Three days after its release, The Division 2's eight-player raid is no longer unbeaten on consoles. The game’s PS4 leaderboards show that two eight-player teams have cleared it, the first clocking in at over 36 hours, the second at nearly 20. The Xbox One leaderboard shows a team clearing it in 17.
The raid, called Operation Dark Hours, after an obscure TV movie starring Ronald Reagan and James Dean, has proven unusually tough for console gamers.
A team of PC players first cleared the raid when it launched on Thursday, battling through its four boss-battle encounters inside and outside of a fictional Washington DC airport, in just over five hours. Console leaderboards, however, had been blank for days.
The gap in raid completion across platforms has led to player theories that the raid was accidentally tuned to be too difficult for the technological capabilities of console framerates and controllers. The raid requires a lot of rapid turning and precise shooting during brief moments when enemies are vulnerable.
Zach Caraway, one of the players who first cleared the raid on PS4 in a 36-hour run, however, doesn’t think the console raid is arduous strictly due to technical limitations. He told Kotaku that it’s essential that teams work together.
“I believe on the final boss and the first boss, it’s all about team coordination,” he said. “We always had people up and shooting. Frame rate could be an issue for some on console but the main thing is just getting the right 8 guys/girls and keeping them going. Don’t fight and argue or it will cause disarray from were people need to be focused.”
He added that people shouldn’t overemphasise scoring a headshot. “People on console need to focus on RAW damage,” he said. “Headshots damage won’t help us as much when you miss the head.”
Caraway said his team’s 36-hour run was done with a standard PS4 controller and involved a five-hour break and some interruptions due to “Delta” server errors and bluescreen game crashes, including during the fight against the raid’s final boss, a drone-launching truck called Razornack.
“We had to just wipe and give up twice when we had the Razorback to more than half health and then boom...two deltas at the same time,” he said. “We wiped and ran it again.”
The raid allows players to take breaks and resume at checkpoints. Large chunks of the remarkable run by Caraway and his TNT clan have been archived on Twitch.
In response to a user of the game’s subreddit wondering about the best build to use, Caraway confirmed that, like so many others, he’d focused on using AR and LMG machine guns and a DPS, damage-centric build. “[Y]ou guys will get it,” he said, offering encouragement.
It’s been unusually difficult for console players to even get through the raid’s first boss, which the developers said on Thursday would serve as a check of whether players were powerful enough to handle the raid.
While skill could be a factor and while many elite players and the most tight-knit player groups could possibly have gravitated toward PC, the gap between how long it took PC players to beat it and how long it took console players to clear it is unusual.
A site that tracks Destiny 2 raids shows that, for the raids released for the game since it was available on console and PC, console players have usually only lagged behind be a matter of hours, not days.
That gap between PC and console completion has fuelled theories that the raid’s difficulty on consoles is indeed in part because of consoles’ technical limitations compared to those of the PC.
“It’s the lack of precision and smoothness console players have in comparison to playing on a PC,” a UK-based player named Sang whose team took 10 hours to beat the raid’s first boss, told Kotaku on Saturday. He said he’s played The Division 2 on console and, when it was in beta, on PC.
“PC players do have the distinct advantage of a mouse and keyboard where they can land those important accurate headshots. Playing TD2 on consoles are also limited to 30fps (and sometimes lowers with some frame drops) and PC players can enjoy much higher framerates and it makes a world of difference.”
On Sunday, Sang said his team had nearly beaten the raid’s final boss twice but that in both instance someone on the team either got a blue-screen game crash or a server disconnect.
PC players, meanwhile, are now romping through the raid. The initial five-hour completion time has long since been shattered. Players on that platform are now clearing it in under 24 minutes.