Division 2: Done with Soloing

I don’t mean ‘done’ in a bad way, though! I’ve reached the end-game! Not just level 30, but also World Tier 4 is unlocked. There was a mad rush to keep up with friends and clan-mates, to not fall behind. This meant when I had a free moment to play anything, it was The Division 2.

I posted a little while ago about learning to love the journey — but the structure of The Division 2 made this quite difficult for me. If you’re not aware, The Division 2 has gear stratification in terms of your World Tier progression. This is not a difficulty setting you change as in Anthem’s Grand Master or Diablo 3’s Torment difficulties.

Rather it is a linear progression. You complete the story (including the 3 Strongholds), you progress to World Tier 1. You gear up a little, complete two invaded missions (same locales as story missions, but with a different faction, different purpose, etc) and then the nearby invaded stronghold. You progress to World Tier 2. You do this again for World Tier 3, and again for World Tier 4.

Everything up until that point is eminently disposable. You might have some stats or sets or other aspects you prefer when the option is available, but there is ‘no point’ in trying for anything resembling a build, or playing anything other than the bare minimum to progress through the earlier tiers.

I put ‘no point’ in quotation marks of course because there is the obvious: Fun. But:

  • I get the most enjoyment out of the Looter-Shooter genre when I’m progressing. This comes to a screeching halt if you stick around any longer than is necessary in a given tier.
  • I recognise that I have a limited attention-span for any given game. Reaching 100+ hours for any title in one ‘stint’ is a rarity for me. I feel like I would be wasting this limited resource, my interest in the game, playing around in the lower tiers.

So! With World Tier 4 reached, I no longer feel that almost obligatory push to keep going. I feel comfortable playing in a more at-ease/casual way only when my friends are also on and wanting to play. Outside of that, it leaves me open to revisit other titles and scratch the itch for variety a little more. ;)

Transition from Social to Solo

I promise! After this one, I shall give break from looking at the changes we (or at least, I) see over time as a gamer, or the types of change we may strive for. But after this one — which leans more toward the former type.

Potentially the start of my interest in blogging?

From the time I had my first dial-up modem — a 14.4k V.32 device — and learnt the borders of my computer went beyond the boundaries of my home I was enthralled by the social potential. There was FidoNet and BlueWave which fulfilled much of it, but even within the realm of gaming the time spent simply sitting and chatting rivaled the time spent actively playing.

This continued being true when making the jump into the realm of MMO’s with Asheron’s Call beta somewhere in ’98, ahead of it’s ’99 release.

The social element, the weaving of multiple tell streams, guild chat and fellowship (party) chat in amongst actively playing and contributing XP to the group I was in was the strongest part of the game and kept me going for years.

Meeting new people was not only something I was open to, it was cherished. I don’t know that ‘PUG’ even existed as a term then and if it did, it certainly didn’t carry the same negative connotations that it does today.

Start of the Shift

This openness and attitude carried on beyond my time with Asheron’s Call, I know that much, but it seemed more difficult to pinpoint where it started to fade.

Image source: Engadget

My first thought was that it was with the introduction of the Dungeon Finder in WoW, but I actually don’t think so.

Thinking about it, I can see there was a step before that — where ironically finding what I perhaps thought I wanted led to closing down on other people. You see, I found a static guild that persisted from game to game.

We were open to recruiting new members and bringing people into the fold, but without a doubt it was a start of becoming more insular in nature. An impression of ‘not needing’ people outside the guild.

Global / Regional channels were turned off or at least put into secondary tabs and the ratio of time spent between playing and talking swung hugely to the playing side.

Technology through to Today

That isn’t to say that Dungeon Finder and other technology changes didn’t play a role, as they most certainly did.

Cross-realm play was great from a queue-time perspective, but it further distanced me from any sense of wider-game community. The chance of running into someone again was near enough nil that investing in whatever group you wound up with didn’t seem to hold any value.

Which I suppose more or less carries through to today. The guild is (mostly) gone, but there are a small set of friends that form my core group of people to play with. When we raid, we find a group to join as a group.

Outside of this, though? If we’re not in the same game at the same time?

Then I tend to go solo in most games. There is an odd mix of feelings of anxiousness over not wanting to risk being a burden to someone else but equally as strong, not wanting to risk someone else being a burden to me. I value going at my own pace — be that fast or slow — over the social element I once enjoyed so much.

Outside the gaming space this is far less true. I mean, Hi. Case in point. But also quite happy to jump on a Discord or Twitter or whatever else and talk.

I suspect it also has something to do with gaming time coming at a premium these days and feeling a need to maximise value from it — whatever the definition of ‘value’ might happen to be moment to moment.

I’m unsure how much I can — or possibly even want — to change this. Anthem was a nice departure from this norm though, where playing as a public group didn’t threaten either side of my worries. Still — there was a lack of meaningful interaction and that meant the other people there were just incidental.

Is this just what gaming is now? Does anyone still play with the openness I (we?) once had to new people?