Sometimes it's hard to jump back into a game. It feels like looking for one particular item in that one closet where you discard all the stuff you don't really care about, but can't bear to part with. You don't even know where to start looking.
I logged back into The Division 2 after not playing the game for a few months. There's simply too much to play, too many games to cover with too many ongoing updates. The Division 2 is seeing competition even from within Ubisoft, with the recently released Ghost Recon Breakpoint vying for a huge chunk of a player's time. So I'm stuck hopping between various games and playing catch up. In this ongoing journey, The Division 2 has been the hardest game to jump back into—and I regularly play MMOs like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14.
I'd normally assume this was just my own problem and move on, but players have offered up similar complaints for some time now. "The biggest issue with this game is how overly complicated and convoluted things are for the average player. Needing multiple external sources such as spreadsheets just to put together a simple build is just simply not fun. There are many things that play into this and as a player with over 3,000 hours in Division 1 and near 600 in Division 2, here’s what I think are the biggest issues," wrote The Division 2 forum member PhantomTechRev back in August.
The issues pointed out by the poster include problems related primarily to gear. There's the struggle with filling out gear sets, as some sets didn't cover every gear slot and it was hard to target specific gear pieces. Or there's the complex skill modification system, which requires the players to find the right skill mod for the right slots, with the right skill power to unlock said mod. Players charge The Division 2 with having too much gear to ultimately sift through, and worse, once you reached Gear Score 500, it'svery difficult to figure out which gear is better for your build without the use of various spreadsheets and number crunching.
Title Update 6, which went live today, is supposed to alleviate some of the issues with the endgame, including its post-Gear Score 500 inventory issues. Branded gear sets are now filled out, with an item for every slot. Crafting costs are supposedly lowered and the drop rates of crafting materials was increased. Some gear mods have been removed. Most importantly, loot targeting has been added, allowing players to complete missions in certain regions of the map in order to have a higher chance of getting specific items. The latter change is aimed at lowering the random chance required in perfecting a player's build.
Already, players have said that while loot targeting is a great change, the additional gear in Title Update 6 doesn't alleviate the issue of too much gear to sift through and Ubisoft still hasn't addressed the complicated gear system itself. Figuring out which gear does more damage is easy, but finding the mix of active and passive skills and gear set combinations is still harder than just looking at two different pieces of gear for the same slot. And planning for gear recalibration is a nightmare.
"Even the ones who might want to give it a shot again, I guarantee you that a lot of those folks are outright scared to have to get an updated degree in Division 2's gearology again first," writes Reddit user Gx-Kid in a trending thread on The Division 2's subreddit. "The gear sets in The Division 1 were fine, and so were most exotics. The first game had a very comprehensible and accessible system for quickly and easily determining the quality of your loot."
"As a semi casual player who kinda just stopped after hitting [Gear Score 500], I’m really excited by the idea of targeted loot and the overhaul, because I’m hoping that it’ll now encourage me to dip my toe into the water of optimized builds," adds another Reddit user. "One thing I’d say though is that a lot of this still feels pretty overwhelming and that there feels like there’s a learning wall to overcome. So you say "if you want to make a [Hard Wired and Black Tusk Special Unit] build you can!" And I'm looking at that going "Ok… is that good? What does that do?""
I'm largely in the same boat. I have no clue where to start. I spent much of the morning looking at builds and best-in-slot charts, because with loot targeting, I want to at least ensure I'm killing folks in the right spot to get the loot I want. Some games like Destiny 2 or World of Warcraft fix this problem for returning players by simply offering new gear in the new content that's better than what you could get before. This allows players to simply do the new stuff and not worry, but The Division 2 is trying not to negate the many hours of work existing players have put into their current builds. (Except the Title Update 6 tweaks did in fact bork some existing character builds.)
I'm dutifully queuing up for the new content, heading into the Pentagon, but from my early hours of play, loot from anywhere other than the raid is pretty much the same in terms of scaling. So, the wall between me and what I think is a solid build is pretty high, and the new missions don't necessarily feel more meaningful and worthwhile than anything else. So I'm trapped looking at icons on a map and numbers on a spreadsheet with no clear direction. Ubisoft is generally great at improving its titles over time, but right now, The Division 2 is simply too obtuse, especially in something as simple as gearing up your character. Maybe the next episode will be the smooth onramp to help me, and others, get back into it.
If you're getting back into The Division 2 despite these issues, you might want to check out our guides bub, which covers helpful tips up until July's Episode 1 release. We also spoke to Ubisoft about the upcoming changes back in September, outlining some of the company's aims for Title Update 6.