The Dark Zone was supposed to be one of The Division’s biggest draws. Will that agent attack me? Will he shoot me dead and steal my loot? Oh… he’s just going to walk on by and we’re both going to go on about our business. The latter has become the norm in the Dark Zone. People just don’t want to bother going rogue because the rewards are too negligible and the penalty is too severe.
The PvP aspect of the Dark Zone isn’t the only thing that could use improvement, though. Even if it is the most obvious and most criticized. There are also issues with the rewards, and the fact that, at the moment, the Dark Zone boils down to running between landmarks farming enemies. Rogue status is biggest issue to improve, and no, the XP penalty shouldn’t just be removed. The game should still deter you from going rogue – by doing it you become the bad guy, after all. Currently, however, you definitely lose way too much XP by going rogue, but there also needs to be a system in place to make rogues want to keep fighting instead of running until their status disappears.
One possibility is treating it more like your average shooter. You made the decision to backstab your fellow agents and have declared yourself the bad guy. Now run with it. Maybe if you perform well enough, and wreak enough havoc, you can remove the XP penalty from dying all together, or maybe even gain a great amount. Alter it so that once you go rogue the best thing you can do is just keep fighting. Maybe you can run if you start to become overwhelmed, but for the most part, it’s better to go down in a blaze of glory.
Another drastic change, one that leans a bit more into promoting rogue play and as such, PvP, is to give rogues their own progression. Instead of gaining and losing Dark Zone rank, maybe you can gain and lose rogue rank instead. This rank can be used to unlock rogue benefits, or maybe rogue specific cosmetic items that seem somehow more sinister than the gear of regular Division agents. Dark Zone credits are largely useless at the moment, too. Maybe have that be the currency for Rogue cosmetic unlocks. You could take it a step further and have rewards for “good” Division agents that focus on taking care of rogue problems as they crop up.
The Dark Zone is supposed to be this lawless no man’s land, when in actuality, it’s not. Most of the time it’s a peaceful harmonious farm fest, and rogue encounters are becoming increasingly rare. The PvE aspect could use some love, too. Most of the enemy factions are just hanging out, shooting the breeze. The Dark Zone should feel more like a warzone. Enemy factions already fight with each other if they stray too close. That’s one of the more enjoyable things to encounter.
Take it up a notch. Add specific areas where the factions will clash in even larger battles. Maybe events where one enemy faction will attack another and try to claim that landmark as their own. Sure, this can only trigger when players are nearby so it doesn’t just happen on its own without anyone around to benefit, but the Dark Zone just needs to feel more alive. Enemies could capture extraction points, too, and force you to take them back, or find another place to extract. Have them attack checkpoints, too, while we’re at it. Trap those pesky Division Agents inside the Dark Zone. There are a lot of options to make the enemies feel more dynamic and do more than stand around points of interest.
Chests in the Dark Zone could also use a revamp. While ranking up, I was excited to find out what the chests that required Rank 30 would hold. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that it was, in fact, blues. That loot is – maybe –useful to players who decided to grind out Dark Zone rank at a very low level, but for any level 30 players with limited inventory space, blue items are the last thing they’re going to bother picking up. Find something more enticing to put in those chests, maybe Phoenix Credits, or regular credits, or Dark Zone credits. Maybe even a cache of crafting materials. Anything other than blues. The same could be said for the Dark Zone Key chests. It won’t be long before a couple purples are about as valuable as a couple blues. They could certainly have more enticing items inside them, as well.
I only write this because the Dark Zone is a treasure trove of potential. It comes close to doing what only early access unfinished games like Rust and Day Z have done, only better, but it feels half-baked currently. Maybe once people start reaching the Dark Zone rank cap, they’ll get bored and start running around killing instead. But if going rogue had just a tad more incentive, and eased up on the penalties, the Dark Zone could be thrilling, whereas at the moment, it’s more of a bore.