I was hoping to write a nice big impressions piece today of what it's like to play Falcon Lost, The Division's first Incursion that was added as part of its most significant update yet. What a lovely excuse to return to New York I thought as I not-so-selflessly set an evening aside to shoot things in the face in the hope of a better set of kneepads. After a night of frustration, it hasn't quite turned out like that.
Perhaps one of the more remarkable things about The Divison's launch is how there wasn't that much to remark upon. That queuing bug that saw players form an orderly line behind a laptop was an almost charming blot on an otherwise smooth release, suggesting Ubisoft has done much to address the issues that beset the launch of something like Assassin's Creed Syndicate.
The first night of The Division's big update felt like a return to the good old disorderly days, though. Three hard crashes, two server crashes and a glitch that meant I spent the first two hours of the evening standing around starting areas for daily missions waiting in vain for them to trigger wasn't quite the return to New York I was hoping for, and I'm not alone in having trouble, with some players coming up against more serious issues than that.
Characters have been deleted on Xbox One, with hundreds of hours of progress lost, while matchmaking for Falcon Lost is plain broken. The Daily Missions went missing over the weekend, and while they're back now the high-tier Challenging one is still entirely absent - although it's promised to return soon.
It's not all bad news, of course. The fresh emphasis placed on Gear Score, The Division's levelling system that kicks in once you reach the level cap of 30, makes the end-game grind a little more palatable and lot less confusing than it was before the update, while the recently added Incursion Gear Sets give something new to aim for.
After a short time away, it's nice to be back in The Division too - I'd missed its lightly tactical gunplay, and had half-forgotten how gorgeous its abandoned New York could be. Now I've heaved myself back onto the loot treadmill, there's a little more there to keep me going, and credit to Ubisoft Massive for acknowledging many of these problems and getting straight onto fixing them. It's proven before it can get on top of problems that arise, and while it's annoying they're there in the first place I've got faith that they'll be addressed in the near future. There may be more fundamental issues that take a little longer to fix, though.
After a couple of hours of trials and tribulations and getting my Gear Score somewhere close to an acceptable level (you're locked off if you're under 140, though it's advised to go in at 160 or over), I finally got into Falcon Lost. And it's... okay. Go in expecting a full-on raid - and in fairness to Ubisoft Massive, it's never referred to it as such - and you'll be disappointed, as this is more accurately our hoary old friend Horde mode, with 15 waves of enemies flushing into a single cavernous warehouse while an APC watches over you and sometimes gets involved in the conversation with a chatter of missiles.
Mechanically, it's all a bit limited - you turn off turrets to install a bomb while keeping the enemy waves nicely thinned out - and there's not quite the imagination there to make it worth returning to once you've rinsed the mode for loot. It's a bit of a disappointment, though maybe my thoughts on it were flavoured by the frustration I endured in the run-up to getting properly started, and by the fact that, at the time of writing, the matchmaking problems are making it extremely difficult to get in.
As a reason to return to The Division it's done its job, but I've been met with a mess and I'm yet to see if some of those other big additions - a refined crafting and drop system as well as the ability to exchange loot - will make it worth sticking it out. Right now, though, Ubisoft Massive seems to have introduced a whole new load of problems into The Division, and it's really not worth playing until they're all properly fixed.