Why The Division’s Dark Zone Is Broken And Beautiful

The Division has been infecting everyone at RPS one by one. And I am no exception. The Dark Zone of the game, however, is a strange beast. It is far less dangerous than its rough cast of heroes and miscreants want you to believe and many have complained that there is almost no incentive to kill the other human players who roam there. It is less a Dark Zone and more of a Slightly Gloomy Zone. But despite the problems, I still think it is the most interesting part of post-Bigpox Manhattan. Let me tell you why.

Firstly, it is so obviously the result of Ubisoft designers looking at DayZ, Rust, Ark: Survival Evolved and other anarchy-laden survival games, and saying: “How can we make our next blockbuster feel a bit like those?” This is a noble endevour, even if what is eventually implemented is a diluted bunch of compromise mechanics. The Division recognises the potential of anarchy and runs with it. This is something mainstream games, especially those also played on console, are too often afraid to do.

Of course, in doing so, it has made so many cuts and changes to the way ‘anarchy’ works that it has become its own hodge-podge of rules and customs. You can slowly see a culture growing around these rules, completely different to the culture in DayZ, for instance. In DayZ, you approach someone and ask if they’re friendly, or you avoid them entirely. And even after they say they are friendly, you keep watching them at all times, like a paranoid owl. In the Dark Zone, you can safely assume everyone is friendly until proven otherwise. Specifically, until the game announces with a giant, unambiguous red skull that they are not nice people. They are ‘rogues’.

The rogue system works like this: shoot somebody with more than a few bullets and you are marked as ‘rogue’. You then have a timer counting down over your head. Outlive this timer and you’ll be returned to your normal ‘non-hostile’ state and awarded your own bounty. Die as a rogue and you will lose a big chunk of XP, some money and (probably) your loot. The player who kills you will also get a bounty and a great injection of XP towards their DZ rank.

This is not anarchy. This is a justice system. It’s clear from the amount of non-hostile players and the lack of rogues that vigilantes and law-abiders are rewarded more than those who embrace the Gloomy Side. Most of the rogues I have seen on my travels have only triggered the state by accidentally firing their AK-47 into the flank of a passing stranger. Their immediate reaction is to run and hide. I understand, I do the same thing when it happens to me – and it happens a lot.

Friendly fire is a problem here. A person stands to lose a lot through a simple error. What’s more, if you are in a group, the entire team will be marked as rogue for the transgressions of one person. Meaning you also stand to lose a lot from another person’s error. I love the possibility of human mistakes resulting in completely avoidable tragedies. Being chased because I accidentally popped some rounds into a man’s kidney, shouting “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!” as I run in vain down an alleyway, pleading with them when I hit a dead end, “please, can we talk about this?” I love that. That little storyboard of tragicomedy keeps me from feeling too annoyed about the game marking me out as an evildoer against my will. But the punishment – the big loss of XP and cash – feels absurd. And players have been so irate about it that the amount taxed from would-be murderers was recently lessened in a patch.

But this legal system also creates bizarre moments of forgiveness. I had an encounter with a man called ‘dElementb’, who ran into the white-hot blast of my errant incendiary grenade. This marked me as rogue and I prepared to scarper. Then I heard his voice: “Don’t worry, dude,” he said. “I’m not going to kill you. I know it was a mistake.” Before I could question his sincerity, he shouted at me to “Run! Run!” There was another player coming towards us, undoubtedly to kill me, and the man I had just almost incinerated was now acting as my protector, telling me to get out of here, fast. I ran away and hid until my rogue timer disappeared.

The hunter who appeared turned out to be a hacker – flying speedily away when he saw there was no easy mark. dElementb and I reuinited, formed a group of two and explored the subway tunnels together for the remainder of the night. This kind of organic team building and co-operation is exactly what today’s multiplayer blockbusters need more of and it is a small example of the DZ working, not exactly as intended, but in a way that brings to mind any of the random camaraderie of DayZ or Rust.

While the rogue system is almost obsolete, I have seen people (usually teams of four) going rogue with gusto and using every environmental niche to their advantage, eventually holding out on a particular roof that has only two entrances (two ropes up, leaving anyone who climbs either rope hugely exposed on arrival). Despite the obvious unfairness of this set up, I love it when it happens. The whole population of non-rogues gets together to launch multiple ill-fated assaults on the posse’s hideout. But moments like this are rare. And what is possible in a co-ordinated team of four, with the help of impossibly fortified boltholes, is not so easily done alone or even as a pair of dastardly murderers. Besides, when a mob of un-grouped players starts roaming the DZ together, there is only one outcome – accidental rogue syndrome.

