It’s been almost a week since the launch of the Division and now that the initial server crashes have abated, I have finally had some time to sit down and get into the meat of the game. It’s one that was a LOOOONG time coming after years of delays (it was originally supposed to be a PS4 launch title afterall), and that I had some high hopes for and I am happy to say that so far it has completely delivered. It has a well thought-out open world, great gameplay, an interesting story, and a few outstanding ideas when it comes to online multiplayer. Although it does stand on it’s own legs due to these new ideas, and the fact that it is an MMO shooter, due to it’s numerous delays it launched in the shadow of Destiny, Bungie’s award winning FPS MMO that launched in 2014. Destiny has been very divisive among the gaming community, with most people very hot or cold with how they feel about the new franchise. There are still millions of people who are signing on to Destiny daily or at least weekly in order to grind up for the newest piece of gear, however there are just as many fans who ditched the title over the last two years, complaining of the lack of new content, grindy level progression, and uninspired campaign story.
Destiny does have some style though
After spending extensive hands-on time with both titles, I decided to give a break down of some key factors showing the difference between the two and to come up with a final verdict of which new age MMO is the better of the two.
Destiny- If destiny had one thing going for it right out of the gate, it was slick and flashy gameplay. Running, jumping, flying through the air, Bungie took the speed and the crisp gunplay of it’s earlier titles and put them to great use, giving the player a sense of speed and style that leads to some awesome gun battles. Unfortunately, other than the shooting, Destiny brings almost nothing else to the table. Once you get through the incredibly brief (and VERY unsatisfying story) you are going to be repeating the same gunfights over and over on varying degrees of difficulty, and they do start to really grind on you after awhile.
The Division- Unlike it’s space sci-fi counterpart, The Division is a little more grounded in it’s gunplay. Fights are more tactical and slow paced, with players relying more on cover and trading fire than just running and going through the angry horde. There is also a good mix of story missions, random encounters, and the Dark zone to keep gameplay fresher for longer. That’s not to say that things don’t get a little repetitive after awhile, but with the unpredictability of the Dark Zone you can be pretty much guaranteed that you are going to get a new experience every time.
Winner- The Division
Destiny- First off I will say that for the first 20 levels, Destiny is a very straight up MMO affair. Your get xp, grow a level, stats increase, and unlock a new skill. Rinse and repeat. Anyone familiar with a modern MMO should be very used to this process by now. However, once passing level 20 things get a little hazy. Leveling from that point forward is made up of getting higher “light level” gear. This really threw off some players for awhile, and still doesn’t have the most definitive guide to what was going to increase your level or not. I found myself putting on and taking off different pieces and just seeing what it did to my level without ever having a clear idea what was going to happen beforehand. They did attempt to work on this when the expansion was released, however it probably should have been a bit clearer to begin with. Destiny does have a interesting progression system for weapons, where some have VERY powerful talents that can only be released through using them for long periods of time. I will say it was quite satisfying to take a rare weapon that wasn’t all that special at the beginning and leveling it up to a badass death machine over a few weeks.
The Division- Once again, for the main game pretty standard. Kill things, level up. However, unlike other MMO’s your skills actually have nothing to do with your actual level, instead you unlock your skills by doing enough missions for a specific faction in your base to get resources and to upgrade that part of the facility. On top of this, there are actually two types of leveling you are doing throughout your playthrough, your regular level and your dark zone level. Dark zone level progression can only been done in the dark zone (duh) and is the only way to unlock the best items and weapons in the game.
Destiny- I’m not gonna lie, this one is going to be pretty subjective. The Destiny story sucked. The expansion’s have been pretty good, but the problem is is that they were just a little too late. It was like bringing out a decent desert when the main course was confusing and left you starving at the end, it’s nice but kind of missed the point. When I finished the last story mission on Destiny for the first time I remember looking at my buddy and asking the question “wait that was it? That was Destiny? Made by the same people who made Halo???” It’s pretty damn disappointing. They have great writers there at Bungie and had a ridiculous amount of time and funds to get the job done and yeah… they just didn’t. I am sure there were people out there who may have gotten something out of it, but if you take a quick look at the forums online one of the number one complaints since the release was just how weak and unfulfilling (not to mention kind of confusing) the main campaign of the game is.
The Division- Well I’m going to be honest, the game has only been out a week and I have been spending a TON of time in the Dark Zone and on random encounters so I am not as deep into the story with the Division as I was at this point when I played Destiny (again there is just alot more to do in the Division), but I can say that even just a week in I am much much more invested in the goings-on of quarantined New York than I ever was in the Destiny campaign. Terrorists, money, biological warfare, these are things that aren’t even original but they are something that anyone can get behind pretty quick. Now I can’t guarantee that it is going to last throughout the playthrough but for right now I am going to have to give the Division the preliminary win.
Winner: The Division (for now)
Destiny- Multiplayer is split into competitive (The Crucible) and dungeons (Vault of Glass, etc). The crucible is something that is overall done well, and one should expect nothing less from the group that brought us the incredible multiplayer experiences of the Halo universe. Fast. Really, REALLY fast is how I would sum it up. I have never quite been able to get in a rhythm in the Crucible and it comes down to the fact that I am just not that good at it yet. The dungeons on the other hand are very well thought out, and are a good balance between the brutal hardcore raids of many MMO’s out there, while still being accessible enough that the average player can take it down with some practice and a decent group. That being said there is no matchmaking or groupfinder aspect in Destiny, aka “if you don’t have friends playing you are shit outta luck kid” for most people wanting to take part in Raids. Unless you are using an outside website to find premade groups, you are pretty much on your own. It’s stupid. This day in age when so many MMO’s do groupfinding so well, it just seems lazy by the developers part. I genuinely wanted to give Destiny the win in this category, but with this kind of bullshit I just can’t. Not when something is flawed on such a basic level.
The Division- 4 Player co-op is something the Tom Clancy game’s do well, and the Division is no exception. The enemy scaling is good, and I have found that (especially in higher difficulties) if you don’t have at least a decent battle plan going into a big firefight you can find yourself overwhelmed in a hurry. Not only that, but I have rarely felt a tension like I have been lately in the Dark Zone when myself and my group are loaded down with loot and come upon another player group. Do we fight? Do we cooperate? Do we turn and go our separate ways? The fact that all communication can be heard by all of the players in the vicinity means that you have no way of scheming in the moment and are going to have to act and react as quick as you can. It’s a blast and even when I have been on the “oh shit there goes my loot” end of a shotgun, I have always thought the system was fair, real, and fun. Good job Ubisoft.
Winner: The Division
Well there you have it guys, that is my personal breakdown of the two recent shoot-em-up MMO’s that have been released in the last couple of years. Overall, it’s no question, The Division is just a superior product. Granted they also had 2 extra years development time and were able to see the feedback that people left for Destiny so it would kind of be a shame if they didn’t win. That being said, neither game is bad and I have put in my fair share of hours having a good time in Destiny, but I have a feeling especially now that I have my hands on The Division my days flying around outer space with my warlock are completely over. Now, back to the Dark Zone!
I’m sure that there are those out there who disagree with some of the above statements, if that’s you, let’s here your opinion in the comments!