The Division’s Dark Zone is a terrifying nightmare

By Brenna Hillier, Monday, 21 March 2016 12:45 GMT

They only get in close so they can shank you in the kidneys. Never. Trust. Anyone.


The Division takes a lesson from MMORPGs with its Dark Zone – a PvP-enabled area where players can battle some of the toughest enemies in the game with an appropriate chance of scoring endgame loot (if you’ve min-maxed your gear properly).

It’s an amazing idea – in theory. Constantly shifting, emergent alliances. The risk of facing a more cunning foe than AI could ever hope to equal. Teaming up for spontaneous multiplayer moments that linger in the mind long after the campaign has faded from your memory. The incessant fear of betrayal – it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you(r loot).

In practice, it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. I’ve heard plenty of accounts of players spending hours and hours in the Dark Zone without sighting a single Rogue, running farming routes with randos (grouped or more informally) until the whole exercise becomes a meaningless rinse-and-repeat grind with painfully little to show for it (again, make sure you’ve got the right gear to increase high end drops). Our own Matt Martin says there’s very little Rogue action in the Dark Zone. From his gentle aside about griefers you’d think that wandering into the Dark Zone is about as dangerous as calling for a pizza.

This has not been my experience.

The Dark Zone is terrifying and painful. I don’t know what sins I’ve committed to deserve it, but so far I’ve had the worst possible luck in there. These constant negative experiences have only fed my paranoia, to the point where even thinking about going into the Dark Zone makes me twitch under one eye, and I’m considering emailing Ubisoft to apologise for whatever it was I did that made the publisher perpetually feed my console ID into Rogue servers.

Here are my adventures so far:

  • Level 8. Walked into Dark Zone. Three agents were waiting on the business side of the Checkpoint. All three aimed weapons at me. I aimed back, wondering if they were AI. They murdered me, even though I clearly didn’t even have any loot.
  • Level 8 again. Went back into Dark Zone, using another door. Returned to scene of death to find it abandoned. Continued on to landmark and laboriously killed off multiple yellows, alone. Was joined by two other agents. We worked well together. Thought, “ah yes, here is an instance of spontaneous grouping, how wonderful”. Suggested we group up. They did not respond to hails. Browsed emote menu for something to indicate friendliness. Xbox One’s amazingly shitty D-pad failed and I began doing star jumps. One of the agents shot me, as if offended by this action. Ran away and hid. One of them ran into my hiding hole with a shotgun. Shot him and was labelled Rogue. He and his pal murdered me.
  • Level 10. Walked into Dark Zone, where some sort of blizzard was raging. Engaged a couple of purples and yellows. Shot a sticky bomb. Another agent sprinted out of nowhere and dived onto my sticky bomb just as it exploded – which, to be fair, may have been a result of the poor visibility. Was immediately murdered by half a dozen agents and died as a Rogue.
  • Level 20. Sidled into Dark Zone. Found a nice landmark. Killed some purples, was working on some yellows. Was murdered from behind by another agent.
  • Level 20 again. Returned to collect dropped loot. Cautiously edged away towards extraction zone. Was murdered by three agents.
  • Level 30. Crept into Dark Zone. Took out a landmark and collected a single piece of loot. Started an extraction. Was joined by three agents. Worked with them to complete extraction. Went away to another landmark; the agents followed. Cleared landmark together. Returned to extraction zone. Was murdered by agents as helicopter arrived.
  • Level 30. Crawled into Dark Zone. Came across an extraction in progress with about seven agents on the field. Helped complete extraction. Agents immediately called another extraction. Collected some loot during subsequent battle. Approached helicopter after all other agents had extracted and moved slightly away. Was murdered by other agents.
  • Level 30. Stormed into Dark Zone determined not to die. Ignored all loot on basis of probably not being worth murdering without it, planning to save up Dark Zone credits and buy loot. Aided other agents in landmarks and extractions, but fled extraction zone before helicopter arrived. Was murdered by another agent while walking quietly between landmarks.
  • Level 30. Moped into Dark Zone to continue boring, mindless, painfully slow loot-free grind. Killed a yellow and received a high end drop. Approached with pulse quickening. Was murdered by an agent before I could even pick it up.
  • Level 30. Sprinted back into Dark Zone hoping to collect high end drop. Was murdered by three agents waiting at checkpoint.
  • Level 30. Organised Dark Zone group using The100. Specified level 30. Everyone who turned up was under level 20 so could not play together. None of them returned comms hails or messages on this subject. Was murdered by another agent despite not carrying any loot (again).

But oh yeah, the Dark Zone is a cakewalk where nothing interesting ever happens! I’m very glad you’re all having a nice, lucrative time in there, repeatedly murdering me. Pricks.

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