For instance, a crowd of “legitimate” rogues were holding out on the roof I’ve just mentioned, their counters high – indicating a massive body count. My group of four and another group of four converged on the criminals. Other neutral individuals started to appear and one by one they died as they reached the summit of the climbing ropes. The other group with us immediately went rogue by accident and scattered in various directions to wait out their timers and avoid death by us or other opportunists. The assault forces were in disarray and everyone was getting killed. Then someone in our group made the same mistake, shooting a neutral player in the back, and we ran. I turned a corner down the street only to be met by a stranger arriving on the scene for the first time. He shot me in the head. The whole thing was a farce.

So here’s the question. If it is so farcical, why have a rogue system at all? Why not just make loot more scarce, and make the quality of that loot much better? This way people will naturally get into fights for it. Well, this creates a design conundrum. How do you balance scarcity? Make loot more scarce and you have more natural fights, without the need for rogue timers, red crosshairs and radar warnings. But it would also likely mean fewer people would bother entering the Dark Zone at all. It might risk turning the whole place into a battle royale with no hope of goodness, no chance of meeting people like ‘dElementb’, my formerly incinerated partner. Likewise, making the loot of a better quality goes against the slow-burning rules of MMO design (not that these should be shown any respect). On top of all this, Ubisoft have a rancid habit of elevating UI uber alles. “Without a little red skull,” goes their question, “how will people know who to kill?”

Basically, it comes down to this: how much like DayZ do people really want their MMO shooty-bang to become? Ubisoft have drawn the line at the ‘rogue’ mechanic, at little red skulls. And while I personally think that’s a shame, I also recognise that it is a huge step in the right direction for a multiplayer game like this, where I suspect the alternative system proposed was probably a straightforward PvP arena like Destiny’s Crucible, the frantic traditional firefights of the Iron Banner. As much as I like a good arena FPS, this outcome would have been a total waste of The Division’s setting and atmosphere.

There is also a feeling to the Dark Zone that I appreciate. The contrast it holds to the rest of the open world. Come out of the DZ after a long time inside and you feel real relief. That you have to physically head through the door again, from one place to the other (no fast travel in the DZ) is a natural design decision I am very grateful for. Just leaving the DZ can become a cat and mouse game between the NPC enemies and yourself, especially if you get separated or abandoned by the rest of your group while in the middle of DZ06. Trying to plot your way out, avoiding fights instead of seeking them, results in even greater feelings of relief when you finally emerge from behind the walls, into “OK” New York. Even without the presence of other human players, the ambiance of anarchy has somehow been retained.

Ultimately, I still think the Dark Zone is kind of broken. It isn’t the murderous moral wasteland that I would have liked to see. But it is not the dull PvP coliseum that it so easily could have been. The lessons of DayZ and its ilk have been learned. We can be happy among the few rogues that do exist, hiding on the rooftops, luring do-gooders towards certain death. Even if they only became rogues because they shot someone in the leg by mistake.

For our guide to The Division, click here.


  1. rommel102 says:

    Why not just change the Rogue system so that another player has to “mark” you as Rogue, after witnessing you commit a Rogue act.

    Ex: if you are walking down the street alone and get killed by another Agent, tough luck, that Agent just assassinated you without witnesses and will not be marked.

    If you get shot but not killed, and manage to mark the offending Agent, they’ll get marked Rogue and lit up on the map (i.e. you called it in to base). Likewise, if another third Agent sees the attack and marks the Rogue. This would also reduce “accidental”
    Rogue statuses, because if you shot a teammate or other friendly by accident they would have to intentionally mark you as Rogue for it to be a problem.

    I think that would both increase the incentive to go truly Rogue as well as decrease the amount of accidentals that you mention throughout the article.

    • Slazer says:

      I think that would create some bigger problems in the mechanics.

      If somebody starts shooting at you, you often cannot spend half a second to mark him before firing back, if you even live that long. That would just add bureaucracy worse than the current accidental rogues.

