The Division 2 received its first major update, bringing the joys of endgame grinding to all. Dubbed Invasion- Battle for D.C., the update unleashes the Black Tusk faction across the city. As one may expect, the Black Tusk are up to your typical shady mercenary stuff, and they will be featured in a selection of missions each week. Beat the missions (or get lucky killing random Black Tusks), and you’ll be rewarded with a piece of Green/Aqua tier gear. This new gear is intended to be used as a full set of six pieces. Equip all six pieces of a single set, and you’ll get a unique Gear Set ability. You can equip a couple of pieces of a single set for smaller bonuses, but the main draw of the Gear Sets are the full Gear Set abilities.
Roughly speaking, the new Gear Sets are intended to push people towards specialized playstyles and character builds. Seeing as how The Division 2 isn’t a traditional RPG, this is a rather clever way to emulate traditional RPG roles. Of course, you can ignore Gear Sets entirely if you prefer a more hybrid approach to things. Or if you have terrible luck. Unfortunately, as you may soon find out, Gear Sets may feel a bit … sub-optimal at times.
+20% Weapon Handling, +25% Burn and Bleed Damage. Automatic collection of ammo, armor kits, and grenades every 30 seconds. Killing an enemy with a weapon grants special ammo (incendiary, shock, or explosive) to one of your other weapons.
This is basically your combo/crowd control set. Anyone who has played a Challenging mission will tell you that crowd control and status effects are incredibly powerful against the AI. Thus being able to ignite or electrocute enemies by just shooting them is an incredibly desirable trait.
The downside to this is that you have to actually kill an enemy to trigger the special ability. Seeing as how there are up to three (or seven in the upcoming Raid) other people shooting at enemies, it can be hard to proc the ability consistently. Plus the special ammo can end up on your pistol. Also, you’re literally only getting a couple of special bullets when the ability does proc.
+10% damage to armor, +10% protection from Elites, +10% total armor. Applies a status effect on an enemy that rotates after four seconds. A Red effect decreases their damage, a White effect allows you to recover armor when you shoot them, and a Blue effect boosts your cooldown speed. If you shoot at an enemy that has all three effects, deal 25% damage to nearby enemies that have any of the effects.
Technically speaking, this is your support/AOE set. Seeing as how traditional RPG buffs and debuffs don’t exist in The Division 2, this is the next best thing. Plus it’s incredibly simple to use. Any mechanic that rewards players for doing what they should be doing anyways (in this case, shooting people) is always going to be powerful. True Patriot does have the distinction of providing bonus armor damage, which may be enticing enough for people to equip two pieces of the set regardless of their build.
Unfortunately, the defensive properties of the set are underwhelming. 10% bonus armor and reducing enemy damage sounds great, but it means little when enemies can drop you in several shots anyways. Vampiric armor sounds good too, but you’re never going to be able to regenerate your armor faster than enemies can shoot it off. When you’re constantly outnumbered by enemies who have plenty of automatic weapons, you quickly realize that the best kind of armor is taking cover.
+20% Skill Health, Shock Duration, and Skill Power. The Hive, Turret, and Pulse Sensor can electrocute nearby enemies once every 10 seconds. Killing an enemy with a Skill resets the cooldown of your other Skill. Completely repairing a teammate’s armor resets the cooldown of all Skills. These effects can only proc once every 15 seconds. When a cooldown ends, your Skills gain bonus damage and healing for 15 seconds.
Seeing as how you can’t be a mage in The Division 2, you can kind of emulate the feeling with the Hard Wired set. In theory, you can have a constant barrage of turrets and healing effects. You lose out on weapon damage, but the enemy gets shocked and set on fire by an endless stream of turrets. The fact that you can acquire the Hard Wired set by completing a project (i.e. mostly RNG free) should make this a very solid set. Sounds great right?
In practice, the Hard Wired project is incredibly time consuming. You need a lot of resources to complete a full set too, so that’s not exactly good news. Once you get over that mountain and actually equip the whole set, you’ll realize that there are more hurdles to overcome. Enemies simply have too much health for Skills to get kills. Enemies can merely shoot your turrets to rid themselves of it. Or they’ll just move. Then you have to wait for minutes without any meaningful offensive capability. Teammates will almost always have personal healing Skills equipped. Unless a teammate ran out of healing items, there is never going to be a scenario where you can heal them from the brink of death.
The Division 2 Gear Sets Final Thoughts
The direction that Massive wanted to go in with the new Gear Sets is quite obvious. They wanted to create powerful gear that opens up new ways to play The Division 2 rather than being must-haves that invalidate all other options. In that regard, the Gear Sets excel. However, Gear Sets fall apart when faced with the reality of The Division 2’s endgame. Because Gear Set pieces do not have Talents or Brand bonuses, they cannot boost your damage output by the same amount as a normal piece of gear. In most other RPGs, this wouldn’t be that much of an issue since roles like tank, healer, etc. are actually viable.
But when the most basic enemies have millions of points of health and can shred players in seconds in four player endgame activites regardless of your armor and abilities, the traditional triangle of RPG roles break down. Build diversity is a luxury at that point. Sure, you can do your own thing by throwing everything into Skill power, no one’s stopping you. But at the end of the day the AI only has to land a couple of shots onto you to win.
Meanwhile, you have to chip away at their health bar with weapons that do around 10-20,000 damage per shot by default. Flat damage buffs, like those provided by normal Gear and Brand Talents, can double or triple outgoing damage. By lacking such buffs, it doesn’t matter how fancy Gear Sets are if enemies don’t die. The fact that two of the sets rely on you killing enemies to activate their signature abilities literally neuters them.
It feels as though Massive balanced the Gear Sets around solo play and or low world tiers. There, enemies die like one would expect. But then they seemingly forgot that endgame activities more or less require a full team. Or that the best way to perform crowd control in the game is to kill enemies. One would wish that this is some sensationalized rambling, but it isn’t. The math doesn’t work out. Gear Sets aren’t more accessible, they don’t have better attribute roll possibilities, and you can’t make them work without changing your entire playstyle.
Massive must rein in enemy stats otherwise players will never be willing to give up raw damage. If players didn’t feel like it was necessary to have so much damage, other builds can have room to breathe. With the way things are now, there is a very distinct concern that the upcoming eight-person Raid will just take current enemy health and damage values and double or quadruple them. The first Division proved that most people found this to be unacceptable. It seems unlikely that people will be more receptive this time around.