Massive Entertainment’s Live Content Manager Yannick Banchereau speaks with GamingBolt about where Ubisoft plans to take The Division 2 in the coming months.
The Division 2 has proven to be a major success this generation. And with Massive Entertainment’s continued support along with player feedback, it’s continued to grow since launch. With more new post-launch content on the horizon, the developers want to push this title than it’s ever gone before. We had a chance to sit down with Live Content Manager Yannick Banchereau to discuss the the angles of approach his team are focusing on for the launch of this all new content.
"It’s all been interesting learning for us. That’s the way we’ve been approaching The Division 1 and 2— we experiment, we try something, we learned something."
What is the current feedback on the Gunner specialization? Will you be looking into re-balancing it if it proves more effective than the other specializations?
So far it’s been pretty good. We are testing it on the PTS right now. We’re taking all the feedback from the PTS as usual, with every phase of PTS. We’ve done some rebalancing already based on the players feedback. Overall, I think the fantasy of having this kind of berserk approach— which is a bit different from what we’ve had so far— this one is a bit of getting out of your comfort zone and actually become the target of the enemies. It’s a very interesting play style in fantasy for the players. In terms of efficiency, “Does it work, is it too powerful?” That’s the conversation we’re having with the players.
Division 2’s raid’s reception has been a little bit uneven, especially on the console side of things, owing to the higher difficulty. How are you planning on tackling such issues with future raids and similar events?
It’s all been interesting learning for us. That’s the way we’ve been approaching The Division 1 and 2— we experiment, we try something, we learned something. We’ve built on the learnings from the Incursions we had from The Division 1 and push the fantasy of it further, making the content even harder, and for eight players. The way people are playing the raid, we’ve been pretty happy about it.
It was very challenging, people took hours to complete it. The boss fights were very interesting mechanics and players really liked the mechanics. The specific aspect of difficulty between PC and console, that was very interesting learning for us. That’s something we will be taking with us, creating the future one, in trying to find good ways to try and limit the difference between the two platforms. By having different balancing, maybe relying a bit less on accuracy and snappiness of the aiming and more mechanics and team play.
Brand Gear is still considered superior to Gear Sets. How will you go about changing this in the future while encouraging different play-styles with the Gear Sets (and not just “X set does more damage”)?
That’s exactly it. For us, the idea is we don’t want one to be better than the other. We don’t want Brand Gear to be better than Gear Sets, and we don’t want Gear Sets to be better than Brand Gear. We want the players to be able to choose. The way we are looking at it is— and these are improvements were also working on— having Brand Gear is a way to have better stats, and be more powerful, and have more specific— “Do I want to focus on assault rifle, do I want to focus on LMG?“ Where as Gear Sets we think, have a place in play styles. Gear Sets should allow players to play in a completely different way than they would play normally with Brand Gear. That’s one of the things we’re looking at, adding a bit more to future Gear Sets and adjusting them. Make it so it’s not about stats but being able to play in a different way.
"RNG is a very big topic. We are a loot game. People loot a lot of items and that’s how the game works. And everything is randomly generated. It was a big topic in The Division 1, and still is in The Division 2. It’s something we’re constantly looking at adapting and improving."
Will you look into improving the Recalibration Station in the future, especially considering complaints about too much RNG in the current system?
RNG is a very big topic. We are a loot game. People loot a lot of items and that’s how the game works. And everything is randomly generated. It was a big topic in The Division 1, and still is in The Division 2. It’s something we’re constantly looking at adapting and improving. Recalibration is one of the aspects that we are looking at. It’s something that we’ve made improvements already. We made improvements to the Recalibration Station, allowing players to transfer all of the stats to a new item rather than just some of it. That’s one aspect that we’ve done improving. We’ve also made it so recalibration no longer bumps the gear score. So people don’t resort to adjust it to get a higher score. That’s one aspect that we’re looking at. We’re trying to make it more controllable to allow players to express the play style that they want.
Seeing as the Snowpoint engine is supported on the Switch, is there a chance we end up seeing Division 2 on the Switch eventually? Would the system even be able to run your game satisfactorily?
That would be fantastic. But that’s not the plan at the moment.
There’s three major Division 2 expansions coming up as part of its first year- just how major can we expect them to be from a story perspective? With the first expansion that’s coming up, how many gameplay hours, roughly, would you say it adds to the game?
That was one of the big promises we made last year when we talked about post launch. That was one of the things people would like to have had in the first game. So it’s something we really wanted to improve on the second game. It’s pretty important for us that we deliver on the promise that we’ve made, which is more narrative, more areas to explore, and more game experiences.
For the first one we have two main missions, which are fully fleshed main missions. Then we have the whole new game experience. Each one of those will take a bunch of time. So we’re talking several hours, and just purely narrative content. Then all of these are completely replayable like every other mission in the game is. So each one of those add to the endgame, so we’re talking about many hours of content here.
There was an issue in World Tier 5 loot drop level. It was there for a while but it was eventually fixed but a lot of players got frustrated waiting for the patch. How are you ensuring that going forward such issues won’t be faced by fans?
I think what we’re doing to resolve these kinds of issues is the PTS. The Public Test Server is what we use with every update. And we started doing it with Title Update 3, and now Title Update 4 is currently on the public test server. And this is exactly the purpose of that server. It allows players to go there, update and discover those type of issues. Reporting bugs or balancing issues for things they don’t like. It’s a way to know things in advance, that there are things we need to change before this update becomes available.
"It’s very important for us to have a loot game, gear game that is competing for the players. It’s been from the launch."
Following The Division 2’s launch, what would you say has been the area that’s required the most tinkering or fixes, especially based on fan feedback?
What we’ve discussed, we’ve talked about RNG, we’ve talked about loots. As far as conversations with the fans and players goes is one of the aspects we want to keep improving on. The Division is all about improving those items, improving your build, improving your play style and exploring your play style. So it’s very important for us to have a loot game, gear game that is competing for the players. It’s been from the launch. They always want new things, and they always want it to be as fair as possible, and feel as though their time is respected. It’s a big focus for us to always be improving on that players have a reason to keep playing the game and have something to strive for.
Destiny 2 was recently announced to be going free-to-play, do you think The Division 2 may have a future leaning toward free-to-play as well?
We’re always looking to try and bring more players to our game. We have the free weekend right now, which is a way for the players to join. We’re also going to be added to U Play plus. We’re always looking to find new ways to have players join the game. As far as going completely free to play that’s not something we’re looking at.
Do you have any plans to introduce cross-play to Division 2 at any point in the future?
Cross-play is very interesting. We want all players to play together. The Division is all based on matchmaking, to constantly jump in with other players. Cross-play would absolutely be something that’s interesting for us. From a technical standpoint it could be very hard for us, simply on that for The Division 2. It’s very unlikely that we would be able to do that. But we’re always looking at ways to bring in the players. That’s an interesting topic.