The Dark Zone Is Changing: The Division Updates Today

The Division [official site] is an organisation comprised of highly trained operatives embedded among the civilian population, ready to be activated in times of crisis. They’re also loot-hungry scavengers, willing to exploit any means necessary to get hold of the sweetest guns in the land. The Man won’t let them shirk their responsibilities, however, and in this case The Man is Ubisoft. Today’s patch should put an end to the endless loot cycle discovered by high-level players and that’s not the only change. The Dark Zone is being revamped and there are numerous tweaks to skills and drop rates.

I just wrote “drop rates” without feeling like an absolute cretin. That’s testament to how much I’ve been enjoying The Division. I’m invested in all of its nonsense. To say I’ve been enjoying The Division is slightly incorrect though – I haven’t been able to enjoy Tom Clancy’s latest for a good while now because I’ve been trapped in the GDC bubble, with only a puny laptop capable of running diddy roguelikes to my name.

In this fast-moving world, I feared I’d come home to find that my regular crew had moved on to something new but since my regular crew is basically just Graham, and he’s been busy keeping RPS afloat while Pip, Alice and I frolicked in San Francisco, I had nothing to fear. We’re still around the same level, put to shame by John who has been quietly creeping toward the level limit.

I’ve missed The Division. It’s the ideal comfort food in my gaming diet, rarely unpredictable and wholly satisfying within the systems it lays out in its early stages. I find it compelling in the same way that I found Diablo II compelling for so long, with the added benefit of combat that is at least slightly more engaging than the clickity-click of so many isometric RPGs.

All of that preamble is my way of gently introducing the fact that a lot of the notes for this patch don’t apply to me. I’m too puny. These are high-level changes, on the whole. There’s a concentration on Dark Zone balancing, with players killed there now losing less funds and experience, while those who go Rogue (by killing other players) and survive will receive greater rewards. There are also lots of fixes to mission scripting, animation bugs and a major change to the Trained talent, which can no longer be applied to SMGs, LMGs and Assault Rifles.

The Trained talent had been disabled in an earlier update after players discovered that it gave an unfair advantage in PvP and late-game challenges when attached to a weapon that generated critical hits at a high rate. Essentially, a loop was created whereby the frequent critical hits triggered the talent, which provides a boost to the signature skills recharge rate. The end result was that very powerful signature skills could be used every few seconds rather than every ten or fifteen minutes as intended.

There’s a replacement skill for it named Midas SMGs – the weapons on which the exploit was first noted – which increases damage at close range, and other SMGs, LMGs and Assault Rifles will receive a new randomly picked talent to replace Trained. That goes for any weapons you already own as well as new ones.

The full patch notes are here. Hopefully, the overall effect will be to flesh out the end-game a little while encouraging a spot of rogue-like behaviour in the Dark Zone. That’s rogue-like as in behaving like a rogue and betraying your fellow players rather than roguelike as in engaging permadeath and ASCII symbols.


  1. Anti-Skub says:

    As someone who IS level 30 I can tell you that these changes will have bugger all effect. They are ever so slightly reducing the Pheonix credit grind and making it easier to get high end gear, but the way in which you do it hasn’t changed in the slightest.

    The ONLY impact that this is going to have is that maybe people wont completely ignore the loot crates now…some of the newer level 30s might open them so that they can deconstruct the purples for crafting materials. Probably not though.

    Long story short. The Divisions end game is garbage, and this patch doesn’t change that.

    • JonWood says:

      I’m not entirely sure why there’s meant to be an End Game in things now. What was wrong with games where the end game was being told “well done, you’ve won”, and then moving onto something else?

      • fish99 says:

        Exactly. It does seem like we have a new generation of gamers (presumably brought up playing WoW) who expect every game, especially multiplayer ones, to have near-infinite content. Why can’t The Division just have 30 hrs of content? You get your moneys worth and then you go play another game. Whoever said it was an MMO, it clearly isn’t.