      If you don’t get rogue without anybody seeing or marking you, the place will probably be crowded with snipers that are hard to find, making the DZ become Stalingrad. For NPC Snipers has added the scope reflection to make them easily spottible, and they are still a pain in the ass.

      • rommel102 says:

        Wouldn’t that make the Dark Zone closer to the intended purpose of fearing for your life from other Agents all the time? I haven’t played since the Beta but my understanding is that it has essentially failed to live up to its potential.

        It would encourage teaming up rather than running lone wolf, because if you are sniped at least your team can have a chance to mark the rogue and fight back. And on the opposite side it would also encourage Rogue behavior, which still seems to be something that happens more often as an accident than an intentional act. Meeting a stranger(s) in the DZ suddenly would take on an entirely new level of tension, because that guy thinking about going Rogue might think he could take out the other guy(s) without getting marked.

        • jhk655 says:

          also a simple fix for that problem would be 1, make it a simple button press, and two, to add both the ability to mark rouge after taking damage and even after death while waiting to respawn. I kind of like that idea. but it wouldn’t fix the overarching issue with the dark zone just not being fun.

  2. fearandloathing says:

    Well I’m quite disturbed by all the hype on the game. Not one criticism goes on without “yeah that totally sucks but it’s niiice :):):)”. All in all, it’s nothing special, just a typical ubi-game with some pseudo-mmoish features.That’s all, nothing more, if you’re liking it just say that you’re a sucker for aaa+++ games, don’t go on and on about how brokenness of the game gives way to accidental greatness. It’s like that time when far cry 4 (or 3?guess 4) was selected the bestest of the best “yeah we’re totally like critical of the mainstream gaming, and the game is mainstream as it goes, but it’s a total geniustic mix of so and so elements which results in a brilliant constellation of blaaaargh”

    • Topperfalkon says:

      Well, I’m enjoying playing The Division, at the moment.

      I didn’t really expect to, but I managed to get some time to play the beta on the PS4 (don’t ask) and ended up more impressed with the experience than I’d expected.

      Sure, it has tonnes of flaws, and the PvE content varies somewhat in quality, but it’s still fun to play.

      It’s also one of those rare games where in the DZ you end up randomly teaming up with strangers just because it’s easier to work together.

    • Nucas says:

      because we all want to play fun games. if a game is fun, it doesn’t need those provisos.

      are people supposed to be wary of a title because it’s mainstream? or apologize for it? how pretentious.

    • AlianAnt says:

      You’re *disturbed*? That’s some strong language.

      Sorry to burst your elitist bubble, buddy. If the game is fun, you’ve no grounds to dismiss it simply because of the circumstances that it was developed under.

      Also, you clearly haven’t played it to length because this article is spot on with the experience of the Dark Zone. It’s definitely the most fun part of a mostly fun game because, in the middle of a fight, another team shows up and as we’re all downed by the elite level NPCs and someone says “rip” and then someone says “Press F to pay repects” and then everyone either types or says F, you have a genuinely good time that was completely unplanned.

      Sorry, dude, but you’re just wrong if you’re going to come at this game and the people who like it the way you did.

      • king0zymandias says:

        But what if you don’t press/say “F”? What are the consequences of refusing to participate in the circlejerk?

        • Alto says:

          There are no negative consequences, though you do get the “Smug Feeling of Superiority” achievement, which is worth a whopping 500 gamer points!

          • king0zymandias says:

            Already have that though. Well at least there are no negatives. Cheers.

      • jhk655 says:

        so the game is great because it’s players love stupid memes? I for one am tired of readin “trump 2016” spammed in the chat. Also, the dark zone isn’t fun. it gets boring fast, especially once you’ve gotten a full set of lvl 31 gear and realize how long it would take to farm up enough div tech and mats to craft a perfectly tailored set. The dark zone needs to be bigger or have more to do in it or something. I’ve already moved on to the next game. maybe ill come back after a few dlcs come out and some rebalanceing is done.

    • fearandloathing says:

      wow my totally conciliatory reply that would easily defuse the situation apparently was not approved by the mods. in brief it was like this:
      me h8t ubi, I think articles are puzzlingly contradictory in their arguments, me no h8t mainstream games. some games with much much less amount of brokenness(junkiness?) were bashed by the reviewers. this game may be the ultimate comfort food, just roll on with it, its ok to like bad games. comfort food is nice as long as you don’t present it as caviar.

