Feature Article

The Division 2 Has A Big Surprise Ready For Its Endgame

The game-changers.

Since its debut at E3 2018, the developers behind the The Division 2 have focused on the sequel's endgame. It's a recurring topic for many online looter-shooters such as Destiny and Anthem, as it's often seen as the make-or-break point for a game's long term success. That's something the developers of the original Division know all too well. Players who finished its vanilla campaign inevitably hit a slump, leading to a repetitive cycle. Ubisoft eventually overhauled much of the game's mechanics and added in new encounters--leading to an impressive post-launch life for The Division. However, many players still burned out by the original release missed out on the revival once other games came around.

With the sequel, Ubisoft is taking steps to ensure that it won't fall into the same traps as the original, while also giving the campaign a greater sense of purpose. We recently spent some time getting an early look at the game's upcoming private beta--playable February 7-10--which offers a tease for what's to come in the early hours of the campaign and the late-game content that follows. After you've established yourself in The Division 2's turbulent setting of post-outbreak Washington D.C. during the campaign, things take a more chaotic turn after the conclusion, forcing you to defend what you've built up in the expanded endgame.

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During this event, the developers spent some time reflecting on what they learned from the original game and detailed their approach in the sequel.

"One of the biggest things for The Division 2 is the importance of the endgame and our focus on it," said creative director Julian Gerighty. "We launched The Division 1 with very little in terms of endgame content. It was a great campaign, you reached level 30, the endgame started, but it was lacking in activities. We were trying to operate this live game, yet we saw things that weren't working out for the long term. That's why a very tough decision was made before patch 1.4, which was to stop the development on all of the planned features and the DLCs to be able to focus on the technological debt and on the improvements to get the game to where we wanted it to be. That all fed into how we've set up The Division 2 production-wise, creatively as well."

The Division 1 is a vastly different game now than it was at launch, and all for the better. That second wind is something that the developers wanted to carry over into the sequel, which they did in a few important ways. For starters, The Division 2 will incorporate much of the existing game's content from the post-launch updates, which includes update 1.2's bounties, 1.4's world tiers, 1.6's exotic weapons, and 1.8's PvP arena. These features will also be available for all players at launch, and future DLCs for the first year will be free. This is not only to stay consistent with the current game's flow and meta but also to ensure that the community would stay engaged.

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With the new game, there also comes a fresh start for all players. Whereas the original was set in Manhattan, Division 2 brings a new set of agents to the nation's capital, which introduces new systems and world events that occur in the field--presenting more moments and opportunities to leave a large footprint. At the beginning of the demo, our first mission was to retake the White House from one of the opposing factions, which becomes your base of operations soon after.

Over the course of the campaign, the White House increases in influence and followers the more you expand the Agency's reach throughout Washington D.C. In order to reassert control over the city, you'll set up new settlements and interact with key characters who will aid in your rise to power. Some NPCs are recruitable and can even be brought to the White House to upgrade the various areas--leading to new items and perks to acquire.

Exploring ruined D.C. offered plenty of opportunities to meet new characters and come across control points that are in constant dispute. Though D.C. doesn't have nearly as strong of an atmosphere and eerie vibe as the original, it does fill that void by presenting more reasons to explore and engage in the various side-missions. Much like in the original, there are ECHOs that allow you to play back moments from the lives of supporting characters. While the original's take felt one-sided since the characters were dead long before you arrived, several of the persons of interest in The Division 2 are alive and reasonably well, and the ECHOs offer more details about their connections to others throughout D.C.

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Things, however, take a particularly surprising turn in the endgame. A new threat in the form of Black Tusk emerges, leading into the broader endgame that shakes things up. Similar to the Hunters from The Division's 1.8 update, who only appeared in the Survival mode and Underground DLC, Black Tusk is a roaming faction that serves as the antithesis of the Division agency. Possessing an arsenal of high-tech weapons and gadgets that match your own, this new faction invades D.C. and actively tries to retake areas of the city--and even the Dark Zones. In the two endgame missions we played, one in the Air and Space Museum and along with the Federal Emergency Bunker, the Black Tusk proved to be a powerful force to be reckoned with. Along with using robots that look like they come right out of the Boston Dynamics lab--except they actually have guns this time--the endgame faction also uses mini-drones, and have soldiers wearing heavy armor that require strategic shots to open up weak points.

