Time to regroup.
The Division has been out for some time now and can probably be considered a success. It beat Destiny’s previous record for highest sales of a new IP within five-days of release and sold more copies on the first day than any other Ubisoft game ever. It has released to moderate critical acclaim and decent player reception.
But it isn’t without flaws.
Let us discuss those flaws.
1. TREAT THE DISEASE, NOT THE SYMPTOMS
Exploits are a particular concern in The Division, as I’m sure many of you readers already know. The Division has been rife with exploits, bugs, glitches, and server hiccups.
The bugs and glitches alone have caused players to lose characters and fall through the map or get stuck in the geometry. They’ve been kept from completing the near-essential daily missions and been forced to repeat the same dailies multiple days in a row. It has become such a problem that Ubisoft recently issued Phoenix Credits, the endgame currency, as a consolation for all of the issues.
In addition to this, players have been able to exploit game mechanics to glitch out game encounters like in the Police Station mission and the new Incursion as well. Ubisoft has taken to threatening action against players that exploit the game mechanics for their own benefit instead of, you know, fixing the game. Recently, after all of their bluster, Ubisoft finally issued a fix for the APC encounter in the Incursion that would’ve been a perfect way to prevent exploits like talent stacking and clipping through the doors; making the APC immune to all damage except from the C4.
This is all without taking into consideration some of the cheating that has been very prevalent on the PC version of the game. Teleporting agents, near-invincibility, flying agents, unlimited ammo… You name the cheat, The Division has it. The consoles aren’t immune to this either. Players have found ways to glitch into the level geometry and fire through walls into other players.
Ubisoft seriously needs to start investing in the idea of making sure their games are up to snuff before releasing them. If they can’t do that, then they need to try to figure out some way to fix the actual problems instead of attempting to slap a bandage on it.
2. STABILIZE THE DARK ZONE
Let me be clear here. The Dark Zone as a concept remains an extremely fun idea but it’s completely torn to shreds in execution. Aside from the aforementioned bugs, glitches, and exploits, the DZ still suffers from the issue of balance.
Once you hit gear level 160, you’re lumped into the same bracket as players with raid-quality gear. Even with high-end gear around 163 (which is what you’ll earn from doing missions on Hard difficulty), you’re still pitted against players with gear above 210. This means that someone with equipment that can barely get them through a Challenging mission will be forced to contend with players that have steamrolled (or cheated) through the Incursion until they have full set gear. Something needs to be done about that.
The DZ would be much more fun for everyone if they further broke up the instances of the zones into 160-179, 180-199, and 200+ instances. That way, a relatively noobish player (like yours truly) would stand a chance in the DZ instead of being at the mercy of a player that has farmed the Incursion and DZ every day of the week.
It couldn’t hurt to include a Rogue reputation system either. Having something in place that records statistics of how often a player goes Rogue, and then edging them into instances that pit them against others of the same sadism levels would ease the problems apparent in the DZ as well.
Long story short, I’d like to be able to set foot into DZ04, 05, and 06 without getting immediately shot in the face by someone that clearly has far more time than me to play.
3. PATROL NEW YORK
Currently, once you finish the main story and side missions, there really isn’t much of a reason to go out into the city proper. Sure, you could waste the time and travel to mission locations on foot, but c’mon. Fast travel exists and us gamers are usually the kind to enjoy instant gratification. Massive Entertainment did a fairly decent job of creating content that avoided the problems that plague bloatbox games, but once you complete those tasks, you’re done. That’s it. This is fine, in a way, for games that are single player affairs with a defined end to the game. However in a game like The Division there needs to be a reason to come back to the game every day in order to keep player counts up. The lack of activities outside of the dailies and repeatable mission is something that critics have levied against Destiny, which was alleviated to some degree with The Taken King expansion. Ideally, Ubisoft would avoid making the same mistakes that Bungie did though.
That’s not saying that the side missions are all that great as many of them are formulaic. They do however add a little variety to the game. It’s a shame that the game doesn’t sport any extra activities in the endgame outside of the DZ, daily missions, and Incursion.
There are things that can be done to mend this problem.
It wouldn’t be a super-fantastic solution but perhaps Ubisoft could implement some patrol missions in the different neighborhoods around New York. A procedurally generated option would obviously be much more preferred in this case, like tasking agents with missions to follow set paths around the boroughs and ensure that the area is safe. Another option would be to have, and I loathe to say this, escort missions for high-priority shipments to different safe houses. Just as something to do. One more potential addition would be to have attacks on the different safe houses that players can choose to defend for a modest reward.
I’d also love to see more of a challenge presented by the enemies throughout the rest of New York. Plowing through the baddies of The Division’s standard areas can be fun for when you want to blow off steam, but it is a pointless endeavor in its own right.
All of these things could add a bit more variety to the game at the end stages and give players more of a reason to step outside of the DZ and missions to incentivize exploration, even after they’ve already conquered the game.
Also, why is there no benefit to returning to Camp Hudson at all? One would figure that there would be some sort of reason to head back there since it’s a hub of activity for the city and a beachhead for the Second Wave.