      +tbh I’ve only read rps reviews regarding the game, have no direct experience whatsoever, which is actually supportive of my arguments. love xoxo

      • SomeDuder says:

        Look, I get where you’re coming from – Division is getting way too much attention in the world of ethical videogame journalism right now. And it’s just a manshooting game like CoD or MoH or BF, though I must admit that I haven’t played The Division nor do I feel like it – when a game gets too much attention, advertising and general hype, I tend to very much NOT want to play it (Especially the MMO-type where you have an open mic feature – I don’t want to hear eastern Europeans breathing into their mic).

        But as for picking an odd hill to die on, this is pretty much it. People are going to play what they want. Hype works. In a month everyone will have forgotten about the game again and the next hypetrain will depart on its wild journey. Choo choo, get aboard or take the bus.

  3. klownk says:

    Firstly, it is so obviously the result of Ubisoft designers looking at DayZ, Rust, Ark: Survival Evolved and other anarchy-laden survival games, and saying: “How can we make our next blockbuster feel a bit like those?”

    Are you serious? What do you smoke?

    • KenTWOu says:

      Sounds more like Fragile Alliance multiplayer mode from Kane & Lynch 1,2.

    • Frank says:

      Every mainstream-press article compares Division to these games. If you think the comparison is not valid, how about telling the class instead of snorting?

    • jhk655 says:

      yeah i dont see how you can’t draw parallels to those games. I think its pretty obvious to anyone whos played all of those games that the DZ’s atmosphere is heavily influenced by the zombie-survival rush in indie games of the past two years.

  4. Wisq says:

    If it is so farcical, why have a rogue system at all? Why not just make loot more scarce, and make the quality of that loot much better? This way people will naturally get into fights for it.

    The majority of rogue killings I see have nothing to do with the loot, nor with surviving the rogue status and getting the benefits from doing so. They’re just people who exist primarily to troll other players, or who just want to treat the Dark Zone like a big deathmatch — albeit one where they can bide their time, mostly safe from harm, until they feel they have the advantage and kick off their first rogue kill.

    Once someone goes rogue, they can basically just run. Many players will actively avoid the rogue blip on their radar, and anyone chasing them will have to execute the chase better than the player they’re chasing — any attempt to stop and fire at them just puts you further behind in the footrace. Since blocks are rectangular (so no real shortcuts or advantages to going one way or the other), and teams generally need to stick together to survive (so you can’t radio your friend waiting a couple blocks away), there’s often really no way to readily take them out.

    Even if you actively target the rogue agents and become a rogue-killer, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll either find yourself facing a full group of rogues who can easily take you out, and/or a smaller group of hacking rogues who can do the same even if you outnumber them.

    And once you lose your rogue status, there’s no indication to other players that you’re liable to go rogue in the future. To them, you just look like any other player. It’s not a question of “clean up your act for a few hours / days and you’ll be as trustworthy as anyone else” — losing your rogue status is never more than one death or DZ checkpoint away.

    This is why the Dark Zone sounded great in theory, but I feel it’s rather lacking in practice. It’s the one area in the game where you can fight alongside other players ad hoc without grouping up (I wish the entire city had this!), but it’s also the one area in the game where other players can kill you with zero warning.

    If I were redesigning it, I would focus on making sure players can easily tell who has the best loot, but I would also make sure there are serious penalties for taking out other players — perhaps you actually give something to your victims, like XP or DZ credits. Killing for items would be a rare occurrence, the killer would need to carefully balance risk versus reward, and the victim wouldn’t feel too terrible about being killed.

    But then, I’ve never liked PvP in MMOs, and I’ve always preferred teaming up with other players over killing them anyway. So really, the ideal for me would be, the PvPers get their own DZ, and the rest of us can just work together in our own DZ. I know that makes me a “care bear” according to PvP MMOers, and I just don’t care. I’d rather help make someone’s day better than focus on making it worse.

  5. ijw473 says:

    Playing a bunch on xbox1 (because this game really needs to be played with friends, and that’s where mine are) and enjoying it. A couple of things.

    First, the recent patch notes (live April 14th) indicate that Massive will try to encourage going Rogue for gear again with supply drops in DZ (very HE drops that don’t need to be extracted, once an hour).

