After being disappointed with what became Destiny, I was encouraged with Tom Clancy’s The Division which seemed to offer similar concepts of an online co-op shooter but grounded in a little more reality. Set place in New York in the aftermath of a viral outbreak it did grab my attention quickly but soon fell by the wayside due to the perceived grind and much more approachable games falling into my lap. But a hell of a lot has changed since the game first launched and with the 1.8 patch recently rolled out for the world to enjoy it’s about time I got my agent back into action and help take back the city. And I’m actually pretty glad I did so too because I’m having a good old time of it now.
Turned out I hadn’t played as much of the original campaign as I had previously thought and there was another part of the city for me to explore. My grinding so far had taken me a lot of time but apparently not resulted in as much progress as I had previously thought. So I’m now happily trekking down city streets on my way to additional objectives and missions thanks to devoting bigger blocks of time for the game than previously. I believe more recent updates have simplified the loot and crafting processes too which helps a lot in getting into the game loop a lot faster.
Not everything has improved as I had hoped though. I do wish they were a little more creative with how the difficulty were balanced because if you team up with a friend who is a substantially higher level than you there’s no chance of being able to take on enemies. It can have a massive impact on the player experience could potentially turn them off. Admittedly the game does try to find a middle ground with difficulty levels adjusted to somewhere it between the high/low players but it feels like enemies higher than your own level are near on impossible to overcome. Why a handicap system of sorts can’t be applied here to boost player stats so everyone fights at a similar level (even if it happens in the background) is surprising.
The difficulty balance issue is a bit of a downer as it does make co-op only useful if you have players at similar levels. Being able to create multiple characters does help here so friends can have low level agents for this purpose but it might also make people feel that they are spreading themselves too thinly too. If the level gap is too wide, it’s likely easier to go out on your own and earn experience to level up which I’m doing right now.
Apart from a few encounters which I needed multiple attempts to complete I’m enjoying the experience even more this time around. The game does feel more streamlined and accessible which was not at all I was expecting – if it were the opposite I’d likely just put the game away. Exploring New York continues to be a fascinating part of the game and I think it is a real strength of The Division because it does get that right. When I don’t want run around and take in the scenery though it’s nice to be able to fast travel to safe houses when I am wanting to complete a couple of encounters or side missions quickly. It goes a long way to allowing players to enjoy the game in either long or short bursts.
Anyway, I’m having a lot of fun with it again after a long hiatus and that is something pretty rare for me to see in games where usually once I lose interest I move on. And there’s still plenty of game left for me to get into as well which is a nice bonus. Full credit to Ubisoft and the team at Massive to stick to their guns (literally) and commit to making the game the best it can be.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is out now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.