4. EXPAND THE AO
The Division’s New York is by no means a small area; it can take quite a while to travel from one area of the map to another. Sadly, many of the city streets look very similar, which is compounded by the complete lack of anything to do after the missions are completed. Agents of The Division would likely seek to expand their area of influence to the rest of New York, just as they did by securing the southern section of Manhattan. It would make sense to see the rest of New York as accessible to players at some point, which will possibly become reality in the coming expansions.
Let us into Central Park to explore the mass graves there. Let us into Brooklyn (which was teased in the original info on the game). Let us loose on the rest of the island…
It’d be good to combine number 3 with this change considering that just expanding the map without adding substantial content would make for an incredibly disappointing experience.
5. CONTINUE THE MISSION
Lastly, Ubisoft needs to expand on the story of The Division. True, they just might do that with the upcoming expansions but it needs to be said nonetheless.
Massive Entertainment set the groundwork for a ton of lore and story potential with The Division and unfortunately left everyone hanging by (SPOILERS) ending the game with a fight against the LMB and agent Keener escaping. Does Keener have any more cohorts? What’s going on in the rest of the world? Are there more factions in New York? Where are the other DZs? So much untapped potential.
So that’s what I feel is missing in The Division? What about you? What would you add, remove, or change?
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I don’t know if you read my ‘Dispatches from the DZ’ whatsit, but if you did, it’ll come as no surprise that I’m with you 100% on the exploits and balance things. I’ve finally done enough grinding to get half decent gear – giving me a reasonable chance against the AI in the DZ – but every damn time they drop something I want, or need, I get ganked at extraction by a team of overpowered freakin’ cyborgs. Obviously, that creates a vicious circle because the only way I’ll stand a chance against them is if I have really decent gear, but I can’t extract the really decent gear if I’m rocking up to a firefight at an EZ with the gun-ey equivalent of a plastic effing picnic fork.
I get that this was a big part of the idea of the DZ – and in theory, it’s quite intriguing and exciting – but in practice it often just means that there’s this two-tier experience, with it being almost impossible (or at least statistically improbable) that you’ll ever get to the top tier given the random nature of drops and the fact you’re at the mercy of overpowered cyborgs at EZs. I love the challenge of the Super-villains in the DZ, and it’s awesome finally taking one down – because you earned it, and you survived against really tough odds, massively outnumbered etc, etc – but to then get killed by somebody who can destroy you just by waving their supergun in your general direction is just really, really cheap. And soul destroying. And more importantly, there’s basically nothing you can do about it. There’s no strategy, no amount of practice, no amount of fine-tuning your reaction time that can stop it happening – it’s not like (eg) a CoD where you can just plug away, practice, git gud and hold your own eventually. If a guy’s basically carrying a miniaturised nuclear weapon, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re always coming out of that encounter very, very dead!
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Yeah. Reminds me of WoW’s arena quite a bit. Going against players in full season 2 Gladiator gear in the Burning Crusade expansion and getting my ass handed to me.
Like I said, there’s definitely a course of action available to Ubisoft, we’ll just have to wait and see if they take it.
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I never played WoW, but I’ve seen a few people liken their Division experience to it.
I honestly hope Ubi do figure something out, because I’m really struggling to find the motivation to carry on with the DZ. The risk/benefit thing was always a part of it, but when the risks massively outweigh the rewards – and in a pretty unjust or out-of-your-control way – it just makes it feel like a frustrating and broken waste of time.
And I’d also add a ‘no extraction whilst Rogue’ safeguard to the list too, because I’m getting really, really pissed seeing people who’ve just ganked me using the extraction I’ve defended for 90 seconds to steal my best stuff!
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It’s becoming more and more of a problem. Hopefully they take action soon.
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1. The story is pretty bare bones. The effort appears to be put into cutscenes but you really don’t ever buy into the story. I never felt like I understood or if I did understand feel motivated by what the story was asking me to do. No clear antagonists in the story, they seem generic.
2. The variety of enemies is pretty slim. Same thing goes for the side missions.
3. Agree 100% on the dark zone.
Overall, If I could go back I would not have bought the game. It was fun at times and there were some good moments just not enough for it to feel like it was worth it.
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I can definitely understand your opinion on the story. It’s very… broad. Like they’re trying to describe the setting but not offer much of a narrative. Not much focus either.
The enemies definitely follow a shooter trope setup too and the side missions are decent as distractions.
I can totally understand why you feel the way you do. I have enjoyed my time with The Division, but there are definite limitations to it, and they’re getting harder to ignore each time I play.
Thank you for the reply!
No problem! I really liked the atmosphere of the dark zone. The gloom and forbidding feel worked really well and it is something that would have been great I’m the rest of the game. Combine that with the side missions not being told to you once you visit a safe house. Would have been nice if instead they just noted markers on your map and if they were unique missions you wouldn’t have any idea what you were walking into. Combine that with the dark zone atmosphere and I would have had a fun experience haha
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[…] that makes other people love it, but for me it’s just not that appealing anymore. In a recent conversation with a fellow blogger (who was also arguing that the DZ is currently suffering from ‘balance’ issues) I wrote […]
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