Have You Played… Tom Clancy’s The Division?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

If I had infinite lives, I’d waste at least one of them playing Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Three things matter about The Division. One, it’s set in a snow-covered and largely abandoned New York which is atmospheric and beautiful. Two, it’s about shooting men in the head until they drop loot, then using that loot to shoot more men in the head in a propulsive loop. Three, some of those men are wearing explosive gas canisters, which you can shoot so that the men explode.

Sometimes, this is all I need from a videogame. The rest of The Division might be dumb, but I had several very pleasant afternoons playing the game with Adam and by myself. If I had more time and less guilt about sinking into such empty experiences, I can imagine spending many more hours just grinding through its world on a cycle of shoot shoot and loot loot. Instead I have to cross my fingers, and hope one day we’re able to be reborn, so I have the time to give over to it.

42 Comments

  1. colw00t says:

    I have, for a while, but then I realized that I didn’t actually care to play an endless-loot-cycle game about being a secret underground government murder operative who shoots minorities (who are always referred to as “looters,” when in fact I never saw them doing any such thing) to protect private property during a massive public health crisis.

    • Ghostbird says:

      Still not as creepy as Prison Architect, though.

    • Bladderfish says:

      Hahahaha. This is satire, right?

      Which of the enemies are minorities? The Rikers? The Last Man Battalion? The Cleaners? They make up 99% of the NPCs. I’ve played the game to the end, and I only remember a few random looters that were obviously coloured, and they are easily avoided and optional kills that provided no bonus or decent loot.

      Maybe you should look into why you focus on shooting these few minority people so much?

      • Mungrul says:

        There’s actually four distinct factions in the game, and they appear in the order:
        Rioters
        Cleaners
        Rykers
        LMB

        Admittedly, it can initially be very easy to mistake Rioters for Rykers, but if you play in the Dark Zone at all, where factions quite often clash, you’ll very frequently see Rioters fighting with the others.

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        Drib says:

        Some people just need something to be offended about, even if there’s nothing really there.

        • Ghostwise says:

          If we allow people to have opinions, then only criminals will have guns.

          • Premium User Badge

            Drib says:

            That’s why I loot other people’s opinions. If only there was a word for people who do so.

          • Mungrul says:

            There is also a valid point in the first post in this chain.
            When you stop and think about what you’re actually doing in the game, it isn’t very pleasant at all. Your only option with any criminal element you interact with is to shoot them ’til they’re dead.

            Some of the audio logs in the Underground and West Side Piers even poke at this a bit, hinting that you are just as bad, if not worse then the people you’re killing. And there are hints that this is the core reason agents go “rogue”.

            But mostly, the game is, when it comes down to it, about “shooting poor people for loot” as one of my friends so pointedly described it.

      • Harlaw says:

        “Coloured”. Really, dude?

        • Axess Denyd says:

          I find it weird that “people of color” is supposed to be the acceptable term, but “colored” is not acceptable.

          People are weird.

  2. Mungrul says:

    It’s currently my drug of choice, with the 1.8 patch released late last year really polishing the game. If you haven’t played it in a while, I can highly recommend dipping a toe back in.

    Additionally, it is stunningly good looking. Probably the most graphically impressive game I’ve played from a technical perspective.

    Yes, it can be a bit grindy, but it’s nowhere near as bad an offender as the vast majority of MMOs out there, and it’s certainly more engaging than the repetitive skill sequence spamming that the “gameplay” of most MMOs consists of.
    It’s a proper man-shooter with a Diablo-like loot feedback loop tacked on, and feels a lot better than Borderlands’ attempts.

    • Sulpher says:

      Absolutely, the recent update made this game feel feature complete. The Underground “mini-dungeons” are a fun way to spend 20 minutes.

    • Faldrath says:

      That’s interesting to know. I played it… about a year ago? and it felt rather slim. I never reached max level, mind. Are all the enemies still very bullet-spongy, though?

      • Mungrul says:

        While your gear’s under-par and you’re levelling? Yeah, I can’t deny they can feel bullet-spongey.
        But once you’re top level and start getting some decent gear, only the bosses take a huge amount of bullets. Once you start to top out around gear score 280+, even bosses tend to go down in one clip.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        That’s what turned me off of this game at first look. When I saw the trailers and reveals, I was so stoked; it looked like a shooter I’d wanted to play for years, and was (and is) beautiful to boot. But having any human enemy in a game that can stand there and take 10 rifle bullets to the face and then shoot back with perfect accuracy is completely immersion-breaking and fun-spoiling, and having the name “Tom Clancy” attached to such an experience is just adding insult to injury.

        • DarkFenix says:

          This was exactly why I avoided The Division, having previously been quite hyped off the trailers. Something even semi-realistic would have made it an instant purchase for me.

