The Division, it’s no longer such a new game now, and I imagine that most people who play it have long since reached the level cap and are in the ‘End Game’. Me? I’ve played about 24 hours’ worth, am at level 21 and just over halfway through the story missions. I might as well share some thoughts on how I’m getting on…
The good news is, I’m still enjoying myself, and that is probably because I’ve been taking things fairly slowly. During the week, I might get in an hour, maybe two of gameplay, while on the weekends I kick it up a bit more. But really, I’ve never devoted hours on end to The Division and have in turn been able to avoid burning out on it. Unlike Destiny, I don’t think I could burn through hours at a time to The Division without the grind getting to me.
I probably experience the grind more than others as I predominantly play by myself. As I briefly talked about a few weeks ago, I don’t feel the game has been balanced for solo players. This is despite Ubisoft’s own evidence showing that a touch over 50% of playtime has been spent by people playing on their own.
While I can have a crack at the story missions, and normally complete them after only a little bit of frustration, I do find that I have to be a level or two above the recommended to be able to enjoy them without the frustration becoming too much. It isn’t a Dark Souls or Bloodborne type of frustration, where you are learning how a boss behaves and adapting your approach to taking him down. No, The Division can instil a feeling of how unfair the game can be during the story missions.
This comes in stark contrast to some of the side missions that are on offer. Don’t get me wrong, quite a lot of the early side missions are fairly bland affairs where you are protecting a supply drop or reactivating the water supply. There are some gems though, whether they be the multi-part “Find person X who knows about the virus outbreak” to others which look straightforward at first sight, but develop into something really worthwhile.
What I find perplexing though, is that once you have cleared the side missions and activities in an area of Manhattan, you have no reason to return there (unless you love finding Drones and dropped cell phones). The best thing about The Division is the city, there are so many nooks and crannies to explore, but there is little or no incentive to explore once you have moved onto a new district.
Again, I’ll use the Destiny comparison. While the environments in Bungie’s game don’t hold the same allure as Manhattan does, there is at least a constant supply of side missions and activities to keep you occupied and encourage exploration of your environment. Ubisoft and Massive have mentioned there will be a renewed focus on PvE in the next big update to The Division, and I am holding out hope that they will re-populate the districts with side missions. Not all of us want the grind of the story missions, we just want to have some fun with the game mechanics while wandering a virtual slice of New York.