During the endgame, you'll unlock new specializations that further enhance your character, which also open up power weapons like the grenade launcher, heavy sniper rifle, and the crossbow. In order to find better loot and gear, you'll have to tackle missions that are several notches more challenging than the campaign. But as is typically the case for endgame content, you'll also be repeating some older missions. The Division 2 does, however, spice things up by introducing a new tier called Invaded missions. During the endgame, all previous missions from the campaign will have a new difficulty that replaces the existing enemies with the Black Tusk. To cut down on repetition, the Invaded missions will also randomize each encounter with Black Tusk in the level, leading to different fights with enemy squads on each playthrough.

This new faction also changes the dynamic of the Dark Zones in the endgame, which actively occupies one of the areas. As we detailed in another preview, the Dark Zone's PvPvE (player-versus-player-versus-environment) dynamic has been upgraded for the sequel. In addition to three separate zones, all of which have story missions that allow you to get your feet wet, the endgame will introduce an Occupied Dark Zone. With one Dark Zone under occupation by the Black Tusk faction, which cycles to a different location every week, the occupied zones also remove certain handicaps from the base version of the PvPvE mode, particularly level-balancing and friendly fire.

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The skirmishes with Black Tusk during the two missions we played were intense and required some solid communication from our team to make it through. However, the invaded missions also felt a bit exhausting as well, leading to some moments where we were trapped in a room for up to 10 minutes dropping squads of bullet-spongy enemies as they funneled in. Though this is often the case for endgame content, it definitely hurt the pacing of some otherwise thrilling missions. Granted, we were just dropped into these missions for the purpose of this demo, which came after the rather brisk early game missions we played at the beginning. They may flow better once you've invested the hours to work your way to this content.

However, this also reminded me of some of the larger issues I've felt from The Division 2, in that it comes off a bit too similar to the original. It strongly emulates much of what worked in its predecessor, almost to a fault. Though some of the new innovations make for a more engaging and interesting setting to explore, the general looter-shooter loop itself can be exhausting, and lead to those familiar moments of occasional tedium that bogged down the first game. Having said that, I do feel the new approach to the endgame, though somewhat overwhelming, does offer a more compelling hook that felt absent from the original. By tasking you to defend the place you've been actively building up and investing yourself in throughout the campaign--which can be taken by the enemy faction. It creates a greater sense of urgency in the late-game, which was lacking from the original.

Ubisoft seems to be on the right path for The Division 2. Though it's obviously building off of what came before, the new features do seem to be a natural step up that plays to the renewed strength the series saw with its revamped gameplay from the original. Ubisoft's approach with this private beta was a neat way to kick the tires from both ends, and it'll be interesting to see how players--even those that missed out on the revival of the original game--will take to it. The Division 2 is series' second chance, and hopefully it'll be able to make good on it's renewed vigor.

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For more info on The Division 2, including how the new Dark Zones work and how to get into the private beta, you can check out our features and articles on here on GameSpot.

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snugglebear

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I didnt get to run around the open world as much as i meant to. Sort of rushed to get to the Invasion mission and then tried to solo it over and over until my friends got on. I hope theres a lot to explore and discover on a personal level, like the first game. I loved giving people food on the street or finding survival guide pages in an third story apartment I had crawl in the window of.

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Bignoli

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Enjoyed The Division although it had a lot of issues. Enjoyed farming and grinding for better gear and weapons. Never played the game´s updates which everyone states that made it better. Didn´t needed those enhancement since as I said, I enjoyed the first one.

As far as Division 2, I already pre ordered it. I believe my last time with D1 was 2 years ago and maybe those 2 years gave me the enough amount of time to be "renewed" for a new D2 experience.

Gamers are waaaay to picky and judge anything. since its free i guess. There are tons of games and I am sure the ones who won´t buy this one will buy either Anthem, Days gone or whichever game to their alike (looking at you Fat princess lovers). I will most likely get all hehe.

Division 2 gives something that FOR ME, its different than other games:

I can do missions, side missions, explore and even PVP with 3 friends at the same time while being in 3rd person. Also, free dlc for 1 year.

I know there is probably other games that offers this requirements but hey, this comes out on 2019 (as Anthem does). I like two have both, on one you can fly and be futuristic and on the other one you don´t fly which changes everything on my book when it comes to similarities

Peace!.

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Speranza318

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The surprise is Division 2 is just like Division 1! $10 bargain bin in 6 months.

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speedytimsi

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Edited By speedytimsi

To me, the PC version is almost unplayable. They decided to map the layout of the controls for the controller and port it straight to PC. It's extremely annoying on some of the things they do.

