The Division: Strangely Addicted But Not In Love

Let’s just get this out of the way. I am not an elite player of The Division. In fact, I’m pretty much totally clueless what the hell I am doing most of the time in the game. Mostly because I just haven’t bothered to actually take the time to study up on the mechanics and figure out the details. Why? Because I don’t really see the point. The Division just doesn’t inspire me to play hell for leather and climb the ranks to be first in line for every new and allegedly exciting adventure.

For me, The Division is currently the game I play when I’m taking a break from the games I am truly invested in. Thus, I’m constantly falling further behind my gaming buddies, who are running at maxed out levels with every perk and special piece of gear imaginable. At any time I might just quit for no reason. Still, I keep finding myself logging in just to run around the beautifully created post-apocalyptic world of New York, and get my ass handed to me in the Dark Zone repeatedly. There is something strangely addictive about The Division, even if I just can’t seem to fall in love with the game.

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The biggest reason I just don’t care to “git good” in The Division is that it just doesn’t excite me all that much. Yes, the landscape is gorgeous in it’s dirty, dark grimness. (Even more so with the Wasteland Grit – Futility Reshade Preset.) However, it consists of about a billion buildings that are just there to look pretty, with very, very few you can actually interact with. The bits of storyline are quite engaging, but they really just seem more of an afterthought than a main feature. The combat is fun and pretty hardcore if you challenge yourself, but quickly becomes repetitive and grindy after a few hours. The user interface and menus are clunky and drive me nuts, and I can’t even seem to give two craps about the crafting system.

And let’s not even talk about the insane bugs and glitches still happening…

What does keep me coming back is the little things. I love listening to the random phone recordings and watching the bits of surveillance footage found throughout the world. I wish they meant more and were a larger part of the game. Those tiny stories, which really are well done, keep me hunting for the next ones, even if I’m entirely sick of trying to figure out which damn way I should move six feet to locate that irritatingly ringing phone.

I also love being able to truly specialize in a weapon and get to know it and love it like a best friend. I was easily bored of pistols and machine guns, but when I got my hands on a sniper rifle, playing the game became a whole lot more fun. It’s a whole different style of game play and you have to be careful, precise, and smart about engaging large mobs of enemies. Especially playing solo. That is far more my kind of thing than just blasting away hundreds of bullets and throwing grenades at stuff ad nauseum.

It's a beautiful, but incredibly empty world.

It’s a beautiful, but incredibly empty world.

I also happen to be quite fond of the way the whole ‘matchmaking’ function works in the game. Because I’m not really crazy into The Division, I have no wish to join up with a group on a permanent or regular basis. Normally, in an MMO, I dive into a guild (Elder Scrolls Online) or a corporation (EVE Online) or whatever and really get into it. My fellow group members become my best mates, and we roam through and conquer the world together.

In The Division, I just don’t want to be tied down to a particular group or feel responsible to it. If I don’t feel like getting on at 8PM on Wednesday for a raid, I don’t have anyone that gives a shit but me. With the way the matchmaking system works, I can team up whenever I bloody well feel like it, with random strangers, and then dump them as soon as I am through with them. Every MMO should have exactly this function for loners who just want to play solo until they have no choice not to.

I may still have no idea what I’m doing half the time in The Division. The game may not stay active in my roster for all that long, unless Ubisoft starts giving me reasons to enjoy it more. For now, however, when I just need a break to play something purely for stress relief and brain candy, The Division does the job. I can play with others when I want, or not as I choose. There are streets galore to wander down and run into random encounters, or I can jump into the Dark Zone and try not to die ten times in ten minutes. For some reason, when I think of The Division, I just want to say with a moderate tone of affection toward a farm pet I might eat later, “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.”

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