After I recently wrote about withholding judgement on games until they were actually released and we were able to play them, it was refreshing to see The Division (mostly) live up to its hype. That’s not to say that it’s the perfect game, or that it doesn’t have significant issues that need to be addressed very soon, but the game’s mechanics are solid, and it’s generally fun and enjoyable in most respects.
For the most part, The Division‘s take on New York is well-realised. The story is…well, it’s ok. I don’t think it’s going to be winning any writing awards, but the narrative is at least cohesive and has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. The “echo” system also works well here, giving you a snippet into the past in a particular area that can be quite illuminating when it comes to revealing aspects of the main story, as well as ordinary civilians that were caught up in the outbreak.
But after you get to level 30, have amassed a respectable roster of gear, have done all of the challenge missions, have reached Rank 50 in the Dark Zone (good luck with that last one by the way) – what’s next?
The Division‘s first major update – which will be available for free to all – is entitled Incursions, and will drop on 12th April on all platforms. The biggest new feature will be the first of several planned end-game raids, said to be “extremely challenging,” where the best guns and loot will drop. These “Operations” (or “Incursions,” Massive keep flip-flopping over their actual name) will likely be orders of magnitude more difficult than current challenge missions, that many players are easily able to breeze through if they’ve received some good luck from the RNG gods.
And on the subject of RNG… there’s still a lot that needs to be fixed. In particular, high-end (yellow) Division Tech is still far too difficult to obtain, but is required to craft the best items in the game. As it stands, you have to venture into the Dark Zone, hope to find an unlooted Division Tech box, and then further hope that the Division Tech you obtain will be of the rarest quality. Essentially, you’re looking for a unicorn standing on the back of another unicorn. Massive have said that they are aware of player concerns when it comes to Division Tech and that changes are coming, but there are no further details at this time. Gating off the best gear with such a heavy brick wall like this is shortsighted and, if not changed quickly, will lead to people simply abandoning the game when they find out they need to farm an open PvP area for a scarce resource whose quality isn’t guaranteed to even be what they need.
I suspect that Massive and Ubisoft didn’t expect players to blaze through all of the game’s existing content this quickly, because the Division Tech wall is abrupt and severe. Given that it takes three high-end Division Tech to craft a single endgame item – with no guarantee that the item you craft will have the stats or talents you want on it – this has rightly had many players up in arms about how difficult and completely RNG-oriented the system is. There’s nothing wrong with something being difficult, but there is something wrong with making it such a small chance that you’re more likely to win the lottery twice than find what you’re looking for.
Still, changes are coming, and we have to wait to see exactly what they are.
Online connectivity for The Division‘s servers has generally been good. Launch night was dicey, with the game’s servers going down for an hour or two a couple of hours after release – swiftly followed by all Ubisoft’s servers, games, sites, and Uplay as well. I’ve had the odd disconnect here and there, but on the whole it’s been reasonably solid.
There’s still some showstopping bugs, the most vicious of which is related to crafted backpacks, and results in you being unable to login and play the game at all. There’s really no excuse for that sort of thing in 2016, and this issue is not slated to be fixed until the 12th April update, leaving hundreds/thousands of people unable to play the game they’ve paid at least $60 for. There are other issues, including stats not displaying correctly after switching gear (something of a drawback in a loot-based game), map waypoints not being able to be set, Dark Zone landmarks not spawning correctly, and others. None are as gamebreaking as the backpack issue, but they are things which are detracting from the game and need to be fixed ASAP.
So yes, The Division mostly delivered (unless you’re one of the few that can’t even login), but isn’t perfect. No game is perfect, but I’ve enjoyed the ~200 hours I’ve put into it so far. Hopefully the raids actually turn out to be a challenge and high-end Division Tech ceases to be such an RNG-based drop. If these two things come to pass, The Division may be the long-term success that Ubisoft have been hoping for.
It’s unclear as of yet how these changes will affect the single-player side of the game – it’s almost guaranteed that the raids will add nothing for those who are just looking to explore the besieged city on their own, though the improvements to gathering and crafting will certainly be a boon to all players, those who are just looking to enjoy themselves by themselves and those with a more social focus. For those of you who are still on the fence about The Division‘s single-player prospects, check out our coverage here and here.
The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.
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