        • Anti-Skub says:

          Ah the good old, “new generation of gamers” bollocks. It’s the children who are wrong! It’s definitely not a style of online game that has been popular since the mid 90s. Literally the first generation of online gamers.

          As I have said elsewhere here, there is absolutely no reason why the Division couldn’t have had a strong 30 hour coop campaign with a definitive ending where everything wraps up and the credits roll. But it does not. The game has been designed and marketed as an ongoing, end game based, rolling content title.

          The problem is that it doesn’t stand up as either. The coop gameplay is comprised of half a dozen story missions surrounded by the classic Ubisoft cut and past style of taking 3 types of activity and scattering 50 of them across the map. It’s a low effort way of padding out the leveling content to get you to max level.

          Had they made more effort to make the core of the coop gameplay a more memorable, cohesive experience, or had the end game been a more satisfying prospect the game could have been great. Unfortunately the coop, story aspects of the game are half assed and left unresolved in favour of an endless end game…which is shit.

          I would have been more than happy if the darkzone and end game loot just didn’t exist and instead they’d used the resources saved from not trying to make an end game to flesh out the plot and characters, maybe have more varied, more grounded in the world activities that didn’t feel like glorified “Go here and kill this” MMO quests. What they’ve ended up with is a mediocre coop game with a shit MMO tacked on the end.

          • fish99 says:

            By your logic everyone would have been complaining about the story campaign ending and not having endless single player content in RtCW and COD1+2, but they weren’t, so you’re wrong. It’s definitely a new trend I’ve seen where there’s a section of gamers always asking ‘where is the end game?’ for every multiplayer game now.

            Also I never said it was anything to do with age, it’s just people who’ve played a lot of MMOs, mainly WoW.

          • Distec says:

            I think few people are asking for “endgame content” in all their multiplayer games. More unlocks, sure. But “endgame” usually implies a total paradigm shift from what came before (ie. leveling a character in an MMO versus gear farming when you hit the level cap).
            I see few people screaming for this in TF2, COD, or CSGO. You’ll notice that straight MP shooters like those are doing fine with their fanbases. This expectation pops up for games with heavy RPG trappings; games with levels and caps, stats to improve, gear to swap out, etc. The treadmill isn’t new.

            This seems like an issue with genre, not multiplayer games overall.

      • that_guy_strife says:

        What do you mean by ”now” ?

        I always thought campaigns in games that also had a multiplayer component were the training part, and the multiplayer the end game. Like Doom or Starcraft in the nineties. Finish the campaign, then multiplayer if you want to keep playing. Not to say that campaigns can’t and shouldn’t be interesting and worth replaying, but there’s a difference between playing an AI and a human.

        Every MMO from Everquest to Diablo passing WoW is all about reaching max level then gearing up.

        I’m really not quite sure if trolling or the rock you’ve been living under has just been upturned.

        I’ll agree that the popup after the final mission in the Division saying ”congrats, now the endgame !” was a bit jarring.

      • FuriKuri says:

        While this may be fair comment for the majority of games, the fact that The Division was/is marketed as an MMO(ish) with an ‘exciting PvP end game’ makes your point somewhat spurious.

        As it stands, I had a lot of fun with The Division, but not entirely sure I got my money’s worth. The second I hit DZ rank 50 any desire to continue playing quickly evaporated. All it meant was I could craft some marginally better gear. Every other activity in the game I’d expended completely in achieving that goal, and the overall experience felt very shallow.

        Also, there’s no closure in the game at all; little sense of really ‘winning’ at anything. Everything is left dangling for future expansions, many of which are quite a long way off.

        • that_guy_strife says:

          I believe the typical Ubisoft ”interesting ideas, poor execution” applies.

          I wholeheartedly agree – while the ride to 30 was enjoyable, now that I’m there, the game seems rather empty. I believe that’s symptomatic of a plague of the actual now – paid DLC. I’m certain that in one or two years, there will be a lot more to sink your teeth in after max level than there currently is. so I see the game as an Early Access: play the campaign now, wait and pray for more patches, polish, bug squashing, and above all the rest of the content.

