While it’s quite a different game in many respects, The Division is still competing directly with Bungie’s best-seller, Destiny, simply because both titles fall into the realm of the shooter-MMO and, for the most part, are among the first of their kind on consoles. If Ubisoft plans to steal some of Destiny’s userbase away from Bungie there are a few things they need to do.
6. Have More In-Depth Player Customization
It’s no secret that gamers love to have the ability to express their individuality in the games they play. Even in insanely casual games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 players love to snag new looks for their characters and have the freedom to fully customize their emblems and weapons.
Destiny provides some customization options, but it’s very restrictive. Players are limited to certain aesthetics due to shaders being predetermined and the fact that they can’t apply different colors to different parts of their gear at will like you can in some of the most popular MMORPGs such as Guild Wars 2.
It’s going to be tough for Ubisoft to challenge that, though. With there only being one race – human – there’d have to be a lot of different options for players to be able to create a truly unique character design. And, from what we’ve seen so far, the character creation system isn’t that impressive.
5. Don’t Punish Vanilla Players
Bungie pissed off a lot of it’s fans when they started releasing the DLC packs for Destiny. They left vanilla players in the dust and, eventually, significantly restricted their ability to play the game. This included taking away game modes that were available with the initial release, giving players gear that they could never use because of level requirements only accessible with DLC, and so on.
This isn’t a good model to follow for any game, especially when you’re taking away things that players had access to before after they already paid $60+ for the base game.
Hopefully Ubisoft realizes that that one move put a sour taste in gamers’ mouths for not only Destiny, but Bungie itself. And, let’s be honest, while all of those vanilla players were probably just casual gamers – all major titles lean heavily on sales from casual gamers to stay afloat.
So, for the sake of The Division’s survival – it’d probably be wise not to punish and alienate the casual playerbase.
4. Provide More Quests and More Variety
One of the biggest things gamers complained about when Destiny was first released was the lack of content. The game was short – and extremely repetitive. A lot of gamers that wanted to focus on the PvE elements of the game became bored of it very quickly.
After all, it does get a tad obnoxious playing the same scene – toss out your bot and defend it – over and over again.
Based on beta gameplay, The Division may struggle a bit with this as well. The missions are often somewhat similar, just with increasingly difficult foes to face. Perhaps, though, the game gets a lot more diverse and interesting as you make significant progress. We just hope the game is packed with PvE content and there’s a good bit of variety to keep players engaged and playing for a while.
3. Don’t Make it “Pay-to-Win”
While Destiny isn’t technically a pay-to-win game, it can certainly feel like it at times. This is especially true if you only own the base game. Players with the House of Wolves and Taken King DLC packs have the ability to use higher-level armor, weapons, and other pieces of gear – effectively making them more powerful than base-game players.
Additionally, Bungie also added level-boosters to the game which help players instantly make a good amount of progress on their characters without ever really playing. No, it doesn’t take you the level cap, but it’s still an unnecessary component.
Ubisoft has already promised that there will be no game-breaking microtransactions added to The Division. They’ve stated that items made for purchase would only be cosmetic and would not affect actual gameplay in any way. That’s great, but, unfortunately, Bungie said these exact same things about Destiny, Treyarch said the same of Black Market items for Black Ops 3, and so on.
Hopefully Ubisoft won’t go back on their word, but if the industry has taught us anything it’s that game developers and publishers will do anything to bring in more cash on a game. Only time will tell if Ubisoft decides to stand out from the crowd and be a bit more honorable.
2. Fix Issues Immediately
Another big thing that can really make or break an MMO-style game is it’s ability to not be broken. Games like Destiny suffered from, and are still plagued by, issues such as poorly balanced weapons or abilities, terrible lag, game-breaking exploits, and other problems that can make a game not so enjoyable and, in some cases, unplayable.
If The Division wishes to surpass the success of its predecessors, Ubisoft is going to have to stay in touch with players, pinpoint problems when they arise, and correct them within a reasonable time-frame. Gamers, especially casuals, will flock away from a game in troves if they feel it operates poorly or unfairly.
Developers for similar games, including Destiny, have often been extremely slow about finding solutions to problems within their games. This can quickly turn players against you and have copies of your game flooding the shelves of local Gamestops in no time. We’re hoping Ubisoft will manage The Division well in this respect.
1. Keep the Content Coming
One of the biggest reasons Destiny has seen a huge decline in active players recently is the fact that Bungie’s content development for the game came to a sluggish crawl. In the first year they released a couple small DLC packs and one larger one (The Taken King).
Since then, however, the game has seen next to nothing added. So, once players finished the content within The Taken King, got the gear they wanted, and reached the max level – they were left with next to nothing to do. Bungie has been adding in small events here and there – but these are nothing compared to the content the players were used to getting.
Ubisoft has already announced post-launch plans for The Division, which includes releasing three expansions and some free content packages as well. If the DLC is substantial enough and the developers can keep up that pace in years following the initial release – this game could do very well.
But, as we saw with Destiny, that business model may prove too difficult to work. Bungie was unable to sustain that level of content development. Can Ubisoft one-up them and show that this content schedule isn’t impossible? Only time will tell. We sure hope they can!