If you’ve been cheating in The Division and potentially ruining the game for millions of other players, Ubisoft intends to hunt you down and make you pay.
Massive Entertainment, the chief developer behind the massively multiplayer online shooter The Division announced Friday via a post on the game’s forums that Massive plans to take action against players exploiting a popular game glitch.
Those players are attaining powerful weapons and armor that should have taken them weeks to earn, and frustrating the rest of The Division’s player base by potentially wrecking the game’s player-versus-player content.
It took all of four weeks for The Division to devolve from a standard-setting, shared-world shooter (I’ve enjoyed the game tremendously) into a community where game rules are routinely broken, and anyone who follows the rules risks being victimized for it. Legit players have to worry about whether or not they’re being slaughtered by cheaters, and whether or not they ought to cheat themselves to balance the scales.
The popular exploit strategies currently being used in The Division involve a character ability called “mobile cover” that allows players to erect a portable armored wall almost anywhere in the game world. If you’re caught in the open by the bad guys, the mobile cover ability can help you out.
The Division players figured out that you can throw mobile cover halfway through walls, doors, or fences, and then phase through the same wall by ducking behind your mobile cover, and sliding along the mobile cover until you get to the other side of the wall, door, or fence. Or, you can just stand close to a wall, door, or fence, spam the ability button, and then phase through the wall while you snap to the cover.
The Division, like most MMOs, is ultimately a game about collecting the best weapons and armor. This usually comes down to completing challenging content over and over again to attain a random reward which may or may not be a piece of gear you want. (Rewards are determined by RNG—random number generation.)
This is how World of Warcraft works, it’s how Destiny works, and now players of The Division are also bowing to the RNG gods. But those gods are fickle, and when players find a way to change the odds in their favor via exploiting glitches in the game code they take advantage, even if it means ruining other players’ experiences.
The newest content in The Division, a mission called Falcon Lost, rewards players the best content in the game when they complete the mission, so players are motivated to complete Falcon Lost as often as possible to score this gear.
Falcon Lost is hard as hell to beat. It’s designed for players with high-level gear who know how to tightly coordinate with each other. The goal is to survive waves of very tough enemies and destroy an armored personnel carrier in the middle of a large hangar.
The very best rewards in The Division can be obtained by completing Falcon Lost on challenging—the highest difficulty level—which is almost impossible. It is so difficult that even the developers at Massive Entertainment once took advantage of a bug in order to beat Falcon Lost on the challenging difficulty setting.
“I don’t think we managed to beat it,” said Andrada Gregiuc, a key member of The Division’s development team at Massive, in a recent studio podcast. “We tried it when there was an exploit in…we had a bug. So we tried it then and we beat it, I think, we tried it for an entire day, and I think we tried it six times, but I don’t think we would be able to beat it today. I don’t know. But we haven’t tried it after that. The bug was fixed. I think it’s rough.”
Players who wanted those very best loot rewards, without the frustration of facing Falcon Lost on so punishing a difficulty level, found a way to use the mobile cover glitch to run through a wall early in the mission, which then rendered the players invulnerable to attack, after which they could just sit behind the armored personnel carrier and destroy it with explosives.
This glitch was like Destiny’s Loot Cave, only more involved and guaranteed to produce results. Falcon Lost was added to The Division as part of the Incursions update, or Update 1.1, on April 12. Massive had to apply a hotfix patch only four days later, in an attempt to stop players from further exploiting Falcon Lost.
It took gamers all of one day to find another way to exploit the mobile cover glitch and cheat again on Falcon Lost.
These exploits are not harmless because the players who earn high-end gear more quickly than intended can run into the Dark Zone, The Division’s player-versus-player area, and slaughter players who aren’t cheating. Players who are tackling The Division legitimately could take weeks to earn the same gear before they can stand toe-to-toe with cheaters in the Dark Zone and be able to defend themselves in a fair fight. Judging from comments on The Division subreddit, legit players have had enough.
It seems as though the only ways to reconcile the current power imbalance between cheaters and legit players in The Division are to either roll back all characters to where they were prior to Update 1.1 and the introduction of the Falcon Lost mission, or to remove and ban everyone who cheated.
The former option would screw over players who beat Falcon Lost legitimately, and punish the innocent. The latter option depends on whether or not Massive Entertainment can put its finger definitively on who did or didn’t cheat without generating false positives, and whether it wants to weather the complaints that such a harsh response would inevitably generate.
In terms of putting the kibosh on all of these glitches, Massive could pursue a simpler option—just turn off the mobile cover ability. Remove the key component in every single popular glitch being used in The Division, until Massive can find some way to remove the potential to abuse the ability.
That feels like the simplest of all these potential decisions. Bungie, the developer of Destiny, in October did precisely this and turned off an ability when players were abusing it.
Ubisoft did not respond to our request for comment in time for publication.