I want to give you loyal and fantastic readers a small journey through my personal experience with The Division. This is not a specific review of the new Survival mode, just be aware of that before proceeding. If you want to read my personal thoughts and opinions, please keep reading. I hope you do! [Opinion of Sean Gearhart]
When Tom Clancy’s The Division was first announced I was beyond excited for it. Even after its multiple delays my excitement was not diminished. A brand new open world Tom Clancy game with multiplayer. How could it be anything short of epic? Release day came and I was 100% in. I played it for days and weeks after its initial release, with friends and by myself. I dug into every aspect of it. I positively savored every tiny detail. The level of detail in the harsh, cold unforgiving environment. The detail of the weapons, the clothing and the character models. I fell in love with it. It felt alive. I adored it.
However, I reached max level very shortly and started running out of things to do. Then something happened that I had not expected to occur. I should have seen it coming but I really thought this game would be different. I wanted it to be different. The game started punishing me for not wanting to take part in the PvP Dark Zone activities. I felt forced into it. Reluctantly, I ventured in and found a very different kind of world. One that I wasn’t sure I liked, to be completely honest. So, I did what a lot of people were doing and formed a group of close friends for protection. We did alright in the beginning. Rarely did we have to deal with rogue agents and when we did we usually held our own. It was actually pretty fun as a group. Exploring and taking care of the DZ’s A.I. enemies.
Then, along came the updates. 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 and with them came endgame gear sets and a host of bugs, glitches and exploits. The game literally began forcing players to go rogue or pretty much get nothing of value. Ubisoft could not figure out the balance. The Dark Zone became a haven for cheaters, exploiters and just legitimately awful behavior from other players. It was stressful and downright frustrating. For our group it wasn’t fun and caused more anger than anything. We all pretty much stopped playing overnight and for months we never went back. The game was broken. The community in general knew it, the developers knew it and people stopped playing in droves.
Somewhere between update 1.3 and 1.4, Ubisoft came out and stated that they knew the game was broken and would be delaying all future DLC until they could get things right again. When I read this, I felt a tiny spark of hope that it might be worth venturing back into the game but the reception to update 1.4 still was pretty mixed so I waited. Along came update 1.5 and with it came the brand new Survival mode. Reluctantly, I ventured back in and I was thrilled with what I found.
At first glance it seemed that Ubisoft had finally taken full advantage of the entire amazing world outside the DZ. All the elements of the previous updates finally came together to produce a game that I could finally see to be a complete and worthwhile experience. I am happy to say that my first glance was spot on. It is finally a complete experience. I have thoroughly dug into the new Survival expansion and I have to say that I feel it is an excellent expansion. To the point, it could have been what the core game experience should have been in my opinion. Fighting for resources, battling the harsh elements of winter and choosing more often than not to distance yourself from the AI. A mode where one mistake will kill you and you have to start all over again.
In Survival the goal is to fend off an impending infection that will kill you in an hour. Find the antivirals and extract from the Dark Zone before the infection finally does kill you. More often than not, start to end, a game of Survival might last an hour. I have attempted about a dozen games of it and managed to extract once. It’s extremely rewarding and you can read more about my time with this mode later this week in my full review for it.
For now, I am happy to say that it would seem that Ubisoft have learned from their mistakes and have embraced that this is a game driven by loot drops. I have accrued so much high-end loot outside the DarkZone and through the Underground and Survival modes that the DarkZone has become what it should have been all along, totally optional. The Division loot engine is open for business and business is GOOD! Money is plentiful this time as well. It’s all working wonderfully!
If you have been looking for an excuse to try The Division again, trust me friends, this new update and Survival are perfect excuses to get back into this awesome world! Hope to see you all in New York very soon!
[Words by Sean Gearhart]