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Tom Clancy's The Division - Full Review

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Tom Clancy's The Division - Full Review

Post by atom0s » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:34 am

This is probably going to turn into a long post or even multiple posts. Mainly because there is a bit to cover with this game in terms of the goods and bads. I have had a few weeks to really play the game now and get a much better understanding of things, the full feel of the game, and the overall jist of the games community and fellow players. That said, it has really changed my opinion on the overall game in many ways. That is not to say all things are bad, but there is definitely a much bigger range of negative things than there are good currently.

To start, I'm going to break things into an older fashion review format where I'll cover specific topics of the game.

Audio
  • The Good
    • Language is not restricted or deemed 'kid friendly'.
    • Guns sound good and realistic.
    • The overall atmosphere feels right in terms of ambient noise and various chatter from the NPCs.
    I really enjoy the fact that this game does not hold back on language. (Within reason to avoid racism and such. Although they kind of imply it in other ways.) NPCs will often curse throughout the game, during missions, there are various things like 'fuck' and 'shit' being said and so on. This keeps the storyline fresh and more realistic. Think about it, if the plot of The Division happened in real life, would people be going around making sure to watch their language? No, not at all. It would be a total cluster fuck of a situation.

    The overall ambient noises of the world feel right. It puts you into the feel of what it would be like for New York to literally hault and be more or less deserted except for those stuck or left behind. Between those looking for what they can find to survive to those walking the streets looting and becoming their own law enforcement, it feels true.

    The Bad
    • NPCs such as the JTF often say the incorrect things such as identifying nearby enemies. (They will claim cleaners are near when there are none around.)
    • NPCs such as the JTF often say things they shouldn't. (They will claim there are enemies incoming but there is nothing around.)
    • Every single car seems to have a car alarm and shooting them makes it go off. Fighting on the street can lead to tons of annoying beeping.
    • In a lot of spots in the game, objects have the incorrect sound effect for being touched, moved, shot at, ran into, covered against, etc.
    There are so many times where I hear an npc shout out the wrong thing during a mission or just wandering the streets. The JTF are the biggest offenders of this where they seem to just randomly pick and choose which sound byte they play when they decide there are enemies around. The running joke a friend of mine and I have is 'Oh shit there's cleaners!' which the JTF say something similar all the time when there is either nothing at all around or a different mob type like Rikers. It's rather funny to hear them shout out something completely wrong.

    Another major annoying thing is that literally every car in the game seems to have an alarm on it regardless if the doors are ripped off / open already if you shoot the car it will set off the alarm. Fighting in the streets and often lead to a ton of car alarms going off at the same time being extremely annoying.

Controls
  • The Good
    • Movement feels great and fluid.
    • Aiming works well and has normal and expected features such as recoil, breathing movement, etc.
    • Default key bindings feel right and work well for the games features. (No reaching across the keyboard mid-combat to hit an important button.)
    • Interaction with the world and objects through a single button is fluid between each type of object. (Space for covering and other combat related movement, CTRL for ladders and jumping over/up things, F to interact with objects.)
    Like most FPS games, The Division handles movement and aiming fluidly. You feel like you have real control of what you are doing while running and moving. You can tuck and roll to avoid things like grenades and fire, you can cover behind pretty much anything for protection, and the various aiming for weapons feels natural and easy to pick up from other games.

    The various methods to interact with single buttons for specific types of interaction seems to work well. Such as using spacebar to cover as well as a method to roll when double tapped. (You can also double tap directional keys to roll if you turn that option on.) Once you are accustom to the key mapping within the first half hour of playing, the buttons feel perfectly setup for the games playstyle.

    The Bad
    • There are major bugs with skills depending on keys being pressed.
    • There are lockups with input after doing certain things. (Such as restocking your ammo.)
    • There are times where trying to cover for protection will randomly cause you to jump over a wall.
    • There are times where climbing a ladder or repelling a rope will cause you to automatically get off and then back onto the same object without pressing anything.
    • Parkour Mode is horrid.
    Skills can constantly bug out and land up getting you killed. Major offenders of this are skills that can be placed on the ground such as a heal effect or a support station. Depending on the situation, you can find yourself 'stuck' trying to place the heal circle on the ground and not being able to actually trigger it. To fix it you land up having to switch weapons and then attempt to do the heal again. That is a few seconds of wasted time because of the input glitching.