I like all the new little things that they did, but at the end, it's about the gear during the endgame and getting that gear isn't that interesting. Hey guess who's the end boss, it's a guy that shoots bullets, RPG, or flamethrower w/ minions as backup just like Division 1. Do something different. Don't copy and paste RPG into an RPG from your old RPG.

Dark Zone looks good so far but I'll bet in the 1st day someone will find a way to exploit it and Massive will nerf them like they did w/ the Phoenix credits. When someone has outlined the maps for Phoenix credit efficient farming, you know that it's gonna be a grind.

Lastly, stop farming the Tom Clancy name. Let him rest in peace! If you stop using that name you can actually put zombies which could actually make the game way more fun. Imagine shooting like 10,000 infected zombies and getting out of Washington D.C and the end boss is Mr. X.

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xxmavr1kxx

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I really enjoyed the first one. Even when I got burned out on the original end game content, I had no ill will. I enjoyed my experience.

I came back when underground was implemented, because I am more a solo player and I hate griefers in the DZ. Enjoyed the game some more, then eventually moved on to newer games that came out.

I am hyped for the Division 2. I do got to say though, I died a lot in the beta. It just felt harder. I hope I could get through the content solo in the campaign.

I see people bitching its the same game as the first one. I dont see how thats a problem if you enjoyed the first game.

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phili878

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I can't be bothered putting 20,000 headshots with high end weapons into the final boss like in Div1 battles at times, so I can't be bothered.

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connorman01

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Edited By connorman01

After playing the beta, I can say this game is the EXACT same as division 1. If you've played the first one, then you've already played this game. The new thing is shooting off armor pieces on enemies to do more damage, but the way you accomplish knocking pieces off is by shooting that spot, so nothing has changed since your just shooting the same spots anyway, regardless of armor pieces

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Acheron18

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Ubisoft/Massive have learned nothing. Story missions in Dark Zones? For those of us who absolutely loathe PvP this is a deal breaker. If I can't enjoy the whole game without being subjected to obnoxious tweens it's a hard pass.

I'm amazed so many devs can't get it through their thick skulls that not everyone likes competitive multiplayer. And yes, it would be easy to give us an option to play the whole game solo/co-op. They just don't seem to care.

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Kisalon

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Edited By Kisalon

@Acheron18: Well if that Story mission in dark zone is anything like the Dark Zone Toturial then it will be your own private instance of the Dark Zone with no other players (ofc there wasnt any loot either only the mission you were there to do)

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jagdedge124

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@Acheron18:

Oh wow. So we have no choice to play mp? Yep, dealbreaker for me as well. The last Division started off great, and i even got addicted to that.

But they kept changing things, and changing things, and i just got put off of some of the changes. I don't like this practice, of buying a game as is, only for them to totally change the gameplay. I'll be staying away from this for sure.

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PenguinHero7

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Definite pass.

The first game was an over-hyped disaster. I got it a little after release to play with some friends who had been playing it for a week. I started playing with them on their new play through since they had already beaten it, man was it terrible! The already bullet sponge enemies did not scale to my level like in some games. I literally couldn't do anything but hang back and watch! So I tried to play it solo on my own and it was just boring and a downright chore to play.

I had no fun with this game and actually just gave my minor used copy to someone last week just for the hell of it. It's sad developers bait & switch their games so much these days, as The Division looked fantastic in the reveal trailer...

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lonewolf1044

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I have the first one and I only played an little of it as I buy many games at one time and open it up to get an little taste and I was interested. I am getting part 2 free and so far looking at the talk surrounding it sounds very good and if I was not getting this free I normally wait a little bit and look at multiple reviews, playthroughs and then make my decision. Some people tend to let the past judge the product and Imho it may be an good game but previous version has made them more negative to anything new that they may offer.

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Onnyx

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Edited By Onnyx

With the industry the way it's been, the only surprise about the endgame there could possibly be is that there actually is one.

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Cashmoney007

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Ubisoft: We promise this game will have fun endgame content, and the grind will feel better.

Me: Talk! Talk! Why was the trailer so boring at E3?

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jagdedge124

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When The Division first came out on beta, it wasn't even on my radar screen. But what got me about that game, was the character movement. For me, that was the best character movement this generation.

I would just run around NYC enjoying the whole thing. But late in the cycle, they just broke the game. They implemented that ridiculous MP, and in that, changed the whole movement, to a slow clunky Ghost Recon like system. Ruined the whole game, and looking at the vids, it's same crap hunching over, and the clunky crap. That alone will have me pass.

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XzerocarnageX

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@jagdedge124: I played end game and I totally disagree with you in the sense on the PvE. I think the darkzone was catered to the rogues later on especially with the rope cutting. The darkzone was a place I used to run in solo or even as a duo at one point untill they changed certain mechanics.

