It may seem mighty haughty to talk about the future of a game that just released. But when the game mostly follows a set of formulas that have been done before and is created by a studio with a long standing particular reputation, there are some assumptions that can be made about the game. And I’ll be curious to look back on this post a few years from now and see just how many things I got right. We’ll of course be ignoring anything that I may happen to get wrong. They’ll just be in this post to see who was paying attention. Like any good writer does.
Borderlands is where this MMO-lite shooter genre started. The game didn’t prop itself up as a an MMO-lite shooter of course. And it really wasn’t. The series revolves around playing in small groups, primarily with friends. It’s a Diablo meets Quake concept that worked really well with gathering gear. But the core component is still the same. The game is more about the loot acquired and leveling than individual skill. As time went on, MMORPGs became increasingly more a hot item. It’s no wonder that MMO and shooters would eventually breed in a slightly less massive setting.
Then Destiny released in September of 2014. It also didn’t call itself an MMO, and it wasn’t the first game to offer hub based mission gathering with instanced missions. There were others prior to it, especially on the PC. But they were relatively small games and the mechanics were nowhere near as impressive as something the ex-Halo people could create. Destiny had tons of progression built into the game with some solid shooting mechanics. Ultimately the game comes down to building up your character though like any MMO. Yes, you need to be able to shoot to make use of these things, but it won’t cover up for a lack of good gear.
The Division follows similarly with a more modern-era setting. Also, the PvP in the game isn’t really just a separate arena like in Destiny. In The Division you go to the Dark Zone to find the best loot, and this is where players can kill you. It’s PvPvE, something that only a few MMORPGs have really done. And it certainly adds a more exciting component to the game. There are also no classes in The Division. It’s a deviation again from the primary predecessors of The Division and the MMO-lite shooter genre. However, it’s something that has been done successfully in MMORPGs. And they’ve found a good solution to implement it well.
OK – so this sets the stage for how The Division wants to approach it’s role in the MMO-lite shooter world. Ubisoft has already released some details for their season pass. This comes as no surprise, and would have been my first prediction if I had made this post before the announcement. Here’s my predictions:
- Brooklyn will get added to the game. It makes too much sense. It’s right next to Manhatten, and even exploring the underground in one of the announced expansions, it will feel too small. Brooklyn can a lot of interesting characters, story elements, and new loot to the game.
- Robots, maybe even a robot faction, get added. As players get increasingly more powerful, the stakes are going to have to be upped. Robots can up the challenge. It seems pretty crazy sense the game wants to be grounded mainly in reality (other than bullet sponges due to the MMO-lite nature of the game). But robots can be added and it can be a fun challenge.
- The Division will care less about the story as time goes on. This happens with so many multiplayer games. They create some nice lore behind the game, but eventually people just play to increase their numbers. They want higher ranks, better weapons, etc. So the developer will spend less time on what people care less about. And The Division’s story will get less unique as time goes on.
- PvP will get massively changed in some way, inciting some anger in people. I’m not sure what route they will take because it depends on how the game is received. But it will be a change that makes sense to at least some important people of the development team. And it will backfire at first, but be OK eventually. People just aren’t super receptive to change all the time when it’s a game they’ve been playing for a while.
- Destiny will beat The Division in sales and overall revenue. Of course, Destiny spent a lot more on marketing so that should probably not be a fair prediction.
So there are some of my predictions for where The Division will go. It will be an interesting ride for this MMO-lite shooter. It’s fun to see another one of these around, and I hope we can all enjoy it for what it is.