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Update 1.5 in detail

17/11/2016 05:00 PM

Agents,

Together with Survival, the second paid expansion to The Division, we will be releasing the free Update 1.5 to all our players. While it won’t make similar sweeping changes as Update 1.4 did, it will include further weapon, gear and skill balancing while also building on the concepts we introduced in 1.4 – like a brand new World Tier. But this new World Tier 5 will not be a simple increase in enemy levels and the maximum available gear score; it will bring with it new and exciting items for you to get your hands on, including some brand new Named gear and new weapons!

Remember that even if Survival will arrive later on Playstation 4 than on Xbox One and PC, Update 1.5 will be released for free on PC and Xbox on November 22, with a slight delay for the Playstation 4 version. If you want to learn more about the separate Survival game mode, which is releasing first on PC and Xbox One, read about it in our Intelligence Annex #12: Into the Storm!

Wrapping up Update 1.4

Update 1.4 was an incredibly important step for The Division, as it created a whole new foundation for the game to stand on. With the World Tiers, the new enemy scaling and all the balance changes we did for that update, we’re able to add new content to the game without it scaling out of proportion again (see our development update Introducing World Tiers to find out more about how those issues used to impact the game). We’re able to keep building on what we have while also keeping the game balanced and the progression curve smooth.

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Since the update, we’ve seen an increase in build diversity and a greater variety in what weapons and gear people are using. Before 1.4, we wouldn’t have been able to introduce new weapons without making them ridiculously powerful. Why use a new weapon when the ones you already have are broken and overpowered? This change has opened up whole new avenues for us and we have much more freedom to give you exciting new stuff.

While the Dark Zone was not a main focus of 1.4, we’ve seen a change in there as well. With all the options available to our players now, the people who go to the Dark Zone generally do so because they want to be there. The new Banshee’s Shadow gear set has also made more people interested in the Dark Zone compared to before.

Summary of Update 1.4

  • Update 1.4 gave us a whole new foundation to stand on, making it easier to expand on the game and introduce new gear and weapons.
  • We’ve seen an increase in build diversity since Update 1.4 was released.
  • The Dark Zone experience has improved overall since Update 1.4.

World Tier 5

With Update 1.5, we’re opening up the new World Tier 5, which comes with an increase in enemy level and Gear Score. In this new Tier, the enemies will be level 34 and the new maximum Gear Score for weapons and gear dropped will be 256 (compared to the current level 33 and Gear Score 229 at World Tier 4).

We know some people have reservations about us opening up a new World Tier so close to the release of Update 1.4. We haven’t actually increased the Gear Score in the game for several months (since Update 1.3), but due to the big changes we made with 1.4 we understand that some players saw it as a reset of sorts. We do feel like this increase is needed though, for several reasons.

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For one, many players were already at max Gear Score when 1.4 was released, so we want to start offering them upgrades. It’s also a great opportunity to level the playing field. In 1.3, gearing up could be grueling and not everyone had the stamina to reach the higher Gear Scores. This time around, going from 1.4 to 1.5, all our players will be on equal footing. It also allows us to move away from remaining legacy gear that currently risks to unbalance the game at some point if we don’t do anything about it, since new players will never be able to get their hands on it. Overall, a new World Tier is an integral part of our work to balance The Division further and a natural continuation of the improvements we started in Update 1.4.

Only because we’re adding a new World Tier this close to Update 1.4 does not mean that World Tier 6 will arrive as quickly, if ever. We need to find a proper balance on when to introduce new World Tiers in the future and will listen to your feedback as we move forward.

Summary of World Tier 5

  • World Tier 5 will be added in Update 1.5. It will feature level 34 enemies and raise the maximum Gear Score to 256.
  • A new World Tier allows us to level the playing field so that all our players are on equal footing, get rid of unbalanced legacy gear and offer upgrades to the players that were already at maximum Gear Score when Update 1.4 was released.

Named gear

World Tier 5 does not only mean higher level enemies and higher level loot. As mentioned above, we’re now in a position where we feel comfortable introducing new items for you to get your hands on. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in 1.5.

