Why You Need To Be Patient While Ubisoft Massive Fixes The Division
Tom Clancy's The Division has always been at the center of heated discussions, ever since the stunning reveal at Ubisoft's E3 2013 Press Conference when it was cited by many as the best thing in the whole show.
Then there was the debate around graphics, the delays and the general skepticism that slowly enveloped the game while it approached the official launch. Even so, The Division crushed many records, becoming the most successful new IP launch in the gaming industry and selling more copies in the first 24 hours than any game in Ubisoft's history.
Recently, however, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the current issues of the game. In particular, complaints regarding bugs, exploits and balance issues are often submitted on the game's subreddit and several press sites have picked on them, citing these as potential game breaking situations that could even spell doom for The Division itself.
Being a huge fan of online games myself, I feel the need to set the record straight in this regard. Notoriously, open world games are more prone to bugs and exploits than any other genre due to the sheer complexity of the simulated world: just think about Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Grand Theft Auto, Assassin's Creed and so on.
Tom Clancy's The Division not only takes place in a hugely detailed and completely seamless open world setting, but it's also an online game, adding the whole network infrastructure factor to the equation.
Bugs of various kinds are therefore almost a natural consequence, and even so having played almost every day since release I can't say that I've been bothered by any of them; in fact, I can barely recall encountering a couple minor bugs while playing. The only annoying situation happened to me a few days ago, while going through the Warren Gate Power Plant Mission in Challenge Mode, when the game lagged heavily for about ten minutes for my whole group; still, afterwards the latency went back to normal and we were able to complete the mission without any problems. I can assure you I've experienced far worse in other online games.
Perhaps exploits are the most discussed issues in The Division right now, particularly after the release of the first Incursion, Falcon Lost. Several exploits were found and shared, with press sites all too eager to report them even when they were completely fake.
Well, it's time for some history of online gaming. That's right, because every major online game had to deal with exploits and similar problems at some point. Those of you who played them will remember, but just in case Google comes to the rescue.
Those are mere examples of some of the easiest to find exploits that happened at some point in all the most popular online games of the past decade: World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, Diablo III, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, GTA 5 Online.
Does that mean that all of this is the by-product of developers being lazy and/or incompetent? Not at all, folks. These are huge games, developed by some of the biggest development studios with the best programmers available in the industry. The only possible takeaway is that this is merely the nature of game development, especially when it comes to open world online games; unforeseen problems will arise, no matter how many tests are made through Quality Assurance before shipping the products.
People will find a way to cheat through the code, that much is guaranteed. Thus follows that games should not be judged for the mere existence of these problems, but rather for how quickly they are addressed and how much the developer is willing to listen to the community's feedback.
History proves that even in the worst cases, if the developer does that the game can recover. Just think about Driveclub, which had huge server issues for the first two weeks that made online play almost impossible; Evolution kept working on it and eventually it turned the ship around, with Driveclub lauded by critics and fans alike for its updates. Pretty much the same happened with Battlefield 4, riddled by crashes, bugs and glitches at launch even though it wasn't an open world game at all, just a session based shooter. Even so, DICE worked a long time on the game and even released additional free content up until a few months ago; the community came to respect that so much that Battlefield 4, now almost three years old, has 50% more active players than the brand new Star Wars: Battlefront.
Let's be clear and say that Tom Clancy's The Division isn't nearly in the same state. In fact, there was virtually no downtime despite the hordes of players assaulting the servers, unlike Diablo III's infamous error 37 which prevented millions of gamers to play the game at all in the first days after launch.
As someone who never really cared about cheaters taking advantage of exploits in the games I played, what I find most troublesome in The Division right now is certainly the balance (or lack thereof) between boss loot drops and crafting at endgame. This is definitely something that will have to be addressed as soon as possible by Ubisoft Massive, but as someone who spent countless hours playing MMO games, I'm not surprised in the slightest.
We're just about a month and a half after the launch of The Division, which means that we're still in the very infancy of a game designed to last many years. Ubisoft Massive still needs to get the bearing of all RPG systems in the game now that they're being experimented on by millions of players, rather than a small group of focus testers; the difference can be massive indeed. Tweaking abilities, crafting and drops will be an ongoing process (some changes were actually announced today) where the community's feedback will prove critical.
That's why, if you like the game at its core, you should strive to provide constructive feedback rather than useless whining. If you don't like The Division, that's more than fine - the release schedule is practically exploding and there should be something for everyone. But if you, like me, see a lot of potential in The Division then hang tight and relay your ideas and opinions to Ubisoft Massive in a way that's productive; despite what you may read on the Web, it's really not the end of the world - just the birth pains of a potentially great online game.