The Division Improves Character Balance in Update 1.4

By Ashley Woodcock, 1 year ago
Massive continues to dish more details for their upcoming Update 1.4 in Tom Clancy's The Division with another huge blog post containing info on gear sets, high-end gear, talents, weapons, mods, armor, skills, signature skills and consumables.

Further changes will be made to gear. On your way through levels 1-30, your three main stats -- Firearms, Stamina and Electronics were all increased. Massive will be looking to make the journey through the new endgame World Tiers (which we covered recently) a similar experience. After Update 1.4 kicks in, every piece of gear dropped in World Tier 2 and higher will come with each of the three main stats. One stat will always be higher than the other two but you can still recalibrate them like before.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 2

Stats such as critical hit chance and headshot damage will be scaled down as they can be way too powerful at the moment. This may seem like a nerf but don't forget that enemy health and damage will be rebalanced so the playing field will be more even.

Skill bonuses will be no more on all pieces of gear. Backpacks, holsters, and knee pads will now have performance mod slots. Massive believes this will offer more choice and and customisation options:

This means that you’ll have more choices which mods you want to use and no longer have to be annoyed that the god roll gear piece you got came with a modifier you didn’t want in the first place. This limits the current RNG and makes it easier for you to customize your gear to fit your build. These new slots won’t replace any of the current ones. Current performance mods will lose their major bonus, and their skill bonus will be rebalanced and rerolled.
If you have the space to, be sure to keep hold of your performance mods, as this will increase your chances to get the mods you want once they have been re-rolled.

Gear Sets will match the same gear score as High end pieces within the same World Tiers:

  • 191 gear will all be made into Gear Score 163
  • 214 to 182
  • 240 to 204
  • 268 to 229
The higher Gear Sets won't become less powerful, the change in scores will make it much clearer and easier to understand.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 8

Unfortunately, when joining groups, some players can kick a joining player just because their gear score is too low. At the same time however, if someone was using all High-End pieces, then naturally, their gear score would be much lower anyway as these pieces only come with gear scores of 163, 182, 204 and 229. With the changes to gear score, players will actually be able to use High-End pieces to create different builds and then join groups without being kicked from a group just because their gear score is too low.

Massive goes on to detail stat overlaps:

Stat overlaps between Gear Scores have been removed. The item might not fit your current build, but we can now guarantee that the stats will roll higher on higher Gear Score items. This includes, for example, weapon damage, armor, core attributes etc.
In a continued effort to make High-End gear a bit more attractive, the talents each piece receives have also been rebalanced. PC players will be able to provide feedback on these changes in the upcoming opening of the Public Test Server.

Scavenging has been subject to a lot of jokes from The Division players, especially when finding any pieces of the Path of the Nomad gear set. After being broken for so long and not being able to fix it, Massive has admitted defeat and decided to get rid of Scavenging altogether. Should you have any Scavenging on your current gear, this stat will be replaced and rerolled.

Big changes will be coming to the weapons too. Players will notice that their DPS (Damage Per Second) will have changed once the update goes live. A new formula will be in place to explain the amount of damage your weapon does. It's still a work n progress so concrete details are a bit scarce on this topic.

Damage will be changed yet again on the various weapons on offer. SMGs currently do higher damage than Assault Rifles, something which was not intended says Massive. In the future, SMGs will rely even more heavily on close range combat, stability and critical hit damage. Light Machine Guns will be buffed to become more inline with the damage Assault Rifles do. MP7's and M1A's will see their raw damage numbers lowered "to make up for the fact that they have big bonuses to handling". Also, unpopular weapons such as the SRS Sniper Rifle and the M2-49 will have their damage increased to make them a bit more relevant. Named weapons will fall under the same changes as the other weapons, but Massive states that they will do something more significant with these in the future.