    Another annoying thing is when restocking your ammo, if you do not move after using the restock chest, you are basically unable to press anything because movement keys. You have to [at least] tap a movement key to do anything else like reload or switch weapons etc. This is pretty annoying to me since it happens often.

    Parkour Mode is nice at times but seems to be heavily untested and pretty much just a last minute afterthought to even have. And for some reason it only exists on PC and not on consoles. If you have Parkour Mode on there are so many random wtf moments you will run into such as running through a gate that has a top pipe going across it, instead of just running through the game, Parkour Mode will make you climb the gate and jump over it for no reason. Another big issue is that while Parkour Mode is activated, you will often find yourself automatically getting back onto ladders and repel lines due to being in 'fast-run' mode. (Via pressing shift on the default key mappings.) This can land up getting you killed easily.

Graphics

This is really where The Division shines..
  • The Good
    • The game, overall, looks amazing.
    • The models of objects and people all look realistic and have great detail. (With the exception of minor things.)
    • The various elements that can take place in the game all look great. (Fire, Snow, Water, Reflections, etc.)
    • The UI is perfect. I love the UI of this game.
    There is not much to say here, the game is just amazing looking. The graphics are done very well and really shows that the game was made in the current era.

    In terms of the UI, I'm in love and want every game to do similar in the future. The Division makes use of the environment to display various aspects of the UI instead of cluttering the screen space. Very little is shown on the screen full-time, more or less just enough. When picking up an item or similar, your inventory information is displayed on your backpack vs. taking up space on the screen elsewhere.

    The Bad
    • Shaders are poorly implemented.
    • Lighting has a ton of bugs.
    • Render states seem to be incorrectly handled.
    • Culling bugs are everywhere.
    As much as the game looks good, it does have its bugs. Lighting constantly flickers in various areas, causing insane bugs such as texture ripping and explosions. Shaders seem to have bad implementations during certain situations where things will turn completely black or become invisible. Render states and culling seem to be poorly handled causing things to disappear just by turning the camera different directions. This can become very annoying when things like grenade rings disappear or don't show up at all or fire is invisible.

    For me the graphics issues are not that bad. Some minor glitches here and there but for a friend of mine with an older card, the issues are game breaking and usually require a restart to fix.

Gameplay
  • The Good
    • Great story line of something that could easily happen in real life.
    • Progressive storyline with side quests to help fill other information in.
    • Randomized loot to keep things interesting while looking for better things.
    • Both PvE and PvP content to cater to both sides of the Player Versus gameplay.
    The story of The Division plays out well and is entirely believable. The idea of a virus being used as a form of terrorism is entirely possible and even sometimes a current concern in the world. As you progress through the missions you learn more and more about what happened, who was involved, and how the virus was 'altered' to become what it was when it was released in New York.

    Loot is randomized in a manner that makes progression based on luck which, in moderation, can be fun and enjoyable.

    The game offers content for both PvE and PvP players, however, the focus of endgame is currently PvP in the Dark Zone.

    The Bad
    • Storyline is completely on rails in terms of progression. You follow specific locations for the story. Can get kind of boring but the world if fully free roam between doing a mission.
    • Some missions feel rushed and lack details of what's going on and feel like they are missing information to the main plot.
    • Horrible loot tables making it near impossible to strategize a gear upgrade plan.
    • Horrible lack of currency in the game.
    • Crafting has become pretty much unenjoyable at all levels.
    • Extreme lack of content at launch, literally no end-game.
    • Extreme amounts of bugs and exploits.
    • PC lacks any anti-cheat all, PvP area is full of hackers.
    • The Dark Zone has absolutely no purpose in terms of how Ubi wanted it to be.
    While the story is realistic and well written, it definitely feels like you are being hand-held through the areas and told exactly what to do. It would be more interesting to see a bit more user-roaming progression on the story missions. Give an objective but not mark where it is. Let the user discover it and think about things vs. just looking for the orange marker.

