Against my better judgement with finals and multiple big stories I have to write for college coming up, I caved and acquired myself a copy of The Division last weekend. I’ve put quite a few hours into the game, trying to decide for myself if it’s a worthy single player experience or not, and I’ve finally made up my mind about it.

We’ve talked about The Division as a single player game quite a bit here. For games like Destiny and The Division and other games in the shared world genre, it’s hard to explain to readers why you should or shouldn’t play these games as a single player experience. The developers obviously want as many people as possible to play their game and thus they’ll tell you over and over again that there’s content there for you to play the game as a single player title if you wish. Ubisoft even dubbed The Division as a “great single player game”. As you know though, that’s all marketing talk.

Can The Division be played as a single player title? Sure. Is it fun though? Not really, in this author’s opinion. Much of my time spent playing The Division as a single player title involved running through the streets of Manhattan, going from one mission to the next. There’s random encounters here and there, but playing without a squad usually devolves into me sitting behind a piece of cover picking off enemies without any real strategy involved other than to survive. I’ve had some fun moments playing the game without friends at my side, but as you’ve probably already guessed, The Division is a much better experience when you have teammates at your side. The world is very dull when you’re running through the empty streets of Manhattan, regardless of how good it looks.

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The Division‘s world is very well-realized and has some great narrative elements in it that make it feel like a believable scenario. The overarching narrative itself, however, isn’t really all that interesting. Not interesting enough in my opinion to warrant trying to play The Division as a single player title. All the elements are there to make a good single player game, but the lack of any real focused narrative in The Division killed it for me. As a single player title, The Division devolves into completing various missions to acquire XP and loot, which can become very boring very quickly. Unless you’re a fan of that sort of thing. If you are, then by all means play it to your heart’s content.

The RPG elements are surprisingly deep, the combat is great fun, and the world is massive and highly detailed. But without a narrative that’s engaging enough to push people forward, it’s hard to recommend even trying to play The Division without indulging in its cooperative elements. Obviously, this is how the game is meant to be played, so don’t take this as me being cynical towards a game that wasn’t designed for single player in the first place. But when a developer says their game is a “great single player game,” it’s our job to see if they’re blowing smoke or if there’s actually substance behind what was said.

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

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Nick Calandra
OnlySP founder and former site owner.

Satoru Iwata Honoured at GDC Awards with Moving Animated Tribute.

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