I have to be honest with you: initially, I had no interest in The Division. When it was announced, it went right over my head and I have no idea why. I love snow-themed games, they are my favorite in the whole world. It just felt like something wasn’t grabbing my attention. Was I maybe burnt out on the cover based shooter template? Was the strong focus on cooperative questing coming off as a little too intrusive on my solo preferences to want to give it a second glance? Maybe.
The Division released this week and has successfully become another major hit for Ubisoft after Assassin’s Creed. It isn’t a surprise really because Ubisoft know how to advertise games, even if a lot of the time they don’t really know how to make them. Ouch, did I just say that? Yes I did. The thing though is that while series like Assassin’s Creed have fallen off the quality wagon and with Watch Dogs not living up to anything that was promised, it is great to see The Division give off vibes of the Ubisoft we all used to love.
The question though is, can The Division be a great solo experience even though it focuses so heavily on a Destiny-style, always online hub experience where solo is an option but multiplayer is a focus?
Well while I love singleplayer experiences, The Division has proven that sometimes, if done right, you can have a much better time in the company of others. This is a game that, while giving you a massive open city to explore from randomly open buildings to ransack, a base to upgrade, and tons of RPG-esque loot – from guns to armor to clothes to collect – the actual core game, the meat as one would say, is actually quite boring by yourself.
This gives a strong samey aura of other games like Borderlands and, of course, Destiny, where slowly yet surely you will succumb to pressing that little intriguing “matchmaking” button sitting on the corner of all missions to select. The surprising thing though? It is actually much more fun not to play alone.
Ubisoft Montreal have done this in a very clever way…they have actually designed a game and its actual missions, content, and world around a multiplayer way of life. Story missions themselves are generally just a standard affair of squelching waves upon waves of thugs on normal difficulty but as the developers have recommended, it is much more fun to go up the higher difficulties and experience the game and its intense, immersive combat situations with other gaming operatives at the same time. This is actually one of the first games I can really agree with when it comes to that. Mainly because of just how well made it is for the multiplayer path you can pick.
It slowly came clear to me that this game in some way is a spiritual successor to Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. The cover-to-cover maneuvers, the way AI are set up to be taken down in coordinated ways with a team, and the gadgets and interface all scream remnants of that title from the past.
The Division is a lonely, boring experience by yourself. This is a very solo-focused gamer telling you to be social. When you get the chance, play with others. You don’t have to talk to them, don’t worry they won’t bite…not unless you go into the game’s more PvP-focused Dark Zone mode but hey, that isn’t what we are here to talk about?
The Division is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. For more information on this title, click here.