tom clancy's the division review

A Modern/Next Gen MMORPG Experience

I had the weekend to play Tom Clancy’s The Division in open beta.  It has a lot to offer, and feels very much like a MMORPG being made today should. The Division takes place in a modern day setting, with a post-apocalyptic twist thrown in. But no zombies. Don’t hold not having zombies against the game though.

The Division is Polished, Complete

The visuals were all very amazing. The white out conditions from the changing weather was the crown jewel. It was incredible to watch, wish I had thought to screenshot. I didn’t even make it to level 10, and there was a huge variety of weapons to choose from. The overhead map was very minimalistic, and still very useful. The Social system was even integrated into said map, letting you see and/or set a waypoint to friends even if they weren’t in your party. All the little things you could want in an MMORPG are here. I experienced no bugs during my play.

The World Feels Natural and Fluid

In all of our favorite MMORPGs, the mobs pretty much all enter the game world in the same way. They pop into existence from nothingness, then begin to pace in a small area, oblivious to the world around them until it enters their little bubble. In The Division, the mobs come walking into the area just like you did. I know in the back of my head that they just ‘popped up’ somewhere, but I appreciated not having to see it. The combat system is really, really fun. It’s fast paced, and about as real as you can get in a video game. I like the cover & climb system they have, it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen in an MMORPG. I was a little frustrated that head shots weren’t one-shots, but then I remembered this wasn’t an FPS, and just reloaded and kept shooting.

You also get to experience random encounters as you walk through the streets in game. These can be as simple as dispatching a band of thugs, or as simple as handing a civilian your can of soda. The city feels very alive in The Division, and it reacts to you. NPCs speak angrily to you(in different languages!) when you point your gun at them, and stray dogs become frightened. It’s more realism, and less decoration.

Drawbacks To The Division

The game lacked the proper mouseover features that I have come to expect in games. When I got a new piece of gear, I didn’t know what stats did what. The Division seems geared more towards players of shooters than MMORPG players. One of my stream viewers noted that the cover system was used in other Tom Clancy games. So if you’re a player of shooter games, you may feel right at home. If you’re an MMORPG fan, you’ll be doing some adapting.

Dark Zone PvP

I was eager to check out the PvP in The Division. That’s what holds my interest in games. Dark Zones are essentially a free-for-all PvP zone like the arenas in WoW or the Outlaw’s Den in SWTOR. If players aren’t in your group, they’re killable. Attacking first gets a bounty on your head though, causing everyone nearby to down you for extra rewards. There are also NPCs in the Dark Zone that you can kill for Dark Zone XP, which levels you up through the PvP side of things.

Initially after my first PvP experience, I was excited.  However after sleeping on it, and further reflection, I don’t think the Dark Zone is going to be viable PvP in the long term. Not a single player intentionally shot first while I was in the Dark Zone. The ones that did quickly stopped and apologized because it was an accident. Most players were just running around, trying to work cooperatively. The times I or my party members shot first, I was quickly dispatched because of the aforementioned bounty system. Then there were the internet heroes who wanted to PvP, but didn’t want to shoot first. They walked up to me, and made some SUPER LAME attempt in local voice chat to trick me into accidentally pressing some kind of key to attack them. It was incredibly pathetic. Finally I obliged one group of players, and WOW the trash talk that ensued after I died! I had always heard there were these kinds of people out there, but never met one.

Still more evidence of PvP not happening is a poll in the Official Forums, as well as an Official Pro Tip video. Both indicate players should avoid attacking players, and focus on NPCs. Very strange.

Final Thoughts On The Division

I like the game overall. At the right price, I might pick it up someday if I saw the PvP working better or if I had several friends playing. It’s a buy-and-play game, no monthly subscription. I would recommend The Division if you’re a fan of shooters. Also, strangely, if you like to explore worlds, the game might offer something as well. The climbing/CTRL system they have set up lets you get into all kinds of places. Otherwise, if you’re an old school MMORPG player like me, you should probably wait a little. The $60 price tag is a lot to gamble with, especially considering there is already multiple paid DLC in the works for this year. At any rate, I think I should stop calling this an MMORPG, and instead calling it an MMORPS – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Shooter. Something a little different. I think that’s a good mantra for this game. Something a little different.

Update: The Division is available 20% off through Amazon if you pre-order!

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