The Division has been out for a little over a month now after having released to some strong reception. This new take on the shared-world shooter dropped players into a New York City ravaged by a biological attack. Players took on the role of an Agent as they entered no man’s land and fought to take the city back.
Even the way that The Division handled PvP was interesting when compared to its competition. An open area full of opportunities and threats invited players into an engaging and tense experience. As far as anyone could tell, Ubisoft and Massive had done an amazing job in creating this ambitious new IP.
Unfotunately, as time progresses, some cracks are beginning to show, leaving many frustrated with the current state of affairs. All hope is not lost though, as the developers have time to fix what’s wrong the game. If they can’t fix every single thing wrong, there are a few points definitely deserving of special attention.
The Trouble With Crafting
When The Division first launched, it was quite easy to farm certain activities in areas, leaving those with ample time the opportunity to greatly surpass everyone else in the game. This led to a lot of unbalanced encounters in the Dark Zone as some players quickly farmed the resources necessary to make the best endgame gear in a matter of days. Those who only had limited hours, whether it be due to work, schooling, or just life in general, were at the mercy of those who didn’t.
In an effort to restore balance, crafting materials were changed. Now, in order to obtain the necessary pieces for great gear, you needed to invest even more time in farming for them. One yellow component now requires 15 blue ones, three times the amount it was previously. While this doesn’t erase the spoils of those who farmed well in advance, it does level the playing field a bit going forward, except it adds to the amount of time needed for those who still have limited time.
Another problem with crafting is the speed in which players are able to craft resources in The Division. When converting lower tiered resources, you have to do it one by one. Need 20? Have fun converting one, clicking through the commands, then doing it all over again. There’s no stacking, leaving players sitting at the table slowly getting their things together.
While the developers’ hearts were in the right place, a revamping of the system that doesn’t punish other players may help earn back some of the good will from launch.
The Dark Zone
The team behind The Division was very clear on what players could expect from the Dark Zone from the beginning. It’s an area where anything goes. You can help someone deal with some powerful enemies one second, and then turn around and shoot them in the back the next. The tension created by the unknown is a part of its charm.
However, it puts the community at odds with one another. Some of the best gear in the game and a few activities exist only within the Dark Zone. You can find yourself not even extracting loot, therefore having no reason to be targeted, only to have someone mess up your quest by killing you for literally no reason other than you were there. It takes the idea of a free for all, that sounds great on paper, and slams it against the actuality of the game.
It is nigh impossible to be prepared for both PvP and PvE at the exact same time in The Division. The fact that builds tend to support one or the other, due to the drastically different natures of AI and human adversaries, means that if you’re there for PvE, you’re pretty much screwed. When you add to that the fact that there are people who lie in wait for you at spawn points just to troll and ruin your day, one of the best components of The Division is left in shambles for some.
Now, we don’t suggest that the free-for-all nature be done away with. Again, that’s part of its charm, if not the entirety of it. But a system that lets you actually do battle with people in a way that it goes in both directions, rather than just being spawn killed repeatedly for no reason, would definitely be a good thing.
To be honest, The Division’s Inventory system works pretty well for the most part. As you level up, you gain access to better backpacks that can hold more gear and your stash can hold a sizable amount, as well. Not to mention that this stash can be shared across all of your characters. Helping to make things a bit more manageable, clothes don’t even count towards this, so you can collect them all and change as you see fit.
But there is one particular item type that does count and is making life a bit frustrating for some agents: Weapon Skins. These are purely cosmetic items that can be applied to your weapons. They, like clothing, offer nothing in terms of gameplay, yet each one takes up a valuable space in your inventory. Scrapping them gets you nothing, you can’t trade them, and chances are you only have so many guns. So why are they treated unlike every other item that does nothing for your gameplay?
This is quite possibly the easiest problem to fix in The Division.
Bugs for Days
There’s no such thing as a perfect game, unless you’re talking about Tetris. Bugs are part of any complex code. Millions of lines of numbers and words give us fully realized environments in which we can shoot our constituents in their faces, so of course there is going to be an issue here or there. But The Division has had more than its fair share of issues over the past weeks, and that’s without taking into account the ones that players trigger purposely.
The Division is a buggy game filled with server issues, clipping issues, and AI issues. Yes, the development team has been addressing these every week, constantly doing maintenance and releasing hotfixes as well as fully featured patches. But there are still some issues that, for some, make the game unplayable.
One of the more hilariously frustrating bugs is falling through the world at any given time. You may find yourself going toe-to-toe with a named elite only to find yourself pulled into a portal headed straight to seventh circle of hell. As you watch the city disappear above your head you can’t help but curse The Division for once again failing you in your time of technical need.
Online games live and die off of their communities and those communities need to be able to play the game. If Ubisoft hopes for The Division to see a life as long as say, Destiny, then they’ll need to make sure all is in working order.
This is easily the biggest issue within the community right now. Exploits, glitches, cheating, whatever you want to call it; The Division is full of it. Now we’re not going to say that The Division is horrible for allowing these things to exist. Point at any online game and we’ll show you a game full of exploits. But, exploits in the Division’s PvE give players a huge leg up in the PvP component of the game. This has been creating a lot of problems, leading to many to call it straight up cheating.
Ubisoft and Massive are currently trying to figure out how to deal with these exploits as they work to patch every new one that pops up. Some are calling for bans, others are saying it’s all a part of the game. The developers may want take a look at their competition and see how Bungie handled the same problem.
Both the Vault of Glass and Crota’s End had exploits that made it possible to easily defeat bosses with little combat. Whether it was pushing a boss off a ledge or pulling your ethernet cord, players discovered ways to get around the mechanics that Bungie had intended. How did the team deal with this? They fixed the issues, then made fun of themselves. They acknowledged that games like this are somewhat alive, and will be tweaked as time goes on.
Instead of focusing on punishments and arguments, for the moment at least, the developers need to figure out what’s allowing the exploits and why are players using them in the first place? The point is that they must be fixed and that should definitely be a priority. Because the acts of a few are spilling out into the experiences of the many, especially in PvP.
We don’t envy the path ahead of the developers. The Division is at a crucial point in its life-cycle where the first expansion is yet to release, and the praise it received initially is starting to die down. Destiny weathered the same storm and came out all the better because of it. It’s time to hunker down and help The Division reach its potential.