The Division – Policing your friends

tom clancy's the divisionOne of the most surprising and exciting reveals from E3 this year was gameplay from The Division that featured the Darkzone multiplayer mode. There were numerous things about the reveal that were intriguing, from the looting aspects, to the surprise of running into other live players, to the choice of avoiding higher level AI enemies, but most shocking was the betrayal at the climax of the video. If you haven’t seen the footage, players are given the choice to betray their team and then steal their coveted Darkzone gear that they just looted as a team. I still have concerns about how well they will manage player saturation and feeling like you constantly run into players as so many people enjoy trolling rather than working together. However, some news has me hopeful for how organic the experience will end up being.

Upping the ante

One of the mechanics that leads to my concern about player saturation rates is how extraction works. After players decide they have enough loot, they must extract in order to keep anything they have found. Since Darkzones have other live players in them, extraction is like a giant beacon on the map telling everyone you are trying to leave. While you wait for the timer to count down other players can make a play against you so you have to defend your position. However, even if you manage to defend against enemy players, your fight may be far from over. After a successful battle you can then be betrayed by your teammates. This is when things get more interesting, especially for the player who decides to turn on their friends.

Wanted

For those who decide their teammates’ loot is worth the cost of friendship, getting away with it will become pretty challenging. When you decide to betray your teammates you go “Rogue” and the more players you kill, the higher the bounty on your head, and subsequently more people will want to find and kill you. You also are, to some degree, visible on the map for other players to hunt you down for the bounty and reward. Now to the person who thinks they can just dig in and kill people to survive, it won’t be that easy. The more players you kill the longer your status as “Rogue” will last, so the risk of betrayal will be very high. This will not be as simple as shooting your teammates in the back and running out unscathed. Other players in the area will be alerted to your bounty, hunt you down, and it will spiral into a more and more challenging event as you are forced to kill attackers just to survive.

Self-governance

My biggest concern after the E3 footage was not the ability to betray your teammates because the guys I typically run with wouldn’t do it. My concern was, and still is, the risk of over-saturation in the Darkzone areas leading to a tiresome and annoying experience. Given that they are using mechanics to self-govern betrayals and keep them from being too easy and too prevalent I’m hopeful about how well they will manage the player saturation levels. I happen to think letting players organically govern and dictate how often something happens by making the pathway to success more naturally challenging is a brilliant idea. Let’s just hope this all works in practice, because it looks like an absolute blast.

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