Next up, Weapon Mods and Talents. A weapon mod would always come with two bonuses. The second bonus will be removed and replaced with a certain amount of minor bonuses instead dependent on the quality of the mod. Thankfully, Massive will also be getting rid of worthless stats such as head shot XP bonus, and some bonuses have also been reworked and combined into one. For example, the different stability categories will be made into one, the same can be said for accuracy too.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 01

Players will have to sacrifice some factors of their weapon when messing with mods. If you wanted to go for the highest possible damage, then you can do so but you may suffer with huge recoil when firing or only have a small magazine in the weapon. Flip this the other way and you could have a fat magazine in a really smooth and stable gun but you won't do as much raw damage. Massive are trying to involve more skill when using weapons just like players would in a regular shooter. With the NPCs taking less time to kill, the battles will still be challenging as you weapon wont just simply melt everyone with its fantastic mods.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking; I'll just keep my old-school weapons on my character or in the stash just in case. I did the same thing when transitioning from Update 1.2 to Update 1.3. Unfortunately, "legacy" weapon mods will be rerolled, so no one can keep hold of a potentially overpowered weapon.

Headshot damage, critical damage, armor damage, and other damage bonuses will become additive instead of multiplicative, meaning that the damage wont spike as much as it currently does. Massive struggles with balancing enemy health, while these bonuses can spike so high and it also creates a poor experience in the Dark Zone. These changes mean that players building more towards Firearms will be better off with their damage output. However, building for more DPS will mean sacrificing Stamina and Electronics.

Weapon talents will be rebalanced also as unpopular ones will receive a buff while overpowered ones will have their numbers lowered. Some talents that were "niche and hardly ever used" have had their functionalities changed. Some weapons talents have also been removed completely, but Massive hasn't listed which ones have been removed or changed.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 9

For armor, Massive believes that it is currently to easy to hit the armor cap without sacrificing much else on your agent. This makes it very easy to have a tank-like character who can also do plenty of damage. The armor currently far outweighs health. For the upcoming update, Massive will be making health the main source of toughness instead of armor. To continue being a tank, players will have to actually put more into Stamina and sacrifice Firearms and Electronics.

Armor will become a support towards toughness. If you decide to carry on specializing in armor, you will need more of it to reach the same survivability as you may have in the current version of the game. Thankfully, due to NPCs being rebalanced, armor wont be as much of a needed factor as it currently is.

Massive has also addressed Gear Sets and their bonuses:

Looking at the Gear Sets, we’ve had to rebalance the current four-piece bonuses. If a four-piece Gear Set bonus is much more powerful than wearing four High End pieces by default, it will always be the only possible choice. For example, Sentry’s Call is currently giving such a high damage boost, that you simply have to have it in order to do the maximum amount of damage. This creates a staler game without much variety in the meta. Many of the four-piece bonuses weren’t very interesting either, something that became even clearer after the Agent Intel poll we did on the forums, so we’ll be testing new variations on the PTS and looking for feedback for how they feel to play now.
Two-piece bonuses have also been looked it. Currently, players can equip Lone Star or/and AlphaBridge to gain an extra 100% ammo capacity and an extra two med kits respectively. Two-piece bonuses will now focus more on utility instead of stat bonuses. This opens up for more customization that will allow for more accuracy and stability for example instead of just boosting damage.

Five-piece bonuses didn't last long as they will be kissed goodbye to once the update is ready to roll. Currently, the Striker's and Sentry's Call gear sets have five-piece bonuses that provide even more damage then they already do. This makes for more unbalanced gameplay, something which Massive is working to get rid of.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 7

Skills haven't escaped the eyes of Massive as changes are inbound for these also. At the moment, high skill power is too easy to come by without sacrificing much Stamina or Firearms. The amount of Skill Power needed to make skills as good as they are now will be increased in Update 1.4 but the Skill Power gained from Electronics itself will be increased. This means that if you want to be an agent full of Skill Power, you'll need to actually build towards Electronics rather than receiving more from mods and gear attributes. The numbers for Skill Power will actually be inflated to due to the changes and they will now look more like your Firearms and Stamina numbers.

Hard caps on skills will be no more. Instead, Massive will be introducing "a curve of diminishing returns". This basically means that the more Skill Power you have, their will be less of an impact you have on every addition point of Skill Power. The more Skill Power you have, the more powerful your skills will be. However, the new curve will make it so that the power won't be linear and you then may want to consider using more Stamina or Firearms once your Electronics are high enough.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 4

Continuing to go off popularity as a bit of a factor towards the game's skills, Massive has looked at how often each skill is used. Some are not used as much because they are either just not fun to use, bugged, or they are underpowered. The Turret with the Active Sensor mod, or the Seeker Mines with the Cluster mod are just plain bad. Even with a ton of Skill Power, these skills are just too weak against enemies at the end game. Take a look at the following screen for an example of how the skills are used:

The Division Update 1.4 screens 10

With fixes and rebalances being made to the skills, Massive are hoping that the unpopular ones will be used again in Update 1.4 as players make new builds and combine some different skills with them.

