Now that The Division has been out for a while, and players including myself have gotten plenty of time with the game, one thing has been stuck on my mind: The Division is the best bad loot game I’ve ever played.
Let me set one thing straight, The Division is not Destiny. It is not an “MMO light”, it does not have a traditional multiplayer, Incursions are not raids, you get the picture. One thing they do have in common is that they are both loot-based games. Considering Destiny is my best example of a loot game, I’ll be comparing the two specifically on loot.
When it comes to loot games there are a few things that need to be in place for me to truly enjoy the experience. The first is awesome looking loot. Games like Neverwinter, Warframe, and yes even The Division have lackluster looking loot at best. Where is my gold plated rocket launcher with a wolf embroiled in the side? Where is my alien crafted heavy pulse rifle? Where is my gun that shoots poison bullets, or one that regenerates health on kills, or one that automatically restocks ammo? Guns and armor in Destiny have personality, unique looks, and even more unique traits. They stand out from the traditional ho-hum AK-47.
The Division lacks this type of loot. The most tragic example is the gear. Once players reach the end-game, it’s all about Legendary and High End equipment. But one look at any player and you wouldn’t even be able to tell if they were wearing green or blue tiered gear. Masks, chests, gloves, and the rest of the lot barely change, if at all, the appearance of your character. The entire appearance of your character is based on the never ending supply of cosmetic clothing items. To make things worse, you can’t even inspect another player to see what cool gear they’ve amassed. Leading many gamers to share their characters on social media as the only outlet for showing off their progress.
The second most important aspect in any loot game is the trading system, or lack thereof. Destiny completely avoided the mechanic, while games like Neverwinter, Warframe, and even Borderlands all have ways of trading loot. Ubisoft has been on recording stating that loot trading will be included in the Incursions update. “Players in the same squad will be able to trade loot that’s collected during their co-op game session.” This implementation sounds like it will be a functional one that curves loopholes and exploits but only time will tell. My biggest issue with trading in loot games is that, if not handled properly, it can ruin the entire point of the game. Why should I keep playing the game if a friend can just gift me all of the best gear from the start? Or why should I grind for this gear if the person next to me can get it all in mere minutes? It ruins the entire gameplay loop.
The third biggest factor in a loot game is end-game level activities that require highly geared players to complete. In Destiny these were the raids. It was neigh impossible to beat the Vault of Glass for the first time if your squad of six wasn’t properly geared. The same goes for the newest raid Kings Fall. Activities such as Trails of Osiris, Hard Raid, and Challenge Mode are end-game activities that require you to have top level gear in order to compete. For me, these are the carrots on a stick that make me want to grind for better loot. Without them, what’s the motivation for getting the best gear? Friends of mine know that I’m not a collector, and that’s true in games and out. Collecting weapons and armor in loot games just for the sake of having them has never been my calling. I need a reason to collect them. I need difficult tasks which cannot be completed without them.
The Division has failed in this sense. Currently there are three aspects to the end-game in The Division: Dark Zone, Challenging difficulty, and daily missions. The Dark Zone is an interesting concept, but as far as an end-game activity it is clearly lacking. The max rank is 99 and the best loot requires level 50. Yet the gameplay doesn’t change from level 1 to level 99. The entire experience, aside from fighting higher level players, is the same the entire time. Sure, the best loot can be purchased once you hit 50, but then what do you do with that loot? Challenging difficulty missions is one option. Yet the first time I beat a challenging missions was when my character was at roughly 50k health and 50k DPS. Since then I’ve nearly doubled my DPS and have significantly higher health, but to what end? If I can beat what currently stands as the toughest end-game activity at 50k health and 50k DPS, what’s my motivation to get better?
— Magic (@MRBlackMagik) March 15, 2016
Of course, the Incursions are scheduled to release in April. This “raid like” activity that Destiny players are so fond of calling could possibly change everything. It could be the most difficult, the most rewarding, and the most demanding activity in the game. Highlighting over the placeholder activity on the map reveals a recommended Gear Score of 130. Who knows how good your loot will need to be to meet that requirement. My hope is that it’s a lot higher than 50k health and 50k DPS.
The Division is far from a bad game. It’s one of the best representations of New York I’ve ever played and features one of the most fun cover systems as well. The biggest mistake Ubisoft made was to compare and lure in Destiny players. From a business standpoint it makes sense, but in comparing the games there are a lot of differences as well. The Division strikes me as more of a typical ‘AAA’ title than a light MMO that is supported for multiple years. It’s hard to utter the title MMO when you can easily play a day of The Division and not see more than 10 people. I’ve seen more in a Battlefield match. As far as loot goes, I’m sticking to my claim: The Division is the best bad loot game I’ve ever played.
What are your thoughts on The Division? Do you enjoy the end-game and loot grind? Maybe I’m completely full of shit and have no idea what I’m talking about. Or maybe you agree! Sound off your opinions in the comments below!