          The Incursions just seem like additional missions, but the Dark Zone activities could be interesting.

          Then again, it’s the same with a lot of games. How many Baal runs in Diablo 2 ? RPS mentionned that ”at least the game mechanics are more engaging” and that’s true, especially when running with 3 friends on comms.

          • Smoof says:

            To be fair, I’ve never found any MMO compelling after reaching endgame, with the rare exception of Wrath of the Lich King for WoW.

            Generally, I find with MMO’s that I play them for a little while and then start to get anxiety about “End Game” and how it generally consists of doing the same shit over and over again, so you can get better gear to do harder stuff over and over again. It’d be nice if The Division broke from this mold, as I do have some minor anxiety regarding getting there, but the I’m enjoying the gameplay too much right now to think too much of it.

      • Minglefingler says:

        Me too. I’m more than happy if I enjoy playing through the story in a game, mmo style grinding for better gear so that you can kill the same enemies more efficiently leaves me cold and I really don’t understand the attitude that a game is terrible if the end game is bad which seems to be a popular thing to say about The Division on its steam forums.

        • that_guy_strife says:

          Like I said, the 40-50 hours I spent going through the campaign and reaching max level were enjoyable. The game is absolutely beautiful and quite immersive – while the mechanics are a bit clunky, they nonetheless work well.

          The problem is it was advertised as a loot-driven, high-tension multiplayer game after that initial ride, and that last part simply isn’t there.

          • Minglefingler says:

            Fair enough, I didn’t pay any attention to the marketing of the game. Like I said, end games don’t really interest me and there seems to be an attitude in certain quarters that the end game is the only part of a game that matters.
            You’re happy to say that you enjoyed the levelling process, what has me scratching my head are the people who say the game is awful based solely on what happens when they hit max level. I mean, taking your example if it takes 40-50 hours to complete the campaign, then that’s a lot of time spent playing what is a very enjoyable game and to ignore all of that (speaking in general here, not about yourself) and denounce the game seems a bit unfair. This is something I’ve seen a fair amount of posts on steam do.

          • that_guy_strife says:

            Imagine a child who has had to sit sadly for all his life through his friends buildup, excitement and joy over Christmas coming. The food, the ambiance, the people, the presents.

            But then his parents tell him this year is going to be different. This year they’re celebrating.

            Only Christmas morning comes, and the parents forgot all about it, and they’re already off to work, leaving him alone.

            That’s how people who have reached endgame feel. It may be a minority of players, but honestly, I don’t believe the next 3 months will add significant content. Which will only add to the disillusionned (sorry, english isn’t my native language, I struggled with that one xD) minority.

          • Minglefingler says:

            Well, even though I doubt it will ever be for me I hope that Ubisoft improve upon it so that you can have your Christmas.

        • Anti-Skub says:

          “mmo style grinding for better gear so that you can kill the same enemies more efficiently leaves me cold”

          And you don’t see why the fact that The Division pushes that MMO style grind as it’s primary form of entertainment is a valid criticism? You don’t like that MMO style grind yet you don’t see why people are complaining about the MMO style grind? I really don’t follow your logic.

          • Minglefingler says:

            I was referring to grinding for gear after the campaign is complete. Getting new gear to better equip yourself for the camapaign is one thing, getting new gear to better equip yourself to get new gear post campaign is when I lose interest. Things like dailies, repeatedly running the same dungeons or raids are things that I don’t see the appeal of.

          • Minglefingler says:

            Also, I wasn’t having a go at players complaining about grinding, I was remarking on how some players base their entire opinion of a game on the end game.

          • that_guy_strife says:

            It’s because they’re disappointed, feel deceived, and they don’t have much to look forward to.

            I’m certain most of the naysayers would say the first part of the game was quite enjoyable.

