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The Division - how update 1.4 will improve character balance and "bring back the shooter feeling"

More details on how October's update will change the state of the game.

If you want the short, condensed version of what you're about to read below, Arekkz provides a video breakdown above, but the details are in full below.

The Division's impending update is going to bring a lot of welcome changes with it, and the latest development blog delves into character balancing and bringing back "the shooter feeling."

"One issue facing The Division today is that the power difference between optimized and non-optimized builds is too great. We still want people to optimize their gear and min-max to their heart’s content, but in order to balance the game, we need to reduce the gap between the two extremes," it reads.

"As part of Update 1.4 we also want to bring back the shooter feeling, add more decision making and hard choices when building your character and add more variety to the viable builds."

When it comes to gear, we'll see changes in stats, gear score, high end gear and talents, and scavenging. In a nutshell:

  • All gear in World Tier 2 and higher will have all three base stats – Firearms, Stamina, Electronics – on them, one of these stats will be higher than the others
  • Other bonuses, like crit chance and headshot damage, will be scaled down to fit the new game balance
  • Gear will lose their skill bonuses, but backpacks, holsters and knee pads will gain new performance mod slots, making them easier to customize to fit your build
  • Gear Sets will have their Gear Score adjusted to the same levels as High End gear
  • Stat overlaps between Gear Scores have been removed
  • High End gear talents have been rebalanced
  • Scavenging has been removed from the game

To make the game feel more like a shooter again, the weapons are also getting tweaked:

  • We want to return The Division to feel more like a shooter, similar to the experience during the 1-30 game
  • New DPS formula on weapons has been introduced, but is a work in progress and will change over the course of the PTS
  • The damage and roles of certain weapons have been changed. Some weapons have seen a damage increase; others have had their damage lowered
  • Named weapons will not be changed in this update
  • Weapon mods will now come with one major bonus and an amount of smaller bonuses, depending on the quality of the mod
  • Damage bonuses are now additive instead of multiplicative, reducing the current spikes in damage which made the game hard to balance
  • The Firearms stat will become a much more significant source of damage output, leading to more decision making when building your character
  • Weapon talents have been rebalanced; some have been buffed, others have seen their numbers reduced
  • The identity of your gear will remain the same, even if the scale of stats and bonuses might change

When it comes to armour, "most of your survivability is coming from your armor instead of your health. From now on, we want to reduce the impact of armor and instead make health (via Stamina) your main source of toughness."

To that end, here are the changes to armour:

  • Stamina will be the main source of toughness
  • Armor value will have different results of damage mitigation depending on the World Tier you are in

The four piece gear sets will be rebalanced, while the two piece bonuses will focus on utility, "since you can double dip into other Gear Sets to get them." Five piece bonuses have been removed altogether, "since they didn’t actually add anything interesting to the gameplay – they just made the damage numbers even higher, which helped create the current imbalance."

There's also a ton of notes on the changes coming to Skills, but here's the distilled version:

  • Electronics will be the main source of Skill Power
  • Skill Power will not scale linearly anymore, instead it will follow a curve of diminishing returns
  • Certain skills are currently much more popular than others. Some skills are overpowered, others underpowered or bugged
  • Skills have been rebalanced to fit the new game balance or to bring them up to par, in the hopes of creating a more varied meta
  • First Aid no longer allows for multiple heals, since those happened due to a bug. First Aid’s healing has been increased to make up for this fix. It will now heal instantly
  • Smart Cover and Pulse have been reworked. Smart Cover is now more defensive and Pulse’s high damage boost has been lowered to make it balanced with the new enemy health
  • Ballistic Shield and Support Station have been given more health. Support Station’s healing has been increased
  • Many bugs associated with skills have been fixed

Signature skills and consumables haven't escaped unscathed.

Survivor Link has been nerfed while Recovery and Tactical have received buffs and functionality changes.

Meanwhile special ammo (incendiary and explosive bullets) which usually set things alight or stagger enemies "will instead convert some of your bullet damage to fire or blast damage, damage which in turn is affected by exotic damage reduction. he effects of those two special ammos were previously overpowered in both PvE and PvP, without requiring much skill to use. These changes should make them more balanced, and we’ll keep an eye on how they are used on the PTS."

Closing out the blog pot, the dev team notes that "most of these changes will be retroactive. You won’t be able to save overpowered 'legacy' weapons, instead you will see a direct change to the items in your inventory. While we realize this might come as a shock to some, we’re sure that the overall gameplay experience will be much more satisfying and simply more fun after these changes have been made."

There are still more changes to come with update 1.4. Some things that have already been announced may even change again before its release, so we'll have to wait until feedback from the PTS is in and October rolls around along with a full list of patch notes.

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