Tag Archives: the division 2

The Division 2’s Big New Update Is As Promising As It Confusing

Ubisoft’s sprawling loot shooter The Division 2 just received its biggest free update since its March launch…except most of it isn’t really free until next week, except for two parts that won’t even be free then, but some of the free stuff won’t be out until the week after next, and one promised part is on ice and…Shall we start this over?

On Tuesday, The Division 2’s Title Update 5, which happens to also be considered the game’s first episodic expansion, was added to the game.

There’s a chart for what’s in it:

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The update includes two new missions that extend the game’s story, one of which I played last night and liked a lot. That mission, called Manning National Zoo, involves hunting down the leader of the enemy Outcast faction while fighting enemies throughout dilapidated wildlife exhibits. If it seemed like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed artists were showing off with their downloadable content last week, well, check out what their Division 2 artists can do with a mission set in a zoo:

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The mission took me about 90 minutes to solo, with a few tricky skirmishes and some time spent just soaking in the sights. It’s a very fun mission with a lot of eye candy as you fight your way through habitats set up for lions, crocodiles, birds and more. There isn’t that much wildlife around, but there are a few neat creature cameos.

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Like much of Episode One, the zoo mission is available in The Division 2 now for people who bought the $40 year-one pass. It’ll be available for free for all players on July 30. The idea is that The Division 2’s downloadable content will be available for free, unlike that of its predecessor. The paid approach to DLC backfired in the first Division when Ubisoft tried to charge for new Underground and Survival modes while the base game was essentially on fire with problems and player complaints. By the end of The Division’s second year, Ubisoft was releasing a huge map-expanding expansion for free, a sign of things to come.

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Aside from the story missions, the other major new content in the update is the Expedition, a new set of missions being offered in three parts. The first, accessible this week, is fine so far but not great. It’s set in Kenly College’s library and kicks off an overall investigation into the fate of a convoy that went missing nearby. It’s best to think of each part as a medium-sized mission with some goals to complete.

The game’s developers have pitched the Expeditions as more puzzle-based content that will ask players to think through what they’re doing. This first installment in the library isn’t that much of a puzzle. It starts with the discovery of an “echo” hologram that depicts members of the Outcast carting around some improvised explosive devices. The player can activate parts of the hologram to trigger what’s described as investigation. The investigations amount to going to different parts of the library, getting into shootouts with Outcasts, solving some basic puzzles such as activating four power nodes in the correct order, and picking up some audio logs along the way. The gunfights are slightly more intricate than most of the standard story missions, asking players to, say, stay in a specific area while a hack occurs, but they’re not complex. The audio logs are scant but good, as they’re more in the style of the ones from the first Division, telling stories of people in the college from before the societal collapse rather than after.

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Missing from the Expedition is something called a Mastery System, which the developers said would incentivize replaying the investigations. Last week, the developers said it was not coming together well enough to release yet. A second Expedition area opens next week for all players (as well as the first one for those who don’t have the year-one pass), with a third to follow presumably a week later. It’s not clear if this three-parter is the only Expedition or if there will be more.

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The new update also includes an easier difficulty for the game’s raid. It supports matchmaking and is intended to enable more players to experience its sequence of events, but the new “discovery” difficulty level also limits loot payouts: This version of the raid won’t drop the elite gear that’s obtainable by completing the default version.

Ubisoft’s developers have shown that the update includes a new flashlight pistol mod, answering player complaints that some areas of the game were too dark. It also appears to add a batch of audio logs that provide more information about major characters. It’s accompanied by a timed “apparel event” that rewards players who complete various in-game activities with silly, gaudy summer vacation wear.

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Perhaps more important than any of this, though, is that the update is overhauling the game’s gadget-based skill system. While the game’s new content isn’t available to all players yet, these balance changes are. They ratchet up the power of players’ skills, be they shields, drones, turrets, seeker mines, or whatever, while also greatly reducing the cooldown on them. This follows months of frustration from players who said that skills were too weak to build a character around.

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I’ve played most of the game solo and from day one have relied on skills such as the assault drone to help me through tough encounters. From the start, I had to manage my approach to in-game combat around long waits while my drone would cool down. I’d activate it, get it to attack some enemies while I focused on others, then wait more than a minute while it stopped working before I could use it again. After the patch, my drone is a near-constant companion. Its cooldown dropped to about 38 seconds, and with some gadget upgrades, I’ve shortened that further. It’s also clearly more powerful and has been effectively perforating enemies. This feels different and, so far, much more satisfying.

