Since we can’t review The Division just yet the MGL gamers are going to keep you updated with our thoughts as we play in our Gameplay Diaries section and here you have my first impressions on a game that, while I like many gamers was left frustrated and early mission in The Division validate identity, and the one laptop (and will continue to mock in the coming paragraphs!). I will say this, my first impressions of the game are very good overall and it really does suit my Lone Wolf playstyle more than I expected.
But let’s get this moan out of the way first…
THAT laptop, I mean who at Ubisoft seriously thought this was a good idea? Now, for those not aware (and this is certainly NOT a spoiler) you create a character and then do a bit of a tutorial and get to a safe house. Here you have a non-social cut-scene where you are given some instructions and told to validate your identity.
Now, this is not a REAL LIFE check that validates your PSN/Xbox Live or anything, it’s an in game mission for no apparent consequence. So why the hell did they put the tiny laptop in the social area, where gamers are literally huddled around fighting to get close to, rather than in the room just before it in the closed scene? Or, even more logically why the hell have it at all? And not only is the task pointless, when you get to the laptop it’s clearly still on Windows Vista because it just won’t do anything when you try and sign in!
Many gamers have taken to message boards to talk about this issue and it’s a really shame because the overall start to the game I really enjoyed. Now, close to a week on this may be less prominent or if there is a patch, (and there should be a patch!) then you don’t need to worry. But this had me a bit wound up so I thought I’d best let you know what I did..
I just walked off into the distance until I was out of range for the mission. Walked back and it then worked. Others have logged off and back in, some went down the free roaming matchmaking route and done it in a group. Until this is patched I think the overall solution is, if it doesn’t work first time it’s not going to work so get away/log-off and try again.
Ok, enough moaning! There is a lot of things in The Division that have really impressed me so far and, even though I got it on day one, there were a few things I was concerned about one of which being the social aspect.
As a Gamer Dad of 2, one giant poo by my young son at midnight (a regular occurrence, thanks son!) can ruin not only my game but the games of others two if I’m with a team in a game that can’t be paused. So I like to go “Lone Wolf” (a term us solo players use to look slightly less sad and alone), taking on the game myself most of the time, then I play with my friends when I have that opportunity. The solo element had to work for me and, so far it’s making a good impression.
Let’s start from the beggining with it all and one thing I’ve always liked is the plot to the game, a story I can believe could work in real life and really bring society down if it were to happen. But then I am the one that thinks a monthly meeting at work about Zombie Apocalypse preparation is a good idea… so, maybe my mind-set is not for the sensible I guess, but I do see this as being something that could actually happen.
It certainly did it’s job, I was sucked in if a little over exposed to the story at the start since a lot had been told already in the build up to the launch.
Following this I’m activated as an agent of The Division, and I see a much more fleshed out character creation screen than the Beta version (something that very much disappointed me with Destiny that travels a similar journey to The Division). It’s no Fallout 4 or Skyrim style creation but it’s nice, great for a shooter but a bit light for an RPG. Overall it was good to build someone who feels a bit unique but not waste too much time on.
Tutorial down and I’m at the social house with the spyware filled, Vista laptop that had many gamer pushing and jerking around. Before I was out into the city for a few quests. Now one thing that must be said about The Division is its game engine, they sold Snowdrop as something special and I’d have to say it really is remarkable how it’s captured the city, the destruction and, most impressively for me, the weather.
But enough looking at the pretty snow, let’s talk about shooting things since that is essentially what you’re doing most of the time, and it’s very well done.
I’m a huge Mass Effect fan and there is more than a hint of it in The Division. The cover based combat feels just right with a feeling of weight that a really like. You’re not a floating, nimble, exo-suit wearing Call of Duty character flying around like the wind even with an RPG on your back, assault rifle in your hands and tonnes of ammo in every pocket possible.
This is more real.
Your a guy, or girl who’s just been activated as an agent, most of your time previously has been spent being a normal person, ready for when called upon but not exactly a trained assassin or anything. Yes you can handle yourself, but you are fresh and have lots to learn. Your gear is also heavy, weapons are tough to control if you don’t shoot in bursts and, if you’re out of cover and get shot, it will get you killed very quickly.
My three main factors with the game, which I discussed in the Game N Respawn Podcast on The Division, were: 1) Does it play well as the Lone Wolf? 2) Does it feel like the RPG Ubisoft promised? 3) Is there fun stuff to do?
Now I’d have to say, it feels so good as the Lone Wolf that the general almost feels like a single player experience at times. Everything is so opt in when it comes to playing in a team that, for my taste it works just right. Those coming in expecting to walk into huge battles in the streets with lots of players taking on big gangs maybe disappointed early on. There is little to randomly engage you walking around other than the odd AI thug here and the but this may be different further into the game/city.
The missions so far work nicely on allowing you to get to grips with building up your base. I’ve rescued the doctor so far to get the medical area open and done some upgrades. I have also opened up the Tech wing and got myself some nice looking perks and upgrades. Each area of your base has a number of things to develop and these rely on your resources, which you get by taking on missions.
Here my RPG habits are proving hard to break right now as I’m very happy to continue enjoying the side missions, finding loot and trying to build some resources early on. Side missions are nicely ranging in complexity too, from simple hold your ground/protect some resources from waves of enemies for a few minutes. To more long quests that see you taking quite some time to get through and even has a rather tough, named character (like a boss fight basically) at the end that can take a few goes to get past on your own.
The loot is good so far too, nicely dropping just open enough to keep me going for more and the upgrades for my character are starting to get me excited. With three weapons to swap between and lots of gear that sees you rather excited to get some high level knee pads is always fun. It’s also a thought process too since some gear makes you have better overall stats for health, tech and damage, so while the item you find may be better overall, it can adversely affect your overall stats if you are focusing on one in particular.
I really, really am impressed with The Division, it’s not a game that will necessarily grab you in the first hour and get you really excited to play. But after a few hours with the game you may find it very difficult to stop… and start to hear the birds starting to tweet faintly outside as you keep doing “just one more mission”.
More of my journey to come next week on your MGL Podcast and another diary entry. But if you were sat on the fence about The Division, personally I’d recommend it highly so far. It’s not as social as people may have expected in the early stages but, having said that the Dark Zone still awaits me. For those worried it’s not for the solo gamer, I’m one too and is working for me so far… Just upgrade that laptop please Ubisoft!