The Division launched on March 8 2016 and featured a shoot and loot online game akin to Destiny. Most of the combat revolved around PVE, but there was a specific location called the Dark Zone which allowed for players to randomly bump into other players. This was shown as being a way for players to either work with strangers or betray them in order to steal their loot similar to the Dayz mod for Arma. I think that most players tend to just gun down whoever they see which kind of makes the Dark Zone into a large arena rather than an environment catered toward friendly or hostile interactions. The last few hours that I have spent in the Dark Zone were actually pretty boring as I only came across one duo squad of players in these hours of gameplay who just ran up behind me and my partner and shot us in the back. During one hour or so play session we never saw anyone. The Dark Zone definitely feels more like a large PVE area rather than an expansive battleground for PVP play. But what if the Dark Zone could be turned into a Battle Royale arena instead?
I am not one to usually request more battle royale games. I only have around ten hours of game time with PUBG (some of this time is spent in menus, death screens, etc. while a couple more hours were spent in the War Zone game mode) and I have only played about two matches of Fortnite on Playstation and couldn’t get past the input lag problems with my keyboard and mouse setup. I haven’t gotten around to trying Fortnite on PC. I also played about two matches of H1Z1 on Playstation and was just really annoyed by the long load screens and gameplay mechanics (although I wouldn’t mind giving that game another chance as it seems to be kind of interesting). I think that battle royale is a really interesting game type to watch, but I would rather play other games in multiplayer. But a BR mode in The Division definitely interests me.
So, why do I want a battle royale mode in The Division 2? I think that BR has the potential to be something really different and more akin to my style of play. The flashy and stylized nature of Fortnite and games like it have never appealed to me too much while PUBG has a more realistic style (which I like) but has suffered from performance issues and gameplay problems that make for annoying matches. I also think that BR works best with The Division in comparison to some of the other multiplayer shooters. Call of Duty is adding a BR mode (which I honestly am pretty skeptical of at the moment). Battlefield V is also going to add a battle royale mode as was mentioned at E3. No gameplay was shown, and it was just kind of awkwardly mentioned. It is also assumed that BR could be joining games such as Destiny, Halo, Gears of War, and other games. Although BR may work in these games, The Division introduced different areas that are practically already battle royale arenas.
Even from a story stand point Battle Royale could be perfect. The idea of the Dark Zone is that all gear found in the area is contaminated and cannot be carried out by hand. It must be extracted via helicopter. You can, however, carry your own loot into the dark zone. But, what if in The Division 2, the Dark Zone’s contamination is much more severe and requires all agents who enter to only enter wearing a Hazmat suit of some kind and nothing else? The Division 2 seems like it will not include the virus; however, but, maybe there can be this one area where it still exists. An area like this would force agents to leave behind their PVE gear and be forced to start from the beginning. All agents who enter must pick up loot and fight for survival as the extraction point is determined. Armor is even already in The Division with different chest pieces, backpacks, gloves, and other items. This is insanely close to how PUBG handles armor. All abilities could be turned off for this mode; providing a level playing field where players of all levels could fight against each other. Skill would be determined by your ability to stay alive and gunplay alone.
Battle Royale could even be switched up a bit and play as the game Escape From Tarkov. This game sees players entering a map and are tasked with finding loot scattered across the map. There is a designated exit on the map. If you can reach the exit point, you can extract with whatever loot you picked up. This would definitely be extremely similar to The Division’s Dark Zone.
One thing that I wasn’t really aware of was that there is a mode even more similar to Battle Royale already in The Division’s DLC called Survival. I just got the chance to play it, and it incorporates a lot of the same ideas that I have mentioned. There are multiple hideouts scattered around the map in which players can spawn in. You start with a hazmat suit because the environment is so bad as well as really basic gear and a pistol. Your abilities are turned off. You have to loot or craft new items and weapons to help you survive in this new area. You will also have to fight against other players if you choose to play in PVP. The main difference with this mode compared to the standard dark zone area is that it plays more like a survival game where you have to manage your disease state, food, water, etc.
Survival is really close to Battle Royale, though. Spawning in with nothing, having to loot items, and encountering other players in a free for all environment is incredibly indicative of a battle royale game. Turning a majority of these gameplay elements into a similar experience to other BR games could really help The Division 2 to stay fresh.
A blue zone field could also be implemented alongside these other BR elements. This could be exactly like PUBG and Fortnite, but it could even be different by adding really tough NPCs who show up and finish off anyone who stays behind rather than moving to the final area. There are NPCs to farm in the Dark Zone of The Division 1. As it is currently, they are there to farm, to harass you as you try to extract your loot, or to be the target of objectives that randomly sprout up in the area. Going back to the Survival mode, a Hunter enemy type was introduced in this DLC. Supposedly this is a really powerful and fast AI tasked with taking out players. This enemy type could be reintroduced into The Division 2 and could have a similar objective of taking anyone out who isn’t moving toward the extraction zone.
So how would you enter this area? I think that a similar entrance to the checkpoints in The Division 1 could work or the safe areas that you spawn in in the Survival mode could work as well. Maybe players will all enter from different parts of a sewer or tunnel which could go throughout the entire BR map. This could not be accessed as a way to exit the map once the match has begun as these are strictly there to be decontaminated zones which only allow for exit into the BR map rather than entry back into the safe area. An exit point can be randomly chosen to appear on the map; or an extraction via helicopter could also be a cool thing to have in a BR game. I think having a couple different extraction areas could also be interesting and see players splitting off and going to different locations rather than everyone piling onto the same exit area.
One last thing that could keep this BR mode separate would be that whoever can extract will get to keep the loot that they picked up in the BR mode or maybe a single piece of randomized loot. This could be a really powerful weapon or stronger gear. This could allow for more worthwhile rewards to be granted upon winning this mode rather than playing simply for the fun of it. Most victories are pretty shallow in battle royale games (although still enjoyable). Having an actual reward in-game once you win could be a great way to get players more involved with the mode and wanting to win more games since there is something worth obtaining. Survival has a similar feature that grants rewards to players who successfully extract.
I think that a game so focused on loot forcing you back to nothing could be really refreshing and be a great addition to the base game. Also having a smaller map like the Dark Zone with a smaller player count could be refreshing as well and make for much faster games. I hope that if a Battle Royale mode is implemented into The Division 2 that they will really try to switch it up and not just make a clone of the other BR games currently available. We are already seeing a lot of clones enter the market by way of smaller free to play games and hints at possibly unfinished, tacked on Battle Royale modes being added to other triple A games. If The Division 2 wants to add a BR mode, it needs something different to compete with Fortnite. At this point, I don’t think that anything can compete with it which is why new Battle Royale games have to offer something new and fresh just like Fortnite offered the building mechanic. Having it play more similar to Escape From Tarkov or the Survival DLC may be the way to go; or maybe the game can introduce something entirely different. Either way, I think that The Division 2 has the opportunity to make a really compelling entry into the battle royale market.