Welcome back to Part 2 of The Division or Destiny. Yesterday we discussed how The Division’s story, combat, and multiplayer stood up against Destiny’s. While The Division’s setting in Midtown Manhattan sparked more intrigue and delivered a clearer narrative than Destiny’s pegboard plot, Bungie’s combat and multiplayer edged out what The Division had to offer. For more details on our comparison, check out Part 1.
Today, we’re gonna reach our final verdict and determine who’s launch was more successful between The Division and Destiny in Part 2 of our feature.
The Division’s loot facilitates a respectable numbers game, giving you that fix you know all too well from games like Diablo and Borderlands. DPS, Rounds per Minute, and Damage Per Second are just a few of the statistics players will track in their weapons alone. There’s a lot to decipher here: does the higher DPS on one gun outweigh the RPM on the other? I myself have stuck with a marksman rifle that’s notably weaker than other’s I’ve come across, however its 1:1 trigger firing rate gives the edge in a shorter space of time in a gunfight. Minor sacrifices like this can leave you less wanting when outfitting your weapons with mods. Weapon mods are as simple and straight forward as they are in any modern day shooter: just pick from your assortment of scopes, muzzles, mags, etc, and play with the numbers until you reach a more optimal performance.
Gear, on the other hand, presents completely different cases of decisional balancing when equipping your agent, and arguably offers the player more agency of what type of character they want to outfit. As we said in our review, each piece of gear comes with different Primary DPS (read: Strength), Health, and Skill Power stats, all in which are separate from the base armor level itself. These numbers also give you access to weapon talents (special buffs for each gun) depending how much you’ve dedicated to one area. You can either be a Division Agent with a high damage output, one with a lot of hit points, or one that only relies on defense by strictly considering your gear’s armor. Between your weapons and gear, all these sub stats are important, which makes crafting so frustrating.
Loot crafting may seem like a viable alternative to simply selling your junk at first. Even after 70+ hours, I still feel that deconstructing unwanted weapons for weapon parts is infinitely more valuable than cashing them in. However doing the same for armor, weapon mods and gear mods is a far bigger gamble, and at times, just a plain rip off. When crafting weapons, the crafting table displays DMG, RPM, and mag size, while keeping talents hidden. There’s enough information here to make an informed decision, especially knowing that other weapon status such as Accuracy, Reload speed, Stability, etc (all in which aren’t displayed either), can be augmented by weapon mods.
Gear, on the other hand, withholds nearly all the information needed to determine if it’s worth sacrificing precious crafting materials for them. Everything that you’ll want to know about new gear (the aforementioned Primary DPS, Health, and Skill Power stats) won’t be revealed until after the gear is crafted. Similar issues arise with weapon and armor mods, none of which give any real indication as to what you’re crafting until you’ve already dissolved your materials. This is somewhat alleviated thanks to the Recalibration Station, a work bench that allows you to re-roll your loot stats at a cost.
Loot drops in games such as Diablo and Borderlands deliver a seesawing assortment of items. Between 30-40% of dropped gear is fair, 10-20% is really good, and the rest is garbage. It’s no different in The Division, however the percentages are tweaked in the Dark Zone. The Dark Zone lends a promise for the best loot in the game, and they thankfully own up to it. I’ve found myself at least equipping one to two items I’ve extracted from the Dark Zone after every trip, which I’ve found to be far more rewarding than any loot based game in recent memory. This is thanks to the high stakes players are up against just getting one piece of gear out of the quarantined area.
If you don’t have the wherewithal to put up with the Dark Zone (and who could blame you), There’s other opportunities to get better loot – just know that in doing so, you’ll miss out on accessing Dark Zone vendors that primarily sell Superior and High End loot. Daily missions in the post-game consistently reward Phoenix Credits in which you can save up towards purchasing High End Gear. You also have the Advance Weaponry Vendor that you can use regular credits to purchase rare guns. There’s a clear and reliable path to better loot in The Division, which is something Destiny couldn’t even pretend to claim within its first month.
How Destiny Stacks Up
Destiny’s story may have been a dismal flop, but Bungie’s blatantly exploitative, Skinner Box methods surrounding its loot drops were nearly criminal. There were a myriad of reasons why Destiny was so vehemently divisive, and ultimately why I abandoned the game completely:
- Endgrams frequently unlocked loot that was a tier lower than its initial color rarity
- Loot drops in Strike missions and Crucible matches seemingly relied in broken logic, and in no way correlated with enemy/boss type or player performance.
- Light level was a clear time wall that required players to change their armor in order to level up past 20.
- The economy was a complete shit show which only awarded a limited amount of Crucible Marks and other Vanguard Marks currencies daily, in addition to requiring players to build a “reputation” with certain vendors before you can even purchase a single item.