The game’s changes to skills were trialed on a PC-only public test server earlier this month. Strangely, all of the aforementioned content was as well, meaning that year-one pass owners are actually not the first members of The Division 2 player base to go through Episode One’s new missions. That’s provoked some discussion about what value the year-one pass has. Currently, the pass gives owners a chance to play stuff early while earning loot they can retain in the game.

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The year-one pass also gives owners access to a slew of small but enjoyable missions called Classified Assignments, which actually weren’t on the PTS. The two that came out in May were polished and fun, with little audio log narratives threaded throughout. Two more are part of this update for year-one pass owners, with no announcement about when they’ll be available to others. I’ve played one of the two new ones set in an aquarium. It involves rescuing some civilians while fighting Outcast enemies and learning how the people and fish coped during the societal disaster afflicting The Division’s world. I liked it.

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There’s no single thing for players to sink their teeth into with this Title Update 5 / Episode One addition to The Division 2, and there’s nothing about it, cool Classified Assignments aside, that makes it easy to recommend the game’s year-one pass. There are, however, myriad interesting things being added to the game via this update, and at least a short burst of fresh adventures to experience. Of course, it’ll take weeks to see how all that’s been added and tweaked shakes out. As a sign of the heft of the game’s free updates, it’s encouraging. As a marker of the developers’ progress with improving the game, it shows the team moving in a good direction.

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Source: Kotaku.com

The Division 2 Is Testing Some Much-Requested Features

This image of The Division 2 would be even darker if not for the addition of—gasp—a flashlight! Coming soon to the game, it seems.

There’s going to be a lot less to complain about regarding The Division 2 if a batch of features going live in a test build this week make it into the proper game later this month. Ubisoft’s impressive but contentious shooter appears to be getting flashlights (much requested!), badly needed buffs for gadget skills, and even matchmaking for its raid, though there’s a big catch to that last one.

The changes are all part of the Public Test Server build for the game’s Title Update 5, scheduled for a July release. Anyone who own Ubisoft’s cover-based shooter on PC could start accessing the new PTS yesterday, though a bug appears to have delayed some key content until today.

Different aspects of Title Update 5 are being tested in phases. Today, PTS players can test two new story missions that will be part of the update.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Ubisoft is letting them try the game’s notoriously difficult eight player raid on a new “discovery” difficulty setting that will allow for matchmaking. This is one of the bigger deals in the update.

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When The Division 2’s raid launched in May, many players complained that the new multiplayer mission wouldn’t allow for matchmaking, despite a promise in marketing materials that “every activity” in the game would have it. Instead, players had to manually sync up with seven others, which Ubisoft developers said they felt was important to assembling groups that would work through the raid as an effective team. (Similar games, like Destiny 2, have taken the same approach.) The developers later said they would work on a compromise offering. It’s unclear if this is the entirety of it. Matchmaking support for an easier version of the raid will allow more players to see its content, but said “discovery” version of the raid won’t pay out the game’s top loot rewards.

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The PTS’ patch notes also describe a slew of buffs being made to the game’s turrets, drones and other equippable gadget-based skills. These were badly needed, as players striving for the most powerful character builds have all been running the same gun-centric loadouts. Some of these changes were demonstrated in the weekly State of the Game developer stream last week, with more detailed in new PTS patch notes yesterday. While the nature of the PTS means the buffs being tested may change before release in the main game, they should lead to dramatic increases in damage for gadget skills—five-fold in some cases.

Somewhere in the PTS, players will be able to find flashlight attachments for pistols. Believe it or not, this is something players have clamored for. Parts of the game can get pretty dark.

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As many problems as this Public Test Server might solve, it’s also introducing a new one. Later this week, from Friday through Sunday, the test build will feature the game’s new puzzle- and exploration-based Expeditions mode, giving testing players a big head start on what the game’s live content manager, Yannick Banchereau, recently told us will be a mysterious, puzzle-based experience. Letting PC test players have a crack at them all this week certainly seems like it’ll spoil some of that challenge. After all, the inclusion of coded messages in The Division 2’s pre-release beta led to those messages being cracked weeks before the game was fully released. In response to a player complaining about Expeditions being offered to PC PTS players, The Division 2’s creative director, Julian Gerighty replied: “Too late for this one – will consider for the next.”

