Hello everyone, I wanted to give you all a little bit of an update for how the new Division 2 is evolving. As of right now, they just published Episode 1 or what most people call Title Update 5. This update added two new weapons, weapon talents, a few new missions and finally the matchmaking option for Dark Hour raid. The biggest change in my eyes is the modification of “skill builds,” but now let’s back track for a moment.
I wanted everyone to know that this perspective is coming from a hardcore player. Not a Division 2 player, but a Division player. Having over 400 hours in Division 1 and over 220 hours in Division 2, I would consider myself an enthusiast of the game and the IP.
Right now, The Division 2 is full of content. You can play Dark Zones, PVP, Raids, gear grind, collections, commendations or just missions. I find myself very busy trying to keep myself afloat after doing all the quests and missions. (Then I made a second character to help with getting raid gear for my raid team. Whoops!)
I have tried every gear set and almost every build and it is very well rounded. Just like in any MMO type game, you have a balance of classes. All four specializations are full of their ups and downs. Personally, I gravitate towards two of them, but most of my raid team plays a mix of them. The specializations are just a small part as you are not limited to the specific gear sets that come with the specialization. As for the assigned gear sets, only two out of the six are actually useful. As for the builds, I find only three worth anything.
See More: Division 2: Episode 1 Update Launches
What builds are worth your time?
The most valuable raid builds are what the player base call: Strained, Unstoppable Force, and Unbreakable. These builds are very particular chest pieces. Strained is based on no armor and Unstoppable Force has a lot of armor. Unbreakable allows you to use an additional med-kit and gives you the ability to save the kit in your inventory. All of them require you to grind for either max health, max armor, or health/armor gear on kill. These pieces are crucial for survival. Most normal raid groups won’t even bring you in if you don’t have one of these three builds.
Some players have tried using Clutch builds, which feature max armor replenishment, but they are not effective. These builds must use a Vector Submachine gun as their gear and you cannot heal for many health points during a raid. I have also seen some success in Berserk builds, but not everyone can play them. They are definitely a niche build.
The two most practical gear sets are True Patriot, which can be used by any specialization and the Sharpshooter’s Aces and Eights. True Patriot is great in a raid, as it marks NPCs for increased damage. However, this build is only not great for regular game play. Aces and Eights is my favorite gear set and it makes easy work of everything. The only downfall being it is exclusive to the Sharpshooter specialization. It is one of the strongest specializations by far. With this gear set, you can grind for the Exotic Nemesis Marksman Rifle. I have been able to get approximately 5.2 million damage and highs of 6.1 million on elite mobs. It is roughly a consistent 3.6 million damage on all mobs.
As for the other gear sets, the Survivalist’s Tip of the Spear is a great set, but not viable in raid anymore because when using seeker mines it does not produce the Pulse after killing a mob. While this is possibly the most enjoyable of all sets when running solo, your character is very weak as it is mostly based on skill power.
The next set is the Demolitionist’s Negotiator’s Dilemma, a fun spec to have if you max out your health. You are able to throw grenades at everyone, giving yourself an armor buff and giving everyone in raid more explosive damage. Pairing this with an Assault Rifle and the Exotic Merciless Rifle, you can get proc after proc with ease. This proc does extend to your raid group and not many people use explosive damage anymore. This makes the set bad for raiding. However, for PVP, it’s a great set to use as you can keep throwing grenades at your enemies.
Finally, is Ongoing Directive and Hardwire, which are skill based gear sets. I have never heard of someone using either of these sets even with the new update. The Hardwire set was useless as the healing skill build, prior to Title Update 5. After the update, it has become obsolete because Tip the Spear gear set is more powerful. All in all, people have been playing with mixed Brand gear sets based on the chest pieces stated above. The variety is nice because people can play how they like, but it is harder for the newer casual player to get into the game or progress because the hardcore players are gearing up too quick to catch up to.
Player Vs. Player and the Dark Zone(s)
The Dark Zone and the Occupied Dark Zone are not what you think they are. The Dark Zone is a normalized area, meaning that players with the same items, but with different gear scores are temporarily set to a standardized gear score number within the Dark Zone. This puts all players on par with one another for PVP combat. The Dark Zone is pretty fun. Sometimes you see flagged Rogue agents that will engage in PVP. Other times you see nothing. The surprising part is that they have more PVP in here than in the Occupied Dark Zone, which is not a normalized area. The Occupied Dark Zone is a mash-up of people looting a bunch of landmarks and people who are running around trolling other players. The trolls are usually inexperienced players. Remember what I said about my Aces and Eights build? Since this location is not normalized, you can pretty much one-shot any player or mob in that place with this build.