  3. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    I tried it during a few free weekends, and it just never grabbed me. The visuals are kinda neat, but the meat’n’potatoes of the gameplay get very old very fast, plus the PvP sectors were rife with hackers. It just doesn’t offer anything unique besides the premise, which IMO doesn’t elevate the gameplay.

    It mostly made me want to replay Max Payne.

  4. woodsey says:

    I’ve tried it a couple of times but I find the sheer absence of verticality in a city full of skyscrapers (at least in the vanilla, early game stuff) incredibly off-putting.

  5. Sp4rkR4t says:

    First thing I ran when I plugged my GTX1080 into my rig, such a pretty game with the added bonus of actually being a good game now with loads of stuff to do.

  6. dsch says:

    Spent two hours on it. Awful bullet sponge enemies.

    • Slazia says:

      Same opinion. A few hours with the free weekend. I like a lot about it, but I hate games which involve shooting people more than a couple of times with a rifle to stop them.

  7. Kalle says:

    I have not. It looked interesting but the Clancy brand is downright offputting and the launch issues and bullet sponge gameplay convinced me to give it a pass. There’s a slight tinge of regret as it looks amazing, but there are plenty of shooters out there.

    • Iamnid says:

      The Clancy brand is off putting? How so? There’s been some great games carrying that brand. Splinter Cell, Rainbow 6, Ghost Recon.

      • woodsey says:

        I’ve enjoyed my fair share of Clancy games but they are all built on a foundation of jingoistic gibberish.

        I can easily see how that would be enough to turn someone off.

      • Kalle says:

        The Clancy brand is hyper-conservative militarism built around hard men doing hard things. My patience for those kind of politics has worn thin, even when they’re wrapped around a game I’d otherwise probably enjoy.

  8. Beefenstein says:

    “Instead I have to cross my fingers, and hope one day we’re able to be reborn, so I have the time to give over to it.”

    Life is a process. There is life, and then there is life after it. And then again. See it as birth, again birth, again birth.

    But *you* won’t be reborn. This is because you are a conditioned process made up of physical and mental aggregates — just like all other aspects of conditioned things you are characterised by the three marks of existence: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self. You see this even so far in your existence — what is ‘you’ changes as time and experience build it up or wash it away, it is not amenable to control, so ultimately is not your ‘self’ as you do not grasp it.

    Clinging to this game as part of your existence is, of course, one way to pass the time. But clinging to conditioned does mean this particular life process does not end, so your actions are responsible for more suffering in samsara by future beings.

    Hope this Buddhist account of rebirth (or again-birth) was interesting to someone.

  9. haldolium says:

    Yeah… I wished it just would’ve been something completely different.

    The atmosphere through sound + visuals are still one of the best to get with extreme immersion… which is then shattered by the actual grindfest-bulletsponge-hording gameplay that in my opinion REALLY conflicts with the setting and setup of the game world.

    I tried it even after a year+ with patches and game modes, didn’t change the fact that it is so damn boring to me.

  10. fish99 says:

    If you like snow and pretty graphics it’s worth a playthrough.

  11. Noodlemonk says:

    I tend to go back to visit NYC from time to time, just to experience the absolutely amazing atmosphere – but I do find the shooting experience a bit grindy, and I’m not a fan of the bullet sponges. Patches or not. They’re still there.

  12. Jabberslops says:

    I had fun with the game when I first played it, but then around a month before I finally quit it was getting extremely laggy to the point where I couldn’t even kill the Hunter anymore in the survival expansion. I thought PVP was also really garbage and completely unfun. I believe I quit shortly after Last Stand was released because I just didn’t care about yet more pvp content.

    To be honest though, The Division was the most fun in the early player levels when you could kill most enemies in half a mag or less or head shot kill in 1-2 hits with bolt action rifles. Like many people have said before, the fact it’s set in a “real world” setting makes the bullet sponge enemies a detraction to the entire experience.

    I honestly think I would prefer the game be more like GTA Online instead of like Borderlands 2. I’d rather have more enemies that are deadlier, but easier to kill with the occasional heavily armored enemy/boss that require different tactics to take down instead of being just a one million health bullet sponge.

    Also I remember suppressing fire was actually useful in the lower levels and the easier top tier missions, but I noticed it being completely useless on the hardest missions. Everyone I was grouped with stopped trying to suppress enemies.

  13. Ghostwise says:

    I didn’t like the bullet-spongey aspect back during the free beta. But it was otherwise quite nice and interesting. I’ll grab a GOTY pack once that exists… in two years, perhaps ?

  14. that_guy_strife says:

    I pre-ordered it after having had dreams of it since E3 2013. Played 4 months with a group, left. Came back 6 weeks ago with a new group who all just bought it.

    All of my original gripes with the game are still present. There’s less hacking and less bugs, true. But the overworld is still meaningless once you’ve finished the dozen of missions (no, adding a handful of named enemies in it that are always as the same place doesn’t mean anything). The UI (designed for controllers and aesthtics) is still complete garbage and extremely clunky. The movements still mess up occasionally, getting you stuck in corners. Only a handful of missions are available to play at higher difficulties, meaning most of them will give rewards that just don’t scale with you.

