So much for deer in The Division 2 not dropping meat or any other rewards when you shoot them. The animals scurrying through the game’s post-disaster Washington, DC recently started dropping special ammunition.
The developers said last week that the issue would be fixed possibly during a maintenance period last Friday, but we’ve still been able to kill some animals in the game to get bullets. We’ve gotten them from dogs, eagles and rats, but not crows and deer, for some reason.
We’ve also noticed that even when an animal kill doesn’t drop ammo, it helps fill a meter that eventually leads to a special ammo drop.
All of this stands out, because, for the game’s first three months of existence, it offered no gameplay benefit for killing animals.
The issues are the result of a revision to the system that governs when ammo drops for the special weapons players can wield once they reach The Division 2’s endgame. Since the game’s launch in March, players had complained that special weapon ammo seemed to drop too infrequently. Last week’s Title Update 4 patch added a meter that fills up, notch by notch, as players shoot their way through the game. Score enough kills and the meter fills, causing the next killed enemy to drop special weapon ammo.
It’s a useful system when you’re in a firefight with a crowd of enemies. If you score enough kills, that meter fills, triggering a special ammo drop which you then grab and use to unleash an attack with your high-level minigun, grenade launcher or other top weapon. That flow feels very different if getting to that empowering moment involves shooting some dogs, deer or rats along the way.
We are certain that the animal kills dropping ammo is a bug. On Wednesday, during the weekly State of the Game developer stream, host Hamish Bode said “apparently killing wildlife gives you specialization ammo” as he rattled off a bunch of issues tied to the new update. We’re less sure if the developers mean to let animal kills help fill the meter that leads to a special ammo drop. We’ve asked for clarification.
On Saturday and again today, we tested things for ourselves. In one trial, we couldn’t get killed animals to drop special weapons ammo. In another, we got it from shooting dogs three times (please don’t judge us), even though deer never did. Shooting a crow when the meter was filling seemed to trigger the sound effect for the ammo drop, but no ammo appeared. We’re not sure if the specific animals caused a difference or if that’s just how it broke down in our limited tests. We also found that killing any animal at least helped fill the ammo meter.
The animal issue is weird but far from game-breaking. It stands out more as an example of how design tweaks and bugs can alter a game’s themes and values. Before this ammo meter was added, the Division 2 developers’ efforts to not reward killing the game’s animals were conspicuous. The game depicts a ravaged Washington, DC full of enemy fighters who will drop weapons, gear, ammo and other supplies when the player kills them. It’s signaling that it’s fine and even encouraged to shoot armed people who would otherwise do you harm.
The game’s striking rendition of the wrecked city also shows nature’s resurgent power, as plants grow beyond their urban enclosures and deer and other wildlife amble down roads full of abandoned, damaged cars. All the animals can be killed, but they dropped no loot, no supplies, no nothing. This choice signaled that the developers saw no value, at least in this piece of interactive fiction, in killing animals, despite the survival trappings of the setting. That choice for animals to drop nothing useful even sparked an entertaining debate in an earlier State of the Game about whether killing a deer should earn a player meat. That changed with this update. There’s suddenly a good reason to shotgun some deer and snipe some birds. As the game gets more patches, we’ll soon see how much of that was unintentional.
UPDATE 6/28/2019 12:30 pm: The Division 2 team has confirmed to Kotaku that “both filling up the Signature Ammo bar and dropping signature ammo after killing animals is a bug that we are actively working on a fix for.”