I was excited when I first heard about Tom Clancy’s The Division, because I generally enjoy any Tom Clancy-inspired games, and because it sounded like an open-world, next-gen version of Freedom Fighters, which I love! So I looked forward to playing it and even considered it to be such a priority that I started thinking about the sixty dollars I would set aside… But that was a long time ago. The more I heard about it over time, the less interested I became. I was learning a lot that turned me off the idea, and it got to the point where I almost entirely lost interest in even renting it! And with RedBox being so simple and affordable, that’s a big insult. But upon release week, I had some downtime and noticed it just sitting there in RedBox, so I picked it up, if just to confirm my thoughts.
I spent several hours playing it that night. I don’t invest in Playstation Plus nor do I care about online experiences in general. So I just did what I could on my own. As much as I was aware that it was geared towards multiplayer, I was still surprised how little it offered the single player experience. I was actually amazed at how little it offers in general.
Like Watchdogs, it sports an incredibly detailed, pretty, and realistic world design with a ton of explorable space. I’d say that alone was worth a $3 rental. But despite the detail of the environment, the world was still very lightweight in contextual weight. The plot and characters reek of afterthought, and there’s no weight behind what the player is doing. But what’s really sad is that those aspects were sacrificed in the name of its primary focus, the cover-based team-assault gameplay, which turned out to be sooooo un-special. I got bored of it really quickly, and I doubt having human players near me would have improved it that much. It’s just such a dated experience, to be honest. These are the same bad guys I’ve fought in numerous other games, that I get so tired of. Just like in Infamous and Watchdogs (again), you can always tell the bad guys because they are wearing red hoodies and hanging out on rooftops; they all look alike, never ask questions before shooting, are always up to something generically “thug”, come in different classes like heavy and sniper, and feel infinitely replaceable. What’s worse is they soak up bullets like sponges. I guess this was never intended to be a realistic game? But Tom Clancy games have always been more on the realistic side… I can’t understand why they made it this way. When you shoot an enemy, damage numbers come up. Damage numbers! Is this World of Warcraft? Supposedly its aimed at friendly competition, building your character, scoring points, spending points on new abilities, blah blah blah, why even include a story at all, why not just have it take place on a space station, that would have probably looked cooler.
I can’t stand these deceptively “open-world” games being made nowadays. I do think open-world likely represents one of the greatest potential aspects of video games, but if games aren’t going to commit to it, they shouldn’t bother. The Division likes to tell you its open world, just as MSGV does, but with nothing to do in these worlds other than go to your objective marker then return to base, it’s not a world that I care to be open. With every mission, there’s a guidance system that leads you straight to where you are supposed to go. Yeah, you don’t have to follow it, but what else are you going to do? There is a possibility to find a group of thugs huddled together if you branch off course, but you’ll just fill them full of lead, get collect their ammo and maybe a wristwatch and some screws, and be on your way. There’s no incentive to exploring. In Grand Theft Auto, for example, there’s always something to find or an idea to try or somewhere interesting to see… In my (limited) experience, the only thing to see by exploring The Division is more of the same. I got really tired of this game fast.
Now to the final point I want to make. My favorite thing about video games is the immersion. I like to use my imagination and pretend that I am this character, and I am exploring this world. That’s why I don’t have Playstation Plus. Multiplayer ruins my favorite thing about video games — the immersion. How am I supposed to feel like I am in it when another character is jumping around like an idiot, or teabagging something, or typing some random nonsense in the console? This goes to all online gaming, not just The Division. You might be able to feel immersed for a brief moment in this game… but with its constant online requirement and players jumping around you in the safe houses, you won’t get far with that. Even if that doesn’t ruin the immersion, the cartoony gunplay will.
I used to be a fan of Tom Clancy games. But with the release of this and Rainbow Six: Seige, I am very disappointed in the series. If they think excluding stories and equipping games totally for online play is preparation for the future landscape of video games, they are wrong. If they are right and that is what the future looks like, then it’ll be a future where I don’t play games anymore. Both Seige and The Division were $60 games that I thought were barely worth the price of a one-night rental. Screw these games.