    Second, if I was only killed by folks with active red skulls I’d rarely die. Recognizing that you’re being set up by non-rogues is important, and it adds a lot to the tension (somewhat undercutting your annoyance with the rogue system). Good article though.

  6. Tallfeather says:

    I keep reading this about the DZ, that rogues are rare. That has been the opposite of my experience. I don’t know if it is a geographical thing, time of day thing, or luck (of some variety).
    Rogues are roving in packs (clans, by the naming of members) in very high end gear, and are impossible for solos to handle and close to that for even well equipped pub groups.
    This isn’t a complaint, that’s arguably how it should be of course. But this is what I see instead of “nobody rogues” when I play.

    • Sarracenae says:

      I’ve played 99% of the time solo in the DZ and i see exactly the same thing, mostly the rogues are groups of 3/4 and they just look for solo players to kill. Fortunately as most of the time in the dark zone you are farming Pheonix credits or Division Tech it doesn’t really matter as you can’t lose them, the loot is just crafting materials, and if you really want to farm that there are other options.

      The only thing i’d change at the moment is i’d make the man hunt marking starting earlier. Shooting someone by mistake giving you a 20 second mark is fine, the 90 seconds if you kill someone is ok, but it seems to take alot of kills (is it 5?) for the man hunt which seems a bit off. Having said that whenever the groups end up in the man hunt they just run to one of the 2 roofs with the ladder/rope access only and just sit there. These areas are all well and good but you should be at least able to get a sniper overwatch position on them to make it possible to kill the rogues hiding there.

      The chest drops should be quite fun i think in theory, not that as a solo player you will ever see the loot, but you might see some good fights. Which at the end of the day is all that matters, once you realise dieing in the dark zone doesn’t really cost you anything anyway. Lvl >50 are just numbers, and DZ credits are worthless.

  7. Pantalaimon says:

    I think this is a fair assessment of the experience. It does a decent amount of things right without doing anything incredible. It doesn’t risk a lot design wise, which will limit its overall longevity, but it limits the amount of feelbad experiences you can have. The biggest detractor right now as you note is the shoddy friendly fire detection that means, it’s not so much dying that you care about – it’s dying for some spurious reason, dying even though you were actually a good guy in that moment. I don’t know if that represents deliberate game design or it’s something organic that came out of the system they designed, or maybe a bit of both, but it is interesting.

    Perhaps saying it’s a decent middle-ground game is damning with faint praise to a degree, but the truth is the experience that a great deal of people wanted when Day Z came out. Even when that game was fresh and a complete wild west adventure, people wanted some kind of way to better distinguish between player types so that they could meaningfully play out those roles. To make it less arbitrary, even though it being arbitrary was more realistic given the world of the game.

    Ubisoft realised that there has to be some compromise in implementing this system, and I think they’ve implemented it more or less as well as they could do within their mainstream design space. It means that, in ideal gameplay, people shoot who they mean to shoot, they get to be good or bad and bad or good people get to shoot back at them. Yes it’s means that the grey area of Day Z and the tensions that arised from it doesn’t exist in The Division, but I think it’s almost impossible for them to have implemented a more subtle ‘player role indicator’ without having certain players leaving the game feeling upset at having misjudged a situation or having been killed in some way that felt arbitrary.

    I’m quite interested to see just how much Ubisoft develop the game beyond this starting point. Based on their other game series, I don’t really see them making huge developmental changes, but who knows.

    • Pantalaimon says:

      Also forgot to note that, the best part of this design of theirs is that they have successfully limited the incentives of going rogue and the ease of doing so, which is just a gameplay win all round – rogues are more of a novelty when you encounter them and they are a true gameplay choice, rather than something that feels like a necessary, easy thing you can do on a whim. This is exactly how it should be.

      In this aspect they have succeeded where other games have failed, in the ‘everyone wants to be a Jedi’ problem. Not everyone wants to be a rogue player because it has a distinct gameplay style and it’s not a winning strategy.

  8. Aspirant_Fool says:

    Here are the things I want to see happen for the DZ that never will:

    1) No parties. Run with friends, but check your fire. This only works if:

    2) Increase loot drops, but make all drops public. See a gold circle indicating a high-end drop show up on your radar, you’ve got a tempting target and a good reason to go rogue. See an enemy you just killed drop a high-end item, the tension you already feel while you try to get it extracted is turned up to 11, since everyone now knows your general location, and you’ve got a target hanging from your backpack.