Overall in the end I felt Ubisoft did more than a spectacular job on the game and compared to early release all the patches updates there were felt like they were more in tune with the community.

That is another thing, very early on many players had quit and up until a couple of years after release of the division one and the release of a certain patch, many of those players had came back, the games population had completely turned around.

After playing The division 2 beta, I'm more than impressed by what I've seen, played and been through. Even features new and old and things like the settlements and little rooms that are pure loot rooms are what is making this game already appealing to me. Those little things like more variety on wildlife while completely making the interfaces look more realistic and lovely looking. The fact you can get workers for the white house which in turn help you improve settlements, the fact you can donate materials to research and that they have added many more materials to the mats table.

Everything I feel is now quantity on top off the quality which was the right way to go about it in the division one, by getting quality in there first and adding quantity second.

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jagdedge124

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@xzerocarnagex:

Well i wasn't talking about the DZ. I was talking about that latest update you spoke about, that brought in the i think it was 5 v 5 skirmish mp. They slowed up the movement of the characters to make that more playable.

Now when you're travelling, you know an enemy is there, because your character hunches down and moves slower. There's no more surprise, and character too sluggish, like GR.

I understand you're saying it's a good game, but i don't like the way they changed the movement system. I hate slow clunky movement, especially on a game when you're walking the whole time. Thanks for respinding though and hope you enjoy it.

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skippert

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Edited By skippert

The suprise is that it is a utter boring grind.

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Pongman75

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This game gona be guuuuuuud

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henrythefifth

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HAD a big surprise, you mean...

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johnnyc26

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This looks so boring I bought the first one the day it came out and downloaded, probably played for 3 weeks at the most then deleted it from hardrive. I just think there are so many of these type games and they honestly succeed because hey have big backers like activison. It’s just no substance anymore to these games no intriguing characters or dialogue or story development. Things have changed for sure , appreciate the story driven games in PC and that Sony are still pushing out...

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Cappy

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Cannot wait for this, looks excellent. I played original Division, loved the campaign but the end game at launch was not so great and really disliked the bullet sponge enemies. But I came back to it when they launched the Player Test Server and the Devs eventually really nailed it. Time to kill was drastically reduced, and the end game activities in the light zone were fun again. There were still some mini-boss and boss enemies that took a lot of damage, but that was actually fine.

Now it seems Devs have taken all the lessons they learned in Division 1 and gone way beyond. Love it when Devs really listen to the community like these folks did.

One example I don’t see mentioned much: In Division 1 the Devs introduced a new enemy type in the Survival DLC called “hunters.” They had similar skills to players and actually acted a lot more like a player: they moved quickly, dived behind cover, launched drones, and player pretty aggressively. They were super fun to play against. Now it seems we have a whole faction of these.

I never condone pre-ordering, but I’ll be jumping on this as soon as the reviews confirm what I suspect.

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lonewolf1044

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@cappy: I am getting mine free but still I would wait and see when it releases that it is all it can be. Devs hype the game so well and most people will believe it. EA done it with Sim City 2013 and it was not the game it was purported to be. I however, I am hoping to enjoy the game.

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Cappy

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@lonewolf1044: agree, no reason to buy early. A little willpower buys you 20/20 hindsight.

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dynamotnt

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if you de level when u die in the dark zone this game will just be cancer imo. hard pass will have to see. still with exodus and resident evil 2 dlc out this month I doubt I will bother whether you de level or not.

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Cappy

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@dynamotnt: What do you think about the fact that they normalize gear for PVP, so it’s more about skill than just spending your life farming gear so you can beat others? That is awesome development for me.

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dynamotnt

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@cappy: it's good, but destiny proved that a special event where gear DOES matter, somewhere to farm noobs with your hard earned noob demolishers, is definitely fun. so an event where that matters sure, but rest of the time it should be as you say, balanced.

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Cappy

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@dynamotnt: yes, good point. I do like that Division 2 will have an “invaded dark zone” where things are not leveled. I think that gets at what you mean.

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viniterra

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I stop reading on “bullet-spongy enemies”. I pass.

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Xevac

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Edited By Xevac

@viniterra: Then you can never play an RPG with progressive gearing. How would you make an RPG without any bullet sponge??So you get starting lvl 30 gear and kill enemies in 3 hits. Then you get decked out in legendarys and kill everything with 1 hit to the leg! Is that fun?

