The Division 1.2: New Incursion, Dark Zone & Loot Improvements

After a stellar start as Ubisoft’s most successful new IP, Tom Clancy’s The Division has struggled to maintain its initial glory. The ambitious game has been plagued by exploits, glitches, shortcomings and cheaters. Even with developer Massive Entertainment working furiously to fix the game’s numerous issues, players have been deserting the game by the thousands.

On Tuesday, March 24th, Massive hopes to stop the bleeding with its second major update for The Division: Patch 1.2. With over a year’s worth of content still planned for the game, and two paid expansions on the horizon, the upcoming 1.2 patch is, in many ways, a make it or break it moment for the developer.

Despite the game’s flaws, many in The Division’s playerbase are hoping to see the new update find success. However, these same gamers aren’t getting their hopes up too high, since the previous patch, 1.1, failed to live up to player expectations. In fact, while the 1.1 patch was supposed to fix many issues and introduce numerous positive additions to the game, it ended up causing a host of new problems that had many gamers asking for a reversal to pre-patch gameplay. And while Massive has fixed many of the issues from the 1.1 patch and retained some of their reputation with players, another stumble with the 1.2 update could be catastrophic to the community's attitude towards the title.

With all that in mind, the team at Massive provided plenty of new, official information about the next update (1.2) that they hope excites players and lives up to the expectations gamers have placed on the open-world RPG.

Clear Sky Incursion

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In the last patch, Massive introduced the first Incursion, Falcon Lost, which pitted four-man player groups against waves of increasingly difficult enemies. Upon defeating these enemies and a heavily armored APC vehicle, players were rewarded with powerful unique gear.

With patch 1.2, Massive introduces the second Incursion, Clear Sky, to The Division. During a Special Report livestream broadcast on May 19th, the community developers at Massive showed off some brief gameplay, which showed an Incursion similar to Falcon Lost. Based on the footage provided, it looks like Clear Sky will be very similar to its predecessor, albeit with enemy hordes consisting of slightly different baddies.

The new Incursion will almost surely be a double-edged sword for the developer. On one hand, it’s another free addition that will challenge and reward players greatly. On the other hand, it looks to be too similar in execution to Falcon Lost, in that it will likely be another horde-mode mission where players are meant to fend off numerous waves of enemies, followed by a final boss at the end. The negative here is that as soon as Falcon Lost released last month, there has been an almost non-stop onslaught of criticism online about the format of the Incursion. Players have been quick to point out how soon a horde-mode mission is the most uninspired and boring setup (i.e. bunkering down in one spot and wash, rinse, repeat), especially when compared to the more linear style and dynamic raids in fellow RPG Destiny.

Naturally, time will tell if Clear Sky provides new and exciting gameplay, or if it will in the end just be a repeat of the Falcon Lost disappointment. Fortunately, Clear Sky isn’t the only major new addition coming to The Division, so it may not be as heavily criticized as the game’s first Incursion.

New Open-World Activities

There’s no denying that The Division’s visual world is impressive. However, once players reach the level cap of 30, the only sources of progression are replaying missions, the Incursions, and the PvP arena, known as the Dark Zone. Looking at the map, one can’t help but recognize a lot of unused space (read: most of it) once players reach the level cap. Sure, there are a few locations for players to gather materials for crafting weapons and gear, but at the moment, most players are getting those materials from other sources, like the Dark Zone.

Massive has listened to the cries of the game’s players and is looking to reinvigorate the game's main Open World with new daily and weekly activities. These activities will come in two forms: Search and Destroy Missions and High Value Target Missions.

Search and Destroy Missions will be small hunt-and-kill missions scattered throughout the map. These missions will be available daily in each of New York City’s sectioned off areas. To initiate these missions, players will need to visit that area’s Safe House and stop by the Situation Board. We’ll note that in order to see these missions on a Safe House’s Situation Board, all side missions and encounters will need to be completed for that area. There will be an exclamation point next to the Safe House on the game map when there are Search and Destroy Missions available.

Once players initiate the Search and Destroy Missions, they’ll follow the markers on their map and HUD to find the enemies they need to defeat. Upon defeating each of the three target groups in an area, players will receive an Intel Token. Once all three groups are dead, players will return to the Safe House and revisit the Situation Board to get an additional two Intel Tokens for a total of five tokens for that area.

Once players have amassed enough Intel Tokens, they can visit the Base of Operations and purchase a High Value Target Mission. Inside the Base of Operations are two vendors, one for daily High Value Target Missions, and another for weekly missions. Players can buy daily High Value Target Missions for five to 15 Intel Tokens, and weekly High Value Target Missions for up to 60 Intel Tokens.

Upon purchasing a daily High Value Target Mission, players will be directed to the location of the target, which will be made up of difficult NPC enemies. Completing these daily missions will reward players with Phoenix Credits that they can use to purchase items from the Base of Operations Special Weapons Vendor. If players die while attempting a daily High Value Target Mission, they can retry without paying an additional fee.

The weekly High Value Target Missions will consist of harder enemies, but will also offer better rewards. Rewards range from Phoenix Credits to high value gear items and weapons. Potential rewards are shown to players before purchasing the contracts for the high value targets. If players die before completing the weekly High Value Target Missions, they will need to return to the Base of Operations and repurchase the contract.

  • High Value Target (Daily) –  1x 182 High End or 214 Gear Set –  chance for 1x 191 Gear Set
  • High Value Target (Weekly) –  1x 182 High End or 214 Gear Set –  chance for 1x 214 Gear Set
  • High Risk Target (Weekly) –  1x 204 High End or 1x 214 Gear Set –  chance for 1x 240 Gear Set

Players can complete these contracts solo or in a group, and can only purchase one contract at a time. Additionally, once players purchase the mission, they will have a countdown timer for completing the mission, meaning they cannot hold onto it to complete later.

