The Division's Developers Delay DLC To Focus On Improving Troubled Game

Acknowledging that their game has major problems especially in its endgame, the creators of the once-hot Division said in a livestream today that they will prioritise the release of an October patch to make their game better. "We want to go back to making The Division really fun in the end-game experience," community developer Hamish Bode, who works at the game's studio, Massive, said on Twitch. Raising a character in the military-style action-RPG from level one to 30 is still fun, he said. "Then you hit 30 and something changes. We need to fix that and obviously a few other things as well. There's bugs. There's some quality of life things."

The fixes are planned for a big patch, 1.4, that is slated for October for PS4, Xbox One and PC. That patch was originally supposed to be released alongside the game's next DLC, Survival, which is being delayed until later in the year.

The Division was one of the biggest releases of early 2016 and quickly attracted millions of players interested in its mix of co-op cover-based shooting and loot collection. It was a mix of Destiny, Gears of War and Diablo dressed up in Tom Clancy clothing.

It began to falter, though, as cheaters flooded into the game and as patches and expansions began to reveal flaws with the end-game. Like many multiplayer games, The Division is designed to be played well after players hit their maximum character level, offering all sorts of high-level co-op and pvp challenges. The game's first big expansion, Underground, is essentially all end-game activity. But Massive balanced their game in strange ways, making it difficult for players to get the best gear to level up. The game also proved buggy, with various optional character talents and skills glitching when players needed them.

Massive was light on specifics today, but said the 1.4 patch would address "core experience, bug-fixing, balancing and quality of life", according to community developer Yannick Banchereau.

Bode and Banchereau cited things like delays in character healing, skills that don't work, problems with mobile cover and stuttering issues on Xbox One. They recognised that the game's balance is off and that the game's loot needs to be, Bode said, "more relevant to you."

They also addressed the game's inherent catch-22, where it often requires a calibre of loot to complete a tough mission that you only receive as a reward for completing that mission. "We're trying to avoid the situation where you're in order to do Challenge Mode you need loot that drops in Challenge Mode," Banchereau said.

"Yeah," Bode said, "it doesn't make much sense."

They did rattle off a few specific "quality of life" things that will be part of the patch, including the ability to run from the game's Base of Operations and Terminal, the addition of a "craft all" button, a buyback option in case you accidentally sell great gear and a change so that weapon skins no longer take up inventory slots. In a sign of just how slow Massive has been to address fan complaints, the developers on the stream noted that players have been complaining about this since the game's pre-release alpha.

A post on the game's website also promises improvements to "enemy difficulty and time to kill" as well as the "solo player experience".

The patch sounds good but it's also major damage control for a game that has become overly hostile to newcomers, has been haemorrhaging players and has had an inordinately frustrated subreddit.

A snapshot of The Division's subreddit last month, a sure sign that changes needed to be made.

In some obvious overtures to their most dedicated and frustrated fans, Bode started citing recent threads he liked on r/thedivision and thanked fans for both cataloguing their complaints and making suggestions. Massive is offering to fly some players to their offices in Sweden for more feedback and is promising that future livestreams will cover more granular details.

The Division's launch elicited great chest-thumping by publisher Ubisoft, bullish on having built another new hit series. Obvious problems with the game, however, have dimmed the game's short-term prospects. Clearly aware that they are at a crossroads, Massive now must come through in October. Blizzard pulled off exactly this feat a few years ago as it patched and improved the initially underwhelming and infuriating Diablo III, turning it into one of the most satisfying and polished games out there. Over the course of a year, Bungie addressed many similar problems with Destiny. The Division borrows other things from those two games. We'll find out in October if they can also emulate that.


Comments

    Bought the game and played it during the first week of release...then found something better to play and haven't gone back since.

    Such a waste of cash buying this game...

      Im on the other side of the fence I reckon.
      I will admit the first couple of months after the release was terrible with all the bugs / hacks / exploits so I took a break but after a few months I went back to it and really enjoyed it, granted im playing it as a single player game since all my friends have finished it and I dont care for the DZ at all.
      No regrets buying it here :D

      I'm with you @xenoun. The gfx issues for AMD legacy users was a shambles. It was unplayable after a certain patch. Uninstalled and haven't even thought about it until this article.
      But I couldn't agree more with the wasting of cash sentiment - so much hype, so little satisfaction. I expect GR:Wildlands to be exactly the same unfortunately.

      I played the beta and did not even make it to the end of the first street before I pulled the pin. Not my scene.

        Yeah, I enjoyed the beta when I played. Thought the game showed some promise.

        ...Then after playing it on release for 15+ hours and discovering every area was just the same thing over and over, rinse and repeat and the dark zone was pointless I just gave up.

    Too little too late.
    The endgame has been an issue since release

    Games as platforms are well and truly established now, we'll just have to wait and see which ones are able to stay afloat. They themselves are like mini-consoles, even.

    I know there's no point in crystal-balling how Division could/should be like WoW or Destiny, hell even Minecraft, but isn't there another game on the horizon that's like Division on steroids? You can take down drug barons in an open world using different means? What's that one? Ubisoft can't be expected to have both of these games and their million-player bases running full tilt for that long right?

