Is this your content roadmap, Ubisoft?
Division 2 released a month or two at this point in our video game history, and it got great reviews upon it’s launch. This comes off the dead horse that is the launch of Bioware’s latest game, Anthem. Neither game is the same in any element or form, but they came out so close together that I cannot help but make a brief comparison.
It goes without saying that Anthem tripped and fell face first directly into the proverbial wood chipper. Division 2 grew off the failure that Bioware and EA presented on their own behalf. Recently, Division released their first raid for the game, and Anthem is still gasping for air. With more content coming in The Division within the next few weeks (including a new specialization that includes a badass minigun), I have to take a step back and recognize that Ubisoft is slowly killing it’s own game with another game.
Ubisoft released the trailer and info about the latest Ghost Recon game sub-named Breakpoint. With a new chapter and franchise in the Ubisoft game library, Ghost Recon will bring more to the table than Wildlands did. Which I am not surprised by, because every sequel should improve with every iteration. *cough cough* Bungie *cough cough*
But it’s odd to see a game’s announcement and details improve on multiple titles outside of it’s franchise. Breakpoint seems to be a vast improvement on not just the Ghost Recon series, but The Division series as well. It makes me wonder why Ubisoft would cast a net this large, but it makes sense. Capture all the people that are either done with The Division 2, or bring back people to the experience that Wildlands provided.
The Division is a looter shooter game where you kill enemies and complete missions and hope that the reward is a really cool weapon. You do this until you get a weapon that has a gear score that enables you to take on harder and harder enemies. You are also given abilities to aide you in battle, such as automatic assault turrets and AI controlled drones that help with attacking enemies or healing you. There is a great cover system that also makes the game feel great. Multiplayer is also a great feature, allowing friends to drop in and out easily (mostly). But for a Ubisoft game with the “Tom Clancey” stamp on it, it seems to miss some notes, which oddly Ghost Recon (also Tom Clancey’s) seems to rectify. At least in my perspective when it comes to the basics of games with shooting mechanics.
Ghost Recon (GR) has always been a game about stealth. Go in, be quiet, and don’t get noticed. In Wildlands, the game relied on not just being stealthy, but punishing you if you aren’t careful enough. Bullets hit you, and they hit hard; knocking you on your ass in the blink of an eye. But before you even got into that position, you could have lied in prone, send up a drone into the air, and start to find enemies by controlling said drone. The fog of war that covers the area in red that can slowly be stripped away, and giving you the locations of several enemies awaiting your arrival.
With Breakpoint, you have the added introductions of raids that take place in a volcano. You have these sense of ridiculousness that breaks the realism of a game that basks in it’s serious tone. You have an enhanced weapons system, class system, damage system; it just seems like a whole lot of improvements are coming for the GR franchise that it makes me think about why I even play the Division.
I’ll just tell you this scenario and you tell me what sounds a bit better.
You see enemies in the distance, and they haven’t noticed you yet. You take our your drone, but it sits idly by, not doing anything until you send it in. It gains the attention of your enemies, they all know you are there and they are now looking for you. They find you resting behind the Denny’s dumpster, while not peeking out or having any visual cue that would give you away. You fight a wave or two of enemies that have the weapon accuracy of an Olympic shooter. From the back line you see enemies throwing and endless amount of Molotov cocktails directly on your face. You question how the enemies managed to recruit NFL quarterbacks. Eventually you die, because there is too much to manage and because enemies spawned behind you.
The other scenario:
You see enemies in the distance, and they haven’t noticed you yet. You want to get a good aerial view of the battlefield. So you send your drone up. You control said drone, and you can spot multiple enemies shooting the shit. They are marked with a red circle above their heads as you fly around attempting to find each one. Your battery starts to die, and your vision is disrupted because you went too far away. You don’t call the game out for that, because you know you can upgrade those elements later down the road. You then take your sniper rifle out, and you place your silencer on. You line up a shot, and the head of the enemy comes clean off with the satisfying feeling of pulling the trigger.
The body drops to the ground. You aim for another, and take another shot. Another one goes down like a sack of bricks. A third notices the bodies, and you get a warning that they are now looking for an active shooter. You move to get a better vantage point, but one of them sees you, and tries to take a shot at you. You get hit twice, but you’re still standing. You take another shot, but the other enemies are scurrying for cover. They know you are there. You take the silencer off, and see that the enemies are hiding behind some light cover. You aim for them as they think they are safe, but they are wrong. You take a shot and your gun is now louder, and everyone can pinpoint where you are. But you still kill the enemy. Eventually, you get a couple of shots off before you die from not paying better attention to where the enemies are.
The situations might be oddly similar between both of these events, but the execution of the scenario is vastly different between both of these situations. After all, it should be. GR and Division are two totally different types of games, why should they give you the same type of scenario? The problem doesn’t lie within the scenario, it lies in the mechanics and your ability to control the situation. GR presents a very realistic approach, and one that helps you stay in cover, warns you, and doesn’t put a large emphasis on if the enemy will drop the gun that you want. Also, you can lay prone, and scout the area properly, get one or two shots off without warning the entire base.
Being a specter in shooting games is incredibly important. Being able to sneak and make a plan of action is what shooting games should be about, especially with games that pride themselves on realistic aspects. Sure the stories might be a little disconnected to current geopolitical situations, but they are still mostly realistic. With that being said, I should be able to be stealthy in Division. I shouldn’t be punished for playing a certain way. There should be an emphasis on gun-play that shouldn’t be truncated by the level of an enemy and the gearscore of my .50 cal sniper rifle. If I found a weapon I like, I shouldn’t have to lose it in favor of a weapon I don’t like but has a higher score than the one I am using.
In so many aspects, GR looks like it could beat the Division when it comes to overall format and gameplay experiences. Why wouldn’t I want to play a game where I can crouch at my own free will and even lay prone? Why wouldn’t I want to play a game where I can truly modify my guns to make them feel how I want them to feel? Why wouldn’t I want to play a game that lets me decide how I want to fail in the end because bullets hurt a lot?
GR looks like the title that Division should have tried to be, but the game is held back by it’s developers who keep a list of key elements that defines The Division. The simple act of shooting a bad-guy in the head with a rifle, to have that guy fall to the floor, seems to be lost in The Division. If Ghost Recon is a Christopher Nolan film, Division is a Michael Bay production. That’s not a bad thing either.
With a dwindling player-base, I’m surprised to see Division continue with a paint by numbers content calendar. They hope that players come back and experience all that the game has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the game when I sunk a ton of hours into it, but why would I continue to play when a better experience is just around the corner? Ubisoft is trying to get everyone a seat at the table, but not everyone wants to dine.
This is Steve, signing off.
I always wanted to say that.