I know I’ve already talked about The Division in the Geekly Review. But I wanted to go a little more in-depth with my first impressions of the game.
On Black Friday, a smallpox outbreak – transmitted via banknotes, sweeps through New York City. The disease, known as “Green Poison”, causes chaos across Manhattan and it’s placed under quarantine. The U.S. Government takes action by activating sleeper agents who operate for the Strategic Homeland Division, or The Division, to help bring the chaos back under control.
As it stands I’ve played for just under 20 hours now and have played enough that I think I’ve got a good enough grasp of what the game is all about.
The game is billed as a third person shooter/RPG. Whilst I don’t think it’s really a hardcore RPG, I do think there is quite a lot of depth from an RPG stand point. The game offers up skills, talents and perks. All of which have a number of unlocks and options for you tweak and tinker with for your preferred set. Essentially they all fall in to either a healer class, a support class or a tank class. What I like about this setup is that you aren’t restricted to playing as one class. At any time you can switch up from a character more focused on healing to one that will dish out loads of extra damage. This really helps when wanting to mix up playing with others or on your own – and yes you can play this game solo if you so choose. Some of my favourite gadgets and gizmos so far have been the seeker mine which you drop and it then finds the nearest target and goes straight for them and blows up in their face – it’s not the most powerful but it looks damn cool. I also like the aid station which you can drop and it will heal friendlies in a radius over time – this saved mine and a friend’s life in the Dark Zone when trying to extract.
Along with all the skills and talents, you can also equip gear with a multitude of perks and bonuses. Armour, knee pads, gloves etc… all of these have a number of stats that can help to boost your characters abilities or weapon bonuses. You can basically play away to your heart’s content until you find that perfect combination.
There are also a plethora of weapons to find and choose from. Assault rifles, SMG’s, Shotguns, LMG’s, Sniper rifles and more. Add to that the fact that each gun can have multiple attachments added to it and you have another area that you can constantly play around with until your happy that your DPS will handle any situation.
I’ve been really impressed with the amount of customisation on hand and the depth that you can go with each piece of gear or every weapon you pick up.
The way New York looks is something I’ve already talked about, but I can’t stress how much I love the feel of the world that Ubisoft Massive have created. It has such a good atmosphere and it only seems to get better the more you play. Outdoor environments look great with the weather effects adding to them, buildings look run down and barely livable in some cases, underground stations are very atmospheric too. I just love how the whole world looks and feels.
The overall gameplay feels really good to me too. I like the cover mechanics although at times it would be nice to be able to have the option of crouching or standing in some cover, but it’s not a big thing. Most of the enemies are fairly generic even across the different factions but I still think they’re pretty fun to fight. Setting up an ambush with a team is good fun and quickly lets you dispatch of larger groups with ease. When I’ve played solo I’ve found that the firefights can be a little more intense simply because you’re on your own and have to keep an eye out for anyone trying to get the drop on you. NPC’s will try to flank you or rush you at times and if you’re not paying attention you can quickly become overwhelmed by them. I’m still yet to come across the final faction the LMB – who are meant to be a lot more geared and more military focused so I’m hoping that they will pose a nice threat.
The Base of Operations is the centre of your game in the sense that it’s where you will get missions from and is where you have vendors for gear – although it’s not the only place. During the course of the game you can unlock extra “wings” to your BoO by completing missions and earning points to spend. The base starts out looking pretty war-torn but as you progress and upgrade it will start to evolve and look a little more orderly. More NPC’s will turn up as it becomes a livable area offering refuge and treatment to the civilians of New York. It’s really well done and helps with the immersion of the game.
One area that I was really hyped for before the full release was the Dark Zone. This is the place where you will have mixes of PVP and PVE. Since the beta it’s clear to see that there have been some changes made. NPC’s are now much more apparent in the Dark Zone and occupy almost every street corner. It makes playing solo a lot tougher and when I first ventured in I found myself out matched on a few occasions. I’ve since been back in with a friend and have found it much more manageable – so far. That’s partly due to us both having better gear now and also because we’ve ranked up a bit more. The one thing I haven’t seen so far though is any actual PVP. I’ve seen other players, but no one has ever engaged in a firefight, I’ve not shot one bullet at another player. For me this is a slight problem right now and I’m sure we will start to see events pop up that almost ‘force’ PVP. But as of right now I don’t know why I would want to engage in PVP there doesn’t seem to be a real incentive apart from just being a dick or dicking about. The penalties for going Rogue seem far to high and almost like they are discouraging PVP as you can lose up to fives DZ levels (so I’ve heard) from going Rogue once. Add to that, that you also lose currency and DZ keys it just doesn’t seem worth it right now.
I understand there is a fine balance that needs to be struck because you also don’t want it to turn in to a PVP griefing war zone. So there does need to be an element of discouragement. I think it just still needs some balancing out and I’m sure that will come in time.
Personally I think there needs to be a dedicated PVP zone too, maybe it’s just an area or instance you can enter in to in the DZ that holds high-end loot and there are no NPC’s present and it’s a case of first come first serve for all players there who then also have to extract it. This could provide some pretty intense firefights. Maybe if it were a sky scraper that you enter and half way up is the loot which you then have to take to the roof to extract it. That could potentially work very well I think.
I still really love the Dark Zone as it is and I think it has massive potential to be a really good experience, so I’m excited to see where it goes.
Overall I’m really happy with The Division so far and I can’t wait to get even further in to it and hit the top ranks!