- Weapon leveling was barred behind progressive grinding which required farming for rare items, eventually leading to permanent upgrades.
While The Division’s crafting at times evokes some of the same frustration as getting a green piece of gear from a blue endgram, the game’s loot system is leagues more respectful of the player’s time than Destiny ever even considered soon after launch. The only aspect in which Destiny edges out The Division is in loot aesthetic and design. It’s cool outfitting your Guardian with a helmet that shoots white hot jets out of its horns, or when your complete armor set make you look like the White Ranger with a cape. Guns are also infinitely more interesting with pretty lights, cool ass sights, and slick looking weapons models. The Division’s gear has no aesthetical flare. It’s just a better AK-47 that does more DPS, and a puff jacket that has no influence on my character stats what so ever.
Winner: The Division
The Division rarely ever pushes the player away with a steady and consistent path to better loot, despite its real-world dullness.
There’s a weird saying in persistent online games: “The real game begins after the story is done.” This is almost never true.
Like many other titles of the same ilk, The Division’s meat and potatoes is mostly packed in the level 1 to 28 range, where the players benefit from the diversity of story missions and instantly gratifying jumps in level progression and character upgrading. The endgame usually feels like a content brick wall (or Styrofoam wall if you will), where the gameplay loop consists of repeating the same missions on various difficulties to continue the slow grind towards building up a more powerful character. The Division follows that very practice to a tee, only assigning Daily Missions that do nothing more than assign endgame rewards to old missions that demand pumping more bullets into enemies and staying behind cover longer in order to avoid being shot dead in an instant.
The Division’s endgame also extends into the Dark Zone, which players will absolutely have to appreciate in order to gain anything past the level 30 cap. The sense of progression is scaled differently here, as it is defined by how well you can fair up against enemies in the increasingly difficult Dark Zone sectors. I’ve just recently gotten comfortable roaming around DZ04 alone, and my goal is to spec my character high enough so that I can walk into DZ06 with confidence. This may read as chasing the rainbow, and it is to a certain degree. However the DZ sectors only throw tougher and tougher versions of the same enemies you’ve fought for the past 60 hours.
In the end, you’ll familiarize yourself with Phoenix Credits and Dark Zone Credits, High End gear and High End Blueprints, and you’ll do what you can to meet the invisible qualifications for the upcoming Incursions. The Division is an honest loot game in comparison to Destiny, but in the end, that transparency simply indicates to you the game’s lack of content much, much sooner.
How Destiny Stacks Up
Of all of the ways in which Bungie manipulated the player to prolong their stay within Destiny, the way in which they designed their endgame was probably among the smartest. Where both the Daily Missions and the Dark Zone have to be embraced in order to develop some form of appreciation for The Division’s endgame, Destiny’s PvP and PvE content stood well on their own.
The Crucible, again, was built on the excellent competitive foundation that Bungie has already established. This alone had kept me playing Destiny for over a dozen hours before I burnt out on the game completely. The loot gains, as shitty as they were, dug their hooks in me, incentivizing me to play match after match hoping for better gear. The PvE, on the flip side, was similar to what The Division’s Dailies are today, except they benefited more from the daily challenges called Bounties. Bounties worked like in-game achievements, tasking the player to interact with the game in various ways to gain rewards. Bounties existed in the Crucible as well, however they were much more approachable in Strike missions where you we’re not at the mercy of some bloodthirsty maniac trying to drop a Fist of Havoc on your head.
Overall, there was a randomization and spontaneity in Destiny’s endgame which did a better job of tricking the player into thinking there was more content than actually was available.
Destiny’s endgame diversified the activities assigned to the player in all of its content, whereas The Division suffers from carbon copy Dailies, leaving only the Dark Zone to preserve what’s left after the level cap.
And there you have it. Based on these five game features, Destiny comes out on top as the winner between its launch and The Division’s. This comparison is merely categorical, as some players may have gotten hooked on the amount of check-boxy busy work of Destiny, while others such as myself absolutely despised it. I appreciate The Division’s transparency and mindfulness of my time which is why I’d give the personal nod to The Division. Unfortunately its endgame, multiplayer, and combat thus far don’t measure up to what Destiny accomplished within its first month, making it the inferior of the two in my balanced opinion.
Destiny has undoubtedly gotten better, with Raids, minor balancing and loot drop updates, as well as the much needed overhaul in The Taken King. What Destiny has achieved in over a year has clearly informed the plans that Massive has for The Division. New features set to drop on April 12 such as Daily Assignments (The Division’s equivalent to Bounties) will hopefully address some of the criticisms discussed here. Of course, we’ll also have access to the Destiny Raid equivalent, Incursions, and new experiments with the Dark Zone such as Supply Drops. Destiny has already set out on its path as a current gen mainstay, but The Division has many opportunities that lie ahead.