Prior to release Tom Clancy’s The Division looked to be headed for massive success. Gamer interest was at a record-breaking high, and when the game finally did release it sold well… extremely well, in fact.
In the time since launch, however, The Division has become a contentious topic among fans. The prevalence of glitches, exploits, and cheaters has made it so some players’ sole focus is on exploiting flaws in the game’s mechanics to advance, while others are punished for choosing to stay “pure.”
But while certain disappointing developments in The Division, like the Bullet King farming and the backpack glitch have left a sour taste in gamers’ mouths, the more recent exploits have seemingly put the game on a path to failure. From this writer’s perspective, The Division has crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed.
Although there were numerous warning signs along the way, it seems the straw that broke the camel’s back was the launch of Division’s Incursions. While players hoped that the first Incursion, titled Falcon Lost, would offer a raid-like experience, it turns out these endgame activities are less involved. Players survive a series of waves, detonate C4 on an APC, and then repeat.
On the one hand, the Incursions struck many players as a disappointment, especially considering this was supposed to be the pinnacle of The Division’s PvE endgame. Not to mention, the experience’s difficulty curve, like many of the endgame story missions, was structured around enemies that do more damage and have more health. Plain and simple: many didn’t see the Incursion as fun, but the only guaranteed source of high gear score loot.
As a result, many players sought out ways to cheese the Incursion, just like in any endgame activity. Admittedly, the Incursion isn’t impossible to complete, but it could use some better balance. However, rather than wait to see if Ubisoft might tweak the Incursion, players began seeking exploits. And boy did they find them.
While it’s not worth recounting the exploits, and the exploits that appeared after the first exploit was patched out, the moral of the story is that many players would rather cheese their way through the experience then approach it “legit.” Ultimately, the fact that players choose the exploit says as much about The Division as it does those players. These people want the gear but the experiences that drop said gear are not what some would characterize as fun. We’re also a culture that seeks out the paths with the least amount of resistance, even if it means playing outside the rules.
What makes this exploit more of a problem is that The Division also has a PvP element. In the Dark Zone, players can work together for loot but they can also fight against each other, ideally on a somewhat even playing field. But that playing field has been skewed towards the exploiters, who have top tier gear and are capable of dealing out devastating damage with just a few bullets (even without using the unlimited DPS glitch). In fact, some players have begun to boycott the Dark Zone, rather than risk getting steamrolled by a team with gear scores in the high 200’s.
And the divide is only going to widen the longer these exploits exist. The legit players will constantly be at the whim of the exploiters and some may even become exploiters as a result. For others it might not even be worth playing anymore, which is the biggest problem for The Division.
In the time since the Incursion exploit even more glitches and tricks have cropped up, several of which are even more game breaking. The ability to stack damage to the point of instant domination was a major problem for The Dark Zone, and the unlimited credit glitch will likely have negative consequences on the economy moving forward.
No matter if you’re an exploiter or not, the exploits will have an impact on The Division moving forward, to the point it may discourage you from playing anymore. And truthfully there’s nothing Ubisoft can do to course correct. Banning the exploiters is likely to make those players disinterested in playing anymore – and that includes popular YouTubers and Streamers (The Division’s biggest marketing tools) – but doing nothing will discourage those who didn’t exploit. It’s a lose-lose situation for The Division.
Looking back it’s hard to say where The Division lost its way, or ultimately what was the catalyst, but somewhere the game’s foundation began to falter, and Ubisoft couldn’t counter fast enough. And now, after so many exploits, I wouldn’t fault anyone for moving on.
How have the Division exploits affected your experience with the game? Will you continue to play?
Tom Clancy’s The Division is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.