The Division has problems. That is a statement of fact, one of which can be said for almost every game but The Division is beginning to crack under the stress of its mounting problems. It would be one thing to have bugs in the game and another thing to have broken systems within the game. Both of these issues are plaguing the game and it is not clear how or when they will be resolved.
It is not too late for the game but the longer the problems go on the more players will leave. Here are some things that Massive can do to make players stay and maybe even comeback.
Fix The Bugs
This one sound obvious. There is no reason that months after the game’s release the riot shield should still be bugged or for players to get stuck on ladders or for players’ skills to glitch out. As a player on the Xbox One, I beg for the lag issues to be fixed.
Make The Loot Better
It is not the quality of the items but rather how players can get them. At the end of an Incursion you have a “chance” for high-end or gear set pieces but only a chance. Also, you only get one of those chances once a week for completion the rest of the time you are hoping for boss drops. For how much effort and time an Incursion can take it should be more rewarding. Make it so the boss drops more loot and get rid of the weekly drop.
As for quality, there is no reason why a Heroic level story mission should only have 204 weapons. This is a clear imbalance in the loot system since a Heroic Underground mission will yield 229 weapons. Make it consistent so that all Heroic level activities have the same rewards. There also needs to be a chance for higher loot in lower activities so that players can build up to tougher activities rather than suffering through them at first.
Stop the Lone Star Shuffle
Hear me out on this one. Players of The Division all know the Lone Star shuffle because we all do it. Put on the Police backpack and two pieces of Lone Star before hitting a restock. This is just an annoyance and it is silly that it needs done.
With that said, it is the need for the Lone Star shuffle that needs remedied not the shuffle itself. The fact that NPC’s are so overpowered and necessitate several clips of ammo, even with pulse and smart cover buffs, to kill is the real issue. Not that we can have a can that makes a marksman rifle kill a level 35 NPC will one headshot but it shouldn’t take twenty shots either. Make it so enemies take a more reasonable amount of ammo to kill and set our inventory to hold a respectable amount of ammo. That way we don’t need to carry Lone Star just to switch it on and off to restock. If the ammo amount is fixed then we don’t have to worry about ammo capacity as a gear attribute either.
Reel In The Rogues
Look, I get it, the DZ is a PVP and PVE area. That is fine but going rogue at this point has almost no consequence. When the game first released the penalty from going rogue, loss of credits and XP, held most at bay from doing so. Now, the penalties are lower and they mean even less since those that are going rogue are a high enough rank and have enough DZ credits that it doesn’t matter if they lose those.
Since XP and credits mean nothing to rogues take away that which they most desire – the ability to kill other players. When you die as rogues your respawn timer gets longer based on the rogue level you were at upon your death. Make it a full minute or two for every level you were rogue. If you get killed during a Manhunt status, level 5 rogue, you would have to wait up to ten minutes to respawn. That will give people cause to think about going rogue and to be a bit more crafty when they do. It would also give the non-rogue players a respite if only temporarily.
Stop Nerfing Stuff
They nerfed the SMG’s. They nerfed the G36. They nerfed Sentry’s Call. Guess what? That didn’t fix the issue. SMG’s are still viable but they aren’t the doomsday device they used to be. The G36 is probably still the best assault rifle in the game. Now people run four or five pieces of Sentry’s call instead of three.
Nerfing hasn’t done much but frustrate players. The G36 is a prime example. We finally had a weapon that made it feel like we had a chance and Massive nerfed it. Why? Good question. It would feel more empowering to the players to buff rather than nerf. Look at LMG’s, giving the bonus damage to targets out of cover made those more viable weapons without penalizing other weapons. That is a strategy more players will be in tune with.
Get Gear Sets Inline
The gear sets of themselves are not at issue but how they are being used and how many are available are making a mess of the game. It used to be pretty simple, find a gear set that had talents that played to your liking, get a full four piece set, then fill in the rest with whatever. Now, every build is a mix ranging from five piece Sentry plus one other, three piece this with three piece that, or two piece this with two piece that with two piece whatever.
There are over a dozen gear sets already and we are only months into the game’s life. Perhaps it is time to hold off on releasing new sets. The loot table has already diluted enough that it is difficult for players to get the gear to drop that they actually want. I am a fan of choice and different options but there is also a point where there are so many options it is confusing.
RPG players are accustomed to complex systems. Players of shooter games are not. This game likely has more people from a Call of Duty background rather than World of Warcraft. It can be a confusing mess to try to make a character that works when you have to consider armor, exotic damage, fire resistance, blind/deaf resistance and so on. It would be more accessible to players if there were less variables to deal with. Perhaps making it only armor and “other” damage rather than several different types of damage.
Keep it simple stupid(K.I.S.S.) is not a bad thing at all. It could also be applied to things like critical hit chance. It is capped at 60% but maybe it could be fixed at 33%. That way nobody has to worry about rolling mods or the like to get up to the max. Rather the playing field is level and known if attributes like this are set and not variable.
Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes and there is no “one thing” that can be done to fix the game. It will rather be a long process to fix the game and re-engage the player base. On Massive’s State of the Game broadcast they talked about things in terms of weeks, this is a good time reference but people need to understand that it may take that long to identify and sort the issues at hand with it taking even longer to provide a fix.
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A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.