Well ‘The Division’ launched on Tuesday, you may have heard of it. It seems that the entire gaming world has been playing it, and have been since Tuesday…
…every one except Luvva! Thanks to the good folk at Amazon who decided that my preorder of the gold edition and my purchase of “guaranteed release day delivery” (at £3.95) was just not enough to get me my copy before midday Wednesday!
I know, I know, one day! That’s hardly the end of the world and you are absolutely correct, it isn’t – but Wednesdays are also my busiest day of the week! I work from 9am to about 10pm so that means that my first chance to play was 10:30pm!
After a hugely effective opening cinematic the game plunges you into the world and asks you to create your own character. This process is quick, easy and woefully underwhelming – this is not a very powerful or diverse editor as there are very little variations in most areas. I’m not asking for something as powerful as a create-a-wrestler but I would like more powerful customisation options in order to create a unique character or even one that looks like me! At the minute my avatar looks like a white Drake!
Before I go into my own personal experience of the game I just want to say how impressed I am with the launch overall. Ubisoft deserves an immense amount of credit for delivering an online only game without a mass-scale server collapse. Unheard of these days, so kudos Ubi!
However it wasn’t perfect…
…my first hour of game-play was spent in a room, trying to access a laptop in order to activate my agent – in a queue. I’m sure you’ve all seen the images flying around the internet about this but it was very real!
There seemed to be an issue with activation of agents, at the time I thought it was a bug with the code because no-one’s agent was activating. There were roughly 20 people in my room taking turns to hammer the laptop. It was frustrating and annoying that I was unable to quite literally start my game and; after 1 hour of trying, I called it a night. Bitterly disappointed in the game.
Thursday morning I got an email informing me that my agent has been activated – so it was obviously a server overload issue. It got me thinking about this design decision and why it even existed. I’ve come to the conclusion that this had something to do (perhaps a setting up exercise perhaps?) with the companion app that was announced alongside the game but was later cancelled.
Thankfully though the issue has been dealt with and everyone is able to start their adventure pretty much instantly.
***SPOILER ALERT – DO NOT PASS THIS POINT IF YOU DON’T WANT MINOR SPOILERS ABOUT THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF GAMEPLAY***
The game kick-starts with a Hollywood style cinematic that really sets the scene the game and almost seamlessly you are dropped into the game world; in an area that had not been shown before, Brooklyn! This area is a great showcase for the games beautiful graphical engine; this is one hell of a good-looking game. As I said in my BETA thoughts (here & here) there are so many little graphical flourishes that really make this seem like a living breathing city. From the lighting to the weather – everything here looks stunning – forget the downgrade talk and enjoy this visual feast. For me, this is the meter stick for all games.
Brooklyn serves as the game’s starter zone/tutorial and it is excellent! You learn the ropes by doing mini missions (regaining supplies for a base) and it culminates in an assault on a police station in order to regain control of the district. This is basically your first taste of how the story missions will play out in ‘The Division’ and it is very good. On top of all this there are several opportunities to learn how to group up and work with other players – basically this is a brilliant setup for the game and it concludes with you travelling to Manhattan. And the game proper – as a fresh level 4.
Once you get into Manhattan it is basically the BETA – you have to rescue critical characters in order to make your base of operations operational and begin your career as an agent. There is nothing new in these missions at all, they are exactly as they appeared in the BETA – what is new though is that you are now completely free to ignore them and go explore the whole of the lower-side Manhattan and participate in side missions with friends (of any level, there doesn’t seem to be any invisible barriers to playing with friends here). If you have no friends fear not, everything has matchmaking – none of that pesky “you need to be friends” here; thank you very much ‘Destiny’!
The world map is also a very generous size, it looks small but it is not, it feels huge and it is teaming with things to do! From random NPCs who need supplies and roving gangs looking for a fight you will seldom walk for long without something to do! I had an amazing time taking on Cleaners in a side mission rated Lvl 7 with friends, it was intense, difficult and required some truly tactical gameplay to overcome! When we succeeded we all let out a whoop and congratulated each other on a job well done!
The multiplayer really allows this game to come alive, you can tell it was built from the ground up to cater to groups and it is liberating! So gang up and take on the whole of New York, one district at a time!
The map is cordoned and separated by invisible level barriers, and although these won’t stop you from entering them the game makes it clear that it is a bad idea. The first DZ level recommendation is 10-12 for example although you are free to enter from any level. I haven’t friends told me it was suicide, that’s the word around the net too!
Overall I have done some missions, played with friends, explored some new areas of the map and completed some story and side missions. ‘The Division’ is a lot of fun and I can fully see myself getting addicted to its cycle of run, gun, loot and improve!
I have loved my time so far (except that god damn wait to activate) and I look forward to spending tens of hours in New York and I hope to see many of you there!
Guys, lets take back our city!
Are you playing ‘The Division’ what are your thoughts on it so far?
Why not leave your PSN ID and we can take back the city together!