Massive goes on to give an example of a couple of skills that have been changed:

To give you a couple of examples of changes we’ve made, let’s take a look at our most popular skill: First Aid.

First Aid was bugged up to now, healing players twice with the Master Mod and allowing them to move in and out of its area of effect to be healed several times. That was not working as intended and had some undesirable side effects, especially when combined with talents like Triage. Fixing those bugs has resulted in the skill becoming less powerful that it used to be, so to compensate for the effective loss of healing that was coming from those bugs, the base healing of First Aid has been increased. It’s also worth mentioning that First Aid will now heal the user instantly, with no delay.

Two of the other most used skills at end game, Pulse and Smart Cover, have also been updated. In 1.3, Pulse and Smart Cover were almost mandatory in order to clear the toughest content in the game. Even without a fully specialized build, players could boost their team’s damage and mitigation to extremely high levels. In a meta where enemies were too tough and lethal, it was necessary for groups to have access to such high levels of damage and mitigation. In 1.4, with enemies being rebalanced to more reasonable levels of power, Pulse and Smart Cover needed to be adjusted, and their buffs were updated accordingly. Smart Cover now focuses more on defense, and with skill specialized gear, will buff the team’s damage mitigation by 30% to 35%. The damage buff was removed and replaced with weapon stability and accuracy buffs, which are very useful with the adjustments made on weapon handling in general. Pulse still provides critical hit chance and damage buffs, in addition to its recon abilities, but the numbers have been brought down to match the decrease in power of NPCs.
All the skills have been rebalanced, with an increase in power, and some have even received new functionalities to make them more interesting. First Aid with the Overdose mod will still be good for healing yourself. First Aid with the Defibrillator mod however, will be more efficient for healing your allies with and will also revive them from death too which will be very handy. Turrets will receive more health and due to the changes to enemy health, Sticky Bombs and Seeker Mines will do much more damage.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 5

Ballistic Shield will have more health, as it currently just gets obliterated by high-level enemies. The same can also be said for Mobile Cover too which has also had its exploits fixed.

If an enemy so much as spots your Support Station, it's as good as destroyed. This wont be the case anymore as the Stations will receive better healing amounts and health. The Station will also allow for players to revive themselves if they are playing solo.

Update 1.4 will also bring changes to Signature Skills. The Survivor Link is currently very powerful in 1.3 but Massive will be changing its stats with damage mitigation being lowered from 80% to 50%, and its duration lowered from 15 to 12 seconds.

Recovery Link's range has been increased and will now also revive dead players (outside of the Dark Zone). The healing effect will give more health back too. A new functionality for this Signature skill is also being tested in the PTS where if a player is riding solo and the Link is not in cooldown, the skill with automatically kick in if the player is about to die. This functionality is currently a work in progress.

Tactical Link has been tweaked too. The damage buff has been lowered from 50% to 30% and the critical hit chance buff has been taken away from the skill completely. The skill will now have three new buffs instead, these being weapon RPM (Rounds Per Minute), reload speed and weapon stability. So far, those who have tried out this new "shooting frenzy mode" have been satisfied with its results in the PTS.

The Division Update 1.4 screens 3

Lastly, Consumables have also been changed. Special ammo such as incendiary and explosive rounds will no longer set enemies on fire or stagger enemies. Instead, they will now covert the damage you do to fire or blast damage which in turn, can be affected by exotic damage reduction. This change will make then more balanced as currently. in the right situation, these special ammo types could make enemies to overpowered in both the PvE world, and the Dark Zone.

A specific date for Update 1.4 in The Division is still yet to be confirmed.
Ashley Woodcock
Written by Ashley Woodcock
Assistant News Manager for TrueAchievements and member of the Newshounds team since 2010. Lover of completions, tough achievements, shooters, action, adventure and racing titles, hip-hop, Wu-Tang, NBA, and my Scooby. I can be found working on the never-ending backlog which you can see my progress on via my TA blog.