Destiny has been a regular gaming destination for many players in the last year and a half, thanks in large part to slotting into a distinct genre that borrows liberally from shooters, MMOs, and open-world RPGs to create something new. Part of its lasting appeal is the social experience and character improvement options, helping to ensure that there’s always something to work on when you log in. Equally important, few if any other games on the market offer the same mix of activities.
That’s why we were excited to finally spend some extended time with The Division, the first game that seems to genuinely offer a similar suite of features to Destiny. After several hours exploring The Division, it’s clear that the comparison to Destiny is more than superficial. At the same time, several features set Ubisoft’s new shooter apart.
If you’re a Destiny player, here’s what familiar features you can expect to uncover, along with a few additional elements that make The Division an entirely different game.
A number of features in Destiny have rough analogs in The Division, as both games are shooting for a socially-engaged, shooting-focused experience in a loot-filled open world. Here are some of the notable connections.
While Destiny can be played solo, most fans would agree that the game is at its best when you log in with some friends at your side. That’s an experience that The Division is aiming to emulate, so that the social experience can reinforce the shooter gameplay.
Up to four players can team up in The Division, working together on story missions, random encounters in the game world, or as a unified front when entering the PvP-enabled Dark Zone. Like in Destiny, difficulty can be set at varying levels for any given mission. However, The Division adds a new layer by including handcrafted enemy layouts depending on the number of players who enter the mission.
Also just like in Destiny, missions and activities are rewarding for all players. You’re always earning currency that can help you improve your character.
Green, blue, purple, and gold are familiar colors to Destiny players – those loot colors communicate the relative quality of your loot drops. If you decide to dip your toes in The Division, you should feel right at home, as that established color coding communicates the same thing for weapons and armor in this ruined landscape of New York City.
That’s not the only thing about the loot system that will feel familiar. Drawing on the dynamic popularized in loot-focused titles like Diablo, The Division provides a broad array of pick-ups, some of which might match your playstyle, and others of which can be dismantled for use in other ways, or sold to fuel subsequent purchases.
Deconstructing items in The Division provides resources that can be used to craft other new items or upgrades. Just like in Destiny, your capabilities stem as much from smart gear and weapon selections as it does from leveling up the character.
Freeform Character Respecialization
The Division has no formal character classes, which is a fundamental difference we’ll talk about a little later. But just like in Destiny, The Division eschews hard and fast character builds, and instead encourages players to adjust their builds on the fly to meet the requirements of any given situation.
As you level up in The Division, you gain access to various perks and abilities. Some of these are actively deployed, like a seeker mine, while others are passive effects that improve your character’s general combat effectiveness. Knowing that players might jump in and play with any number of different player groups, it’s easy to hop in to your menu and change your focus.
At any one time, you have three active abilities, which map to the L1/LB and R1/RB buttons, as well as an eventual more powerful super ability that maps to both L1/LB and R1/RB pressed together. Sound familiar?
Both Destiny and The Division explore themes of a fallen civilization brought low at the height of its power. In both cases, the setting affords the developer an opportunity to provide familiar visual touchstones in the game world, but also communicate a sense of unease and danger by the nature of the destroyed buildings and scavenging enemies that move through the landscape.
Needless to say, The Division’s modern-day take on New York City stands apart from the fantastical sci-fi environments of Destiny, but both games embrace the aesthetic of a great civilization brought low, and to potent effect.
Public and Private Spaces
One of the features that set Destiny apart upon its release was the sense of seamless movement between public and private spaces, allowing players to feel like they’re a part of a larger population of players, but unlike in many traditional MMOs, instanced spaces provide a place for heroic engagement without the interference of others.
The Division is shooting for a similar experience. A central hub allows players to meet up in a designated social space, where they can see each other and even offer up silly emote actions to one another for laughs. From there, players fly solo or group up into smaller teams before heading out into danger.
Next Page: The numerous ways in which The Division sets itself apart from Bungie’s open world shooter