Title Update 5, which includes the new story missions, the Expeditions and presumably the features or some variation of them being tested on the PTS, is expected to go live later in the month. It’ll all be free, though players who have paid for the game’s year-one pass will get a week’s head start, presumably shortly after the PTS ends.

Source: Kotaku.com

Apparent Division 2 Bug Gives You Ammo For Killing Animals

Killing a rat to fill our special weapons ammo meter triggered the animal to drop some of that ammo

So much for deer in The Division 2 not dropping meat or any other rewards when you shoot them. The animals scurrying through the game’s post-disaster Washington, DC recently started dropping special ammunition.

The developers said last week that the issue would be fixed possibly during a maintenance period last Friday, but we’ve still been able to kill some animals in the game to get bullets. We’ve gotten them from dogs, eagles and rats, but not crows and deer, for some reason.

We’ve also noticed that even when an animal kill doesn’t drop ammo, it helps fill a meter that eventually leads to a special ammo drop.

All of this stands out, because, for the game’s first three months of existence, it offered no gameplay benefit for killing animals.

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The issues are the result of a revision to the system that governs when ammo drops for the special weapons players can wield once they reach The Division 2’s endgame. Since the game’s launch in March, players had complained that special weapon ammo seemed to drop too infrequently. Last week’s Title Update 4 patch added a meter that fills up, notch by notch, as players shoot their way through the game. Score enough kills and the meter fills, causing the next killed enemy to drop special weapon ammo.

It’s a useful system when you’re in a firefight with a crowd of enemies. If you score enough kills, that meter fills, triggering a special ammo drop which you then grab and use to unleash an attack with your high-level minigun, grenade launcher or other top weapon. That flow feels very different if getting to that empowering moment involves shooting some dogs, deer or rats along the way.

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We are certain that the animal kills dropping ammo is a bug. On Wednesday, during the weekly State of the Game developer stream, host Hamish Bode said “apparently killing wildlife gives you specialization ammo” as he rattled off a bunch of issues tied to the new update. We’re less sure if the developers mean to let animal kills help fill the meter that leads to a special ammo drop. We’ve asked for clarification.

In this video, our animal kills help fill the game’s new special weapon ammo meter

On Saturday and again today, we tested things for ourselves. In one trial, we couldn’t get killed animals to drop special weapons ammo. In another, we got it from shooting dogs three times (please don’t judge us), even though deer never did. Shooting a crow when the meter was filling seemed to trigger the sound effect for the ammo drop, but no ammo appeared. We’re not sure if the specific animals caused a difference or if that’s just how it broke down in our limited tests. We also found that killing any animal at least helped fill the ammo meter.

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The animal issue is weird but far from game-breaking. It stands out more as an example of how design tweaks and bugs can alter a game’s themes and values. Before this ammo meter was added, the Division 2 developers’ efforts to not reward killing the game’s animals were conspicuous. The game depicts a ravaged Washington, DC full of enemy fighters who will drop weapons, gear, ammo and other supplies when the player kills them. It’s signaling that it’s fine and even encouraged to shoot armed people who would otherwise do you harm.

The game’s striking rendition of the wrecked city also shows nature’s resurgent power, as plants grow beyond their urban enclosures and deer and other wildlife amble down roads full of abandoned, damaged cars. All the animals can be killed, but they dropped no loot, no supplies, no nothing. This choice signaled that the developers saw no value, at least in this piece of interactive fiction, in killing animals, despite the survival trappings of the setting. That choice for animals to drop nothing useful even sparked an entertaining debate in an earlier State of the Game about whether killing a deer should earn a player meat. That changed with this update. There’s suddenly a good reason to shotgun some deer and snipe some birds. As the game gets more patches, we’ll soon see how much of that was unintentional.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Division 2 Is Going Back To New York City

E3 2019It’s time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We’ve got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.  

Just when we thought we were done scouring the streets of NYC, The Division 2 drags us back in. While the first and second episode updates for The Division 2 take players to the National Zoo and the Pentagon, the third episode brings players back to the big apple.

Due out in early 2020, The Division 2‘s episode three sends players on a manhunt that will take them back to the setting of the first game. The cinematic trailer below shows characters traipsing towards the main city from Coney Island.

Other The Division 2 news announced during Ubisoft’s E3 2019 press conference includes the game’s second raid, due out this fall. Sounds like there’s a whole lot of world saving left to do. 

