Lastly is, no pun intended, the Last Man Battalion. Like the Rikers, they have a rushing shotgun enemy which is actually more deadly somehow. Snipers, across all factions, can be a pain on normal difficulty, and brutally powerful on high-end DZ/Challenge.
Wrapping up here, I have to admit, the game is enjoyable, even as it looks like I am shitting on it. I like the style this game offers, yet have had numerous issues while playing that have left me personally jaded. That said there are many positive things about the game like getting to play the entire game solo if you want, even advancing through the Dark Zone solo, albeit its riskier. There is a truckload of lore for you to listen to and explore as you run around to gather the collectibles, and when the game is running smoothly, you feel like you are one (or up to four) operatives really saving the city. If you like RPG’s with guns and tactical cover, this game just might be for you.