The Division: State of the Game
The Division has been out for a little over a month and a bit. While the game delivered strongly out of the gate, recently the Division has hit some tremendous trouble. As a player who has dumped 200+ hours into the game, I thought it would be interesting to look at the state of the game now. What follows is my look at The Division: State of the Game.
Arguably the root of most of the trouble has been the 1.1 patch which brought two major changes, gear score/sets and the Incursion itself.
- The Incursion: few people had any idea of what Falcon Lost would entail in terms of new content and mechanics. What the community got was a simple one room horde mode, with teams being tasked with surviving 15 waves. The new mechanic? Simply attach C4 to an APC every few waves. That’s it. While this alone was already discouraging to the community, soon exploitation began popping up, making the Incursion faster and more efficient. While exploiting mechanics were not new (see Hornet, Police Academy, New Areas), the Incursion exploit made a serious splash in the community. I want to mark this moment as the death spiral that led The Division to it’s current state. Individuals were now able to quickly farm high level GS pieces over and over again. There now exists a large skill gap between those who mindlessly exploited the mission and those who did not. Rather then putting this fire out, Massive decided that the entire community should be punished and disabled guaranteed mission loot for one week. This action was coupled with PR comments on exploitation leading to bans, which appear to be simply hollow words.
- Gear score/sets: gear score was initially intended on providing a better way for matchmaking and content thresholds. Unfortunately the gear score systems is tremendously muddled. Certain content like the challenge mode Incursion (hardest content), requires a lowly 180 gs. Fine. However even running upper level gear the mission is basically waiting to one shot any player at any time. The problem here is that GS is not indicative of actual skill or adequate gear. So the content gatekeeper does little to actually ensure success. There is also a serious lack of 204 weapons available and the ones that are simply fall into the current SMG/Sniper meta.
- Due to the nature of the client/server code, the game is easy to manipulate. Simple programs such as Cheat Engine allow for players to easily change things like ammo, rpms and location. The result of this has been an influx in hacking, specifically in the Dark Zone. This is far more damaging then even the slip ups of the Incursion, as hackers appear to be getting away with little to no repercussions for their actions (Massive claims they are banning, but accounts on this are limited). What is especially troubling is that this type of hacking has been known since the beta, but Massive has failed to do anything about the problem. More news on the matter is incoming Thursday, however this could be more ‘doublespeak’ from Massive.
- Massive took tremendous steps in shifting focus away from crafting by guaranteeing High End drops on named enemies. While initially met with praise from the community (enemies dropped 4+ HE at initial patch launch), Massive quickly reined in the system and nerfed drops severely. Players still received High Ends, but now the items simply became mats for the inflated costs of crafting. The crafting versus loot debate was further convoluted by 204 weapons being unicorns, basically only being accessible from blueprints in the DZ or for highly inflated cost at the Phoenix Vendor. Again Massive misled the community, as we were told drops, especially on higher level enemies would be more rewarding (as of now the are not).
I don’t mean to disparage this game. I have played an insane amount and feel more then happy with my purchase. However, the game is currently in a pretty rough state. Much of the end game has been very poorly handled. Massive appears to be incapable of making any really solid or interesting changes ahead of problems, but rather is reactionary towards much of the issues. I would love to see this game get back on it’s feet, however the problems above make it hard to continue to play. Each patch brings one fix and a million more problems.
Update – April 28th, 2016
As many of you may or may not know, Massive has moved patches and updates to Thursday (was Tuesday before). With each patch, Massive sits down here and discusses their take on the state of the game. Usually this discussion includes patch notes and upcoming changes. The following is what Massive had to say:
- Server Maintenance Change Date: it allows the studio more flexibility on bug fixing. Doing the maintenance on Tuesday meant that bug fixes were prepared the week before. On Thursday they can squeeze in more fixes during the week leading up to Thursday.
- Bug Fixes: Things have been fixed. Today’s maintenance addresses protection from elites (basically working opposite, increasing damage), bug with rehabilitated, jumping jack ladder exploit and players will be no longer able to shoot into the Incursion from outside (grey wall).
- Daily Missions: System is not rotating. Upcoming update will fix this. They are aware and a fix is coming in the future.
- Talents: One is None still broken, Reckless still broken, Balanced still broken and talent stacking. Client side update for these, won’t be fixed until 1.2.
- Chat Spam: Current system is messed. They are looking at fixing this. Trying to improve this.
- Infinite Loading Falcon Lost: If you join a group already in progress on FL, you get trapped in an infinite loading loop. This is intended, but impacts players that leave these groups and join other groups. The player is forced to log out to fix this problem. Massive is looking into it.
- Auto Aim (PC): Will be fixed at some point.
- Exploiting: Priority is on bug fixing currently. Reality is that yes there is bugs that can be exploited. They will be ‘harsher’ on exploits going forward. Will talk about this in the future.
- Cheating/Hacking: They will address this with new detection and moving some things from client side to server side. New cheat detection methods. They can’t openly talk about this, as it will allow cheaters to work around. New methods have been implemented and more are coming.
- Compensation Roll out Update: Paid out for missing dailies. Still need to pay out to missing characters and backpack issues. Technical difficulties keeping them from giving a solid date, but should be ‘next week’ sometime.
- Netcode Discussion:
Article on Netcode analysis floating around. Can’t go into details, but they will be addressing this discussion in the near future.
For a more up to date listing of what is now called the “Conflict” update go here.