I’ve been playing possibly far too much of The Division recently. I loved the game at launch and was drawn in by the fabulous world design, solid shooting mechanics and intriguing PvP system.

Unfortunately, things went downhill not long after and my interest in it dropped away for a few months. The game had some problems with bullet-spongey enemies and a severe lack of loot drops, and it was only exacerbated with each update and expansion released post-launch.

Updates 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 each drove more and more players away until Ubisoft made the interesting decision to delay its DLC schedule to make Update 1.4, a patch that would ‘reset’ the game and fix the many persistent problems the community had with the game.

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1.4 sparked enough interest for me to come back to The Division, and the difference between it now and when I initially quit is like night and day. Loot drops more frequently than ever, enemies are quicker to kill, and a lot of the technical issues have been ironed out. 1.4 also introduced the World Tier system for end-game players, allowing them to scale the world to a level where they’ll get a decent challenge no matter how good the gear they have equipped is.

If you quit the game before any content updates hit, you’ve missed quite a bit since then and may need help catching up with what’s new. 1.4  is a solid base for the game to build on, and the good bits of “the dark times” are now able to shine through.

Update 1.1 saw the release of Incursions, four-player raids for end-game players that promise fantastic loot but are also ridiculously difficult to pull off. It also introduced gear sets – equipment which can stack up together to provide extra abilities and help specialise your character build. Assignments (daily challenges like “kill X elite enemies”) were introduced, and the Dark Zone was introduced to supply drops which gave players powerful gear if they could get there before anybody else.

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Update 1.2, dubbed the Conflict patch, didn’t add quite as much major stuff as the first update. It focused more on little bits and bobs to do in the open world, with the introduction of High-Value Targets and Search and Destroy missions. Search & Destroy missions can be accessed in the end-game once all of the side quests in a district have been completed, and each stage of the mission grants you intel, XP, credits and juicy loot.

That intel can then be used to access the High-Value Target missions. These targets are more difficult than standard enemies in the PvE, but once again the rewards are also greater for taking them out. There are daily and weekly HVTs that can be repeated, assuming you can cough up the intel beforehand.

Conflict also added little things player sealed caches of goodies for completing various tasks, the ability to hijack Dark Zone extractions and steal other players’ stuff at the cost of going rogue, a second Incursion called Clear Sky, and a load of new gear sets.

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Update 1.3 was when The Division’s first big expansion hit, Underground. The paid expansion is a series of end-game dungeons that can be played solo or co-op set, as you might’ve guessed, underground. The mode has its own levelling system and exclusive rewards. To be honest it’s not my favourite thing to do in the game, but if you fancy just shooting things it’s a great, short burst of PvE goodness. The DLC also brought in the third Incursion, Dragon’s Nest, and four new gear sets.

For players who haven’t bought Underground, 1.3 didn’t add much in the way of content. It added the AlphaBridge gear set and the ability to apply mods to gear slots, but other than that the majority of the update was included in the Underground DLC instead.

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Update 1.5, due to release today (November 22, 2016) on Xbox One and PC, is another relatively bare-bones update, but that’s because it is being accompanied by the Survival expansion. Survival is a Hunger Games-style mode where players have to fight off hunger, thirst, the cold and sepsis while fighting each other in a 25-player deathmatch. I wrote up a full preview of the mode which you can read here.

As for what the accompanying free Update 1.5 includes, you can check that out here. The big things are a new World Tier and a higher gear score (the equivalent of increasing the level cap in a standard MMO), and also named gear which provide bonuses in a similar way to gear sets.

Of course, things aren’t perfect quite yet. The game’s still got some balance issues with shotguns, especially on consoles with auto-aim, making them overpowered. Plus, the armour stat is currently the be all and end all when it comes to building your character. These are things Massive will hopefully be looking at fixing up in future updates, but they’re relatively minor compared to the mess that was the game only a few months ago.

If you’ve ever been interested in The Division, or if you stopped playing during the dark days of Update 1.1-1.3, now is the best time to get back into it. Update 1.4 tightened the game up, and 1.5 is so far showing that Massive knows how to move the game on from its previous blunders.

I just really like The Division, okay? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got me a new expansion to download.

Joe is LPVG’s resident hardware nerd. If it’s overpriced and has gaudy RGB lighting, he’s probably drooling over it. He loves platformers, MMOs, RPGs, hack ‘n slashers and FPS, with his favourite games being Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Oblivion and Dead Space. Don’t ask him about his unhealthily large Monsters Inc memorabilia collection. Seriously, just don’t ask…

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