Joining the Named Weapons currently available in The Division, are six new Named Gear items. There’s one piece available for each Gear Slot, and they all come with a unique individual talent. For example, Ferro’s oxygen mask allows you to move and shoot while under the burn status effect, while Barrett’s bulletproof chest piece gives you powerful bonuses when skills are on cool down.

Our hope with these Named gear items is to inspire you to come up with new interesting ways to create and think about builds. Take Skull’s MC Gloves, for example – they give you increased damage when you don’t have any active Gear Set bonuses. What would an all High End build look like? Our hope is to let you experiment with more playstyles, while also giving you cool gear to collect and aspire to.

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You can get this gear from Survival and Field Proficiency caches, but they primarily drop from very specific places in the game that makes sense for them narratively. While we won’t spoil anything in this article, looking at their names you might be able to figure out exactly where you will be able to find some of them.

We’re also introducing a new Gear Set, called FrontLine. That particular Gear Set has been around before, making a brief appearance at E3 earlier this year, but since the skill it’s connected to – Ballistic Shield – had so many issues, it had to be removed from the game. Since Ballistic Shield is back with a vengeance, we’re happy to bring back FrontLine too. Its 3-piece bonus will give your shield 30% more health, and the 4-piece bonus will let you use a SMG together with your shield instead of your regular sidearm. Like with all other Gear Sets, it’s available from all regular sources of loot.

Summary of Named gear

  • We’re adding six special Named gear pieces to World Tier 5, which will all have special talents.
  • These Named gear pieces will drop from Survival, Field Proficiency caches and specific places in the game.
  • The FrontLine Gear Set has been added to the game.

New weapons

Just like with the gear mentioned above, we feel that we’re in a good place to start introducing new weapons. So, in Update 1.5 we’re adding a whole range of new weapons - 12 new weapon types and four brand new Named weapons, in fact. Our hope is to fill the gaps in the current offering with weapons either featuring exciting new talents or different characteristics from what we have right now. Each new weapon represents a niche in the game that didn’t exist before. Adding a World Tier is the perfect opportunity to do this, perhaps – hopefully! - even shaking up the meta in process.

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An example worth looking at is the new sidearms coming in Update 1.5, like the Rhino variants and the burst fire pistol 93R. While the FrontLine Gear Set allows you to use a SMG with the shield, which is great, we don’t want to make that the only viable shield build – the new sidearms, together with the ones already in the game, should allow you to create a powerful ballistic shield build without feeling forced to use FrontLine’s 4-piece bonus.

Some players will be happy to know that the B.L.I.N.D rifle, which people have been asking about since it was first shown before the release of Underground, is finally in the game! Since the B.L.I.N.D gear set was retooled into Banshee’s Shadow in Update 1.4, it’s seen a name change though – it’s now known as the Urban MDR Assault Rifle and gives a damage bonus to targets suffering from a status effect.

On the PTS for Update 1.5, the requirements for unlocking weapon talents were pretty high – those have been lowered ahead of the official release.

Summary of new weapons

  • In Update 1.5, we’re introducing 12 new weapon types and four new Named weapons.
  • The B.L.I.N.D rifle has been added to the game. It’s now called the Urban MDR Assault Rifle.

The great armor and shotgun debates

One issue that we are aware of after Update 1.4, and are actively looking into, is that armor has become the perceived best in slot bonus for gear. We agree with the community that this simply isn’t fun.

One solution that we were testing on the PTS for Update 1.5 was to make the Enemy Armor Damage bonus a major attribute instead of a minor one. The idea was that you’d have to choose between being tanky or doing a lot of damage – currently you can create builds that do both at the same time. We weren’t happy with the results we got and we’ve decided to revert those changes. Instead we’ll do a greater pass on the armor mechanics in the future. Your feedback was invaluable when reaching this decision and proved to us once again how important the PTS is for the future development of the game. Thanks to everyone for your constructive criticism and discussions.

Enemy Armor Damage will still have an effect in PvP, as planned. We will closely monitor how this change works out, what impact it has on the meta and listen closely to your feedback.

Another current issue is shotguns in PvP, primarily on consoles, and how they work with aim assist, making it incredibly easy to get in hard-hitting headshots on enemy players. In Update 1.5, the strength of the aim assist, and the effect of accuracy, on shotguns has been lowered. We’ve also tweaked their headshot base damage bonus. Hopefully these changes should make shotguns more fun and more balanced in PvP again, both to use and to fight against.

