When Destiny first launched, it wasn’t clear anyone really knew what it was. Not players, not critics. Not even Bungie. It was sort of like Halo, their last game, with tight FPS shooting, a story campaign and deathmatch multiplayer. It was sort of like Borderlands, with sprawling “zones” and an endless supply of RPG-randomized weapons. But it was different than either of those things. It was an FPS, an MMO, an RPG. It was something that combined all of those into a game genre that didn’t really exist before.
But it does now, and soon, given the success of Destiny to date, it might start having actual competition.
To this point, Destiny has stood alone in this new niche it’s carved out for itself. Shooters have always been a fairly linear experience. Either you have one that’s entirely open world, your Fallouts and Far Crys, or you have ones where there’s a brick wall built between a script story campaign and traditional multiplayer, your Call of Dutys and Halos. There’s another burgeoning trend that’s making many shooters only multiplayer-based (Battlefront, Rainbow Six, Titanfall, Evolve, Overwatch, etc.), yet it’s hard to deny that Destiny has created its own space in the genre without much to compare it to.
That might change with Ubisoft’s The Division, depending on how things go.
The Division just released a new trailer, which looks rather incredible, especially when compared to crappy leaked alpha footage that never should have seen the light of day in the first place over the past few weeks. In it, it reminds us that this is more or less precisely the same type of game as Destiny. A large world to explore with gear to find and upgrade, and allies to align with. It seems like it’s going to introduce some new concepts as well, including base-building, where you can clean up destroyed spaces to make a base of operations, and this shadowy “Dead Zone” where if you want, you can turn on your teammates and loot their corpses. Nothing like this exists in Destiny, but both make sense within the context of this world.
The Division has looked awesome since its debut eons ago, but it arrived in an age when everyone had learned not to trust Ubisoft’s trailers as indicative of the final product, so excitement seems to have dampened a bit in the wake of a myriad of delays.
The game now arrives on March 8th and many fans are getting hyped of it. And some say that finally, Destiny has a real competition. This genre of shooter, which really did not exist two years ago, has become a favorite by many gamers and many would like to play more titles using the concept. And if someone else is doing things better than Destiny, it can push Bungie to make their own game better, lest they lose their “king of the mountain” status to a newcomer.
Can The Division dethrone Destiny? Many doubt it, though it should theoretically be possible. But what some worried about with The Division has nothing to do with the game’s genre, nor how pretty it all looks. Rather, it’s all going to come down to the shooting itself.
People may forget that the reason Destiny works, at all, is because of how damn good gameplay feels, specifically the shooting. Bungie forever changed the game with Halo: Combat Evolved, and made fast-past first person shooting more fun than ever over the course of their series. It just felt right.
Many worried that with Bungie shifting to non-standard guns (ie. guns with variable stats) and ones that could finally ADS (aim down sights) that they’d lose their mojo in Destiny. They didn’t. Many would argue that shooting in Destiny feels better than any other title on the market, and combined with the double jump, grenade, melee and super components, Destiny is simply more fun to play than any other shooter out there, stripping away all the MMO and RPG and story elements. Headshotting a Fallen Dreg or Cabal Legionnaire is just as gratifying now as it was 10,000 kills ago. It all just…works.
This is the concern by many with The Division, whether that game will be able to do the same for “shooter feel” in third person mode, similar to what Bungie did for first person shooters in Destiny. We only have past Ubisoft shooters to go by, Splinter Cell and recently Watch Dogs, and this is where most are worried.
Where would you rank those Ubisoft shooters in the grand pantheon of third person shooter games? Critiques believed that it's below Gears of War, Uncharted, Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid, and hell, Sleeping Dogs for that matter. Some will put them above Mass Effect and the Grand Theft Auto series (not to mention GTA V’s auto-aim and abhorrent cover system), but still, that isn’t exactly a great spot to be in.
We hope that The Division has found some new breakthrough that is going to rocket their gunplay and gameplay into the top tier of these games. But if we have to guess, they spent a lot of time on the concept, gear, graphics and so on, and there may not have been all that many innovations poured into gameplay itself over past Ubisoft titles. But we are still hoping that we're wrong (fingers crossed).
The concept of The Division has a ton of potential. On its face, it’s Call of Duty meets Destiny meets The Walking Dead, which is a potential cocktail of greatness. If Destiny is Bungie’s “upgrade” to the Halo series, The Division could do the same with the near-future military shooter popularized by Call of Duty the last few years. We just hope it lives up to its promise, and we start to see this genre expand past Destiny alone. We won’t say there’s plenty of room, given how many hours players will sink into these individual games and how expensive they are to make, but there’s certainly enough space to accommodate at least one fresh competitor to Destiny.
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