The Division 2: Operation Dark Hours raid goes live without matchmaking

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Operation Dark Hours, The Division 2’s 8-player raid, officially opens up today; but, it’s going live with one key feature missing.

Earlier this week, Title Update 3 for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 brought the series’ first-ever 8-player raid in Operation Dark Hours. However, it wasn’t until today that the raid actually went live.

As of noon Eastern Time (9:00 a.m. PT), Operation Dark Hours is officially live. Ubisoft has been pretty cryptic regarding the raid, allowing for the excitement and surprises to be experienced by the players.

What we do know is that it promises to be “the toughest of all challenges to date.,” as players must work together “figure out the fight mechanics and work closely as a team to execute their strategy in order to overcome these tenacious opponents.” The sort of teamwork required for Operation Dark Hours might explain why it’s launching without making.

Ubisoft’s community dev Chris Gansler took to the game’s subreddit to further explains Ubisoft’s stance on matchmaking for the raid.

"Operation Dark Hours will be the most challenging content we have ever created for the franchise. While Incursions are compared to the raid they are not the same, and the level of difficulty and requirements to work as a team are much higher. Operation Dark Hours requires players to align on their unified goals and strategies, from defining each agent’s build and coordinated efforts on the fly to overcome the unmatched challenge awaiting them at the Washington National Airport. The raid will require very good communication between agents, adjusting to situations on the fly and fire power alone will not be the decisive factor to get through the National Airport. Therefore, our decision was to not include matchmaking, as the difficulty level is designed for coordinated groups and clans, that will prepare, plan and execute their strategies."

Basically, what Ubisoft is saying is that the raid is so difficult that they can’t possibly imagine a group of eight random players banding together to successfully complete it. Of course, this sort of narrow-minded belief has been proven untrue time and time again in the past, most notably with Destiny.

Bungie’s online shooter also doesn’t support matchmaking for its raids, instead requiring groups of six players to manually find each other and group up (Destiny 2 introduced “guided games,” which is a step forward but not true matchmaking in the traditional sense). To the community’s credit, they’ve created alternative ways to find groups, and these groups have been successful in running the raid.

I’ll never understand this line of thinking from a developer, though. Yes, a random match-made group can fail. But they can also succeed.  And there’s proof of this with Destiny. Failing (or succeeding) with a randomized group you formed manually is really no different than failing with a randomized group that was formed with a matchmaking feature; just add the functionality and let players decide on their own to utilize it or not.

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I’m also not entirely convinced that forming a party with members of your clan or friends is even more beneficial. From personal experience in Destiny, I’ve had as much, or better, success with randoms as I have with friends I play with regularly.

Players are understandably upset by this decision, especially since Ubisoft’s marketing for the game clearly touted that matchmaking “is provided for every game activity and difficulty level.” Apparently, the developer meant this only for the content offered at launch.

Gansler continued, stating that Ubisoft is listening to player feedback. Unfortunately, there’s no way for Ubisoft to implement matchmaking in time for the raid going live.

"While all activities at launch had matchmaking as stated previously, technical constraints or gameplay purposes can bring us to not implement matchmaking on some post-launch activities. We hear your feedback, we read all your comments, and we’ll keep discussing it internally and with you. To be clear: We don’t have a simple switch to turn on matchmaking for 8 random players. We still think that might not be the best solution in the end."

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To the developer’s credit, they’ve done a good job in the past of implementing features or making changes based on what the players want. So it’s possible that raid matchmaking could be implemented at some point down the line. Perhaps as more people run the raid and familiarize themselves with the mechanics, it won’t seem as difficult with a random group of strangers.

In the meantime, Ubisoft has set up special Looking For Group channels in the official Discord server for The Division 2. So they are okay with you setting up your own random groups to tackle the raid, but just not with an in-game feature. Got it.