Summary to armor and shotguns

  • The armor stat is currently seen as the best in slot stat for rolling on gear and we’re investigating how to change it in the future to make room for more decision making when creating your builds.
  • The change of Enemy Armor Damage from a minor to a major attribute that we tested on the PTS has been reverted. Enemy Armor Damage will still have an effect in PvP.
  • The strength of the aim assist on shotguns has been lowered, together with changes to their accuracy and headshot base damage bonus.

The economy

In Update 1.4, our crafty players figured out that a good way to get Phoenix Credits quickly was to drop down to World Tier 2 and run the Clear Sky incursion over and over again, since the PxC rewards didn’t scale with World Tier. That’s clearly not working as intended, as we want people to play at the tier they are normally in and challenge themselves at the highest levels (and feel rewarded for the time spent). At the same time, we don’t want to lower the current rewards either, as we think they are appropriate. Instead we went the opposite route and increased the rewards in the higher tiers for a range of different activities both for normal Credits and Phoenix Credits, making sure that the time investment versus rewards is balanced. The exception to this rule is World Tier 1, where we lowered the credits rewards slightly.

For example, in Update 1.5, a Challenging Incursion in World Tier 2 rewards 100 Phoenix Credits, just like it does now. This reward is increased to 120 in World Tier 3, 165 in World Tier 4 and jumps up to 270 in World Tier 5. At the same time, we need to be aware that the time to complete activities in the lower Tiers will always change when we add new World Tiers and higher Gear Scores, so we will keep monitoring the balance going forward.

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Vendors will now offer items based on your actual Gear Score, not World Tier, making them consistent with the level 1-30 experience, where vendors always sold items relevant to your level. This also applies to the vendor caches you can buy, where the price scales depending on the Gear Score of the items inside. This means that the caches on the higher World Tiers, from WT4 and above, will be slightly more expensive, but as we increase the amount of currency you gain in the higher World Tiers, we need to make sure we maintain a balance between those gains and the costs of the caches.

In addition to normal loot drops, enemies now have a chance to drop crafting materials. Chances to drop higher quality materials increases with World Tier.

Summary of economy changes

  • Activities on higher World Tiers have had their credits and Phoenix Credits rewards increased.
  • Vendors will now sell items based on your Gear Score, not World Tier. Caches have become slightly more expensive in the higher Tiers.
  • Enemies will now have a chance to drop crafting material when killed.

Stagger and stash size

One change coming in Update 1.5 is that the stagger mechanic will have an effect in PvP again – high-stagger weapons, like shotguns and marksman rifles, will now cause the target’s aim to flinch. This is in no way as extreme as it used to be with explosive bullets, but we felt that stagger should have at least some form of role to play in PvP. We’ll be monitoring the results closely, but hope this addition will lead to even more dynamic and interesting fights.

One major thing we’re doing in Update 1.5 is increasing the stash size from 70 to 150 items – that’s more than a 100% increase in space! This has been high on the wish list of many of our players, and now you’re able to horde even more gear and weapons!

Update 1.5 is also coming with the regular balance tweaks and bug fixes you can expect from a major patch. Remember to read the full patch notes, when available, for a full list!

Summary of stagger and stash size changes

  • Stagger will now have an effect in PvP.
  • The stash size has been increased from 70 to 150 items.
  • Update 1.5 will also feature other balance tweaks and bug fixes.

Conclusions

In many ways, Update 1.5 is the natural continuation of and conclusion to Update 1.4. That update was incredibly important for The Division, both for the game and for our community, and gave us a strong foundation to stand on as we move forward. The game has never been healthier and a new World Tier is a great starting point for the future development of The Division. Our players will be able to move forward together in a way that simply wasn’t possible before.

To reiterate – Update 1.5 will be free and will be released all platforms, for all players, irrespective of the Survival release date. It’s coming to PC and Xbox One on November 22, with a slight delay on Playstation 4. We’re really excited to give you all those new gear pieces and weapons and can’t wait to see what kind of builds, strategies and tactics you come up with using them.

We’ll see you in World Tier 5!

/The Division Dev Team