    The first handful of missions felt polished and done well. They offered rich details into the plot of the game and helped develop the understanding of the base of operations and what your purpose as a player in the game was. Sadly, it felt as the missions went on, things were less and less well written and more rushed to be completed. Some missions felt like they skipped or removed entire parts of dialog that would have better explained the story. Some missions also felt rushed in the sense that things felt either out of place, or filler content to just feel like there is more than there is. (Such as exp buffers to ensure that the player hits level 30 after playing through the main content and has completed side missions and other optional content.)

    While randomized loot is great to some regard, in a game like The Division where there are focused locations to go to (the missions) to kill specific enemies over and over, there should be some sort of specific loot tables put in place to help ensure you are not wasting your time. While The Division does have loot tables to some degree, they still feel a bit too random to ever really get something you are looking for. Stat wise, there is no specific locations to farm certain stats or anything on gear so you are left to the 'RNG' gods to bestow luck upon you to get anything worthwhile.

    Currency is such a lacking thing in the game. This is something that is going to have to change for things to work. You can put 10+ hours into the game in a day and only get about 100-200k credits. This is barely enough to reforge stats on high-end gear more than once. The rewards for what you do come nowhere near what it costs to do anything that requires currency. For the first reroll of a stat on high-end gear, it costs around 70-100k. You get 16k for finishing a mission. That means you are going to have to do a mission at least 6-7 times to reroll your gear, once. After that the price to reroll continues to grow each time you roll the gear, increasing the requirement of missions to complete even more. There is no faster way to make money either other than selling every single piece of gear you pick up, but that hurts you in the long run because you are then not collecting crafting materials, which leads into the next issue..

    Crafting... This is something the game had going for it until the recent patches. They decided to absolutely wreck crafting making it near pointless to even bother with. The amount of materials needed to make anything has become just a complete waste of time to do. One item can take upwards of 22 high-end (yellow) materials, plus a secondary and sometimes third required material. Given that the game only gives 1 yellow per 30+ boss (named monster) in PvE, you are basically going to waste all day to craft 1 item just by doing missions. And even then, its luck based on what material you will get because the drop you get from the boss is not guaranteed to be what you are trying to get. Crafting used to be great and had full potential to be used. However, the changes they made to the material requirements have completely ruined it and caused most players to complain about it and stop crafting altogether.

    Content is a huge lacking thing in The Division. Especially if you are not interested in the Dark Zone. In terms of PvE, the content you have is:
    • Leveling (Missions, Encounters, Sidequests)
    • Collectables (Intel) [290ish collectible objects around the world.]
    • Repeating Missions (Hard Mode and Challenge Mode)
    • Falcon Lost Incursion
    • Crafting Material Collections
    There is an entire world map that is completely unused once you hit the level cap. You could go out and collect materials for crafting, or you could just go do missions and deconstruct items instead. There is no point to ever actually go out in the world once you have completed all the missions and collected all the intel. You can fast travel everywhere, there is no threats in the world once you hit level cap, bosses don't respawn on the map anymore. There is so much that can be done, but there is nothing currently.

    In the most recent updates they added a few daily and weekly objectives but they are nothing more than doing the daily missions which take less than about 10 minutes to complete. Dailies as a whole take less than an hour to finish depending on the group(s) you make (if any) for the challenge mission. The weekly objective is pretty boring and takes no more than 30 minutes to finish depending on what mission you repeat. That's 30 minutes of time for something that is limited to a once a week timer.

    Cheating and exploiting are EXTREMELY rampant in this game. Every few days a brand new exploit is discovered and abused to death by the majority of the player base. The game has gotten to a stage where new players are forced to cheat in order to get on an even playing field with anyone that has played since launch. The new Incursion was just released last week. Within an hour of being live, people figured out how to kill it without getting touched / shot at. They also figured out how to exploit the loot drops to obtain multiple 200+ gear score items. The game went down for a hotfix to patch that, and shortly after coming up people figured out two other methods of exploiting it again to keep getting gear easily without having to do the actual objective. Instead of taking the Incursion down, Ubi just let it go and has yet to fix anything. They claim they plan to punish the exploiters but that is going to be a horrible move on their behalf.

