There are movements in games that you can track, sometimes deep into the history of gaming. For instance, the MOBA (Massively Online Battle Arena) is a game like Smite or League of Legends that traces its origins all the way back to a modification for Warcraft 3. Then there’s a game like Destiny which can trace its roots all the way back to Borderlands and Diablo. Diablo though? There’s no shooting in Diablo, but the basic concepts are the same. Kill enemies and complete quests to gain levels and find loot that will make you stronger. Even once you reach the max level the game continues as you find better and better weapons to multiply your powers to infinitum. World of Warcraft is another game like this. Or Guild Wars. Or Tom Clancy’s The Division.
If you’re familiar with Destiny, the first non-Halo shooter Bungie has ever released since gamers started caring about Bungie, you know that the focus is in building the level of your armour, and finding new weapons that give you a higher DPS (Damage Per Second). As soon as I took control of my character it was very quickly obvious that things were reasonably the same here. So trapped in the genre, is this game, that you’ll even see the numbers of your damage bounce off your enemies as you shoot them. But you won’t be shooting people right away. You start in a hub town where fighting is prohibited and you can meet up with other players as well as buy/sell at vendors and pick up missions. There are other peaceful hubs like this one, as well as unique instances just for you like your upgradeable home HQ where you could conceivably invite friends to see your sweet new additions.
Once you accept a mission the quest arrow (or line) will appear above your head, and it is in the HUD (Heads Up Display…this is getting exhaustive) that the game most immediately shines. It mimics a sort of not-so-futuristic augmented reality with important information appearing around the environment in just the right places. It all balances a comfortable line between believability and usefulness, and it is perhaps the most unique thing about the game. It feels as if you were wearing a pair of Google Glass or Microsoft Holo Lens in game. All the most important information like the ammo gauge are stuck close to your character so you can always keep your eyes on what’s important. It’s slick. It’s been well streamlined. Could potentially get a little busy at points, but that will remain to be seen. Once you arrive at the mission, I was impressed at how automatically it hooked me up with other players. I had expected to be stuck doing an instance solo, and yet before I knew it and with no urging from me I had compatriots helping me out.
The setting is another thing that really seems to set this game apart from others in the genre. Being based in downtown New York could be considered a limitation to some, but to others who love New York like myself, the attention to detail and the scale of it makes it only all the more appealing. I could not think of a better setting, and I look forward to fighting through the city streets and in their many landmarks. Looking up and seeing the buildings above your head. It’ll be almost like playing a pseudo MMO in a real world location using real world guns, and dressing in real world clothes. To some people, that might not sound as appealing as Destiny’s sci-fi setting. Others might prefer it to the bland generic style of Destiny and Dinklebot.
I didn’t like Destiny much. I wouldn’t say that my problem was necessarily with the games mechanics so much as the way in which the developers squeezed their fans for all their money with not enough value in return. It’s easy to see how fans of Destiny would find a lot that appeals to them in this ambitious shooter, but it’s also easy to see how people like myself who hated (Okay, didn’t particularly like) Destiny might still find value in this game. I for one personally appreciated the cover mechanic which makes a triumphant return to the Tom Clancy Franchise not since Rainbow Six Vegas. Whether the game will be good, only time will tell, as Tom Clancy’s The Division won’t be released until March 08, 2016.