01/20/2017 12:00 PM
At the same time as we release Expansion III: Last Stand and the Land Stand game mode, we will be releasing the free Update 1.6 to all our players. With the major overhaul begun in Update 1.4, and the symbolic conclusion of that work in 1.5, we’re ready to bring you even bigger and better content. Thus, Update 1.6 will bring the regular balancing tweaks and changes – including some major ones detailed below – but at the same time we’ll expand the game map, add new special events, revamp the Named gear, add Dark Zone leaderboards and release a whole new difficulty level!
Update 1.6 will be released for free on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. You can read more about the separate Last Stand game mode in our Intelligence Annex #13: Taking a Stand.
Remember that Update 1.6 will be available on the Public Test Server that’s coming soon and that the balancing and systems discussed below are subject to change. We want to hear from you, we want your feedback, so join us on the upcoming PTS forums to discuss the update. There might be additional changes coming based on feedback from the workshops with the Elite Task Force held at Red Storm Studios on January 11-13. Those three days were filled with fantastic and productive meetings and discussions on all the topics below, and more. We’re incredibly grateful that the members of the ETF took time out of their busy lives to come visit us and help us make the game better for everyone.
It’s worth noting that 1.6 will not bring a new World Tier. We don’t want you to have to go through old content to increase your gear score again before you can do any new activities – this way you’ll be able to jump straight in. Also, Update 1.6 will include bug fixes not covered in this article, so check out the patch notes to find out more about those.
In Update 1.6, the gates in the northern parts of the Dark Zone will open and Dark Zone 7, 8 and 9 will finally become available! While the Dark Zone has never been the most welcoming place in New York, the situation up in Dark Zone 7-9 is especially dire. We don’t want to spoil too much in this article, as we’d rather have you experience the new areas on your own, and there’s a couple of surprises waiting for you in there. In total, these new areas – including all their vertical space, like rooftops and underground locations - almost double the playable size of the current Dark Zone.
Following the same format as Dark Zone 1-6, DZ 7-9 are filled with roaming NPCs and Landmarks and the further north you go, the more challenging it gets. It’s not a place for the fainthearted and include some of the coolest and eeriest set pieces in The Division. Dark Zone 7 is located just north of DZ6, with 8 and 9 spreading out to the east of that, placing them north of the Midtown East district.
The new Landmarks can have multiple waves of enemies spawning after you’ve killed the initial NPC enemies. Clearing Landmarks will now award you with additional loot placed directly into your inventory, bypassing the need to extract it.
While we’re increasing the size of the Dark Zone, we’re not increasing the amount of players present in each Dark Zone instance. In practice, this means that players will be spread out more, opening up more opportunities for PvE. With the increase in area size, we’ve also made it possible to fast travel between Dark Zone checkpoints.
We’re very excited to extend the map and bring you these new areas to explore!
Summary of the new Dark Zone areas
We’re also adding new special events to the Dark Zone. Contaminated body bags have been piled up in parts of the subways below the Dark Zone, increasing the strength of the virus in those areas. The Cleaners have started sweeping these locations, burning everything in their path – including civilians who happen to get in their way.
Roughly every hour, elite Cleaners will appear in underground locations in the Dark Zone and it’s your job to stop them. A word of warning though – the contamination has reached unprecedented lethal levels in these places, so your virus filter will not be enough to resist it. Act quickly and learn how to manage your health while venturing into the contaminated underground.
Summary of Contamination events
Another addition coming to the Dark Zone is leaderboards, which will allow you to compare yourself with other players across a wide variety of activities on a weekly and a monthly basis. The activities tracked are divided between PvP and PvE. For PvP, they include Rogues killed, Manhunts survived and Extractions hijacked. For PvE, we’ll be tracking activities like NPC enemies killed, locked chests looted and items extracted.
All the tracked activities will be turned into total score, which is divided into three tiers, and the higher your score is compared to your fellow Dark Zone players the better rewards you will earn when the leaderboards reset.
Summary of Dark Zone leaderboards
For this update, we wanted to give our hardcore players a real challenge. In order to do so, a Legendary difficulty mode has been added to three missions in the game - Times Square, WarrenGate Power Plant and Napalm Production Site. This mode is supposed to be the most challenging mode in the game, even more so than Heroic Incursions, and is really going to test your build, your tactics and your group synergy.
