Last week’s patch for The Division made some changes to the Dark Zone, and let me tell you, they worked. Before 1.0.2, you might spend a few hours grinding away in the Dark Zone and find, if you were lucky, one or two rogues. Now, it’s almost constant. The death penalty when going rogue went from ridiculous to ridiculous, from one extreme to the other. There’s almost no reason not to PvP now. Chances are you won’t lose much, and by doing so, there’s plenty to gain.
Before the patch, if you died you would lose 10% of your total amount of XP, which at the high ranks could amount to hours of leveling and entire ranks gone. You’d also lose a big chunk of Dark Zone credits, but those were and continue to be rather useless. Now, however, you lose about 10% of your current level, and hardly any Dark Zone credits. There’s now much more incentive to PvP, and much less penalty when you die. In my experience, you gain more by engaging in PvP – assuming you’re not bad at it – than you lose from the occasional death. That’s doubly true if you’ve got three friends to play with. If that’s the case, bring on the manhunts.
With the increased frequency of PvP in the Dark Zone, it only starts to illustrate some of the other issues. In my experiences, most rogues don’t want to PvP. They already did their killing, and now they’re trying to evade other players, and for the most part, evasion is easy. All they have to do is keep moving. There’s almost no way to catch up with other players in The Division. Everyone moves at the same speed, and there’s only one way to close that gap, with one of the Signature Skills, Survivor Link. Activating that gives you a temporary movement speed buff, but chances are you don’t want to waste your Survivor Link to catch up to someone who went rogue.
There are a few potential solutions for this. The simplest one is to slow players when they’re shot. It’d have to scale with both weapons and range. An SMG at long range shouldn’t be as effective at slowing a target as a Marksman rifle, but maybe if you can get close enough, that SMG can keep them slowed, allowing you or your teammates to close the gap. Successfully surviving a rogue status and eventually a manhunt should be more about a display of skill and teamwork than it is your ability to high-tail it for the other side of the map.
Another option is to have an ability, or mod for an existing ability, that increases movement speed. It would be similar to Survivor Link, only something with a much shorter cooldown. It’d scale with skill power, so you’d be pretty fast if you stacked the attribute. Of course if you could use such an option to chase rogues, then so too could they to escape, but it would still be a nice option to have. More variety is nice, PvP or not.
Because trust me, you won’t want to waste your Survivor Link to chase rogue players in most situations. It’s much more useful for keeping you alive under a hail of bullets. The Signature Skill gives you fifteen seconds of ridiculous damage mitigation. You may as well be invincible while it’s active. There’s almost no reason to run the other signature skills in PvP. Survivor Link could most definitely use a nerf, or have the other signature skills brought in line. Then again, if you’re solo and attacked by a group of four highly geared players, Survivor Link won’t do you much good.
Right now in the Dark Zone, there are a lot of instances of these highly geared players picking on the lower geared ones, mostly for fun. That comes with the territory, but maybe once the game is updated to include gearscore – as will be happening for the incursions – then that could be taken into account when you’re being placed on a Dark Zone server. As it stands now, a team of highly geared agents can wipe the floor with most players on their server.
That’s even truer if someone accidentally goes rogue. The confusion caused by non-rogues accidentally shooting each other can be a really nifty tactic to take attention away from the real threat. I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve been able to survive a manhunt primarily because the non-rogues start fighting amongst themselves. Most other players don’t care – red equals dead. That player messed up, and now they’re an excellent source of credits and XP.
Then of course you have the people trying to abuse the friendly fire system to make other players go rogue so that they can be killed without prejudice. It’s pretty simple – just stand in front of another player and hope they don’t check their fire. One potential fix for this is to change it so that instead of shooting other players to go rogue, it’s reversed. Go rogue to shoot other players, this would solve both people accidentally going rogue, and attempts at abusing the system. Just add a hotkey to “go rogue,” or if you’re on PC, give it a chat command like /pvp. I’d miss the in-fighting, but it might be for the best.
It’s not directly related to PvP, but it’s another integral part of the Dark Zone: division tech. It’s a crafting material required for any Dark Zone recipe, and it’s a pain to farm. It’s a pretty easy fix, though. Just up the numbers. Increase chest respawn times, increase the amount of high end division tech that you find. Maybe even lower the amount required for those recipes. PvP helps to make the Dark Zone fun, but having to farm division tech sucks it right back out again.
Ultimately, the Dark Zone is far more exciting than it was when the game first launched, and you could potentially argue that it’s a little too exciting – aside from the parts where you’re running around in circles farming division tech. The Dark Zone is in a pretty good spot, but there will always be room for improvement, especially concerning the inclination to flee instead of PvP.