    I went into this game knowing exactly what endgame would be (the same as every other online co-op game: find a group of well geared people and shoot stuff forever to get better gear so you can repeat that at the next difficulty level. No one has really innovated in this space in decades.).

    So, I ignored end-game mostly and just focused on "will the game be fun to play while leveling and finishing the main storyline?". I feel like I got my money's worth: I just wanted a single player game with a decent storyline to follow, with the OPTION to play through with friends, and that's what it is, up to level 30.

    As far as end-game comparisons between Diablo 3 and Destiny and Division - Diablo 3 is nothing like those other two games: D3 has a completely viable and enjoyable PvE endgame for SOLO players, with enjoyable OPTIONAL ways to play. Destiny and Division do not. Simple as that.

      As far as end-game comparisons between Diablo 3 and Destiny and Division - Diablo 3 is nothing like those other two games: D3 has a completely viable and enjoyable PvE endgame for SOLO players, with enjoyable OPTIONAL ways to play. Destiny and Division do not. Simple as that.

      While I appreciate you being very specific about the differences between the games, I still feel very uncomfortable with Destiny ending up in any sort of group with The Division. Hopefully time has shown even the the most diehard Destiny "critics" that it is not even in the same league as The Division. Bungie had the handicap of having to essentially create a new console genre from scratch and still did it so so much better than Massive who had chance to observe and learn from all their initial mistakes.

      And i'd also argue that while Diablo definitely gives you more solo vs. social options in terms of end-game content, it never feels, even at its most social, as "alive" as Destiny. It really is a trade-off, and for me personally, Destiny was on the better side of that trade off.

    I wish them luck, the end game grind is stupidly horrible. there's layers and layers of RNG and if you go to the DZ there's a good chance you'll actually lose progress

    the WoW xpack will suck up most of my time for the remainder of the year and I doubt I will return to The Division anytime soon, nevermind most of my friends has quit the game vowing never to return heh

    Its a shame that they didn't want to focus on quality of life earlier on, it showed great potential, it was suppose to be my replacement for Destiny but well I ended up not playing either,

      Honestly. They should have delayed all the DLC and did the QOL stuff first. There were so many problems with the base game

        Yeah, but the base game was pretty lacking in terms of end-game content so a delay there would have hurt just as badly. They needed DLC and quality of life fixes. Hell, they needed that before the beta even started.

    I must admit I really enjoy the Division, I loved the 1-30 but 30+ has definitely had it's ups and downs. I didn't enjoy the DZ much at all so have largely avoided it, I've only managed to do the first incursion, match made groups of the other 2 just didn't work out (too hard I think) and I never got the chance to organise a good group. But I still enjoyed the basic gameplay, and environment so I kept doing my 2x daily hards + 1 challenge a few times a week, and less frequently the daily/weekly HVT's. I stuck with it right through to underground which I always saw as the goal, get through to that and suddenly the content and fun will be right back and the grind will ease.
    Level 1-10 was fun with decent gear drops, 10-15 I was starting to recognise all the same areas (you can make 120 combinations with just 5 playing cards, but it only takes a few turns to realise you're just looking at the same 5 cards), 15-20 and the realisation set in that the grind was very very real. Put the difficulty up from hard with multiple groups and it always ended in wipe after wipe.
    I turned it off at lvl 21 and haven't touched it now for weeks. I'm still really hoping that 1.4 improves everything, and the last 2 DLC's are well worth it, I want the game to end up like D3 did, but I'm done for now and with Battlefield out in October, I probably won't be going back until the next DLC.

    Division came during a gaming lull period and that's why I bought it. Even in beta it didn't really grab me. I feel like it was similar for some of my friends.

    The setting is pretty dull to me, and this contributed to the fact that I honestly didn't feel like grinding endlessly for a fractionally better thing that I've already seen before. Destiny at least had the incentive of cool-looking future guns which always worked worse than they sounded in theory.( I'm looking at you class-specific guns of Taken King, all of which suck.)

    But hey Ubisoft, remaster Splinter Cell Blacklist for modern consoles. That game was actually fun to play. You did great work making the entire thing co-opable and it was a great joy navigating an entire level without touching a single soul to reach top hundred in the leaderboards. Shooting bullet sponges all day to get something to better shoot bullet sponges all day ain't my bag.

    And screw any game with "light levels".

    Last edited 26/08/16 11:00 am

    The mid game isn't great either... it's really grindy.

    As a soloist, I'd like to be able to train one of the many stray dogs getting around the city as a companion. I mean, the Base of Operations even has a canine unit.

    Too late.
    Played for the first few weeks (was fun) - though what ended it for me were the players using exploits to gain gear and then Ubisoft doing nothing about it (at the time) so players got to keep their exploited gear, which made darkzone (endgame) pointless.

    and yeah Ubisoft in general.
    Then better things happened like Overwatch

    Last edited 26/08/16 11:33 am

    The thing is you can't make a second first impression. The Division scared off everyone who wouldn't put up with it's crap and now it's left with a small fanbase made up of people who either like it this way or will tolerate anything. Fixing the game by making it what it should have been will probably alienate a lot of the current players without drawing in the players who already quit. Fixing the game by making it what the players who stuck by it want will end up pushing new players further away. Either way they're still in a lot of trouble.

