Tomorrow Ubisoft is releasing update 1.4 for Tom Clancy's The Division, broadly changing the third-person shooter's balance to focus on end-game and progression.
The Division's 1.3 update, the premium Underground expansion, was a catalyst for significant change. In June, Underground was released, and in August The Division's next two premium DLC projects were delayed into late 2016 and 2017. The issues brought to light in Underground forced developer Ubisoft Massive to reconsider many decisions, which leads us to now. Tomorrow The Division will receive update 1.4, a massive retooling of the game from top to bottom.
Ubisoft's reasons for delaying the final two pieces of DLC for The Division and focusing on 1.4 were myriad. Balance and bugs withstanding, Ubisoft's priority was simply to bring the game to a place where players were consistently having fun. And perhaps more importantly, bring The Division to a point where players would be excited to buy the game's upcoming two expansions.
Ubisoft Massive Producer Cristian Pana spoke to Kotaku on what The Division's 1.4 update will mean for returning players:
"With update 1.4, we have created a fun end game for everyone with a clear and granular progression whether you play solo or in a group. Any activity has a chance of rewarding you with the best weapons and equipment so you can play more of the activities you like and progress at your own pace. Actually, with the field proficiency, just gathering experience points after the level 30 will eventually reward you with sealed caches containing loot based on your gear score."
The priority is quite clearly end-game and end-game progression, the two areas where The Division stumbled and lost a majority of its playerbase after Underground and 1.3.
Has Ubisoft delivered on the goals of The Division's 1.4 update? Early feedback from the game's PTS is positive, but ultimately the launch version of the update will prove its worth. In the mean time, Ubisoft has provided patch notes for tomorrow's update. The notes are certainly bulky, with dozens of changes from large feature additions to small balance adjustments. Just the alternations to weapon talents and damage take up dozens of notes.
Without going into specific notes from The Division's 1.4 update, as there are just too many to parse down to a few notable few, there are some core ideas behind a bulk of changes. The first is to make all endgame content viable in terms of reward. Whether it's PvE or PvP, all players should have a way of earning better end-game loot in 1.4. Second is to make more playstyles and weapons viable, including all of the player's possible skills. And finally, scaling is much faster and much more capped -- meaning players won't be so horrendously out-scaled if they haven't played as much as others.
More dedicated (and skilled) players will still be at an advantage, but the differences won't be as punishing as prior. Ubisoft and Massive still want players to feel rewarded for putting in there time, for contesting the game's most challenging content, but doesn't want to drive players away who can't invest that much time in the game. Hopefully that means a more rich experience for all players in the long run.
The Division is currently available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and will be receiving patch 1.4 starting tomorrow. The game's first premium DLC, Underground, is currently available, and the next two premium DLC packs are planned for late 2016 and early 2017 respectively.