The Division 2's first raid will launch tomorrow, but it will come with a major drawback, as Ubisoft will fail to uphold its initial promise of matchmaking across all content, failing to provide the feature for one of the most vital elements of its loot shooter. The Division 2 has been heralded as a massive improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way, with players sticking around for far longer this time around and embracing the game in a way that makes it a legitimate rival to its competitors rather than the niche hit that The Division 1 ended up as post-launch.
The Division 2 has had little in the way of the problems that have plagued its most recent competitor, Anthem, and has swiftly addressed those that have emerged. The Division 2 balance has been adjusted in a way that makes classes reportedly feel like viable options across the board, and The Division 2 glitches that saw equipment and abilities malfunctioning are a thing of the past. On the advent of perhaps one of the biggest content releases in The Division 2's short history, though, Ubisoft has inadvertently angered a massive portion of the game's playerbase with one simple decision.
Ubisoft Massive, the development studio behind The Division 2, confirmed earlier today via Kotaku that the new eight-player raids arriving in The Division 2 tomorrow will do so without matchmaking as a function. Fans are upset for two different reasons: one, finding seven other people to play with at a specific time is a logistical nightmare for many, especially adults with jobs and family responsibilities to attend to; and two, Ubisoft's official promotional image for The Division 2's online services promised that "matchmaking is provided for every game activity and difficulty level." While that promise could be interpreted as pertaining to only the initial content that launched with the game, it's still poor form from Ubisoft, with The Division 2's matchmaking now coming under fire for poor implementation just hours before the game's first raid content debuts.
Live content manager Yannick Banchereau said during Ubisoft's The Division 2 State of the Game stream that the company had a reason for not including online matchmaking for the upcoming raid. Here's his reasoning:
"We decided to not include matchmaking, as we don't think this would make a good gameplay experience for random groups. The raid will test your ability to communicate well, have a good build set up and will require great teamwork to beat encounters."
For reference, the decision to not include matchmaking isn't an abnormal one — Destiny 2 has neglected to include the feature in its raid content, and for similar reasoning, hoping to avoid frustrating for the game's most dedicated players as newbies learn the hardest content. While Destiny 2 never promised it would have matchmaking for all of its content, though, Ubisoft did, which is what's currently causing the controversy, even if the developer has a perfectly good reason for not including the feature.
The Division 2 matchmaking for raids might not be a necessity, but it's something that was inadvertently promised by Ubisoft in official advertising material. It will be interesting to see how the developer navigates the mess caused by that, and whether or not fans will get their wish of matchmaking in the 8-player raids. It's likely a Catch-22 for Ubisoft: if the company doesn't implement the feature, fans will feel they were lied to, while if they do, the raiding experience will likely suffer as players fail to navigate the difficulty of the upcoming content due to unfamiliarity with each other and no way to mitigate for skill differences and content familiarity.