Source: Kotaku.com

Mordhau Player Critically Panned

Today on Highlight Reel we have Mordhau hitboxes, casual Division 2 deaths, smooth Rage 2 riders, and much more.

Watch the video then talk about your favorite highlight in the comments below. Be sure to check out, like, and share the original videos via the links below. Subscribe to Kotaku on YouTube for more! Catch up on all the episodes on the Highlight Reel Youtube playlist!

Highlight Reel is Kotaku’s regular roundup of great plays, stunts, records and other great moments from around the gaming world. If you record an amazing feat while playing a game (here’s how to record a clip), send it to us with a message confirming that the clip is yours at highlightreel@kotaku.com. Or, if you see a great clip around that isn’t yours, encourage that person to send it in!

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Source: Kotaku.com

The Division 2 Replaced A Mystery With An Anticlimax

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I don’t play games for rewards. I never minded much that collecting the flags in the first Assassin’s Creed gets you nothing, didn’t mind that grabbing all the stars in Mario 64 lets you talk to Yoshi but not ride him. The journey’s the fun and whatnot.

There was, however, this one mission in The Division 2 that bugged me: the G. Phillips Protocol. I wrote about it in late March, when it was one of the apparent in-game mysteries a community of players was trying to crack. The mission appears only after players complete another called Navy Hill Transmission, which itself is hidden and only accessible if players stumble across a mission-giver in the western part of the game’s recreation of Washington, DC. Something about these missions seemed off.

The Division 2 is mostly a game about shooting enemies and collecting better and better gear and guns, but it also can be played as an exploratory urban hike. It’s full of recreated museums complete with detailed exhibits. It’s stuffed with hidden collectibles, some of which dangle from trees. You can ignore the shooting and looting and enjoy it as a discovery adventure, which makes finding Navy Hill Transmission thrilling. You’re told about confidential government operations: the founding of the CIA or its predecessor organization, the OSS. You wind up in isolated underground rooms full of mysterious maps and files, and you’re teased with the idea that there are hidden locations throughout the country tied to all of this. When Navy Hill ends, you get a marker on your map—a custom icon with a sword and wings—and it’s all very exciting to find out what will happen next.

What originally happened next was that you could go to the location of the winged sword icon, start a mission called G. Phillips Protocol, and just as quickly open a door and be told you completed the mission. No exploration, no combat, no nothing—just a door opening into a hallway and a basement with washing machines, a piano, and some crates of decent loot.

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It was terribly anticlimactic, unless it wasn’t really the end. I poked around in that basement for a while and couldn’t find anything. Other players poked more thoroughly, testing patterns of flickering lights, trying to glitch through walls, tracking down a similar room elsewhere in the game and attempting to find a connection, studying real life people named G. Phillips, just doing whatever they could. Somewhere in this two-mission chain, you’d be awarded a custom retro military outfit, but that was it—until the middle of May when the game was patched.

In a PC-only public test server where players could offer feedback on changes, one player eventually noticed that the G. Phillips basement had been tweaked and shared that information on the game’s subreddit. Alongside the existing loot, the developers had added a small box, inside of which was a new reward: a trinket for the player-character’s backpack in the shape of a film reel. Backpack trinkets are offered as relatively rare rewards elsewhere in the game. The thinking was that this was the developers’ way of providing a more clear-cut and satisfying way to end the quest chain.

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I’d requested interviews with the game’s developers about this mission a couple of times, but those requests, unlike others, went nowhere. By mid-May when the patch hit, I went to that basement myself. I got the film reel trinket and left, still dissatisfied.

In the weeks since, I’ve noticed players on the main Division 2 secret-sleuthing Discord struggle to discern if there could still be more to it. They’ve looked closely at an in-game map, hoping to find some clues, but it’s clear most have given up. There’s nothing more to it, a lot of them have decided. I agree.

No revised reward for G. Phillips could have satisfied me. This mission, set up with the hint of multiple hidden locations and unearthed U.S. history, ultimately just entailed opening a door and walking into a basement. I can live with, say, getting the same bow and arrow in an Assassin’s Creed expansion three dozen times, if the things I’m doing in a game are interesting. When the journey isn’t as exciting as I’d hoped, that can’t be patched away.

Source: Kotaku.com

Console Players Finally Beat The Division 2’s Raid

The PS4 raid leaderboard for The Division 2 as of Sunday morning.
Screenshot: Kotaku

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.