According to the team at Massive, these new daily and weekly missions should allow players to once again enjoy the Open World of The Division, and give players a way to upgrade their gear and weapons without having to enter the Dark Zone or rely on crafting.

Loot Balancing

After noticing players were turning primarily to crafting for the game’s best weapons and gear, Massive announced there would be better loot drops with the 1.1 patch in April. Unfortunately the changes weren’t sufficient and players were relegated to continue crafting for the game’s items.

This time around, it seems Massive is looking to take another stab at incentivizing players to focus on loot drops as their main source of upgrading gear. To do so, Massive is introducing a host of changes to help players make the transition.

  • Adding another source of high quality loot for the Open World
  • Increasing mission rewards on Hard Mode and Challenge Mode main missions significantly
  • Adding guaranteed 204 weapon drops to the Incursions weekly
  • Clearing Hard Mode or Challenge Mode Incursions will now reward players with a loot drop relevant to the difficulty every time
  • Revamping the loot drops in all Dark Zone Gear Score brackets to provide a clear line of progression
  • Significantly increasing the quality of loot from Supply Drops in the Dark Zone

New Dark Zone Bracket

With the 1.1 patch, Massive separated the infamous Dark Zone – The Division’s PvP area – into two brackets. While the brackets were meant to separate highly geared players from those who had a ways to go, the balance still wasn’t quite right. To remedy the situation, the developer is introducing another new bracket that will give the most highly geared players a chance to continue their progression, without hampering the efforts of lower geared players.

The new Dark Zone bracket will offer numerous benefits that should keep advanced players in the new bracket rather than downgrading their gear to grief players in lower brackets. The new bracket will require players have a Gear Score of 200 or higher. The host of benefits include:

  • Increase in enemy difficulty – players will face off against level 32 to 34 enemies in the top bracket
  • High End Division Tech – the new bracket will only offer High End Division Tech, a unique crafting material needed to craft some of the game’s best weapons
  • Supply Drops will give high end items and increase the chance of dropping a piece of one of the eight Gear Sets
  • Enemies will drop items that scale in level alongside the level of the enemies

Hijack Extractions

In a recently released trailer for the 1.2 update, Massive revealed that players will be able to stop the Dark Zone extractions of other players by cutting the rope that lifts extracting gear to a waiting helicopter.

Initial reaction to this addition was swift and loud against Massive as many players saw it as another way for top-level players to hinder the experience of others. The developer was quick to reveal additional information about the new activity of hijacking extractions in an effort to put players’ minds at ease.

Players will have a way to protect their extracting gear without risking going rogue in the process. Once a player initiates cutting the rope, that player will immediately receive the lowest level rogue status. It will take six seconds to cut the rope, during which time other players, including those trying to extract, can kill and stop the player doing the cutting. If the player is able to fully cut the line, that player will receive a 90-second rogue status, and the extracting gear will drop to the ground for anyone to pick up.

Massive community developers said during the Special Report that this new feature is meant to offer another layer of excitement to the Dark Zone. However, they recognize that there’s potential for frustration and issues, so the team at Massive will be watching closely to monitor player experience and will make any needed updates to the feature to make sure it’s fun and exhilarating without being an unnecessary burden on players.

Sealed Caches

In addition to better loot drops, players will also have a chance to pick up Sealed Caches from named enemies within the Dark Zone. These caches will need to be extracted like any other picked up loot in the Dark Zone, but will offer more than just a single weapon or gear item.

Once extracted, players can visit their Stash and open the caches. Caches will contain a mix of items, including at least one gear or weapon item, Dark Zone funds, and Division Tech. There may also be bonus items contained in each Sealed Cache.

Because these Sealed Caches offer unique rewards to players who extract them, they cannot be shared with other players once extracted. The player who extracts it will be the only one who can open the cache and obtain the loot within.

New Gear Sets

Like they did with the 1.1 update, Massive is introducing four new Gear Sets for players to pick up and wear in The Division. Unlike traditional gear, when players obtain and wear multiple pieces of a single Gear Set, they can unlock unique bonuses that will give them an edge over NPC enemies and other players in the game.

The four new Gear Sets are:

  • Final Measure – a new defensive set that increases the survivability of players
  • Lone Star – a new DPS (damage per second) set that rewards players for trying new offensive tactics
  • Hunter’s Faith – a long range set that gives players an edge with marksman rifles
  • Predator’s Mark – a support set that makes players more effective within certain attack ranges

General Fixes and Updates

In addition to the preceding additions and changes, Massive is introducing a host of updates to The Division with Patch 1.2.

  • Level 34 shotgun and sniper enemies will receive a reduction in damage ability against players
  • The armor cap is increasing, which will allow players to improve their damage mitigation to 75 percent (it’s currently at 65 percent)
  • Phoenix Credit cap will increase from 1,000 to 2,000
  • No change to the max Gear Score
  • The Scavenging talent will be updated to provide better benefits to players
  • The Brutal talent will be nerfed
  • The Balanced talent will allow quickscoping
  • The Reckless talent will “work properly”
  • Stash boxes will be added to each of the Dark Zone Checkpoints
  • Changes to the Sentry’s Call Gear Set that will keep players from exploiting the set’s abilities against other players
  • Performance mods will be buffed to compensate for the absence of a character attribute
  • On the Inventory Screen, “Health” will be replaced with a new attribute, “Toughness” and will be a combination of Health, Stamina, and Armor
  • VOIP indicator will be available in the UI

For more, check out 10 Things You Need To Know About Tom Clancy’s The Division.

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