Credit where its due, Ubisoft Massive hasn’t abandoned The Division despite sustained fire from players and critics.

In fact, The Division is about to get a massive update, that hopes to address a number of imbalances bugs, quality of life issues and the endless – sometimes pointless – grind that is the end-game.

Details surrounding this update – which will form part of Patch 1.4 – have been released in drips and drabs, but this week Massive dropped a boatload of planned updates on players.

The information released this week specifically addresses character balance.

Changing gear

The life-blood of The Division’s end-game is the grind for gear. Completing Incursions yields the highest level of gear but equipping this gear can sometimes leave your character weaker than it was with lower level gear.

To address this Massive will now have all gear give you primary stats of Firearms, Stamina and Electronics with each piece of gear having one stat that is higher than the others.

The gear score for sets has also been reworked and will now match the gear score of high end items. This means that players will be able to see what advantages equipping a Alpha Bridge item has over a regular gold item, if any at all.

The other advantage of this is that you won’t have to spoof your gear score with Gear Sets to get into matchmaking groups. Often joining a group with a lower gear score gets you kicked, even if your character with its High End items is quite good. This change hopes to address that.

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Backpacks. holsters and kneepads will all be getting performance mod slots which has been a long time coming and all skill bonuses in gear (such as exotic damage resilience) will be removed.

Gear sets also get a bit of a change; bonuses from having four sets of a particular gear set, have been re-balanced and two-piece bonuses have a greater focus on utility rather than giving you greater stats.

Bonuses from five pieces of a gear set have been removed altogether.

Weapons at the ready

One of my biggest complaints about The Division was that an SMG was more powerful than a Light Machine Gun. It’s a silly compliant but once you empty 1 000 LMG rounds into one NPC only to have that same NPC go down in the space of one SMG clip is ludicrous.

Massive is addressing this by making the power of an SMG in its stability and accuracy. Meanwhile LMGs and Assault Rifles will be made more powerful while unpopular weapons such as the SRS Sniper Rifle and M2-49 will get the same treatment.

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Weapon mods have been tweaked and will now have one major bonus and many smaller ones. Weapon talents have balanced so that the weaker ones are stronger and the stronger ones are weaker. Some talents (Massive didn’t alluded to which) have been removed altogether.

While balancing weapons is a welcome change, Massive has also said that it will be reworking the strength of enemies so that they don’t all require the aforementioned 1000 rounds to bring down.

Skills to pay them bills

To be frank, I haven’t changed my skills since level 30. I run Pulse, First Aid and Survivor Link as do many others.

While Support Station, Smart Cover and Ballistic Shield are all good, they’ve had issues. Patch 1.4 will address this by making Smart Cover more focussed on defense. Support Station will heal for more and Ballistic Shield has more longevity when sustaining fire.

Massive hopes that these balances, along with a slew of others will change up the meta game a bit and I really hope it does. As comfortable as I am in my current build it does become stale going through the same paces over and over again.

Another change I’m excited for is the balancing of Signature Skills. To show off the disparity between skills, this is a snapshot of what Signature Skills players select in the current meta.

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Anyway you slice those numbers, it’s bad. To address this, Tactical Link and Recovery Link have been made stronger.

Recovery will now give you additional healing and revive dead players. The skill will now also automatically trigger in solo play if you are about to die.

I’m not sure how I feel about a skill that has a rather long cooldown triggering automatically but I’ll reserve judgment until I see it in action.

Tactical Link will send the player into a “shooting frenzy mode” for 12 seconds where reload time and rounds per minute is increased. The developer has said that it’s proven to be fun during internal testing and I’m quite excited to see enemies wilt before my eyes as they eat bullets.

Everything you know, will burn

These changes are more than just a few balances, in fact it seems more of a reworking of the game than anything else and what’s more is that it’s putting everybody on the same level.

All gear, weapons and characters will be affected by these changes retroactively, which means that you won’t happen upon a player that has managed to hold on to a shotgun they managed to re-roll stats on to make it more of a short range cannon than a gun.

That, is perhaps the best change we’ve covered. You see, back when cheating in The Division was still rife, players were able to cheese their way up the ranks and earn great gear and weapons. This made it easier for these cheaters before Massive started banning them to complete incursions and earn high level gear, which made them stronger.

While cheating is a rarity these days, those folks that used nefarious mean to get ahead did leave many players behind.

I feel as if these changes go a long way to fix those problems and many more that have popped up in The Division’s time with us.

While these are all proposed changes and aren’t final, I feel like there’s some life left in this cover-based shooter and I for one can’t wait to dive back into disease-ridden Manhattan, version 1.4.

[Images – Ubisoft]