    I feel like right now there’s just no real incentive to go rogue, which leads to three classes of rogues: trigger-happy friendly-firers, griefers seeking easy targets, and folks craving the exhilaration of being hunted by the rest of the server. Everyone wants that high-end drop, so everyone has a reason to try to kill you.

    I’d also like to see division rank used less as a progress marker and more as a matchmaking tool, in the vein of the hlstatsx plugin that every Half Life mod used (uses? I’ve been away from that scene for a while).

    Anyway, that’s the game I want, but I’m still pretty happy with the game I have for now.

  9. neotribe says:

    The new patch notes are a disaster. (See, e.g. link to reddit.com ) How about a story on that?

    • aepervius says:

      Gee. I hope this applies only to level 30 because so far I have crafted all my stuff but such change will make it much harder at lower level. Quadrupling cost (halving material gained through decons and doubling cost) Are they insane ?

      “Increased costs for converting crafting materials and crafting High-End items:

      10 Standard (Green) materials instead of 5 to craft 1 Specialized (Blue) material
      15 Specialized (Blue) materials instead of 5 to craft 1 High-End (Gold) material
      10 High-End (Gold) materials instead of 8 to craft 1 lvl 31 High-End (Gold) item

      Changed deconstruction yield of Standard (Green) and High-End (Gold) items:

      Deconstructing a Standard (Green) item yields 1 Standard material instead of 2
      Deconstructing a High-End (Gold) item yields 1 High-End material instead of 2

      • Philopoemen says:

        All of which is entirely irrelevant, because doing a material run (ie go to every material node on map) takes about twenty minutes, and is infinitely faster, and much more likely to get gold mats

        And high end players need gold division tech, which turns into run around the DZ hopefully not getting ganked by rogues. If I had anything worth stealing I’d applaud their temerity, but I’m literally just running around picking up materials, hoping to get enough gold ones to craft something decent, which is in the RNG’s hands.

        • Morcane says:

          I just don’t get why game devs don’t seem to look around at other similar games, in order to avoid similar mistakes?

          In this case, just take a look at the insane amount of effort Blizzard put in for turning Diablo 3 around. No, we just go do the exact opposite kekbur.

          Mind is blown. I’m glad I didn’t get the season pass.

        • neotribe says:

          Unless you have a group for challenging mode, the PxC from two hard mode dailies isn’t that hot. And running them multiple times on alts isn’t exactly fun.

          Due to teleport hacks, the DT nodes tend to be constantly empty. And when they’re not empty, you’ve got to deal with groups and griefers. So good luck with solo DZ farming routes, especially after this.

          This is exactly the opposite direction than Massive should be going and a sign of terrible things to come. Sort of sorry I’ve sunk as much time into the game as I already have. Glad I didn’t buy the Gold edition, or a season pass.

  10. Boozebeard says:

    The problems with the rogue system are honestly the least of the divisions issues in terms of PvP. There are a number of glaring issues that are making PvP at level 30 completely broken.

    1. the farming exploits at release means there’s a small group of people running around who have pretty much farmed perfect gear.

    2. there are numerous pieces of gear that have bugged traits that are giving their wearers ludicrous amount of health regeneration and damage reduction. And because of point one there’s a lot of these pieces of gear around.

    3. it’s actually hard to know how much of an impact point one and two are making because of a very fundamental problem, a problem that will be very hard to ever address and that is that you can’t tell a god damn thing about your opponent. The fact that everyone looks more or less the same makes it impossible to make any kind of strategic decisions before a fight. You can’t tell what abilities they might be running until they use them, and it’s practically impossible to tell what kind of traits they might have on their gear and armour which makes the stuff with bugged traits even more of a nightmare. I’ve run into so many people that just don’t die and because the game doesn’t communicate anything about their base stats, buffs or traits to you I have no idea why or how I might be able to counter it.

    4. signature abilities are dumb. The buffs from signature abilities are so strong (80% damage reduction anyone?) that PvP mostly boils down to who has theirs off cooldown. And if you both have them off cool down then they just cancel each other out so what’s even the bloody point.

