The Division's Dark Zone: How it can be the best and worst part of the game

Can The Division's Darkness Zone give the game a unique selling point, or will it be another feature that sounds good in theory but poor in practice?

Unlike most other games, The Division doesn't have a game type dedicated to PvP per-se (or at least, not in the beta anyways). Instead, The Division has an area of the map dubbed the Dark Zone, a place that the military has all but abandoned. In the Dark Zone, you still fight NPCs to get loot (that can be of very high quality), but other players can fire upon you as well.

It is mechanically not too different from GTA Online. If you've played GTA Online, then you might be familiar with the potential downsides of having an environment that mixes PvP and PvE.

Because Mutually Assured Destruction worked so well in the past...

Unlike certain other games, you technically don't need to form a group to access the Dark Zone, which (as far as can be told) is considered one of The Division's end game activities.

There's nothing preventing you from going into the Dark Zone by yourself, other than how dangerous the enemies can be, of course. 

Sure, other people can shoot you and steal your loot, but people are (generally speaking) also afraid of getting shot too, so there's usually an uneasy truce where everyone works together to get loot, go to the extraction zone, and leave before anyone has any second thoughts. 

Plus, it is pretty satisfying to see a group of random people work together towards a common goal, especially if they are competent.

When Mutually Assured Destruction doesn't work...

Unfortunately, there is nothing that really prevents someone from camping the spawn areas and extraction zones. There is also nothing that prevents someone from forming a group of four and camping said spawn areas and extraction zones. As a result, it's entirely possible that you may have to find a group just to combat the very real possibility that someone will enter the Dark Zone just to prevent other players from making any progress.

That being said, the extraction zones are intended to be very dangerous, but there is certainly a possibility that as it stands now, one group can effectively lock down all the extraction zones in an area, making for a very unpleasant experience for everyone else. 

Of course, there's also people who just want to antagonize everyone for their own amusement, but that's always a risk one takes when playing online.

On the other hand...

The loot in the Dark Zone isn't necessarily locked to the Dark Zone. It certainly gives you a better chance at good loot, but the normal vendors do stock equipment that is equivalent to the loot that you can get from enemies in the Dark Zone, albeit at exorbitant prices.  

There's also the fact that, even though one team can potentially block an entire lobby full of people from doing anything, it is still easy (though annoying) to switch Dark Zone lobbies. Statistically, it's impossible for every Dark Zone instance to have a group of killjoys, right?

But given that it seems like there's at least six Dark Zone areas, it is likely that the full game will allow for more options in regards to map movement. Of course, this means that it can help you avoid troublesome areas more easily. If that is the case, then it's possible that the Dark Zone may very well be The Division's ace in the hole to truly set it apart from other games.

What do you think about the Dark Zone? Do you enjoy this new mode that tests your faith in the human race, or does it effectively prevent you from accessing half of the game?

Published Jan. 29th 2016
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