A Long Overdue Post on The Division
It’s been a while, but that’s because I’ve been working an improbable amount. I don’t wish to complain about being gainfully employed, but I will nonetheless: being repeatedly surprised with extra work days sucks, especially when those are on top of already expected extra work days.
But that doesn’t matter. That’s all just to say that I’ve been guarding my play time viciously, like a dog guarding a large stuffed animal that it loves. Additionally, I’ve been extra tired from the surprise work hours, so I’ve been sleeping more. Neither of these lend to my desire to write, which clearly is what goes first when there’s a time crunch.
Nonetheless, I wanted to write today about the Division. I’ve see a lot of negative press, a lot of people complaining about this or that, and a lot of people arguing that the somewhat mixed genre doesn’t really work.
I wanted to write to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the game. I’ve been playing with my wife and my buddy, and each one of us has been pleasantly surprised by how much fun we’ve had with it. We’ve leveled to max and have done all quests and we’ve even done the dark zone for a few hours, and so far we’re still quite happy with the game.
I will qualify my opinion by saying I think a fair share of my enjoyment comes from having played with two friends. I can’t imagine playing it alone; I have no idea if the difficulty goes up or down with more group members (I don’t think it does, but I don’t know), but I imagine that if the difficulty does not change, that playing alone could be rather challenging at times.
The quests are in fact often simple repeats of other quests, defending this or rescuing that, turning this valve or killing that mob. There are also only four basic enemy types: gangsters, firestarters, jail escapees, and paramilitary forces mixed with variants of snipers, shock troopers, basic infantry, grenadiers, and heavies. Some have complained that the repetition of these enemy types makes the game boring, but I didn’t find it so; the variety of tactics needed to deal with mixed groups of those enemies spread out across a variety of settings in which you encounter them kept the game fresh for me during leveling.
The settings, too, really make the game enjoyable. Each “dungeon” has a very unique feel to it from both a story perspective and from a visual perspective. Being in a subway tunnel used as a morgue, Times Square, or the UN’s General Assembly room while battling both adds a personal touch (at least to me, as I lived in NYC for a while) and a somewhat grotesque fascination as epic battles for life and death take place in these otherwise “civilized” settings.
I’ll say, too, that my group of three had zero problems doing the dungeons together, even on hard mode. We only once recruited a fourth player, and he was terrible and ended up being more of a liability than a bonus, so we stopped recruiting random players. We were worried about three-manning hard modes, but they weren’t particularly any more challenging than doing the dungeons at level (or a level or two beyond, since you get FAR more experience and base resources than you need).
The Dark Zone also worried me quite a lot; I’ve gotten used in DayZ to being murdered for no reason, but I went solo into the DZ twice and with my little group twice and only got killed by other players once, when I was by myself. I suspect that my group’s size and the visual inability to tell someone’s quality of weapons deters others from targeting us.
In fact, I’ve found that there is essentially no reason to kill people in the Dark Zone; the loot drops are plentiful, there’s no way to know what look the other players have (if any), and the penalty for killing another player is a bull’s eye on your back for all players to see. So at some level, the disincentives are well balanced against the incentives, something that’s rarely true in PvP settings.
So I can pretty confidently say that most of the game (I haven’t done challenge modes or the new “raids” that are coming out) is fun if you’re playing with your friends.
Stubborn (Sniper, as usual)