What I’m Playing, part 9

Tom Clancy’s The Division

Since we, as a group, decided to find a different game to play together, we settled on The Division mostly because it was familiar like Destiny and it was cheap.  We also tried out Call of Duty:  Black Ops 3 since some of the others already had a copy, but it just didn’t appeal though we have decided to at least finish the campaign, but that’s a different entry for another time.  It launched last March and is now down to $11 new, so we figured ‘why not?’

As its core, The Division is a cover based shooter similar to Gears of War.  I just wish that the others would get that so they’d stop dying as much.  There have been plenty of times that I’ve caught them standing out in the open instead of behind cover.  It also doesn’t help that sometimes the A.I. gets the drop on us and manages to sneak up behind us without us noticing.

All complaints aside, this game is great and I don’t understand why people stopped playing, though I’m sure to soon find out since I’m closing in on reaching the level cap and completing the restoration of the Base of Operations.  The shooting feels good and the abilities are cool, but they kinda feel like they were taken right out of Borderlands (attachable mines, turrets, etc).  The environment is amazingly detailed and looks like it was painstakingly crafted, with realistic and beautiful (if sometimes annoying) weather effects.  You have the option of either walking everywhere or, if you have unlocked the point on the map, fast traveling to where you want to go.  It’s almost a shame to fast travel since you’ll be missing out on the beauty of the environment as you’re headed to your destination.  The sounds you’ll hear along the way are also very well done (survivors conversing, enemies talking, animals, etc.) and you might also miss out on some XP by helping the random citizens that will approach you on the street.  What they want could range from a bottle of water to a medkit, and your usual rewards for helping them are some XP and a cosmetic item for your character though I have occasionally been awarded with a weapon (she got a soda, I got a handgun…I think that’s a fair trade, right?)  The cosmetic items are shared between all your characters and are usually just the same item in a different color which is a little disappointing but The Division is hardly the first game that’s guilty of this crime (looking at you Diablo and several JRPGs that I’ve played over the years)

One thing that I enjoy about this game thoroughly is the inventory system.  You can mark several items at once for dismantling or to be sold to the vendor, something that I think the sequel to Destiny should pick up on.  It definitely keeps the flow of the game going and doesn’t bog you down when you want to get back to the action.  I also like that you can insert and remove mods for your weapons and armor with ease.  Stripping the mods from your gun is simple – just push in the thumb stick and viola! you’re ready to apply them to your new weapon.  Hopefully Destiny 2 will have something similar.

At the time of this writing (I started writing the entry a few weeks ago) I have fully upgraded the Base of Operations to 100% across the board.  I now get hourly (and in the case of the Procurement Team upgrade, daily) crafting items and loot from several of the “rooms” in the base.  It was kinda funny watching how each of the trash strewn rooms became magically clean and organized when I spent the points to buy them.  None the less, the base feels like a beacon of hope in the hopeless wasteland of NYC.  I also like that the base is instanced to you, meaning that nothing your party does to their base will effect yours and vice versa.  Kinda jarring when I first started playing the game, but now I’m used to it and kinda like it.  Also, now that I am at the level cap, the Special Weapons Vendor in my base sells nothing but high end (The Division equivalent to Destiny’s exotics) weapons and mods.  They were my first high end weapon purchases and I haven’t been disappointed with them yet.  Once you purchase the 1000 point upgrade for each of the 3 wings of the base, you’re treated to that wing’s “ultimate power” (faster skill speed for Security, healing and reviving for Medical and increased damage for Tech).

Smack in the middle of the map of Manhattan is a red area called the Dark Zone.  In terms of story, this is the spot where the military pretty much said ‘fuck it, I’m out’ and walled off the area and left the survivors inside to fend for themselves.  In terms of mechanics, this is the PvP area of the game.  You can either help or fight each other as not only is it a PvP zone, but there are enemies in the Dark Zone as well.  The object of the Dark Zone isn’t just PvP.  If you happen to find any loot drops, the only way you can take them out of the Dark Zone is to bring them to an extraction point and hope that you get them out.  You have to shoot a flare, wait for the chopper to arrive, attach your loot to the rope that hangs from the chopper then defend the point from enemies (and enemy players if there are any) until the chopper escapes.  If you happen to die in the Dark Zone, you drop anything that you found there and you lose all your Dark Zone credits and some of your Dark Zone XP.  It is possible to level down if you lose enough XP, but with some careful playing and a lot of luck you’ll level back up in no time.  Due to the tough as nails nature of the Dark Zone, it’s on the bottom of my to-do list.

Also at the bottom of my to-do list:  Incursions.  These are The Divison’s answer to Destiny’s raids.  They are only done with 4 people and unlike Destiny, the enemies don’t stop just because you’ve completed the objective.  There are only 4 on the map and we have yet to complete any of them.  I’ll write more on them if we ever complete one.

Another thing I’ve enjoyed about the game is, believe it or not, the season pass.  Upon buying it I received ALL the monthly rewards that everyone else that’s purchased the pass has gotten, only I got them all at once.  It was rather funny sitting there for a good 5 minutes or so watching the pop ups list off everything I’ve gotten so far.  I’ve yet to try out the Survival DLC as we’ve been spending most of our time playing the Underground DLC instead and loving every minute of it despite the fact that we’re starting to lose more than we win.

When you start Underground, you’re allowed access to a secret headquarters style base underneath the Base of Operations which is where you launch all your Underground missions from.  There are only 6 mission types (ranging from rescuing a JTF officer to hunting a high ranking LMB officer), but each mission area is randomly generated each time you start (similar to Diablo).  Plus, you can add up to 5 different modifiers (called Directives) that will yield increased XP at the end of the mission if you succeed.  As a group we’ve progressed to the point where we’re all playing on World Tier 5 (the highest tier at the moment) and playing on either Hard or Challenging.  Hard we tend to win every time, but Challenging is actually challenging!  The computer enemies will aggressively hunt you down and kill you if you’re not careful.  Several times over the past few nights we’ve had mishaps and lost the missions due to the enemies all being so brutally hard to kill.

  • Is the platinum attainable:  yes, but is going to take a bit of grinding in the Dark Zone to get it
  • % of trophies at the time of writing according to PSN: 95%

(To be continued…)