        • Anti-Skub says:

          The point I was making is that yes, that endless loop of collecting gear to get more gear for no reason is boring…so why do you think it’s not fair to criticise a game for including boring content? Why is the game beyond reproach because the first 15 hours are all right?

          I mean apply that logic to another game. What if the first 15 hours of Skyrim were great but then the plot and content just stopped right after you killed that first dragon at the watchtower outside Whiterun and then you discovered that the entirety of the rest of the game was just repeatedly killing that same dragon and seeing if he ever dropped a cool sword.

          That would be fine would it? The first 15 hours building up to this point were good, so the fact that the rest of it is garbage that is too boring for you to even consider doing is irrelevant?

          • Minglefingler says:

            It’s perfectly fair to criticise boring aspects of a game. But I don’t think it’s fair to write off a game because the part that comes after the campaign doesn’t meet your expectations as I don’t think the endgame invalidates what has come before. If you’ve had 30 hours with the campaign which you’ve enjoyed but hate the endgame then it’s a bit poor to say the whole game is terrible. Again, I’m not referencing anyone commenting here, I’ve seen this attitude on many forums and not just for this game.

          • Nauallis says:

            ^ This comment.

            I want to say that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the process of leveling up, roaming around the city, and occasionally wandering into the dark zone. My game experience has been made substantially better by the inclusion of co-op and playing with one of my best friends. The journey/gameplay in this case is the reward, and I don’t see the point in racing to the end!

            The sad thing I see in many of the comments extolling the supposed end-game, is that people seem to think that the game doesn’t actually start until the max level is reached, and oftentimes the comments could be just be copied and pasted from one comment thread to another – and generally it seems like the people most bothered by it (Anti-Skub) didn’t ever stop and acknowledge that maybe they were enjoying the process of leveling up, or quite possibly were so fixated on finishing that they never paid attention to how they got there.

            I think ranting about the “lack of end-game content” might make sense when an MMO is pay-to-play, like WoW, where ongoing support should (and does) mean periodic content updates that add more things for the existing playerbase to do. But bitching about the lack of more story, raiding, etc, when you’ve already played 20-50 hours… yeah, you’re not paying a monthly subscription. I have never played a first or third person shooter than provided a storyline/campaign longer than about 15 hours on “normal”. Maybe Destiny, as some of those missions and strikes can take about an hour. Expectations just aren’t matching reality here. And that’s not always the developer’s fault.

        • Sarracenae says:

          I spent about 30 quid on it, and have played for 60 hours so far, and reached PVE30 and i’m still just off DZ30. I’d say at 50p per hour it’s been pretty good value even if i never touch it again. I’ve not bought the season pass yet, as it’s literally months before it applies to the PC. I’ll see if i’m still interested when the first paid DLC arrives before buying it. I never expected anything more than what we got. The DZ has been quite fun, but i’m not the type who will run the same boss 100 times to get the best gear, i’m an adult now and don’t have time, the Everquest/Wow raiding days are long behind me thank goodness. At the moment will i buy the next real expansion of the storyline? Yeah probably because i thought it was a pretty neat story, although i think they could have put a bit more into the mission bosses, they are all a bit samey.

      • Anti-Skub says:

        And I’m not entirely sure why you think their shouldn’t be?

        Being told “Well done, you’ve won” is totally fine. If a game does that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. The Division does not.

        The whole game is set up in such a way that “end game” content was clearly meant to be their focus. The crafting system is built around the max level player, the random stat gear and the darkzone level cap are designed to keep you grinding, the more challenging coop gameplay is reserved for max level, repeatable daily missions…even the plot is just set up for upcoming content. The game “ends” with you discovering the identity of what you can only assume is the games primary antagonist and the promise of upcoming high level group content.

        You don’t have to have end game, but Massive chose to make it an core part of their product and in doing so set themselves up to have to meet certain expectations…which they failed miserably to meet.

        Saying a game shouldn’t have to have an end game isn’t a defence for a mediocre end game in a title that is clearly meant to have one.