Please tell me how top make an RPG with no sponge. Imagine going into a WoW dungeon and killing the same lvl boss in one hit, Fun right? the concept of RPGs does not change just because you replace axes and magic with guns. People that does not understand this should stay away from RPG games where loot and gearing is the meat and potatoe

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RaveNRolla

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@Xevac: enemies could deal more damage, be more agile and therefore harder to hit, dodge attacks more often, have new attacks that you would have to get used to, maybe they even coordinate better with other enemies to flank you and keep you moving etc., maybe you can target certain body parts for special effects (like slowing their movement or decreasing accuracy, when you hit them), maybe enemies get a sort of adrenaline rush and become more powerful when they're close to dying.

this is just off the top of my head, but there's plenty other and better ways to increase difficulty than just giving enemies more hp.

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Xevac

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@RaveNRolla: But how does this help? The gear grind is there to make you feel progress, This is not a twitchy fps shooter. and the suggestions you mention, would not help anyone after getting better gear, you would just need to be better at shooting, and the whole RPG/Loot element would be irrelevant.

I have never seen any suggestions yet, that will take away the sponge in an RPG looter shooter, because games like this is about numbers, That does not mean they can't make interesting fights tho, but some sponge must be there to make you feel more powerful after you get better gear, and they are "less" spongy

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doremonhg9x

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Edited By doremonhg9x

@Xevac: Problem is you kill enemies - normal enemies - at lower level at a much faster rate than when you're all decked out in gears and the enemies's HP bar get boosted to oblivion. You seem to have no idea what it meant to be stronger in a RPG. It means you get more way to inflict damage along with more tactics are available. All that actually makes the "normal enemies" die faster, not slower. Also, there's plenty of ways you can buff enemies in a RPG shooter beside buffing the HP bar. What about giving bosses and mini bosses special abilities? Upgraded AI? Advanced teamwork tactic instead of always swarming the player with sheer force? Have you ever thought about it?

You know you fucked up when you at level 1 kill a level 1 grunt in 2 headshots, but you at max level need 3 to 5 headshots to kill a foot soldier at the same level range. That's what they mean by bullet-sponge enemies.

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viniterra

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@Xevac: Just remove the bullets, and you will probably have a good RPG. Shooter and RPG usually do not fit. This issue will always be discussed for games that try to merge this 2 genres.

Usually people do not talk about this on RPGs with axes, swords, bows etc.

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Cappy

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@viniterra: agree, it seems to be a challenge to merge these hybrids. I think there are at least two main issues: 1. Making high health enemies interesting to fight and 2. Making it believable. Easily believable that a huge dragon or goblin king takes many hits to kill because: magic! Lol. But in a present times shooter that wants to convey some sense of realism, it looks Uber silly to hit a guy twenty times in the head with a shotgun and he is unfazed.

I think people might have forgotten but when Division 1 came out, there was still this backlash about it being a “Tom Clancy” game with some in the community almost expecting simulator-like “realism.” Luckily, That has died down, because that i think was distracting and not what this game was trying to be,

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viniterra

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@viniterra: There are also other good strategies to try to merge them too, like @cappysaid above. Just huge life and vast quantity of enemies doesn't make the immersion.

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Cappy

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Edited By Cappy

@viniterra: I hate that too. But I think Devs fixed this as much as possible in a looter. I quit Division 1 because of bullet sponge and lack of end game but came back for the test sever. And the Devs tuned time to kill really well so there were only some enemy bosses that had a lot of health and it felt “right.” Hopefully they kept that same lesson and maybe improved on it. Sounds like they have. Breaking armor bits off for mini- bosses really helps make it more interesting and gives you sense of progress, which I think address my main complaints with bullet sponge.

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dynamotnt

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@cappy: the bullet songe isn't a problem if your playing with people who actually use mics and focus down pre selected/tagged targets, I smashed my way through the pve and hardest variations of it in division 1 it was the absolute best part, the pvp was shit.

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Cappy

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@dynamotnt: Again good point. Too, there are ways to make long time to kill more fun. And ways to make it awful. Fir me what is boring is when I am just pumping bullets into an enemy for a long time and they are not reacting ahd I’m not forced to do anything different.

I like those Division bosses where you could target fuel tanks on their back. Or in Dark Souls where getting a certain amount of damage on a boss will trigger new attacks, curving you to adapt. Those things make you feel like you are having an impact and making progress.

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DOA2169

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The "surprise" will be it was ALL just a simulation INSIDE a computer and we were just "playing" out the "scenario". AND the FINAL post credit scene will be M Night Shyamalan giving you the finger.

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