This is going to be a needlessly inflammatory blog post, or at the very least the title is. Since The Division was announced back in E3 2013, there has been an immediate and constant comparison between it and Destiny. This speaks more to the problem of the games industry and games media being unable to talk about games without comparing them to something else that at least on the surface looks like it. Hell I am super guilty of this myself, because I am constantly tying games back to World of Warcraft or League of Legends or any of the other “progenitor” games of certain functionalities and features. If you have read my blog for very long you are going to know that I am a huge fan of Destiny, and that I have leaped so much praise upon Bungie for fixing the game in pretty much every possible area with the launch of The Taken King. If you have also read my blog within the last few months you will know that I also enjoyed my time spent playing The Division in beta. Now having played both games… I can tell you that they are very different experiences. That said however… if media continues to link these games then I will too for the purpose of this article.
Let’s Talk Destiny
The problem is that we the gamers and we the enthusiast media always want to declare a winner at something. So this morning I am going to talk about The Division and Destiny and go into why which game will do better. First however I am going to talk about Destiny for a bit and delve into what makes that game enjoyable for me personally. It is a member of an imagined genre that people seem to be calling the “Loot Shooter” which I guess includes the Borderlands family or pretty much anything where you pick up Diablo style loot while going through the world? The coining of this genre seems completely nonsensical but I will go with it for the time being. The important part of that statement is “Shooter” because Destiny at its very core is a shooter. It’s mechanics include the same sort of run and gun game play that we have experienced since Doom. This time however there is a RPG layer lumped onto it as you level your character, learn new abilities and acquire loot upgrades that strengthen your damage and survival. So if I were going to describe the game to someone else… I would do so as a Shooter with RPG elements… and lives in the vague MMOFPS genre.
As much as I love this game… I have had to realize that it is not for everyone. Regardless of how cool I think it is, or how great the moment to moment game play feels… if you are not a fan of shooters you will not be a fan of Destiny. More so than that it requires you to have a certain level of reactive game play to be able to function in it. Mobs come rushing at you and you need to be able to run and dodge and focus in on things while moving. It is a game that rewards precision shots, which means not only focusing in on the target but drawing a bead on whatever weak spot that unit has. Essentially if you do not have a certain level of FPS skills going into the game… or are at least familiar with that sort of movement… you are probably going to struggle and find it a generally “un-fun” experience. Sure you can get better, and the patrol zones are a great low pressure way of wandering around and killing things to hone those skills. However if you have a mental block against shooters then Destiny is not going to be the game for you.
Let’s Talk Division
I admit when I first fired up The Division I was expecting the same sort of game experience that I had playing Destiny. I expected to dodge and weave in and out of cover and charge gun nest to take out the bad guys. This sort of game play… will absolutely get you killed, and it did me quickly. I had to adjust to playing a cover based shooter and taking my time… lining up my shots, and forcing the mobs to come to me rather than charging up on them. Basically I had to slow down my pace and take the game at much more tactical level… and once I made the adjustment I loved it. So while I called Destiny a Shooter with RPG elements…. The Division is the polar opposite… a RPG with Shooter elements. The core of the game play reminds me at times of doing missions in Mass Effect 2 and 3, where you had to draw out the enemies from cover and then strike at the right moment for the largest effect. You can use things like grenades to draw the bad guys out into the open, or my personal favorite the Riot shield which allows me to get up close and personal with moving cover.
My fear however is that for many people they still see this game in the same broad genre as Call of Duty, when in truth it requires a completely different set of skills. Sure you are still aiming down the sight of a weapon and drawing a bead on mobs with a target reticle, but the pace is slowed down to the point where you can call your shots much easier and make them far more effective. There is still game play that rewards movement and a little bit of run and gun, but the vast majority is RPG Shooter where you wait things out from the safety of cover. This also leads itself to creating new kinds of team based game play where someone can really hang back and buff the team, instead of being in the front line vanguard. Essentially I feel like there is more room for different types of game play in Division, which will come in later as I wrap up my comments in the below section. For the longest time I thought the lack of “space guns” would be a nail in the coffin for me… but really the amount of customizing that I could do with the weapon attachments kept me happy and engaged even though the weapons themselves were “normal” and didn’t shoot pulses of plasma or anything cool like that.
Secrets of Success
So now comes the time where I start to wrap things up… and I am trying to set aside the fanboy in me for both of these games. Thing is while the launch of Division is impending and I plan on playing the hell out of it… there is always going to be room in my life for Destiny. The game play there just feels so damned good, and my ability to drop in for a few minutes and feel like I did something… is a huge bonus for me. Especially now that I have the ability to remote play to my laptop, I can pop in and do some bounties any time the mood hits me. However when talking about the success of a game I realize I am not exactly the Bellwether… pun intended. If World of Warcraft has shown us anything, the game that has the most modes of play… and that serves the most different kinds of players tends to win in the end. This is why I declared in my super hyperbolic title that “Division Wins”. Destiny is an amazing shooter, but at the end of the day it requires you to also be pretty good at playing said shooters to really reach the point where things feel enjoyable. The controls are so great, but you have to have played a lot of shitty shooters to really be able to appreciate them.
Division on the other hand really appeals to both the shooter players, but also the RPG players that are used to a much slower pace. I feel like anyone who has played Mass Effect 2/3 or even someone with roots in a game like Knights of the Old Republic might feel just fine playing this game. The fundamentals are the same… find a place of cover and attack from it until you whittle down the numbers of whatever is attacking you. There is also a heavy exploration aspect to this game that would appeal to folks that enjoy the trappings of a Dragon Age game, or someone who loves the Fallout and Elder Scrolls style of open world games. There is so much loot off the beaten path that I spent hours just wandering back alleyways and delving abandoned buildings. What I am painting as a picture as a picture here is that there is a broad range of types of players that I think would enjoy The Division experience, and that is not a statement I can really say for Destiny. You either like really tight shooters or you don’t and no amount of RPG aspect to the game is going to keep you there if you cannot stand run and gun. Ultimately I think Division will be a larger success because they are ultimately targeting several different potential audiences. In the meantime I am just hyped and ready to start…. but also hyped for Destiny because it seems like I might just have an in for a raid group!