        • Philopoemen says:

          I think Massive underestimated players ability to hammer through all the milestones in the two weeks post launch. And to be fair, of the million+ who bought the game, only a small number have reached the 30/50 mark. A highly vocal small number, but a small number nonetheless.

          The release of new content throughout the year will again likely take care of most complaints, as they’ll see what sells, and adapt accordingly.

          • Anti-Skub says:

            So basically what you’re saying is that it’s OK to release a sub standard game as long as you improve before anyone notices how bad it is?

          • Sandepande says:

            The Division isn’t substandard. Of the “endgame” I have no opinion but the rest of the game most certainly isn’t. Go play something else.

        • BananaMan3000 says:

          I’d love for you to spend a year working in AAA development and see if you’re still so completely full of massive unreasonable outrage afterwards. Give it a break for fucks sakes.

        • Sarracenae says:

          Is it really end game though, or is it stuff to do until the next storyline expansion comes out?

      • treofwar says:

        your right, i was talking to my gf about that the other day, and the devision is what brought up the discussion.. how games used too.. u would have 50 – 60$ get a day or twos worth of gaming and the game would be done, and we was fine with that… now the industry has painted itself in a corner by making games have to last 2 – 4 years now… so people are used to that.. if a game comes out and 2 wks later there isnt much to do anymore people get VERY UPSET… and the video game industry created that by making these types of games.. dont get me wrong.. im glad they did.. but we could NEVER go back to the way things used to be.. like with mario brothers for example… a game that if u knew the shortcuts u could beat in less than 20 mins hahaha and be excited that you done so!

    • Philopoemen says:

      The issue is that the way the game is set up atm, is that you’re not really pushed towards the DZ until you are level 30. So for example myself, as a fresh level 30, entered the DZ, only to find that I needed to be minimum DZ level 30 to even buy new gear from the vendors, let alone open loot crates.

      There needs to be more of gradual inclusion of the DZ, so that your DZ rank goes up similiarly to your open world rank to avoid the rank discrepancies.

      • that_guy_strife says:

        This. When I hit DZ rank 30, I made a run of all the vendors and spent maybe 5-10 % of the money I earned by getting to 30, and didn’t get anything more than half a dozen 1-2 % upgrades what I already had. The loot crates locked at 30 only give out a certain tier of equipement (specialized/blue) but by the time you reach that rank you’re fully equipped with gold/highend or purple/superior already. Which made the loot crates very disappointing.

        Even the chests that require a key didn’t drop anything higher than purple, which is useless almost as long as the blues. they fixed that in today’s patch – locked chests now have a chance to drop highends.

        For a game marketed around it’s loot and it’s PVP, those systems were very poorly implemented at launch. Fun fact – today’s patch actually COMPLETELY broke all the things it was supposed to fix, and servers went back offline shortly after the patch going live. That entirely personifies Ubisoft’s approach !

    • Tekrunner says:

      “Long story short. The Divisions end game is garbage, and this patch doesn’t change that.”

      Isn’t that the case of most games of this type at release? It’s kind of unrealistic to expect a developer and publisher to release a massive game with infinite replayability when they have very little idea of how much success it’ll have on the market. Far safer to release a solid base game, and then build upon it, through a mix of free and paid extensions. That’s how Borderlands 2 and Diablo 3 did it, and it worked out pretty well for them.

      • that_guy_strife says:

        Valid point.

        Thing is Borderlands 2 already had a solid foundation in the first title. I don’t have much else to say about that since I didn’t play the second.

        Diablo 3 also had a prior title, and come on. It’s Blizzard. They’re great at what they do.

        So you could have faith in those games, because you already had a good idea of what’s coming, and the devs have experience.

        Ubisoft has a history of deceiving customers, copypasting content, handling multiplayer absolutely terribly, and games being a mess code-wise, plus now balance-wise. People are very skeptical of them. Releasing a patch that breaks the game and screaming ABORT ABORT ABORT reinforces that skepticism. They have no idea what they’re doing, and by the time they start figuring it out it might well be too late.