Conflict, which is basically organized PVP, can be queued up at the main hub. This arena was introduced in Division 1 to decrease troll traffic within the Dark Zones. You can get in faster if you have a preformed four-person team. As a single player, you must wait longer for a full team to be formed. Either way it is typically a long wait by gamer standards. Conflict is full of players that are clearly in preformed teams, play this area consistently and get builds specifically for this type of game play. Basically, if you go in unprepared, you will be decimated.
Gear grinding is what you need to do in order to create the builds mentioned earlier. In the Dark Zone, you can still gain gear while grinding, but you have to be on watch for Rogues that can steal your contaminated gear aka gear that has not yet been extracted. In a mission, gear grinding is much more efficient than in the Dark Zones. The missions are linear game plays that allow you to gain more gear in a shorter amount of time. This increases in efficiency as your character gains more gear. A new way to gain gear, introduced two weeks ago, is Investigations. Investigations are long missions that allow you to get more of the narrative of the game. While the story is happening, so much loot drops. It feels like a catch-up mechanic for people to gain gear with much less effort.
The missions are fun and quick. At this point, from excessive gear grinding, our gear is so elevated that the top difficulty level, Heroic, is my clans’ new normal. Once in a while on matchmaking, we get a new person in the mix. Our gear and builds are so strong that any one of us can carry an entire Heroic team to victory.
Operation Dark Hour
Lastly, Operation Dark Hour, Division’s first Raid. It took my team about a month to complete the raid. The first week, we tried as is and failed. The second week, we ground for gear, tried again, and failed. The third week, we did a minimum of two hours of attempts every night until we had the first three bosses killed. We swapped multiple players so everyone could learn the mechanics and get gear from Boss drops. Over the next week, we we could not get far enough to get an attempt at Razerback, the last boss. This is when I made the decision that we were going to have the same eight people in the raid until we had the place, “on farm,” which is when the boss is both regularly and easily killed. Now that we have Razerback on farm, we can complete full clears weekly while changing up players into 2 or 3 groups depending on who is available. Fully clearing Operation Dark Hour, now takes approximately 45 minutes to run without issues, while still allowing time for us to have fun, make jokes, and socialize.
The Nitty Gritty
Even though I have a huge love for the game and it hurts my stomach and mind to talk about it, there are some big negatives to Division 2. The game is full of bugs. Some are silly. Some are super frustrating. For instance, not being able to open the chest in Operation Dark Hour for extra keys. I was able to do it with my main character, but not with my secondary one, which means missing out on more gear (this should be fixed shortly). It is very frustrating. Also, the shield drone makes people in the Dark Zone unable to be killed (this should be fixed now). When going into the project menu, the game crashes and has to be restarted. There is also an audio issue throughout the game where everything goes silent without cause and restarting the game does not always fix this.
The biggest issue I have is the negativity the community brings to the players that are unaware of how the builds work in Division 2. In Division 1, there really wasn’t a need for any builds since there were no raids. The gear sets in Divison 2 are built very differently than how they were in Division 1. In Division 2, once you hit level 30, you now get high-end gear dropped. You have to collect the gear and modify it the correct way for it to work. If the mechanics of builds and gear grinding was conveyed better to those new level 30 players, it would take the frustration off and they would stick in the community and continue to play. All in all, the positives outweigh the negatives.
I love the community managers and teams at Ubisoft, Massive, and Red Storm, for all the work they are doing with Division 2. Even with the bugs and issues, Division 2’s story has been greatly expanded on from the original. Even if you don’t want to gear grind, it is definitely worth the narrative. To see how great the story is becoming, check out the updates in Episode 1. It hints at what Terry Spier, Ubisoft Red Storm’s Creative Dirtector revealed at E3. In Episode 3, Division 2 will be coming back to New York to investigate the Dollar Flu.
I can’t wait to get back to Coney Island! See you all in the Dark Zone!
I would like to say Thank you to my amazing wife Samantha “InterruptingStarfish” Leone for the editing and inspiration to push me to make this article.