I feel like the Division "duology" of games are the biggest example of wasted potential in the past five years of gaming history.
Keep in mind I'm writing this off the heels of the "Video games don't utilize their worlds enough" post I noticed earlier. Matter of fact, it was originally supposed to be a reply to one of the comments there, but I felt the need to vest and limit the discussion to Ubisoft for now, as they are the most notorious in this "field".
Now, here's a hypothetical for you.
Imagine we live in a world where Ubisoft decided to not only allow extensive modding of their videogames, but also provided the necessary tools. Those mindless looter-shooters with great worlds, The Division 1 and 2? You know, the ones with lovingly-crafted 1:1 rereations of Washington and New York with tons of many great details and that you will never really interact with aside from looting shit from and killing people in? Imagine the modders turning them into survival simulator ala State of Decay, with focus on hunger and whatnot and realistic combat. Or, hell a proper RPG with actual characters and factions instead of stupid-ass carboard cutouts of characters we got in the end. Or something like DayZ. You know, anything to actually utilize the world to its fullest potential instead of it being glorified background for mook slaughter. Case in point, remember Stalker? Now, I would go out of my way that Stalker's rendition of Chernobyl pales in comparison to Ubisoft's work on DC and NY, detail, graphics, and in some ways even immersion wise. Yet the Ukranian wasteland feels much more fitting and organic that the east coast wastes. Why? No, not just because of modding, although it is a big plus. It's because the game designers put their hearts in their job and actually made gameplay match the location and atmosphere, instead of the gameplay matching the needs of the audience at the time.
This goes above and beyond simple ludonarrative dissonance, however. I wouldn't be talking with this much passion if the world was "just" graphically and aesthetically pleasing. The problem is, it's amazing. There's just too much detail for there to be in the genre that its in. Tons of trash, recognizable locations turned to ruin, and just… tons of small Rockstar-like details that you can't really interact with and have no effect whatsoever on your gameplay. It's really, really too good for the generic L'nS gameplay. Better yet, it's one of the greatest post-apocalyptic renditions of the two cities I've ever seen in a videogame. Feel free to disagree.
Also, while we are at it, let's hypothesize as to what better use there would've been for The Division's 1 and 2's. I've mentioned SoD and DayZ, but maybe there's something else? Feel free to discuss.
TL;DR Sorry for the long rant, but I DO believe Ubisoft creates great worlds. I DO NOT believe they want to, or, it pains me to say this, care enough to create matching gameplay systems around them. Gameplay designers at ubi are trend chasers, while world designers there are the real gems. The gameplay is not bad, mind you – it's a solid loot'n shoot if taken in a vacuum – but it doesn't do its world proper justice.
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