I hit level 30 over the weekend and the game took an odd turn for me.
Each sub-zone has one group mission, and on the penultimate one I was teamed up with 2 folks who were level 30 and had a high gear score (or it appeared high). Yes, this game has a gear score, easy to identify with other players. They were both near 150, which is the average item level across all pieces. I was having a tough slog through the zone, taking quite a few hits to take an enemy down. 15K per headshot, which I thought was pretty decent – at least in the solo play. These 2 guys didn’t even both hiding, they just ran through the entire zone, a clip dropping an entire room. My first thought was that they had hacked the game.
And then I hit level 30. I crafted some level 89 gear and went to do the last mission. In it, I got a new sniper (marksman) rifle and was now doing almost 60K per headshot. My mine skill was clearing out any solo mission in a single hit. In the space of 30 minutes, I had quadrupled in power. The sad part is the difference in power between me at 29 and 30 was about the same as the difference between me at 30 and those 2 guys at 150+ gear score.
Now, I’m all used to power curves. Diablo 3 has one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Most MMOs have bad ones as well, though dying while leveling is a rare enough occurrence these days. The Division just takes it to a level I’m not used to. It feels like I’m using cheat codes.
But, this is only related to the “normal” level gameplay. I haven’t done any Dark Zone content, nor any challenging/hard missions. I’m fairly confident a level of challenge exists within that space. Perhaps this is like SWTOR, where once you hit level cap, they provide you with a set of epic gear to take on the “now relevant” content. It does make all the solo-content essentially irrelevant to complete (aside from credits I guess).
So now, I’m looking for some builds and better understanding of stats in the end game. From what I can see so far, having scavenging up to 99% has a dramatic effect on drops, though getting it to 100% causes a bug to make it worthless. Crit chance has no impact on head shots. Weapon Damage has diminishing returns, Skill Power affects pretty much anything you do, and there’s a bear minimum level of hit points you need to survive a sniper shot. In a game where defence means little (from what numbers I’ve seen), optimizing offence seems to be relegated to a very small set of stats. Curious as to the long tail in this game.
I’ll give it another week or so, to see where things fall into place. Afterwards I think I’ll give Dark Souls 3 a try. We’re a month in, someone is bound to have a 50% off sale right?