    When it comes to MMOs you live or die on the first two months. You've got to come out the gate strong with enough content loaded and ready to go that you can keep that stream flowing while the team puts all their attention into sanding off the rough edges. In a perfect world a week after launch your team is sitting around bored because there weren't any major bugs and the content is six months ahead of schedule. I understand that's extremely demanding but if you release a needlessly buggy MMO and then delay quality of life or content patches you might as well just save every the trouble and burn the money your publisher is giving you.
    It's asking a lot of MMO developers but you can't expect players to stick with a bad game just because you've got a reasonable excuse for it being bad.

      The thing is you can't make a second first impression.

      I tend to disagree with that, best examples are Diablo 3 and Destiny. Diablo 3 was mercilessly ridiculed for ages after release, Blizzard copped so much hate! Destiny also got a terrible wrap with lack of content or a story at all, bad voice acting, completely unfair rng and the grindiest grind since ground pepper grindings. Both games had droves of people leaving the game, many vocal haters and people saying they are "done with this POS and done with Blizzard/Bungie." Some people say it was never as bad as the Division, but Pepperidge farm remembers.

      And yet, from bottom of a mountain of salt, both games changed and added and fixed and tweaked until they were reborn, bigger better and loved by millions.

      I'm not saying the division WILL rise from the salt, but they COULD. It's been proven before, and yes, I'm rooting for the home side here

        There are exceptions to the rule, Final Fantasy XIV and Diablo 3 worked hard (and invested a lot of money) to gloss over their rough starts, but I definitely wouldn't count Destiny as one of those games. Destiny's initial impression is still what most people think of. They've got better at the parts that were under fire but they're still the common talking points. It dropped in popularity but it never dropped to the point where finding matches and groups was hard. Destiny was divisive and frustrating, but even at launch it was fun enough to play that people wanted to forgive it.

        I think what separates those games is that they don't rely on the community and end-game so much. The Division might be classed that way to a degree, but it's very end-game focused with a heavy reliance on the MMO factors. At it's core The Division is a good game, always has been, but people know where they stand on it. Now they've played it they're not curious enough to give it a shot unless it does something amazing.

        I hope I'm wrong. I think it sucks that the The Division fizzled because the idea has merit. I just think they're going to struggle to do anything beyond scraping by.

        I would argue with D3, you also need to take into account Blizzard's reputation. Their fans ( myself counted) are often quite ok with Blizzard taking their time to get their act together. After all this is a company that just recently patched both D2 and WC3 (games that was released over a decade ago)

        Blizzard has over the years transformed into a much more open and communicative company, something that Massive is currently lacking

    This is why I feel season passes are a bad thing.
    Instead of the developers whole team being able to work on bug fixes and "quality of life", some of the team is having to working on dlc which has to be made because people have already paid for it.
    So instead of a bug free game with quality dlc, you end up in this situation. A game thats full of problems, with 1 of 4 dlc released. Now you have players pissed because the game is broken or lacking, and players pissed because the dlc they have paid for is now delayed.

    Couldn't have said it better. Leveling 1 -30 was fun and rewarding. Endgame was not and why I sold the game. Challenge missions where you get 1 shot but need to pump so many bullets into guys just wasn't fun. Then there were the glitches, people glitching the incursion for the best gear and the bugs like perks working the opposite way as described.

    The main problem is that the end game content (anything heroic + challenge underground) is tuned to accommodate for 'coordinated groups'. And all coordinated groups take at minimum one maxed smart cover and one maxed pulse, giving them a sizeable damage reduction in cover and a massive damage increase (full reclaimers set on one of your party helps heaps too - perma explosive rounds effectively stun locks any enemy while you're shooting at them - gg shotgunners). The end game at the moment is tuned so that it's not way too easy for that kind of group, so that they can't just blow through everything super fast, max their gear and then gank the shit out of everyone in the dark zone. But because that specific combo is so good, you effectively can't run end game content without it, and if you do you end up getting one shot by shotgunners and every enemy has waaaaaay too much health. Not fun at all.

    tl:dr - if they just nerfed smart cover and pulse real hard and then lowered the health pool of lev 33+ enemies by about three quarters I reckon that'd solve most of the problems.

    edit - having to get the same item a bunch of times to get a decent roll on bonuses is really disheartening too

    Last edited 26/08/16 2:48 pm

    The game is exactly what I love in a game with the solo portion immersive and rewarding...then I realized every time I moved for more than 5 secs in a direction I had terrible lag... the game has never been playable in a sense that I do not get frustrated and die because of skipping and stuttering. Research online and in addition to the PC DZ being a hacked mess I find that the stuttering issue existed since the beta and Ubisoft never bothered to address or fix because it was only PC players and the game really was a console port...

    This game had so much potential and in the end I will never buy from Ubisoft again. Did same w EA games a long time ago - they don't care about you, the customers, and that is not who I want making games for me.

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