A to Z 2016 : HIGH-END GEAR

Earlier last week I spoke some about Crafting and mentioned waiting until being able to build High-End gear. There are tweaks the developers just announced, affecting both the Crafting system and how agents will go about obtaining High-End gear, that will go into effect April 12, 2016. I will highlight the link both here and at that previous post.

Despite these changes, I thought it was still beneficial to continue that discussion here, just in case their update doesn't work as intended and the fact that crafting will still be a viable option for High-End items (if no longer the best).

Above you can find my agent's current set up. I am fully outfitted in High-End (Gold/Yellow) items, except for my sidearm, which is Superior (Purple). Eventually you will want your agent decked out in High-End gear and there are multiple ways you can set out to do so. You can either find it as loot off of enemies (mostly named enemies), loot from SHD crates (needing Dark Zone keys to open), buying from vendors, and/or crafting from High-End blueprints.

Before the details of April 12's large update were revealed, crafting was kind of king when it came to obtaining High-End gear (and it may still be afterwards, time will tell). You could sporadically receive drops from doing Dailies (which are Hard and Challenging modes of the main storyline missions) or killing named NPCs (Non-Player Characters) out in the wild of both the Open World and Dark Zone (mostly the DZ).

A prevailing issue was that most of these loot drops were both rare and lackluster. Then there is the fact that High-End gear comes in two different levels: 30 and 31. If you look closely at the two pictures above, you will notice that in the first I'm highlighting a Firearms Vest Blueprint. At the bottom of the "Selected Blueprint" section of that photo, there is a Power Level listed as 31. But if you look at the second picture where I have the option to buy a High-End blueprint (at a DZ vendor for DZ Funds), you'll notice that the Power Level of that piece is only 30.

I've seen Specialized (Blue), Superior (Purple), and High-End (Gold/Yellow) come as either Power Level 30 or 31 and regardless of an item's Power Level, it currently only requires you to be Level 30 to equip it. So knowing this, there is already the divide between Power Level 30 drops/blueprints and Level 31. Naturally you want to aim for Power level 31 High-End items.

So where can you find and purchase Power Level 31 High-End blueprints?

There are two locations where you can find these highly sought after blueprints. One is right in your Base of Operations. After you complete the main storyline missions (and maybe once hitting level 30) the Special Gear Vendor is added to your BoO. It's located up the stairs, off to the left side next to the Recalibration Station, in the Tech Wing.

The other location is the Dark Zone Special Vendor located at the Safehouse in the Northern most section of the Dark Zone (DZ06). Both vendors also offer pre-rolled High-End items, but like everything else, it's really random as to what those rolls are and if they will benefit you.

You may notice that to purchase these Power Level 31 blueprints you need Phoenix Credits (the End Game currency). I will be discussing this currency soon! I also want to remind you that to craft any High-End items you will need to collect Gold/Yellow Division Tech!

Named Items

From time to time you will come across named High-End items (mostly weapons I believe) from NPCs. So far the two that I use, Caduceus and Midas, seem really good when compared to crafted High-End weaponry.  One caveat, however, is that while some of the core stats on named items varies, the Talents (abilities attached to weapons and gear offering a variety of effects if certain conditions are met) remain the same on each and every one.

This is a drawback from named item drops, because many find it more valuable to grind for crafting materials and craft a weapon of similar power, but with Talents that are more beneficial for their playstyle.

It's factors like these that make me think that crafting will still be a pivotal way to obtain some of the best High-End items in the game, but this upcoming update definitely gives it a run for its money. If they made named dropped items, or just High-End items that drop in general, more powerful (and not just more frequent), crafting may shift to the sidelines.

April 12, 2016

Come this Tuesday, there are a lot of major (and very positive) changes coming to The Division. Here are some of the notes about Crafting and High-End drops in Update 1.1. I can totally get behind their reasoning for the upcoming changes. People should want to hunt down crates and enemies to score their sweet loot, not spend all their efforts on farming crafting materials and building their own gear.

I'm hoping these changes work out and that crafting doesn't become obsolete, but rather shifts to a system that is used as a viable option by those who aren't able to find drops, or don't want to go that route to get their gear.

How do you prefer to obtain your High-End items? Killing enemies, crate hunting, crafting? What's your favorite piece of High-End gear? Do you have any named items? If so, which? What do you think about the upcoming changes to the crafting system and loot drops in Update 1.1? Do you think crafting will become mostly obsolete?