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.