Tom Clancy’s The Division vs. Destiny: Which Did It Better?
The comparisons between the newly released Tom Clancy’s The Division and 2014’s Destiny are making it’s rounds across the internet. Both are similar in structure while being different games almost entirely. One is an online coop role-playing first-person shooter while the other is an online coop role-playing third-person shooter. With similarities all over the place, it’s time to find out just which game does it better because competitive behavior is all the rage these days.
Both games are heavily reliant on finding sweet, sweet loot. Every enemy, every chest has a chance to drop that upgrade to take your damage or damage resistance to the next level. While both games offer a wide variety of gear drops, Destiny‘s loot drops feel more rare when they do fall. The Gjallarhorn from Destiny‘s arsenal took some players months to obtain, and then some hardly any time at all. Most legendary gear felt like an achievement of sorts to obtain. Some gear is locked behind events such as Raids or special weekly events. And after Destiny‘s game-changing patch before The Taken King released, every item you had gave you a bonus of sorts including Ghosts and backpacks.
The Division didn’t launch with raid gear but it is coming soon. Instead of finding Ghosts and capes, you find mods for your weapons and armor to increase their stats. The one really cool thing that The Division does better is providing an appearance system that changes just that: appearance. Destiny offers a different way to customize the look of your character through shaders. Shaders change the color scheme of your character to almost anything imaginable. If you want a bright glowing teal with white, you can do it.
After playing enough of The Division to get a good look most of their high end loot, I can say that The Division doesn’t offer as a rewarding feel for getting drops. This may change in the coming weeks with more content, but the glaring difference between The Division‘s loot and Destiny‘s loot is that the legendary drops from Destiny feel legendary. By that I mean you can recognize loot by not only look but sound. When someone fires off a Suros in Destiny, it sounds a lot different than a typical sub-machine gun. Each legendary weapon has a specific look to it that is very unique is style, look and ability. Each legendary armor piece looks completely different from rare items you’ll see.
The Division suffers a bit for being a “realistic” game. It’s legendary gear looks all about the same outside of sometimes having a different color scheme. I upgraded from a superior AK-74 to a high end AK-74 and outside of having different stats, it looked about the same. The Division at least allows you to equip as many high ends as you want, which Destiny never did. But I can’t say The Division doesn’t loot and gear better than Destiny.
The Division is going to have a tougher time in this category because it’s held back by realism. You’re stuck in one area: New York City. And not even all five boroughs. You’re in a portion of Manhattan. That doesn’t mean that The Division is completely shallow. In fact, The Division does Manhattan really well. There’s a lot of scenery from a real world perspective and having visited myself, it’s really accurate. I had a friend leave a safe house and locate me using the street and cross street. That’s really cool.
There’s a few areas of interest in The Division. Outside of just looking at sky scrappers, cabs and trash bags, the main missions let you explore deeper into Manhattan. One of the first missions you do takes you to Madison Square Garden and shows how much of a nightmare New York City has turned into. Outside of the main missions, there’s not a lot of a uniqueness to the world even in the Dark Zone. You can go in a few buildings, but they feel copied and pasted from the other areas in the game. I don’t know how many times I ran into the Grow Home board game on the shelf. Once you put in some times, you see how much of the content and scenario is copied from another area of the game. Yet, they managed to have some of the most detailed trash bags I’ve seen in game. Much love was given to those trash bags.
Destiny doesn’t keep you pinned to one location and each map is properly big enough to transverse using a speeder–I mean, a Sparrow. There’s several worlds to visit, each with their own unique theme and enemy. The Division‘s main campaign takes you deeper into the world. So does Destiny. And Destiny was a let down when it released. A lot of land mass was missing from their initial unveiling. However, there’s still more world design and unique areas to visit even in vanilla Destiny. It helps with the nature of the game to see a completely different setting when you’re grinding away for gear or materials.
One final nail in favor of Destiny is the world has actual players walking around outside of instanced zones. A huge bummer with The Division is that random players are tied to certain locations, making less of a case for an always connected world. Destiny‘s worlds actually feel more alive due to this and is the case shut for Destiny taking this award.
Joining Others In-Game
Destiny and The Division are both pretty much the same for match-making. In Destiny, you go to your in-game friends list and can see all the active players to join. In The Division, you can see all your friends walking around the map and join them. Both games let you teleport to them while in party and makes for a terrific and nearly fluid experience.
Both games always have a strength above the other. Destiny‘s is what was mentioned above vaguely. You can see other players running around in the world and not in just certain areas. But The Division has a much cooler way of showing off where your friends are playing on the map. While Destiny‘s in more serviceable, it’s too difficult to choose between the two because they both have a strong case.
I’ve put my dear sweet time into Destiny’s PVP. I’ve ranked to the highest level on the Iron Banner a number of times. I’ve played several days worth of PVP. And I even got a collective whooping from other astounding players in The Trials of Osiris. But the modes are the all about the same. And the random loot monster seemed to always reward weaker players with better loot. Luck of the dice, I guess.
The Division brings back something I’ve been dying to have back in games for a long time as seen from this NeoGAF post from 2012. Hardcore PVP has a very nice risk and reward system. In The Division‘s Dark Zone area, you might get a quality drop and have a chance to lose it by some knucklehead killing you for fun. That sounds awful to some but if done correctly (which The Division does), it leads to an incredible experience. You have to trust (and be cautious) of every single player. Even players in your team.
