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The Division Turned Out To Be Pretty Good – Now What?

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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?

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The Division has two weather modes: light snow and heavy snow

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.

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All of these people died while looking for High-End Division Tech

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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I write about PC games and sometimes it even makes sense. I'm a refined Englishman, but live in Texas with my two young children whom I am training in the ways of the Force.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in May 2019

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May

May offers no respite from the big, bold games that have released so far in 2019, bringing with it a host of games almost certain to appeal to gamers of every stripe.

Close to the Sun

Release Date: May 2, 2019
Platforms: PC, consoles later in the year

May’s first major release may also be its most intriguing. Close to the Sun has regularly attracted comparisons to BioShock for its art style and premise, though the relationship between the two titles is, at best, spiritual.

Players take the role of journalist Rose Archer as she steps aboard Nikola Tesla’s ship, the Helios in 1897. Like Andrew Ryan before him (or after him, depending on perspective), Tesla has created a microcosm in which scientific freedom is unrestricted, with disastrous outcomes. Rose’s first impression is of a quarantine sign at the entrance to a still, dead ship, but she presses on regardless in search of her lost sister.

With Close to the Sun, developer Storm in a Teacup aims to provide an intense horror experience. The Helios holds none of BioShock’s shotguns or Plasmids. Instead, players have no means to defend themselves, with gameplay focusing on hiding from and escaping the threats on board.

Check out OnlySP’s final review of the game here.

RAGE 2

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

For anyone to whom the slow, meditative approach does not appeal, Bethesda is busting out the big guns with the long-awaited, little-expected sequel, RAGE 2.

This time around, id Software has tapped Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios for assistance in developing an open-world game. The result, if the trailers are any indication, is a breakneck, neon-fuelled experience that focuses on insanity and ramps up all the unique aspects of the earlier game.

One focal point of development has been ensuring the interconnectedness of the game’s structure, and the teams have promised a greater focus on narrative this time around. Perhaps in keeping with that, RAGE 2 is being distanced from its predecessor, taking place 30 years later with a new protagonist and a whole new story, though some callbacks will be present.

Although id’s legendary first-person gunplay is a driving force throughout the game, it will be supplemented by some light RPG elements, robust vehicular combat, and post launch challenges and support (though the developers deny that RAGE 2 is designed with a games-as-a-service model in mind).

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Out on the same day as RAGE 2 is the vastly different A Plague Tale: Innocence. A historical adventure, the game challenges players with overcoming obstacles with brains rather than brawn.

Players become Amicia, an orphan girl struggling to survive in a plague-infested medieval France while also keeping her younger brother safe. With the landscape rife with rats and members of The Inquisition, one of the core tenets of gameplay is reportedly the need to use these threats against each other. As such, though Amicia has a sling to use, the gameplay is designed more as survival puzzles than combat ones.

Developer Asobo Studio is not a household name, though it has a lengthy history of adaptations and support on major titles, including Quantum Break and The Crew 2. Furthermore, even though A Plague Tale is yet to release, publisher Focus Home Interactive has displayed remarkable confidence in the project by extending its partnership with Asobo.

Honourable Mentions

Although RAGE 2 is the incontestable action-blockbuster of the month, gamers in search of another kind of frenetic may want to wait until May 21, when Curve Digital drops American Fugitive, which has a more than passing resemblance to the earliest Grand Theft Auto games. Alternatively, PlayStation VR owners may want to look into Blood and Truth come May 28.

Sega also shines this month, dropping Team Sonic Racing on May 21 and Total War: Three Kingdoms two days later.

Anyone looking for an RPG has indie’s answer to The Outer Worlds, Within the Cosmos, to look out for on May 30, while those looking for slower stories get the latest episode of Life is Strange 2 on May 9, Observation on May 21, and the fjord-noir Draugen at a yet unspecified date.

Have we forgotten anything that you’re excited for? Let us know down below or on our Discord server.

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