Seven days of rapid character leveling has taken place during The Division's most tumultuous week.
Conflict and disruption is loud. Seven days from the release of The Division's first major update and many players are pissed.
The first Incursion, Falcon Lost, is broken. Elsewhere exploiters have glitched their way to the highest gear score and some players couldn't even log in. I don't want to go back to Falcon Lost at all because for me its biggest crime is it's dull. Fifteen waves of enemies in a small warehouse and an APC that doesn't move? I'll pass for now.
But I can't deny I've been having a hell of time with the rest of the game.
Looking at my character I've progressed further in the past seven days than I did in the three weeks previous. The day before Incursions I had three High End weapons and a pair of High End kneepads to my name. I clutched them to my breast like a mother protects a frail child.
Now I have High End everything, almost all with a Gear Score of 182. Yellow weapons in all categories; shotgun, LMG, SMG, assault rifle, marksman rifle and pistol. I've picked up so many yellow guns in the past week I even gifted some to other players because I'm nice like that.
My Dark Zone rank has just climbed to 40, which isn't even that big, but it's well up on last week. Only another 50+ to go! And I've gone from a Gear Score of 152 to 178.
I see progress after each session, whether that's five minutes doing the daily crafting assignment or multiple hours in the Dark Zone. Numbers go up. My inventory swells a little more. I'm achieving things. That daily reward is a powerful thing for a player. I've had as much fun in the past week as I did when the game first launched. If Incursions was designed to bring players back into the game with enthusiasm then it worked for me.
Crafting weapons and gear has finally clicked and I now see it as my way to further progress. More importantly I see that I can still level up and what I need to do to get there. And it all looks realistic. At this point I'm 88 hours into the game.
Progression looks realistic now but I also see I'll be hitting a wall soon enough. The Gear Score cap is 240 and the only way I can hit that is by getting the best gear from the Falcon Lost mission.
That's an error, right there. Only having one way for a player to reach the true end game isn't right when you have multiple different play styles in the game. There's never going to be one type of player for The Division. Some roll through the Dark Zone solo, others as a headhunting foursome. Ubisoft's own stats highlight how popular the game is for single players.
I have faith that Massive can work through these problems. It still only early days for the game but already we've seen a proper response to the Dark Zone, followed by the first of the free content with Incursions. It's been applying hotfixes where possible and there's at least one more free update before the paid DLC begins to arrive.
Massive is certainly reacting quickly and engaging with the community. All big live games go through these teething problems - The Division is only five weeks old, remember. Look at the latest Destiny update to see how online shooters can swing from wasteland to wonderland.
As much progress as I've made, I'm still only looking at a 178 gear score and a 40 Dark Zone rank. There's plenty of room to grow and for now I'll level up using my gold-plated Pakhan with its 77-round magazine spitting a cacophonous thunder of relentless lead poisoning.
The Division is a game that's evolving quickly. Hopefully by the time I pop over the 200 gear score barrier there will be multiple ways to reach the level cap. Provided the cap doesn't keep moving up…