IS TOM CLANCY'S THE DIVISION ACTUALLY GOOD NOW?
Have the promises finally been fulfilled?
by Felipe Parada
When Tom Clancy's The Division was released back in 2016 it was met with a lot of negative feedback from the community because of its repetitive gameplay and enemies that were bullet sponges. Many went as far as to that the game was a complete mess and for the first year, it kinda was. The game felt unfinished and broken and it failed at many of the promised that it made. Financially the game sold very well and was Ubisoft's most successful IP at the time of release. But what was presented on paper wasn't necessarily what we got and thus journey of The Division was underway.
I remember pouring hours upon hours into The Division waiting for the moment to get the best loot in the game but sadly that day never came. I played missions on Challenging difficulty, ventured into the broken Dark Zone and took on the overly unimpressive Incursions and came out unsatisfied. But somehow I found myself jumping back into the world and grinding along on my quest for the best gear. Patch after patch came and somehow I felt that the game, just like my character, wasn't making any progress and this began to bother me. Was Tom Clancy's The Division going down the same road as Bungie's Destiny that released just years prior?
Safe to say that we don't have to worry about that anymore because Tom Clancy's The Division is definitely a game worth playing now. It's a game that's a totally different experience compared to the game that fell flat on its face back in 2016. Many gamers abandoned this game early on with the notion that Tom Clancy's The Division was published by Ubisoft who, at the time, had a track record of making broken promises as well as broken games. The possibility of this game recovering was an afterthought, but that was Ubisoft 2 years ago. Ubisoft's constant dedication to fixing the mess that was Tom Clancy's The Division puts them on a list along side Hello Games and Digital Extremes. Fixing the biggest problems, both technical and in design, Tom Clancy's The Division now plays like the game that we originally wanted. It's still far from 100% but hearing a developer support a game 2 years after it's initial release is refreshing to the community who still supports this game when many have abandoned it.
The game actually starts to look more like the trailer showed back in 2015.
One of the most obvious issues that was addressed in this new patch was the visuals. Upon loading up the game after a long hiatus of trying to save Manhattan, I noticed that the game looked great and ran real smooth compared to its initial release. The game was plagued by texture pop-ins, poor draw distances and some objects would just appear out of nowhere. This time around, you rarely find any issues at all. Surprisingly I went around the map looking for issues to present themselves and at times I would catch myself just standing there watching the sun rise (How I love those sunrises). The snowfall looks as good as its ever has and the damage to the surrounding cars while bullets whiz by you keeps you engaged in the world at all times.
The visuals are just a small portion of the fixes presented in the new patch 1.80. One of the biggest, if not the worst design decision that Tom Clancy's The Division suffered from at launch was the fact that enemies were bullet sponges across the board. For a long while after its initial launch, there were these long stretches of time where the game wasn't fun and that was a big problem. The amount of time it would take you to kill a single enemy was terrible and it was only optimized for the small percentage of max level players. Massive Entertainment released a couple of charts trying to explain the concept of "Time to Kill" and how your gear increases and decreases that time but it all got a bit confusing. As far as long-term goals Massive did admit that "Time to Kill" data they acquired forced them to re-think how damage in combat is distributed. Now it has been adjusted slightly which makes for better moment to moment game play. I feel that it could be adjusted a little bit more but for the meantime it's still better than what we had previously.
The game actually starts to look more like the trailer showed back in 2015.
In addition to fixing the "Time to Kill" issue, a World Tier System was introduced which allowed you to choose your own difficulty and help slowly increase your gear score. You really have the sense of progressions and it is one of the best implementations of difficulty settings in any RPG. Instead of guessing the type of enemies you will encounter, the World Tier systems lets you know exactly what type of enemies and gear you will expect at each tier. You are also thrown a lot of reward caches just for playing the game which makes progress feel more natural as opposed to the previous reward system.
In addition to the fixes, patch 1.8 made a very necessary change to the dark zone that makes it playable this time around. Instead of worrying about players accidentally shooting you or purposefully running into the line of fire, players have to now manually turn on their rogue status. This is a much needed change because it give all the players ample of time to engage one another on a fair playing field. The dark zone now feels like a place where engaging one another is matter of skill, rather than a matter of being at the right place at the right time. And the best part? It is much harder to troll other players making it a godsend to casual players looking to get back into the dark zone. But if the dark zone is still not your thing, don't worry because there is plenty of other activities to do now whether they be PvP or PvE.
We were first given the Underground Expansion which was a more combat focused extension but the grind got to be a little too much. Then the focus was shifted to Survival which added a unrelenting and brutal need to - well survive. It finally ended with The Last Stand which pitted you up against ruthless enemies that wouldn't give up. They were all great additions in their own right and added so much to the game. Now we are given an expansion that adds the West Side Piers which runs from about 46th st to 60th. So as you can see the game has evolved immensely and the addition of the West Side Piers adds a sizable chuck of real estate to an already large open world. It adds so much more variety not only in size but in narrative. There are more audio logs to hunt down which adds to the lore of fear and desperation.
With the added real estate comes two new modes, Resistance and Skirmish. Resistance is a horde-style game mode that has you the task of surviving against waves of enemies while unlocking more portions of the map. Whereas Skirmish mode is your standard 4 v 4 team Deathmatch with the goal of eliminating the other team. It doesn't sound like much but both additions are just what this game needed in order to get the hardcore players to make a return to the game. The problem I have now is choosing what activity to take part in. Global events are running a bit more frequently and offer some nice rewards so there is an incentive to take part in those events. In all honesty this is a problem The Division player want to have, I want to have options as to how I play my game and now Tom Clancy's The Division IS that game that we were hoping for back in 2016.
I always liked Tom Clancy's The Division when it initially released back in 2016 but I always felt that it was a bit off. After taking a long hiatus from grinding away its safe to say that this game is MUST PLAY for those looking for a reason to re-join the fight and take back Manhattan.
Did you return to Manhattan and re-instate yourself as an SHD Agent? Let us know in the comments below.