    As for cheats, on PC there is no anti-cheat at all. The game is packed with VMProtect, that is the only protection it has. Most things are client sided and extremely easy to abuse.
    There are tons of hackers in the Dark Zone just ruining the game and Ubi has done nothing for it.

    The Dark Zone has turned into a total team deathmatch. The purpose of the Rogue system has completely gone out the window and it literally serves as nothing more than an inconvenience for those that want to troll. The vision of the Dark Zone being a place to go for high-end gear with the chance of a player going Rogue to be a rebel and fight for your gear is not at all how it plays out now. Instead, you are almost guaranteed to die whenever you see another player. Brackets are done in a horrible manner in the sense that people are able to have 240 gear score and go down to the DZ01 area with newer players in the high-end bracket (gear score 161+) and just completely troll them. It is as if Ubi has never been on the internet in the last 10-20 years and understand what a troll is. If you give a troll the ability to ruin someone's experience, they are going to do it. Giving a cheesy plot to what the zone is "supposed to be" based on your opinion is not going to stop someone from being a total prick to other players.

Ubi / Massive
  • For what it's worth, Ubi and Massive have both been part of massively popular and successful franchises. However, when it comes to the MMO scene, it seems like they really underestimated things and are way out of their league. The game is so full of bugs and exploits and there is little being done to fix any of them. Ubi has shown their PR is terrible when it comes to addressing the problems. Let alone, they don't even use the official game site / forums to announce ANYTHING. Instead, they tell you to go on their Twitter to get information. What the fuck is the point of having a website for the game if you are not going to use it? Just take the site down then.. I can't stand social media and how its being used anymore by companies. If you are not going to post things on your official site/forums, then don't have them to begin with. I don't want to go track down your shitty social media links to scroll through endless garbage just to find 1 tiny bit of information that I'm looking for. Post it on your fucking forums / site.

    The game is riddled with bugs and exploits as mentioned above. Most of which would have been easily caught during an actual beta test instead of the short few day tests they held. There was literally no quality control done on the game to any actual degree. Instead, it feels like people just played like robots on rails being told what to do to play and test the game and never did anything on their own.

    The game has literally 0 anti-cheat. In a game with any type of player vs. player element, cheating is something that should have been expected. Not to mention cheats popped up immediately once the game hit testing. They had MONTHS of time to realise that their game was a target of hacking and that they should have implemented something. Even if it doesn't catch everyone immediately, something is better than nothing. Instead, the game is now full of hackers that have been reported tons of times that are still running around hacking and abusing the game. I understand that I'm a game hacker at heart and I enjoy hacking/exploiting games. However, I do have my personal preference in games I enjoy playing legit. FPS style games are ones I enjoy playing normal without hacking or cheating. I prefer to see an online game have an anti-cheat to help keep the enjoyability of a game high. When your game has nothing for cheaters and before it's even officially released its full of them, you know something needs to be done.

Should You Buy It...?

As it is now, no.

I would not recommend the game to anyone yet. Ubi / Massive needs to get off their asses and really get the game into a production state before its really going to do well. As it stands now, the game feels like an open beta test. With a number of problems and the total lack of updates and fixes, the game does not feel like its going to last. Some of the exploits being done right now are going to be major fixes and at times, it doesn't feel like Ubi and Massive have a clue on how to fix them.

Their approach to handling things is horrible as well. There has been a few updates that have fixed past exploits, and not a single person was punished. Thousands of pieces of gear were added into the game through exploits and hundreds of thousands of phoenix credits were obtained yet none of those players were punished. Now that the new content got exploited Ubi wants to cherry pick and punish those players. You can't punish one set of exploiters and not another. You are going to create a massive uproar of pissed off players that feel the need to exploit to even play. They more or less are putting the blame of their untested shitty raid on the players instead of themselves for not testing anything.
Derp~
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