    Two of the four raids are tied to DLCs (15 and 20 $ CAD respectively), which was disappointing – split the group. The DLCs themselves – Underground gets very repetitive with its procgen. Haven’t got Survival, but that does look interesting. Last Stand was shunned by the community so maybe don’t get the season pass.

    1.8 added two big things – a horde mode (where most players quit after wave 10, so get a group if you want to push it) and what is basically the Dark Zone without the rogues.

    The Dark Zone is still the most interesting part of the game, unless you just want to watch your numbers go up and min-max.

  15. nomadjosh says:

    I live in NYC and it’s definitely a gritty City, but the dystopian reality this game captures somehow doesn’t seem so far-fetched. While the city isn’t 100% accurate and misses some of my favorite spots, it captures the essence so impressively that it’s not a bother. I’ve actually walked through the subways IRL and had flashbacks to the games’ craziness…

    This is one of my favorite games and it’s right up there with Skyrim. If it had better interactions, better physics and more territory to explore it would be gold. Other than that it’s a solid experience and I shamelessly recommend it to all my fellow city dwellers.

  16. Whelp says:

    Call me a libtard cuck if you wish, but I just can’t bring myself to play this.
    You basically play as a government-sanctioned black-ops murdersquad guy gunning down civilians all day long.

    That’s just not my kind of power fantasy. I’d rather play Wolfenstein II. Or anything else, really.

  17. whitemike says:

    No I haven’t played it and I don’t really want to. When I first heard about the setting, I was very happy to hear about that. It sounded amazing. I didn’t follow the new about it at all and when I heard it launched I looked it up again but was greatly disappointed that they made it a mmo. I prefer to play alone and not have to be bothered by others and also to work at my own pace. I was greatly saddened and now this game is basically dead to me.

  18. basszje says:

    I enjoyed the free weekend they had some time back, so I was looking to get back into this.

    Unfortunately this is Ubi’s shameful policy for anything too east of Paris :

    ‘ Notice: Purchases made in this region will only receive the Russian language. ‘

    I don’t speak that. Ironically only the games they give away for free come in English sometimes.

  19. michelangelo says:

    Oh, I did. It is a dumb beauty. Game wise wonderful walking sim with retarded shooter diablo dark side to it.

    I want to play Deus Ex (2000) kind of game in such place. No tiring shooter focused on the rainbow in an inventory.

    • Mungrul says:

      That’s definitely something I can get behind, even though I’m currently massively enjoying the game (sometimes, loot’n’shoot is all the old lizard brain needs).

      I think there’s definitely some potential out there for a journalistic article discussing the recycling of some of these beautiful virtual worlds being created, and slotting different gameplay mechanisms into them. It’s a crying shame that some of these things will never be host to more than Skinner box gameplay.

      One game-world in particular that I found massively interesting to explore, but at the same time was frustrated by having that exploration curtailed by gamified MMO rules, was the Age of Conan one. It’s a glorious realisation of stories I’d grown up reading, begging to be used for an epic open-world, single-player game. And yet, it was crippled by respawning mob cycles, no gameplay beyond combat and the presence of other players.

      • michelangelo says:

        I revisited it once there was some kind of a couple of days long free period and “lizard brain off” didn’t work at all. Controls and the shooting are the reason since from me the game requires getting used to it, realistically meaning, that for a not short time, I am horrible in shooting and frustrated from missing the sponges. Revisited very briefly (downloading was longer than playing). Also, that version felt like lower graphics has been implemented over the time. Maybe you sense something fishy about it? Well, yeah, been doing it all with a gamepad connected to the console. Mea Culpa!

  20. Zhiroc says:

    I played both the beta and the retail a while ago, and was fairly bored. While the graphics were detailed and fairly realistic, the environment itself is drab and monotonous. The bullet-sponginess of regular mobs was extremely annoying–you’d think some guy charging straight at you with a baseball bat (only) in the open would be dead meat in 1 second to someone with automatic weapons, but no. Plus, the story was depressing (and frankly perhaps a little too possible) as well as not having much in the opening parts to really engage me. And finally, as someone who refuses all PvP, having the DZs be a big part of the gearing process is a turn-off.

  21. mistery says:

    How come Destiny is this HUGE thing in the world like a singular benchmark in a genre of its own, but mention The Divisions and everyone just has a blank stare? I find them quite similar in execution, character stat mechanics, and grindiness focus. Both are high profile, known publisher dreadnaughts whre you are shooting at bulletsponges in an area, wait for the next wave to be spawned in, move to the next room to kill the boss bulletsponge that has more hp than regular bulletsponges, but is helped by regular bulletsponges, then move on to the next “mission”requiring you to rinse and repreat that process for a piece of equipment that will grant you +0.5% to a random stat. People are weird.