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“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 overemphasize 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.”

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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.

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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.

The Xbox One raid leaderboard for The Division 2 as of Sunday morning.
Screenshot: Mark Lawson

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That gap between PC and console completion has fueled 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.

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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.

Source: Kotaku.com

Console Players Can’t Beat The Division 2’s Raid

More than 24 hours since it launched, the Division 2’s raid has only been cleared by people playing the game on PC. Players on Xbox One and PS4 have failed repeatedly, leading to discussions that the raid is far too difficult for those playing on console.

The raid, called Operation Dark Hours, is set in a fictionalized version of Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport and challenges eight players to battle from the entryway to the tarmac, facing four major boss battle encounters along the way.

The first team to complete the raid did so just over five hours after it launched at 5pm ET on Thursday. They were playing on PC, and, within minutes, other PC players followed. Leaderboards for the raid on PS4 remain empty. When we were last able to check the Xbox One’s leaderboards at 3pm ET today, those were empty, too.

“It’s unplayable on console,” one person wrote on Twitter in a reply to an official Tweet this afternoon hyping the raid.

On the game’s subreddit, where player frustration has sprouted rows of threads, popular titles include: “Console Gamers got shafted For the raid?”, “Petition for DEVS to complete raid on CONSOLE!”, and “World’s First on Console Deserves a White House Photo of their own.” That last one is a reference to the in-game accolades being given to the team that first cleared the raid.

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Raids are meant to be challenging. They are intended to be some of the most difficult tasks available in an online game. PC players also often have some technological advantages, including higher frame rates and more precise mouse-and-keyboard controls, which can allow players, especially in shooter games like Destiny or The Division, to aim more quickly and more accurately. That’s one of the main issues console players struggling with Operation Dark Hours are citing.

“[T]he raid running at 60 fps is very different than the raid running at 30 fps,” one Reddit user wrote, while assessing why the raid was so much tougher on console than PC. They noted that encounters in the raid seemed to rely on players being able to quickly turn and aim without resorting to taking cover, something that’s much harder to do on consoles. They added: “the slow nature of the animations make it difficult to mow down multiple enemies in a short period of time.”

On forums and social media, console players have been saying that they’re stuck on the very first boss, an extremely tough enemy called Boomer. In a stream on Thursday morning, the game’s developers said that Boomer would serve as a test to ensure players had powerful enough character builds to get through the raid. Beyond that, they said, things would be more a matter of tactical execution than of needing more character potency.

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The Boomer encounter requires one player to get the boss’s attention and kit it across the room, wheeling around to shoot at its chestplate to stop it from auto-healing. Other players will simultaneously try to down it while fending off hordes of relatively weaker troops. Later encounters require precise shooting at swarms of small drones in treacherous areas where enemies rush in from all sides. Players need to be able to turn and shoot accurately and quickly.

If Boomer is a power-level check, he’s confirming that console players are in deep trouble. A Redditor who goes by the name bf_pheno reported today that it took their team 10 hours to beat Boomer on PS4. That feat has been received as extraordinary in the game’s community, where there’s little if any discussion of how console players are faring in the encounters that follow. A video of bf_pheno’s team’s ultimately triumphant attempt at Boomer begins with one member of the team ready to give up.

“”I’ll give it three more tries and then I’m done.”

“I’ll give it a little more than that. We can get this done.”

And, finally, they do.

In Reddit comments, bf_pheno indicated that one of his colleagues was drunk and was kicked out in favor of a better player, which did make things easier. “But they need to adjust the difficulty for consoles imo. PC have too much of an advantage,” they added.

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Later, they quipped: “Can’t wait to spend a whole day on the last boss :))” It took the PC team who first beat the raid three hours to beat the raid’s final boss, longer than the three earlier ones combined.

It’s unclear how much further they’ve gotten in the raid, but the blank PS4 leaderboards indicate that they haven’t finished it.

In an article this morning about console players’ struggles, writer Paul Tassi explained that the situation is made worse by the fact that The Division 2 doesn’t let players hit a higher level than the one needed for the raid:

The current max of all content in The Division 2 is 500 gearscore, the raid drops 500 gearscore gear. So there is no way to “overlevel” for it in time, rather you have to focus on min-maxing your build within the 490-500 GS range, and the raid has made it clear the best and really only path forward is DPS, DPS, DPS, so you might be 498 like me, but unless you’re stacking +30-50% weapon damage, AR damage and damage to elites, you’re not doing enough damage to make meaningful progress in even the first section of the raid. I watched streamer teams yesterday that have gone through some of the hardest content in every game out there, and yet this was such a gear check that they simply had to give up, almost all of them at the very first encounter.