You won’t be fighting the same enemies you usually fight in those missions, though. All the previous content has been taken out and replaced with new, powerful and much smarter LMB enemies that use more advanced tactics against you and your team. They’ll react to your skills and status effects, will be hard to hit since they keep a low profile, will constantly try to flank you, and you really don’t want to get into melee range of them. If you’ve fought the Hunter in Survival, you have had a brief taste of what is coming.
There’s a wide range of different enemy types, practically covering most of the enemy archetypes in the game, which will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through the missions. There’s also Named enemies thrown into the mix, complete with their own set of behaviors, roles and skills. While Legendary difficulty does scale to the amount of players present, scaling enemy damage and health similar to Challenge mode, and could theoretically be soloed, it’s very much intended for organized group play with dedicated roles.
The enemies you’ll face will be a mix of normal, veteran and elite enemies. The main challenge in Legendary is not from the amount of health the enemies have, it is about learning how to deal with their tactics and strategies.
Legendary difficulty comes with its own, exclusive vanity items that you can’t get anywhere else in the game and will of course reward you for your heroic deeds with a ton of rewards. In the future, we plan to expand this new difficulty mode to additional missions.
Summary of Legendary difficulty
In Update 1.6, Named weapons and gear have been given their very own type – they are now called Exotics. Parts of that change are cosmetic, as they now have their own color coding to make them stand apart from regular High End items both in your inventory and when they drop from enemies. Each of the items have also received flavor and lore text on their item descriptions.
Each Exotic weapon has been given its own unique talent, if it didn’t already have one (the other two talents will be rolled as usual). The Hungry Hog, for example, will now come with the Glutton talent (“Killing a target increases your damage dealt by 20% until you stop firing”) while the Tenebrae will have Lights Out (“Destroying an enemy weak point resets skill cooldowns for you and nearby group members”). This should give the Exotic weapons their own individual personality and hopefully they will all be a lot of fun to use. Note that these talents will not work with the Alphabridge 4-piece bonus. We’re also introducing Exotic weapon sets, where you need to have two specific Exotic weapons equipped to unlock their talent. For example, the Valkyria is actually being split in two – the Hildr and the Eir, whose talents become active and synergize when you have both equipped.
Some stats on these weapons have been changed as a part of their balancing; see the upcoming patch notes for more details on exactly which weapons have been affected and how. All these changes will be retroactive to prevent legacy weapons remaining in the game.
Exotic Caches, that will guarantee an Exotic item, will be available as a weekly reward from Legendary difficulty missions.
Summary of Exotic weapons and new Gear Set
As part of the overall balance of the game, we’ve made a pass on the Gear Sets. One Gear Set that has seen some passionate discussions, and use, in the community since Update 1.5 is Alphabridge. We’re changing aspects of it since it’s currently mathematically superior to other Gear Sets; instead of the 4-piece bonus sharing all talents when you use two weapons of the same category, it will now share the free talents from both weapons (except from Exotic weapon talents, as mentioned above). We’ll keep a close look at Alphabridge during the PTS and see if there’s any other changes we want to make.
The Frontline set has become really popular since it was introduced in Update 1.5, which we are really happy about since it’s so much fun to play with. In Update 1.6, we’re making some tweaks to it to balance it more. The 4-piece bonus will no longer remove your critical hit chance, as it was found to be quite confusing since it didn’t apply to all critical hit chance bonuses. Instead it will remove the effects of any mod (Reactive Targeting, Assault Shield, Kinetic Breaker) you have applied to the Ballistic shield.
We’re also making changes to the Reclaimer gear set, turning it into more of a support set. When wearing four pieces, the set will activate all the Support Station mods (Life Support, Immunizer, Ammo Cache) simultaneously. The 2- and 3-piece bonuses will also focus on the Support Station, increasing its range and duration respectively. It will no longer have an effect on consumables. Tactician’s Authority will be slightly changed as well; its buff will no longer run out after 10 seconds, instead it will disappear after you use a skill.
We’re introducing a new Gear Set, called SEEKR, which will have body shots as its specialty. Its 4-piece bonus will give you a guaranteed critical hit after landing two consecutive shots to the body (which can be spread out across different enemies). We hope that you guys will come up with some creative uses for the set, using different kinds of weapons.
Make sure to check out the patch notes for any other numerical tweaks and balance changes to the Gear Sets.
Summary of Gear Set Changes
As it stands right now, Armor is the perceived best in slot bonus for gear. If you can roll Armor on something, you will, and you can do a lot of DPS and be tanky at the same time as a result. That’s not fun, it quickly becomes stale and the meta suffers as a result. Before Update 1.5, we experimented with a potential fix for this issue on the PTS, but we – and you, our community - weren’t happy with the results so we went back to the drawing board. In Update 1.6, we’re finally ready to implement a much bigger change that should get to the heart of the problem.
