Forget Destiny 2, there’s a new (old?) loot shooter king in town and it’s Tom Clancy’s The Division. It’s been a slow burn and a tumultuous journey for The Division, but Ubisoft seems to have finally been able to realize the game’s potential with the game’s latest (and massive) free update, patch 1.8.
The Division’s live service history has been a mixed bag. The game got a lukewarm reception at launch, its season pass was mostly underwhelming, and the game’s free updates were often a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ affair. I enjoyed the game for what it was when I first played it, but the flaws were clear and I’ve been looking for a reason to really come back to it ever since. That time is now.
Let’s go through some of patch 1.8’s notable features.
West Side Piers
The game’s map has been expanded in patch 1.8 with the addition of West Side Piers, a pair of two new zones (Piers North and Piers South). In WSP, the game’s various enemy factions are working together towards a mysterious goal. The zones feature 38 new audio logs, which was always a great way for The Division to tell its story, but the real star of the show is WSP’s dynamic spawn system.
Unlike other zones in The Division, enemies in WSP aren’t just wandering around for you to kill – they will spawn in to hunt you down. There’s always stuff to do in the West Side Piers, too. Randomized Side Missions are always active in WSP, doling out tasks for players to accomplish. Spending your time in WSP is a great way to snag tons of loot and it’s also an excellent alternative to the Dark Zone for accumulating Division Tech, which is useful for max rolling your items using the patch’s newly added Optimization Station.
As someone who spent an insane amount of time with Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer co-op, I can be a real sucker for horde modes when done right. Patch 1.8 adds a new four player co-op horde mode called Resistance, where players will fight against a unified front of the game’s enemy factions in potentially infinite waves (if you can survive). While this mode is co-op, it can be played solo (it scales), so if you prefer to play The Division alone, there’s still something for you here.
Each of the three available Resistance maps (Carrier, Pier 39, and Powerhouse) is comprised of a host of smaller sections that must be unlocked using SHD-Tech (the mode’s currency). SHD-Tech is dropped by enemies and is used for everything in Resistance. Want to unlock a new room? You’ll need SHD-Tech. Restock ammo? SHD-Tech. Find a hidden chest and want to unlock it for the loot? You guessed it. SHD-Tech.
You can also use SHD-Tech to install and upgrade three different types of fortifications. These include a turret, a support station, and a pulse station. These tools can be powerful in ensuring your own survival, but like anything else in Resistance, proper management of your SHD-Tech is key to your team’s survival.
The first 15 waves of the mode are a sort of tutorial to get you acclimated to the way Resistance works. There are boss waves every five waves, there are hazards to be mindful of, and so on. Eventually (Wave 30+), you’ll be in for a whole new world of pain with Endless Difficulty. Resistance will really test your mettle here.
If you’re a PvE fan and you love horde modes, you really should check out Resistance. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this new mode.
Skirmish / Rogue 2.0
Frankly, I don’t really play games like The Division for their PvP. I’ve got plenty of other shooters for that, so I’m going to skim over these features a bit.
Skirmish is a new 4v4 PvP mode that is basically a straight up team deathmatch. These are quick and dirty matches for players looking to get their PvP fix with some skill-based matchmaking and stat normalization to keep things on an even keel. Not really my thing, but this could be fun for you Destiny Crucible junkies.
The Dark Zone’s Rogue system has been overhauled with patch 1.8. With Rogue 2.0, players will now have to toggle on their Rogue status if they intend to kill other players, which should eliminate the frustration of accidentally going Rogue due to friendly fire. It’s not a PvP toggle, though. You don’t need to flag as a Rogue to be attacked in the Dark Zone. Other players just need to flag to attack you.
Other goals with Rogue 2.0 were to improve the Manhunt experience for Rogue players. Instead of running down a timer, you’ll need to hack a terminal to clear your status. The higher your Manhunt level before you successfully clear your status, the better your rewards.
The last time I gave The Division a chance, Underground was the most compelling part of the overall experience. For those unfamiliar, Underground is basically The Division’s version of Diablo III’s Rifts, though you’ll need to pay for the season pass or the Underground DLC to access it. The mode consists of procedurally generated dungeons with a variety of available difficulties, phases, and modifiers that players can select from during setup.
Patch 1.8 revamps the Underground with goals to improve its accessibility and rewards. To that end, all the mode’s Directives (modifiers) have been replaced with entirely new ones. The new Directives all feature tradeoffs. For example, you can enable Kinetic Armor, which increases your armor the faster you move, but penalizes your armor rating while stationary.
Hunters, typically found in Survival, have been added into the Underground as well. These vicious bastards can spawn anywhere in the Underground and will reward players with great loot if they successfully take them out.
Speaking of loot, it’s been improved across the entire mode, so it should be a better avenue for farming gear now, which is awesome news to me since I already loved the mode.
New features aside, there are bunch of gameplay and balance tweaks with 1.8 and a couple of new gear sets and exotic weapons added. The result of all these changes appears to have put The Division in its best state of balance yet. One of the most frustrating aspects of the game has been the fact that every patch so far has been dominated by some egregiously overpowered build, but 1.8 seems to offer the best build diversity we’ve seen so far. While there are a few items and gear sets that may turn out to be more powerful than they should be, the landscape is now one where players can put together all sorts of different builds and that bodes well for the most important feature of a game like this: the item hunt.
If you were on the fence about The Division or you gave up the game in a previous patch, now’s the time to jump back in or join as a first time player.