The Division Has Turned into the Perfect Christmas Game
The Christmas tree lays sideways on the floor, knocked over during the evacuation or perhaps later in one of the many firefights that have erupted across Manhattan since the dollar flu turned the place into a ghost town. Tinsel hangs limply from the tree as snow falls gently all around, although with the frozen corpses and vicious gangs all over the place it probably isn't the White Christmas that Bing Crosby was dreaming of.
But it's still a Christmas miracle, and that miracle is the redemption story for Ubisoft's The Division. The Division, Ubisoft's fairytale-in-New-York-but-with-guns MMORPG that became the company's biggest selling new property upon its release earlier this year, but then ran afoul of various complaints over the problem with hackers and the admittedly disastrous discovery by the community that the game didn't have much of an endgame once you had hit the game's level cap of 30, with the game requiring you to grind for Phoenix Credits for new gear, or taking a chance in the Dark Zone, hoping to luck into some better gear.
However, I've gotten back into The Division again this month after a series of updates that rebalanced the loot drops and, in the words of those that were still playing, made the game 'fun' again. Earlier this year, I recommended
you pick up Diablo III again, because it'd pulled off something similar, upping the loot drop rates, making the game more fun to play, and making multiple builds viable. The Division did much the same thing with the title's 1.4 update, adding more meat to the tail-end of The Division for those who have finished the campaign.
If you've played The Division before, perhaps hitting the level cap before the 1.4 changes, I'll get a little more technical. The Division now hands out boxes of loot freely, delivering them for EXP, completing the daily missions, or braving the game's newer modes - I haven't had a chance to try the Underground expansion yet, but I have found myself dipping into the title's Survival expansion, which feels like the game The Division always should have been, a tense battle through the snowy streets of New York with agents trying to survive despite the constant bite of the cold and a lack of equipment, learning to fear the sounds of combat in the distance, obscured by the flurries of snow.
When you die in The Division's Survival Mode, you die for good and get dropped back into the game's safe zone to try again - if you died in a particularly glorious way, you'll be given a stack of loot. Play it in PVP mode – and you really should – and you'll also be able to take down other players to steal their items. Survival mode is so tough that every little really does help: If a guy runs past you wearing a particularly warm jumper, it's hard to come up with a reason not to shoot first and never ask questions.
Part of the rebalance, though, is that pretty much any way you choose to play it is rewarding. You're given a shiny stack of loot for experience, for completing challenges, for your survival attempts, for running the daily missions. Hell, I was helping a friend grind their way up to level 30 by running them through the storyline and I was given stacks of level-appropriate loot as a reward for that, too.
The Division is nearly showering you in loot, which makes it really satisfying to play for short stints of time. Ubisoft hasn't confirmed its commitment to a second year just yet, but it'd be silly not to; it's in a really good place right now, and if you've got all the expansions there's no reason not to dip into this and soak up some of the Christmas magic.