In Update 1.6, gear items will come with their base armor as usual, but Armor will be removed as a major bonus and replaced with Health. It means that raw health and stamina will be the main source of toughness, instead of armor mitigation. This change is a major one, as it will also have an impact on healing, skills, Skill Power, damage and the overall meta. Health also scales more linearly than armor, which makes it easier for us to balance in the long run. There are still talents that will give you bonus armor, but since you won’t have as much armor they won’t have as much of an impact as before.
Since so much of your current effective health in Update 1.5 comes from armor mitigation, Skill Power and healing become trivialized. Why bother investing a lot in Skill Power when your First Aid can fill up almost all of your health bar anyway? In this new system, that will no longer happen. In order to get a similar percentage of your health bar filled, you will need the Skill Power to make that possible. That means there’s suddenly room in the meta for players who invest into Skill Power, lowering their health to get more effect out of their skills.
Same goes for damage dealing skills, such as Sticky Bomb or Seeker Mine, that have always dealt damage to raw health. At their base level, they will not take off as big of a chunk of your enemies’ health anymore. Invest in Skill Power, and you’ll see your damage skills improve accordingly.
In other words, you will have to make more choices when building your characters, which should make for a more fun experience and create a more dynamic meta.
To prevent double bonus Health rolls on legacy pieces of gear, all current Health rolls will be turned into the new stat Resist All. Currently resistance bonuses mean you have a percentage chance to completely resist the effect of the given status effect. That’s changed in 1.6. Now resistances are analogue instead of binary, which means that they lower the effect of the status effect by its percentage instead of just cancelling it out – 40% burn resist means 40% less burn damage and duration, for example. If you do manage to build up a 100% resist to a specific status effect, it will no longer have an effect on you and anyone trying to apply it to you will see a “Resisted” message in the scrolling combat text.
We’re also adding diminishing returns to status effects. Whenever a status effect is applied to you, you build up a certain amount of temporary resistance to it for a short while.
As we’re not introducing a new World Tier in Update 1.6, these changes will also retroactively affect your current gear to avoid legacy gear. If you’ve already rolled a lot of Armor on your gear, you will find yourself with a lot of bonus Health when you log in after Update 1.6, so the changes shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.
All of this means that we’re also rebalancing parts of the game, like NPC damage and major and minor damage bonuses on gear, to make sure that Time to Kill and Time to be Killed – two things that’ve been constantly on our minds since Update 1.4 – don’t become too long again and stay balanced.
Remember, all of this will be available on the PTS! We know this is a big change, so we want all the feedback we can possibly get.
Summary of Armor and Resistances
In Update 1.4, we wanted to create a more varied meta and greater build diversity. Due to the way Armor and Skill Power worked, we didn’t make it all the way. With this new system, we hope to shake things up a bit. The choice between the different stats – Firearms, Stamina, Electronics – will become even more important. To help this happen, we’ve also made some changes to how Skill Power works in The Division, since Electronics aren’t currently seen as a valid spec, which means less build variety.
With Update 1.6, we’re moving Skill Power to a system similar to armor, where its effectiveness scales according to which World Tier you are in. In other words, every time you move up a tier, you will need more Skill Power in order to reach the same relative effectiveness of your skills – compare that to Update 1.5, where your skills’ effectiveness would increase enough on its own without any actual investment, since higher Gear Score items kept giving you a higher Skill Power. The scales have been changed as well, creating a bigger difference between low and high Skill Power builds. There are still diminishing returns, but they won’t kick in until around 450k Skill Power, which means you will have to put in a lot of work to reach those levels.
This all means that if you have a build with more or less no extra Skill Power, you will see your skills becoming less effective after Update 1.6 is released. If you have a balanced build, you won’t see much difference from now, but if you’ve invested in Skill Power, your skills will become more efficient than they currently are. In order to reach these higher levels, you will have to make choices and make sacrifices in other areas.
We’re also making direct changes to a couple of skills to balance them and make their mods more viable and interesting. Sticky Bomb, for example, will see some big changes. First of all, it will get a delayed detonation with a red area warning and beeping sound before it explodes. Its mods will be BFB (damage), Flashbang (crowd control, no damage, no longer cause the Disrupt status effect) and an EMP that works against skills and skill proxies (such as Turrets and Seeker Mines). This should make the Sticky Bomb more interesting to use, and more manageable to fight against, in both PvE and PvP.