        • Tekrunner says:

          “So you could have faith in those games, because you already had a good idea of what’s coming, and the devs have experience.”

          It worked out that way for BL2, because the game was improving on almost every aspect of the previous title. But it arguably worked fully against D3, as a lot of people were very disappointed that the game did not match their expectations at all. It took a long time for Blizzard to fix that situation afterwards.

          Ubisoft / Massive didn’t have the benefits of an existing IP, but they also didn’t have the drawbacks. What they should be judged on is what they’ve released, and I think it’s fair to say that it’s a solid base game. I’ve played it for 50h, and I just reached max level. The game is polished and has fun core gameplay. We’re just going to have to be a little patient to get more content / an actual endgame. Saying that the game has no future and Ubi screwed up seems a little at odds with what’s actually happening and the plans that were announced.

  2. MiniMatt says:

    I’ve only dabbled in the Dark Zone so far, but at present I really like the current balance.

    That’s not to say risk/reward may not need tweaking, but as someone who’s a complete carebear, it’s current setup (pre level 30 at any rate) where it’s an ever present risk and a perpetual worry but not a constant gank-fest is something I appreciate.

  3. Fendxr says:

    Where are the spellchecks man? First line: The Division [official site] is an organisation <—-

    • Mungrul says:

      That’s the UK English way of spelling “organisation”. And as RPS is pretty much a UK site, you’d expect it to be written by people using UK English.

    • Spuzzell says:

      That’s how it’s spelt in English.

      I don’t know what it is in the patois you mangle out there in the colonies.

      • Jabberslops says:

        I played in the Beta and kept thinking that the Dark Zone would be more fun if it had Death Match, Team DM, Capture the flag and King of the Hill team defense. It might even be fun to play Counter-strike style bomb planting and defusing. Maybe even have the option of enemy mobs in there during a match.

  4. Love Albatross says:

    They had to take the servers down again. The patch was broken and made Bullet King poop out more items, including anything from the entire high end loot table. lol

  5. djp_pro says:

    Yo Adam HMU on uplay if u want me to show u Wot I’ve learned about rocking the DZ. U-Play name is as u see it here: DJP_Pro

  6. crowleyhammer says:

    I am on the fence regarding this game, i really am intrigued by it and it looks like a fun place to explore but playing world of tanks is probably scratching the same itch as this game would, and its free.

    But something keeps making me hover over the purchase button for this one.

    • Smoof says:

      I think The Division would fit a nice fix for relaxed PvE if you’re looking for that. The Dark Zone stuff is fun (I’m PvE 18 and DZ like..15? 16?), but if you want a PvP fix, you’ll probably be better off with WoT.

      WoT is designed around PvP and therefore, will always do it better than a game that’s a mix of the two. That said, I love both games. I’ve so far put about 30-hours into The Division and while I no longer play WoT, I did have around 8500 battles before I quit.

      • Smoof says:

        FWIW as well, I’ve spent $42 on The Division (Green Man Gaming sale) and probably around $600 on WoT in the several years I played it. So keep that in mind if you’re buying premium stuff.

  7. Aoleso3425k says:

    All this outrage is a very clear result of the games lack of structured pvp. The core game should be as it is currently including the dark zone and there should be a completely seperate mode that is focused on round based structured pvp or survival/permadeath like dayz or h1z1 battle royal. Either survive as long as possible, respawn and try again or last man standing.

    Ubisoft tried to do something unique but the game screams for traditional pvp. At some point they are gonna have to swallow thier pride and give this game tbe endless replay value it deserves that only true pvp can provide. End of story!

  8. korefuji says:

    I know it’s not ideal but if you want to know more about the story of the division, first wave and second wave, as well as minor stories you’ll have to collect the voice recordings and all the other tidbits you can pick up. Took a while and I have them all now 293/293 and the story is actually really engrossing