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A website called Destiny Raid Report that tracks world records in Destiny 2 raids indicates that, once the game was on PC and consoles, PC players always completed the raids first. Console players have tended to lag behind, but only by hours. In only one instance did console players take a day longer than PC players to first finish the raid.

The game’s developers at Massive have yet to publicly address console players’ struggles, and a rep for the game did not reply to a Kotaku request for comment. There’s a good chance that the weekend will provide players more time to improve their performance in the raid and identify more successful strategies, but if console players keep failing, it’s clear something will need to change.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Division 2’s First Raid Won’t Have Matchmaking, Even Though Ubisoft Implied It Would

Adopting the approach of its shoot-and-loot rival Destiny, The Division’s first raid, set for release on Thursday, will require that players manually connect with others to attempt the mission. Matchmaking will not be an option, the game’s developers at Ubisoft Massive have confirmed, which has infuriated some players and lit up the game’s social media channels and forums.

In Destiny, raids are intended to be tough challenges filled with battles and puzzles that require communication and teamwork, the kind of stuff that strangers are presumably more likely to fail at. The Division 2’s raid will follow a similar template; it involves trying to liberate Washington DC’s main airport from an enemy force, and it is also being touted as a complex endeavor requiring lots of teamwork and rewarding victors with exclusive loot. It’ll require players to have a Gear Score of 490 or higher, ensuring it’ll only be accessible to players who reached the furthest depths of its endgame.

Fans aren’t just upset that they won’t be able to play it if they don’t know seven others players ready to attempt the raid with them. They’re upset because an official promotional image for the game’s online services released earlier this year stated: “matchmaking is provided for every game activity and difficulty level.”

“We do understand people have pulled up things we’ve said in the past about this subject, so here’s where it’s at in front of me right now, verbatim,” Division community developer Hamish Bode said in the franchise’s weekly State of The Game developer stream today, before reading an official statement: “‘We decided to not include matchmaking, as we don’t think this would make a good gameplay experience for random groups. The Raid will test your ability to communicate well, have a good build set up and will require great teamwork to beat encounters.’”

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Raids in Bungie’s Destiny games have never supported matchmaking, instead requiring groups of six players to manually find each other and commit to playing. Destiny 2 introduced a “guided games” feature that lets users sign up to be brought along for a ride through a raid. Most of the game’s other multiplayer modes use matchmaking, as do The Division 2’s, allowing players to simply pick an option, have the game find other players to connect to them and let them proceed with co-op or competitive play.

“We’ve been having a lot of discussions about it,” live content manager Yannick Banchereau said during the stream. “We want to make sure this experience is an experience where you have to prepare for it, where you have to build a team. You have to organize yourself. You have to really try to define the builds that everybody is going to be using, the roles that everybody’s going to be playing. Then you attempt, you potentially fail, then you talk about it, you change your strategy and all of that. So, communication, preparation and organization are extremely important for us… For that, we don’t think that matchmaking is a good solution. That would mean there is a risk you would end up in a group that doesn’t talk to each other, doesn’t talk the same language, you didn’t get prepared for it. It’s really not the kind of experience where you matchmake, you DPS [read: damage and defeat enemies] and then you get your loot. It’s something completely difficult.”

Banchereau’s comments did not immediately quell the State of the Game stream’s live chat, which was full of thumbs down emojis and comments such as “you are making a mistake” and “​they’re so proud of this raid that they just allienated [sic] a huge player base from” and “im in a clan of 40 plus but its still a ball ache to get 8 people that are free for a few hours.” On the game’s subreddit, there were so many threads complaining about the matchmaking decision over the last 12 hours or so that mods made a megathread to capture what has largely been frustration from players who feel misled and worry they’ll miss out on this addition to the game. On Twitter, fans kept posting the image about the game’s online services that claimed that matchmaking would be available for all activities in the game.

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Some fans online did say that they felt matchmaking would lead to poor raid experiences, but that sentiment was often countered by other people saying they’d at least have appreciated the option to matchmake with strangers in lieu of manually assembling a raid crew.

