The Division – 1.4 and Beyond

 

the_division_wallpaper1625For what felt like an eternity, those still playing The Division patiently waited for the 1.4 update to arrive with the hopes of curing the game’s woes. While the patch delivered some relief the game continues to show its flaws.

The quality of life improvements that patch 1.4 delivered have been well received. The little things like being able to mark gear so that it can’t be sold or deconstructed or being able to buy back gear that was accidentally sold may seem trivial but it is huge to those that play. Going through the grind to get that perfect piece of gear only to sell it by mistake was enough to make some quit the game. Even getting better loot drops from the World Tier system has been nice. Touring the open world and being able to get top level gear from any enemy has made it easier for those who don’t want the stress of Incursions or the Dark Zone to keep getting gear at their own pace. Perhaps the simple change of gear level to 229 was the most subtle but should not be over looked. Many of time a person was kicked for not having max gear score even though they played better with gear of a lower number.

Unfortunately, patch 1.4 was not the end all solution to all the problems of the game. With the more gracious amount of loot drops came the constraints of storage. Each character and the shared Stash can only hold so much and the need to constantly sort through gear can be a hassle at times. Then there is the changing of talents and skills. Changing things like critical hit chance and the like force players to rebuild their builds after relearning the mechanics of the game. One of the worst offenders in 1.3 still exists in 1.4, shotguns. Over-powered NPC’s and shotgun thugs in the DZ are still a problem. The hope to balance this weapon is somewhat dwindling at this point. Time to kill was something that Massive made a major point to fix with this patch and while it is better they accomplished it by making other sacrifices. The change was mostly mad by nerfing skills and rewarding DPS. These is a step backwards for the game taking it back to its 1.0 and 1.1 days when DPS was the key attribute as opposed to 1.3’s Skill build.

Looking ahead to patch 1.5 and Survival DLC there is a mix of emotions and messaging. Patch 1.5 is set to change things like skills and attributes yet again forcing players to learn again exactly how they will function. Gear score is another potentially unwanted change going from 229 to 256. As for Survival, it is unclear how this will be received as it will take away from players all the precious gear they have worked so hard for and ask them to start anew with nearly nothing. Some will be fully into this and other will avoid it all together.

Massive is over six months into the release of this game and it is still struggling. Every time a patch or DLC is released the player base is first filled with the excitement of things being fixed and getting new gear only then to be met with the lament of having to learn the game all over and grinding away at replacing their gear. The developer seems to take point with each patch to try to make the players play they way they want them to rather than the way the player wants to and that is something that is going to continue to drive people away from the game. The more Massive asks its players to do everything over again without offering much in the way of new experiences the more they will find less people enjoying much less playing the game.

Look for Survival and 1.5 to be a telling, if not breaking, point of the game and its future.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

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.

Titanfall 2 – Missing Pieces

titanfall2

Fans of the original Titanfall had great expectations for the sequel, for some those expectations are left unmet.

The verse and tone were set for Titanfall 2 by its predecessor and poor use of those assets were made with this game. The multi-player only original was a flash success on the PC and Xbox One platforms giving one of the best on-line versus experiences in a long time. The fast paced movement and agility of a pilot was balanced with the lumbering power of the giant titans. In Ttianfall 2 these things still exist but do not play or feel as good as before. Competitive maps do not have the same effortless flow where you could endlessly wall-run with carefully placed jumps previously players now find strategically placed objects set to hinder said movement by intent. The ability to scamper from wall to wall with precision has been removed as walls have been placed in the just out of reach area where a jump is bound to fail but trick you into trying anyway.

What was a beautiful multi-player versus system has been turned sideways for no more than the sake of doing so. Re-working an experience based system between games is nothing new and not the issue with Titanfall 2. Unlocking weapons and abilities has not been greatly changed and can still be easily handled. What is less amenable to players is the lack of ability to change one’s loadouts both on pilots and titans. It may sound like a small change but going from having three weapons to only two is drastic and conditionally harsh. In the case of a pilot-vs-pilot game it would be fine to have a load out of only two weapons both designed to decimate other pilots. When playing in modes that involve titans and pilots the two weapon system reaches a break. In the original game if you failed to slay your pilot nemesis with your primary weapon it was a quick switch to your secondary for one last chance but in this sequel that secondary may be your anti-titan weapon that could likely be ineffective at dispatching your foe. With your titan your are now hamstrung to preconfigured armaments. The developers made the choice to not allow players to mix and match titan abilities and weapons as they did before. If you find that you enjoy a titans primary weapon but not its other abilities you’ll just have to learn to live with it because you can do little else about it.

More proof that change isn’t always progress, look at just two examples. First the absence of the Frontier Defense game mode. This co-op mode was grafted into the original after its release and it absence is odd in the sequel. Granted it can be added in later as it was in the original but the fact that it was a prebuilt game mode makes it a peculiar mode to be missing. The only thought is that they wanted to limit the number of modes available to keep player counts up in playlists. The second instance is the change to rodeoing a titan. In Titanfall 2 you remove a battery and jump off. You only get to damage a titan if the battery is already gone when you rodeo it and you’ll get to drop a grenade into it. This is far less satisfying that ripping open the titan’s skull and discharging your weapon into it for the kill. Maybe removing a battery can be a strategic maneuver, especially if you can return it to a teammate, but it almost negates the fun and functionality of the rodeo.

For those that lauded the original for its lack of a proper campaign there is good news and bad news. Respawn took the time to develop an actual campaign with character and story to replace its somewhat hilarious excuse for a campaign from the first game. Playing as an actual character is positive for the story given the modern contention to make the hero nameless and voiceless. That was the good news, now the bad. The storyline is somewhat jerking and nonsensical taking you between events and places that are held together by reasons resembling fishing line. As for the gameplay itself, it was a sadly ill-conceived notion to make a campaign for a first-person shooter more of a platforming game than an actual shooter.

Where the original Titanfall stood out Titanfall 2 will lurk in a corner. By not furthering any of the most innovative points this successor doesn’t offer the same appeal as the original. Time will tell how much the thrill of replaying a game that was replayed ad nauseam with little change can keep this game alive.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

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.