    5. Sprinting and running around in circles is too effective. I’m a decent shooter player but it’s actually pretty difficult to hit sprinting players, especially if they move erratically, at least it’s hard to hit them enough to actually kill them in a game with so much HP and ways of regenerating it. The PvP half the time just degenerates into people sprinting round in circles waiting for their healing to come off cool down or their weapon to reload rather than being played as a cover shooter. I’ve actually watched someone be chased by 5 people and not even come close to dying just by moving erratically and constantly healing and this was just a guy on his own, in fights with multiple people aside you can just zig zag sprint back behind your team any time your in danger of dying. Not to mention that people often end up friendly firing and going rogue them selves while desperately truing to kill the sprinting lunatic before his heal comes back up.

  11. Philopoemen says:

    The issue with the DZ is the loot is worse than what you can make – as soon as you hit level 30 and can do the dailies you’ll get enough phoenix credits to make what you want from the special vendor – and that is level 31 gear.

    Or you can go to the DZ and grind from level 1-30 DZ rank to earn the ability to buy purple level 30 gear. You can then grind from level 31-50 to be able to buy high end DZ blueprints; which are level 30 AND require gold division tech.

    So you can then go to DZ06 and spend phoenix credits to buy high level 31 blueprints/items, that require gold division tech, so if you want that particular gear stat/talent, you’ll be grinding the DZ to get phoenix credits and gold div tech, and realistically, because Dz01 and DZ02 are easier to resource hunt, that’s where you’ll spend all your time.

    Once I got my gold level 31 blueprints, crafted some crap items, and then realised that I had to grind a substantial amount of time to just get more div tech, I lost interest.

  12. orbit_l says:

    The only time I’ve gone rogue was after accidentally destroying someone else’s turret that he’d placed right next to an enemy, making me think it was an NPC turret. He then immediately killed me and took my loot (+ 1 DZ key). Fun times.

  13. fish99 says:

    Just started playing this at the weekend, purely the PVE, and it’s a lot more fun and addictive than I expected from the beta.

    • crashmonkey says:

      Ditto. I played the Alpha and Beta, and cancelled my pre-order based on an overall meh feeling. Decided to get it anyway, after seeing some of the gameplay and commercials. So glad I did.

  14. crashmonkey says:

    After reading the above comments, I have an idea that might help the Rogue/DZ experience and cleanup the issue of accidentally going Rogue. What if you had to select/turn on going rogue? Hear me out. If you don’t turn on going Rogue, you can’t accidentally kill a friendly or someone griefing that automatically runs into your line of fire. You are still a valid target to anyone who decides to go rogue, you can’t opt out of that, but you no longer get penalized because you have accidental friendly fire. If you do turn it on, you don’t get the skull, or have any other designation that you have opted to at some point go rogue, until you actually start shooting someone. Just like it is now. This would basically prevent anyone unintentionally going rogue.

  15. popej says:

    It’s a shame how few games/developers are willing to create a system and let the players loose. DayZ (it’s endless clones) and Eve are about the only two examples I can think of.

    This is why Eve, boring as it can be, is the greatest computer game ever made (apart from Dark Souls :P). I say that but I haven’t even played it for 6-7 years!

  16. Yokai says:

    Your article is great overall, but it has one glaring error of “perception bias”. You complain that the designers clearly wanted the Dark Zone to have an “anarchy mechanic like DayZ, etc.”.

    This is clearly wrong. Any player of a variety of old-school and new-school MMOS with strong PvP mechanics will instantly recognize the “rogue” mechanic as being exactly like the “Karma” mechanics of Lineage, Lineage 2, Black Desert Online, and other PvP-centric MMO titles over the years.

    I recommend you do a little research into the general notion of Karma mechanics in these and other similar MMO titles. The core idea behind Karma mechanics is to allow any player to do anything at all to any other player, but with negative consequences for non-consensual player killing. For example, in Black Desert Online, players can generate a 300,000 positive Karma score over time. If you non-consensually PK another player, you lose 60,000 karma points. That means after you “grief” 5x players in a row, you go into negative Karma, which turns you red and makes you fair game for all other players to attack you without incurring any penalty for themselves. You have a higher chance of item breakage and item drops if you are killed while in negative karma. And once you go negative, it takes a long time to grind your way back into negative karma. Odds are stacked against you, because if you kill any of those players who can now freely attack you, you will quickly go even more into the negative (up to a cap of -1,000,000 Karma).

    As this one example from BDO shows, this is clearly the design intent behind the “rogue” system in The Division. Not to create an “anarchy system like DayZ”.