First Aid has been given a longer cooldown, making both Skill Power and Skill Haste more important. The First Aid Defibrillator mod will now heal in two steps; one initial burst followed by a heal over time. The Shock Turret has also seen a small change, and will no longer do any damage on its own.
We’re also tweaking Signature Skills. The immunity has been increased to 60 seconds after Signature Skill use, but we’ll now prevent you from being able to trigger the same skill when you already have the immunity debuff from another player’s skill. No more wasted Signature Skills! Skill Haste will have an effect on Signature Skills as well as regular skills and Tactical Link will give you less weapon stability compared to what it currently does, balancing it so it can be countered by Survivor Link. Its damage bonus has been lowered in PvP, but will stay the same in PvE.
Summary of changes to Skill Power and skills
A lot of what we’re doing will have a direct impact on PvP in The Division, but we’re also making explicit balance changes to make sure PvP becomes more rewarding and fun to play. All of these changes were debated heavily during the ETF workshops, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how things work out on the PTS.
We’re taking a look at hip fire, decreasing its stability when moving and adding a separate camera setting for it so that it will take more skill to use. The damage gap between body damage and headshots has been lowered, but that’s something that will be tweaked based on PTS feedback. We’re adding a one second delay after a combat roll before you can roll again, as it’s currently too easy to just spam rolls. Also, you’re no longer able to reload your weapon while sprinting.
As it stands, skills that cause status effects are often seen as must-picks in PvP compared to other options and there’s no real effective counter. After Update 1.6, medkits will be usable when at full health and will remove all status effects that still allow for player input (such as fire, bleed and disorient). The Rejuvenated gear talent, which used to grant this effect, has been changed to give additional resistance to status effects instead. Bleed will no longer prevent you from sprinting or moving from cover to cover, instead it will slow you down in general.
Medkits can also prolong encounters between players much more than intended. Because of this, the Adrenaline talent will no longer provide an overheal, to distinguish medkits from the First Aid skill; instead it will provide a heal over time. We’re also increasing the medkit cooldown to 15 seconds, up from 12 seconds, and you’ll see your enemy health bar flash whenever they use one to make it easier to identify what is going on during a fight. We’re also aware of multiple talents that together increases survivability too much, again helping to prolong encounters, so we’ll be balancing the effects of talents like On the Move, Battle Buddy and Critical Save.
Summary of PvP balancing
One thing we’re adding in Update 1.6, that’s been requested by our players for a long time, is unlimited recalibration to items. In other words, you’ll be able to recalibrate a given item as many times as you like from now on. It will get more expensive every time, but that price will cap out after five recalibrations. The prices have been tweaked, so check the patch notes for more information. Only one stat per item can be recalibrated, as before.
From now on, helping a civilian will always reward you with Intel, High End pistols in Survival won’t cost Division Tech and the Scavenger box now actually scales with World Tier. Some prices, like for Gear Sets and Exotic Weapons, have been tweaked.
Summary of economy changes
With 1.6, we’ll also be revamping the in-game store, adding a new currency and extending the range of items available for purchase at a special vendor – including new emotes, weapon skins and other vanity items.
Read more about the in-game store in our Premium Credits FAQ.
From now on, all activities – open world, Underground, Survival and Last Stand – will reward their own separate experience points, awarding their own caches every time you fill your experience bar after reaching max rank. This means there will no longer be any overlap of experience points in Underground, which from now on will only reward Underground XP and caches.
We’re also making a few changes to Survival. Solo players will no longer end up in games together with players queuing as a group and grouping up while in a Survival game will be completely disabled in solo PvP Survival. In both PvE and PvP Survival, reviving a downed player will always cost a medkit (grouped or not).
Remember to always check the patch notes to find out more!
Summary of other changes
Update 1.6 will be a major update to The Division and brings a lot of new stuff to the game. We hope the changes to Armor, Skill Power and Resistances will make creating new builds more interesting and varied, and that the PvP changes we’re implementing will make player combat more balanced and fun in both the Dark Zone and in Last Stand. We’re also looking forward to see what you get up to in the new Dark Zone areas, see you face down Legendary difficulty and the new Contamination events, and what the leaderboards will look like once you’ve had some time with the update.
To reiterate – Update 1.6 will arrive on all platforms, free to all players, in the near future and will be available for testing on the upcoming PTS. See you in the new Dark Zone!
/The Division Dev Team
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