Or you can just be like me and murder everyone you come in contact with because being wanted and surviving is a fun metagame.
Winner: Tom Clancy’s The Division
You’d think The Division could walk away easily with this one as Destiny has a very generic sci-fi story on the surface. Yet The Division doesn’t do anything exciting with it’s story. You don’t even have a really good idea the time from the initial virus outbreak to your current story. Is it a week? A month? Years later? They don’t even fill you in on some of the more basic operations of the game. I’d like to know why red barrels have made it’s ugly appearance all over the place. And why are these looting bad guys shooting up supplies when they could be stealing it for their home base?
Joking aside, The Division has an awful story that’s not interesting at all. I finished it without a care for an single character in the game. But at least The Division‘s lame story is in the game. Destiny went with the idea that people want to collect cards and then go read about them on an app or website. What were they thinking?
While Destiny‘s story in-game is generic and doesn’t fulfill you’re desire to care about why you’re doing anything, the cards reveal that there’s much more than meets the eye. A lot of speculation has floated around about who the Traveler is, who guardians actually are, down to who Xur actually is. Most can be read about on forums or Reddit, but since most of what we do know is generic, it’s hard to give Destiny the win here. The Division and Destiny have bad stories.
Winner: Tied for having bad stories.
Both of these games are grindy. You’ll be doing a lot of the same stuff a lot to maximize your level and gear. And in that grind, you have missions you need to complete from campaign missions to side missions. The Division and Destiny have very similar campaign layouts. You go to an instanced area. You fight waves of enemies. You may or may not encounter a boss depending on the mission. The biggest difference? Destiny‘s core campaign requires you to activate waves of enemies using a Ghost rather than automatically activating the wave.
The Ghost used to activate waves of enemies was a major complaint when the game launched. Nearly every mission required you to hold a button at a computer while a few waves of enemies came in. It wasn’t transparent enough for a lot of gamers. Understandable too. The Division doesn’t do much else other than remove the Ghost and gets you right into the fight. Some missions have a “Ghost” mechanic such as scanning an area before an ambush, but it’s a lot more rare. As far as campaign designs, there’s not a lot of difference in content. It’s short wave survival. Destiny has platforming puzzles sometimes which changes it up. The Division doesn’t have a single puzzle that I remember of doing. That’s a mild difference but it’s something.
Here’s where Destiny outranks The Division. In Destiny, you have some side quests known as bounties. Bounties are daily rewards for completing various tasks. Some bounties are to hunt down a specific AI, gather certain materials, do community events, and more. You also have Strikes that are better than the core missions themselves with better rewards. The Strikes allow you to experience even more of the land mass and see (sometimes) unique looking bosses. The Division has zones with the exact same missions copied and pasted around the map. From your starter zone to your ending zone, you’re doing the exact same missions. You’ll rescue someone. You’ll find a cell phone. You’ll hold down a location. You’ll hunt down some named elites. Over and over again.
The Division copies the worst parts of Ubisoft’s games by adding a map full of icons to go after. And much like every Ubisoft game, they’re all the same thing over and over again. It’s one of my biggest complaints in my review. It’s flat out boring to do the same side mission over 10 times in a different area. Because Destiny offers a change of pace with Strikes and quick playlists to get into another event, I’m giving the win to Destiny. If that’s not reason enough, The Division doesn’t even have community events to keep the monotony of exploring the same area slightly fresher. Most any massive multiplayer, pseudo or real, offers some type of event that knocks you out of formation.
Launch Game Lasting Appeal and End Game Content
The Division just came out and I’m done until there’s more content unless I want to take gear away from players in the Dark Zone. I have an inventory full of rare guns, armor, mods, and costumes. I don’t think The Division has legs to keep people sitting there for months to a year unless the Dark Zone and daily repeat missions keep you going. That is until the content rolls out. Destiny suffered from repeat missions as well, but given the worlds and the loot, Destiny takes the cake. Given the gameplay style of The Division, I don’t really know how long the raid content will keep me entertained unless they throw in some puzzles and unique looking bosses that require different play styles.
The Dark Zone is something I’m going to continue to visit from time to time as it’s the best feature of this game. Maybe if the entire game was built around the Dark Zone, I’d have a lot more desire to jump on. But once you’ve been to busted up Manhattan for a week, completed the main game, and did a few of the dreadful side quests, there’s not much game outside of the Dark Zone.
Destiny‘s harder content forced players to examine their weaknesses and strengths. Should you help your team with a sniper rifle or be a tank to lure the enemies away from your sniper? Just little strategies you were able to do in Destiny kept things interesting.
There’s nothing really wrong with The Division. I think it’s a really fun game. But when I kept comparing the two similar games, I found myself wishing this game did more than what it did. The Division and Destiny comparisons have been made on several sites and forums. It’s inevitable since they’re really unique shooters. But apples to apples, Destiny‘s core game had more content that kept you going than The Division in my opinion. It has more interesting design in terms of gear and worlds. It’s side content is more fun. But if you can’t stand sci-fi games or get sick playing first-person shooters, then The Division is probably going to be more your style.
But subjectively, Destiny is the clear winner here.