How to fix itemization in The Division?

Reinventing the wheel

Budget system is one of the best systems we know, yet it was dragged down, because players didn’t understood it or they were just not smart enough. Not all of them of course, just the majority. So Massive decided to completely trash the game. Gear 2.0 completely shallowed the gear, which again, majority of (not so smart) reddit welcomed with open arm’s. I said to my clan members, D3:RoS all over again.
While Diablo 3 had its own set of problems, itemization was not one of them. Yes, it was hard to get good or very good items, but they were obtainable in the  game. And once that god roll dropped, the “holy shit” moments were just amazing. Same here, when Gear 2.0 dropped it took away that endorphin rush, itemization became linear and boring. In Diablo all legendary drops were predictable, heavily diminishing the “wow” factor on drop. And of course further ancients/primals/classified items, to add “artificial deep” to the game.

Incremental stat increase

Incremental stat increase on items related to rarity is pretty boring, uninspiring, but super easy to balance at the same time. You don’t have to worry about lower rarity items getting out of hand when it comes to stats, because they are always worse than the higher rarity stuff, so in the end, you have to worry about the top rarity only. So in order to set the goal for a player, next rarity level item is automatically better, than previous one. You are getting more powerful until you reach the top rarity level available in the game and min-max it.
This approach saves time for all developers = time = less further maintaining = more money. But at what cost? The cost is the life cycle of the game, about 2-3 years or even less, usually.
For ex. Diablo 3 was set to fail from the beginning of Reaper of Souls. Yes, it was fun for a few weeks. But after a while, you knew exactly what you gonna get without identifying a legendary item. RNG layers were in form of a stat ranges, which shallowed itemization even further.
(Not so smart) Players are here to blame for that, they asked for it.
On top of that, lack of PVP or constant new PVE content, killed the game, period. Balanced PVP is the lowest cost to game life span ratio ever. PVP will keep the game alive after all the PVE crowd is gone.

division dz logoAsset 9 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 11 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community

Budget System

It’s pretty good system when done right and it’s not gonna be easy to pull it off, but it’s doable.
The Division 2 got it right, almost. It wasn’t noob friendly and that was the main problem. (Not so smart) Reddit comes to rescue and together with Ubisoft/Massive completely neuters the game.
And there you have it, TU8 without any deep itemization. It’s Reaper of Division all over again. Uninspiring, boring and shallow itemization strikes again. This game is done at this point,  latest glitch fiasco speed up the process. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all against the glitcher’s with zero tolerance policy, but it won’t recover.
Let’s go back to the budget system topic.

  • Was the gear hard to get? No.
  • Was the good gear hard to get? Not really.
  • Was the perfect gear hard to get? Yes.

(Not so smart) Reddit cannot get good/perfect items and is crying about it. Why would that happen? Could it be, because a player is already stuffed with good gear and is not getting consistent perfect gear anymore?
Or player is not efficient enough? Every looter game comes down to items per hour at some point. If you cannot farm efficiently, then you are falling behind and it’s not the game fault.
Either way, reddit will blame the game, always, but it’s accurate 60% of the time, only.

division dz logoAsset 16 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 14 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 15 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community

Budget System 2.0

It was somewhat close to being perfect. Just few more hours spent over this idea and somebody would have nailed it. Unfortunately, it was trashed. What we could have worked out:

  • Base armor should not be included in a budget and should be fixed value across all rarities. Yes, all rarities
  • Weight system connected to budget system, check the photos, you will know what I mean.
  • All rarity items can be good/perfect for particular build

Green items, lowest tier currently. Could be turned into customizable gear without brand bonuses nor talent, but 2 additional weight compared to the rest of the gear.

division dz logoAsset 33 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community

Blue items, bottom tier currently. 1-2 possible rolls, which could be used as a really laser-focused build with 1 huge stat roll for any particular build.

division dz logoAsset 32 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 31 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community

Purple items, mid game gear currently. 2-3 possible rolls, it does offer some form of flexibility when it comes to defining a build, but it can also be focused on two main attributes if needed.

division dz logoAsset 30 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 29 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community

High-end items, end game gear currently. 3-5 possible rolls, most flexible items in the game, can fit any build, offer up to 2 mod slots if rolled.

division dz logoAsset 27 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 28 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community

Gear Set items, end game gear currently. 3 possible rolls + 2 mod slots. Not so flexible like a High-End, but make up with a set bonus, which change the way you play the game.

division dz logoAsset 26 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community

Downsides

It does require a tremendous amount of work to pull something like this, but it’s totally worth it. Every single item can be perfect for your build. My proposal is greatly simplified, but can be easily improved, in the end I’m not the smartest as well. So it should be taken from here and elevated. Unfortunately, it’s not gonna make it to The Division 2 most likely, but The Division 3 is doable, easy.

The Division 2 at the current state is greatly damaged and I’m not sure if it will be able to recover.

Loot

Since every rarity is valuable and desirable, it can drop more often. Don’t get me wrong, there is much more layers of RNG, than ever before. It will greatly increase the grind, but at the same time widen the loot usability. You will get trash, obviously, it’s the looter game in the end, what did you expect?

If people weren’t getting any upgrades in TU7, it was because of two things:

  • They were already at end-game with near perfect gear
  • They were inefficient when it comes to farming – ‘drops per hour’

And there is no fix for that. It took me 2 weeks to get everything I needed, with high efficiency farming, tons of items per hour. It was around 120-150 items per hour, even more at DZ South, occupied, with fast landmarks respawn and short travel time.
I’m self employed with a full-time job, so no, I wasn’t farming 12h/day, I was just efficient, knew what I’m doing and what I’m looking for. Not bragging, in my work and life, I just get the job done. And since my playtime is very limited, I _have_ to be as efficient as possible, because I’m very competitive and need to be min-maxed whenever I go PVP.

Named items

Should be like uniques from Diablo 2. Unique stats, that you cannot find anywhere else, at the cost of the mentioned “weight”.

division dz logoAsset 36 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 37 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
division dz logoAsset 38 The Division 2 Dark Zone PVP Community
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About me

Long time, heavy PVP focused player. Coming from a RPG/MMORPG/FPS background – Baldur’s Gate I/II, Diablo I/II Quake 1-3, Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament, Aion, Lineage II, Guild Wars 2 and many more.

On the profesional side of life, full stack freelancer, web design, web hosting, graphic design, SEO. Currently self-employed, if you need anything from the list above, you can find me on LinkedIn or my personal website, or just drop me an email.

creative.mack@gmail.com

If you like my work, you can donate,  _not mandatory_.

You can also support me by buying The Division Merch

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