A big free content update for The Division dropped this morning, and with it came the Falcon Lost incursion, what many have referred to as its first raid. Keep expectations in check, though, because Falcon Lost isn’t structured as a multilayered dungeon with a few bosses and light puzzles along the way, as a raid in WoW or Destiny might be. Instead, the incursion is a wave-based arena that throws in a few playful cooperative mechanics to mix up the action. I’ve yet to play the mission myself, though I did watch a few streams to get an idea of its structure, and even though I’m not impressed by its design, I’m intrigued by the new endgame incentive it promises.
Before you log back in and try to tackle the incursion, make sure you’re level 30 and your Gear Level is high enough. For the default difficulty (Hard), 140 is the bare minimum with 160 as the recommended level. This is definitely an endgame activity, and grinding out for the best gear you can find is to be expected even if it is a little inconvenient for a more casual player.
Waves of mutilation
Falcon Lost takes place in a single multi-tiered arena inside a water treatment plant littered with a maze of cover and vantage points. Last Man Battalion forces occupy the plant and since NYC could use some clean water, you’re tasked with taking it back. You and three teammates spawn in from one end of the space and get two primary goals: destroy the enemy APC located opposite you and eliminate 15 waves of the LMB. At the default difficulty, enemies (familiar LMB classes and drones with a stun attack) spawn in at level 32 with reckless abandon—elites are everywhere, and the waves don’t take long to ramp up in difficulty. I didn’t see many groups make it beyond wave 11, even with gear levels that exceeded the recommendation. That said, after perusing some message boards, some players have reported that there’s an optimal method for completing the mission that takes advantage of the turrets and occasional bombs dropped by special enemies in the arena. I’ll leave that strategy for players to discover, but thankfully, it requires tight teamwork and a bit of experimentation.
After successfully completing Falcon Lost, players are rewarded with 33,000 credits, 15 Phoenix credits, one vanity item, one equipment item, and one gear set item—gear sets are a new, but familiar RPG feature: complete the set and get a bonus. With a guaranteed gear set drop and the added ability to trade items within one hour of obtaining them, players will definitely have incentive to repeat the incursion regularly and eventually try it on a higher difficulty.
Players appear to be enjoying Falcon Lost, even if it doesn’t feel as substantial or diverse as raids in similar multiplayer games. Based on what I’ve seen, I think I’d like to explore an interesting space and fight through a series of challenging scenarios or bosses that require precise cooperation instead of a single prolonged scenario that taps into the same pool of cooperative challenges, but draws them out in a single generic area.
Time will tell if Falcon Lost is more rewarding with repetition. There’s something to be said for perfecting a ‘dance’ with a good fireteam. If not, I worry about players are treating it strictly as a means to an end, as a 30 minute exercise to complete gear sets, build up currency, and continue the same grind loop the end game already had. If the paid expansions fail to amplify the ideas Falcon Lost pokes at, then we’ll have more grounds to worry about the future of The Division, but right now, things look much more exciting than dire. For now, I’m happy to see The Division trend towards a fully-featured cooperative shooter that properly incentivises its RPG mechanics and endgame grind.