I have to admit: I pre-ordered The Division.
Pre-ordering is generally dumb, but I was so excited for the game that I wanted to dive right in. So I preloaded it, and stayed up until like four in the morning to get my first taste. Playing through the single player content with my friends was fun, despite the occasional glitch. The missions and side quests were fun and tense, the lore was absolutely excellent, and balancing your gear was a challenge. The DZ was a tense place, where you never knew whether or not to trust another player. That, of course, was where all of the best gear was as well, so if you wanted to get geared, you had to risk it. The population started to swell, and that’s when the problems started.
The DZ became a no-go zone, as people were actively encouraged by Massive to become the biggest dicks humanly possible. Rogue timers were lowered, so there wasn’t really any penalty for murdering players. They adjusted the amount of private versus public loot when you were killed in the DZ, which made it more lucrative. Groups would mine zone entrances, run deliberately into your fire, and form eight or twelve man murdergroups. It made sense, given the game design: the best gear was in the Dark Zone, and some could be purchased via in-zone vendors with DZ currency. That currency could be farmed by murdering other players, so why not stalk entrances, solo players, and extraction zones? Not only were you taking their stuff, you were actively preventing them from becoming a threat later.
And that’s before they introduced a way to cut loot cords, spilling an entire group’s loot.
After awhile, the game population started to shrink. There wasn’t really a way to access decent gear, so you couldn’t get geared for the Underground, or Incursions. Going into the Dark Zone was pointless, even with a group. What was I supposed to do, grind away pointlessly doing dailies? I bitterly put down the game for a couple of months.
Recently, a friend suggested we try the test server, see if the changes made sense. We played for a few hours, and I have to say, it wasn’t bad. NPCs were no longer bullet sponges that took ten minutes to down. Loot drops were actually quite good out in the world. I even ventured into the Dark Zone, and didn’t get mauled. Named bosses spawn outside of the Dark Zone, so you have a chance at real gear. There are still a lot of problems, however. Enemies still have dirt-dumb AI. There’s no real incentive to do Incursions anymore, as loot outside of them has been increased.
Bottom line, The Division is still a hot mess, even with the improvements of patch 1.4 . Is it worth playing again? I suppose time will tell. Survival is supposed to drop before year’s end, after being delayed from a summer release.