The Division's 1.1 patch brings instability, frustrating design
The Division’s first big patch hit this week, bringing with it great new gameplay options like:
Oh! And of course, everyone’s favorite MMO feature - dailies:
The game’s first Incursion, believed by the community to be something close to Destiny’s raids prior to patch 1.1, appeared in the form of Falcon Lost. However, it features the same player cap as regular missions (four) and far less in terms of inspired design. The General Assembly mission - the last in the main storyline campaign of The Division - possesses better mechanics and a more satisfying boss. In Falcon Lost, your team of four Agents quickly clears out some trash in the sewers of New York City before hitting the end of the instance, where an APC backed by wave after wave of Last Man Battalion enemies issue forth to end you.
Sure, there are drones now, which change things up very slightly (players must now remember to look up in addition to around), but those things pose little genuine challenge. Falcon Lost is genuinely challenging, but only in the same way that eating a 120 oz. steak is challenging. It features 15 waves of enemies, with the occasional prompt to go turn off a couple of turrets stationed on either side of the APC you must blow up with C4. For a moment, immediately after the patch was pushed, it was possible to do damage to the APC with guns, grenades, and special abilities - but in the hotfix pushed the same day, that was removed, leaving players with a gimmicky yet boring encounter (as well as a rash of errors, including continuous disconnects and missing characters).
If Falcon Lost is a letdown, though, then the introduction of dailies is slightly more soul crushing. Instead of incentivizing players to do enjoyable things, the dailies (and weekly) challenges introduced in patch 1.1 feature as challenges some of the least enjoyable things to do in the game. You know how it was really annoying having to combine hundreds of low level materials to form middle-tier materials, then go through that process again to create high end materials? Great! Now do that 30 more times.
Now, if we look at the list of things brought to us in the 1.1 patch, there have to be some sure-fire winners among them. Surely guaranteed high-end drops from 30+ named elites is a good thing - I can’t count how many times I’ve farmed through the Dark Zone only to pull an endless stream of purples. Except wait, nope, seems the high-ends the named elites drop are all 163 Gear Score items (by the way, hello Light Levels, nice of you to come over to The Division from Destiny for a spell) and guess who doesn’t need 163 Gear Score items? Literally anyone who hit 30 before this patch, more or less.
Also, crafted items now take more resources to build, which is actually fine due to the fact that you’ll be dismantling so many high end pieces of gear anyways.
The patch’s least-hyped items are what I find solace in. The UI now features a clear list of objectives and activities to do, as well as clear demonstrations of Gear Score to help evaluate the relative worth of items. Dark Zone Supply drops are another new addition, theoretically adding purpose to activity within the DZ (aside from grinding and ganking), though those too offer subpar loot. There is also, of course, the addition of Armor Sets to the game, as well. Though I’ve yet to see any for myself, they give me something to strive towards.
For The Division’s first offering of updates, Patch 1.1 is definitely underwhelming - but paradoxically, I still find myself drawn to the game. The addition of new things reignited my interest just as it was waning, even if those new things only offer me new ways of becoming infuriated with the game. How much longer this love/hate relationship will last remains to be seen.