Thanks to the cruel progression of time pulling us ever closer to a screaming void of nothingness, promising only oblivion for all of us in the end, we’re somehow coming close to a whole year since The Division came out.
It’s been a fascinating year for the game, with a shaky first few months followed by a really damn impressive overhaul that put the game back on track. We’re coming close to the launch of the final currently announced DLC, Last Stand, and so it’s time to look to the future. It’s time for The Division: Year Two, and there’s a few things I’d love to see.
Overhauled Light Zone
For those who don’t know The Division’s open world is split into two areas: the dark zone, a PvP-focused area, and the Light Zone, which is basically the bit between instanced missions.
As gorgeous as the views are, there’s sod all to really do in the light zone at the moment, especially compared to what’s going on in the dark one. The Dark Zone is full of strong enemies, some roaming the map in groups, landmarks to discover, loot to be gained, and plenty of pretty dang awesome emergent storytelling as you and a group of randoms pull off a squeaky-bum-time extraction of goodies.
The Light Zone doesn’t have that. There are groups of enemies, but they’re mostly the weakest of the weak, and even the few named bosses floating around are simple enough to deal with. Exploration isn’t rewarded much, especially at the end-game when you’ve already done most of the optional side-missions. And so this is where Massive should really focus on in year two.
Add groups of veteran and elite enemies for players at the end-game. Make the boss encounters meatier, and make exploring certain areas more worthwhile. It doesn’t need to be exactly like the Dark Zone, but there is so much wasted space in Manhattan at the moment that could be put to great use.
The Division’s UI looks great from an artistic standpoint. Inspired by augmented reality, some things are suspended in the world itself, which gives the whole thing a ‘set the day after tomorrow’ kind of vibe. The interface has a distinctive, dare I say ‘iconic’, flair to it that I still appreciate over 140 hours later.
As an interface I need to actually use, though? There’s a lot that needs tweaking.
The biggest problem with the interface is the equipment screen. Stats can be difficult to parse, and knowing what counts as a good weapon or not can be tricky and tedious. Having to unload all of your mods, changing gear pieces one by one to fine-tune your build, and then having to put it all back as it was when you discover it doesn’t quite work as well as you’d hoped is a massive, massive pain in the arse.
Give us loadouts. As long as we have all the gear in our inventory, let us preset builds that we can switch between as and when we need them. Make the stats a bit more easily understood (I still don’t quite get how I can have two guns with identical damage numbers yet one still be showing as inferior in that stat), and give us a dang undo button to save on having to reinstall every single mod we screwed around with.
More Story Content
While it’s not as utterly inaccessible as Destiny, The Division’s story has more holes than a Curly Wurly. A massive plot point is introduced roughly half way through the story, but is then weirdly pushed aside to let you deal with another of the comparatively less important factions are dealt with.
Weirder still, some of the end-game incursions are plopped randomly in-between the events of story missions, so enemies you dealt with at level 25 are suddenly a massive threat again at level 30 and a ge3ar score of 256. It just don’t make no sense, gosh dangit.
For year 2, we really need more story missions. They need to carry on the story of the first wave agents, who were introduced and then quickly dropped as soon as the Last Man Battalion showed up. Letting us find out what happened to Vitaly Tchernenko, who seemed to be a major player for all of two missions, would also be nice.
One of the larger gaps in the story is due to the Clear Sky incursion. Despite being a raid only available to those in the end-game, plot-wise it’s actually set before the General Assembly mission. It’s bizarrely placed and can be more confusing where it is than really needs be for those following the plot. Whether this could be fixed by shifting Clear Sky out of Incursion status and tweaking it for difficulty would fix the problem I don’t know, but Clear Sky is just odd. Really, really odd.
More Base Building
One of the more exciting elements of the levelling game in The Division is building up your base of operations. Completing story missions and encounters gives you credits that can be used to buy new amenities and resources for your base. The problem is that you’ll more than likely be at 100% base completion before you hit the end-game, so it’s a promising aspect of the game that just drops off once you hit level 30.
I’d love to put all the extra security, medical and tech credits I’ve earned grinding story missions to use. I haven’t finished all of the encounters yet either, because there is no real purpose to doing them once you’ve unlocked everything.
The Base itself is pretty full, but there are dozens of safe houses scattered around the map that could benefit from a few upgrades of their own. Heck, it could even be incorporated into the Dark Zone in some fashion. Over the course of the leveling game, building up that base sparked a major feeling of progression, and I’d love to have more of it to work towards while I’m busy grinding out gear sets.
No seriously, the servers make any sort of PvP borderline unplayable at times. If I see “Poor connection to host server” during a Survival match one more time I might cry. If Massive’s going to dedicate the 1.6 patch and third DLC to competitive multiplayer, it needs the servers to cope with that.
I love The Division. I gave it my game of the year last year, I’ve got what is essentially a shrine to it on my shelf full of various bits of memorabilia, and I still play it every day.
That being said, it’s hard to deny there are some major gaps in the game. I really hope Massive put some time into these things over the next year.