“You might just think it’s lip service, but we definitely do hear a lot of the player’s side of this concern,” Bode said during the stream. “Someone brought up a really good point; it was either on Twitter or Reddit: I don’t really interact with many people in the game, but I really want to be able to play this content’… we want you to be able to play it, too.”

“It’s not something we’re taking lightly,” Banchereau said. “It’s been a big discussion internally, as well, and we know some people like that and some don’t like that.”

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Banchereau went on to say that things could change. “We’re happy to keep the conversation going and see how it goes and how people like it and whatever, and how important it is, and then depending on how the conversation goes, we will make adaptations.”

Source: Kotaku.com

I Like It When The Numbers Get Big

Video games are art. Video games can tell complex stories about the nature of the soul or bring players to tears with their honest belief in heroes. They also have numbers in them. Lots of numbers. And I am a big buffoon who loves when numbers go up.

I’ve been denying this simple fact for a long time. After all, numbers are used as part of the treadmill to keep players mindlessly locked to their games. The importance of numbers and statistics is key to things like lootboxes. In many mobile phone games, strong characters and items are found through “pulling” for rare items. This can often mean using in-game currency that’s purchasable with real money. A player’s desire for the biggest, bestest numbers and statistics can draw them to participate in an exploitative monetization model created specifically to wring every last cent out of them.

I know all this. I am intimately aware of it and find it disgusting. Mobile games are a hellscape. I also love it when I get a rare weapon or stat-increasing “wrymprint” in Dragalia Lost that boosts my Might level to further heights. Because even if you are aware that you’re living in Idiocracy, we’re all still giant apes who happened to beat up all the slightly dumber apes. If I have the largest Might level, does that not make me the bigger and most powerful of all the apes?

In games, numbers are abstractions of certain qualities. The more, the better. Striking a critical blow in Final Fantasy XIV doesn’t just mean that you hit the enemy, it’s an indication that you really hit the big meanie super hard. You big, tough Warrior of Light, you. In some cases, like in the Fallout series, having big numbers in stats like Intelligence unlocks special dialog options that allow better rewards or easier progression. You’re not just smart, you’re exceptionally smart. A goddamn genius. Meanwhile, a low number in Intelligence can lead to limited options and (sometimes questionable) dialog options. You want more, you need more.

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I can’t begin to decipher the ancient impulse that leads humans to believe that having more of a thing is better. Some of that is probably tied to survival instincts. In the times where our near-ancestors had to deal with absolutely bonkers shit like sabertooth tigers and roaming raiders, you probably wanted the biggest dudes and the biggest spears to avoid getting eaten. This somehow got codified into the notion of wealth, where we stopped collecting each other’s goddamn skulls as proof of how big we were and did the totally sensible thing of deciding that shiny stuff would do. Humans fucking love shiny stuff. That’s a part of video games too; see the colorful item rarity systems in games like Diablo 3. Anyway, the point is that capitalism became a thing. You got wealth by (supposedly) being tough or adventurous or cunning—all of which are largely code words for being a dubious asshole—and your collection of wealth was a bigger number than the other guy.

Look at all these loot shooters. These games are predicated solely on the idea that folks will run the same content over and over again to up their statistics. You have Destiny 2, The Division 2, Anthem, and soon there will be Borderlands 3. All of these games are fundamentally peddling the same experiences, all enticing players who lust for more loot that is quantified with bigger and bigger numbers. A homogenous AAA slurry is slurped up until we get a sequel with a bigger number at the end of the name. Numbers have ruined the gaming landscape.So here I am today, fully aware that numbers are the basis of questionable practices and systems that exploit many people. Systems that dangle the prospect that people could also have more stuff as the best possible thing that can happen in our lives. Systems that turn our catelog of art (at least at a certain level) into a grey wasteland where everything is the same. That’s stupid and I hate it. Meanwhile, I spent an entire evening checking to see if the Dragon’s Dogma servers were up because I wanted to see how many rift crystals my companion had collected by helping other players.

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I have over one million rift crystals now. One million! That’s a big number and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I grinned like a buffoon as whatever societally ingrained Pavlovian response kicked off in my brain. I salivated like a slobbering dog at the mere idea that one million could become two million.

I can’t keep lying to myself like this. I am a friggin’ dope who loves the big numbers. Don’t just give me Excalibur, give me Excalibur+1.

Source: Kotaku.com

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