Ubisoft’s latest game titled The Division hit stores a few weeks back. Not only was this new intellectual property from the company, it has been breaking records since launch. In the first five days, the game reached $330 million in sales. Not only did this break Ubisoft’s record for their fastest selling game, it also became the one of the first new intellectual properties in the video game industry to sell a ludicrous amount of units so quickly. While The Division has obviously been a success, Ubisoft has a much more challenging obstacle ahead of them: retaining players to their game.
The Division is a third person shooter with role playing elements tied into it, much like Destiny from Bungie Studios. It is also a mesh of the massive multiplayer online genre, offering a large world to explore, loot to collect, and plenty of people to play with. The core mechanics of the game hinge around players getting hooked into earning better gear for their character, which ties into the feeling of progression. Whenever a player spends a few hours with any game, they expect to come out of it with a sense of growth. Whether it be through visual representation (gear earned in the game) or progressing a narrative further, players expect to be rewarded with their time put into a game. With a game like The Division, players are constantly running on a metaphorical treadmill. How long can Ubisoft keep players running?
With a minimal narrative, The Division focuses solely on gameplay. While a story with a lack of depth is not always a bad thing, it doesn’t set a tone for the world and its characters well. Since the game is primarily quest based, players can find themselves doing the same quest line over and over again but with a different context. It is arguable that the loot is the main hook of the game, in which even a core aspect of it is flawed. Since the game went with a realistic approach, the character designs can be bland. A majority of the visuals that change on the player model is a jacket with different colors, a situation that harbors diminishing returns, not conveying aesthetically that the player has progressed during a multiple hour session.
Since the game is focused on its multiplayer aspect, the world in which the player explores is static. This hinders the narrative even more as the world itself is not reacting to events that transpire in the story. Even though the gameplay is solid, The Division is missing crucial components to extend the replay value of the game, something that is critical to other games in similar genres. Hopefully Ubisoft has many plans in store to keep the content fresh and exciting.