As previously communicated, we are back with a new episode of the Intelligence Annex initiative!
Today, we are kickstarting things strong with a focus on how we are going to improve one of the key aspects of the game: Specializations.
While all details will be shared closer to launch, we wanted to give you a first sneak peek about how the team is going to continue to give you more choice in building your perfect agent. To introduce this content, we now leave the floor to Trick Dempsey, Expert Game Designer.
In the last few years, we've dedicated a lot of time to researching the builds used by players in both PvE and PvP content, and we've concluded that Specializations are today not reaching their full potential, yet. Our objective with Specializations is to empower players to create Agents who match their playstyle preferences.
With our next update, Specializations will greatly improve both build diversity and player choice. To do this, we will be splitting up specialization progression into a linear level and a specialization tree.
The Linear Level Progression
In the current design, much of the existing Specialization tree is "mandatory." Agents can spend their points into improving signature weapon damage and ammo acquisition, also requiring to manually add and remove individual elements whenever you decide to try out new weapons.
To better fit with our ambition to create a more bespoke experience for all Specializations, these elements will be moving into a strictly linear level system. This is where you'll unlock your Skill variants, Specialization sidearm (and upgrades), and Signature weapon power. All the "this is where the power increase comes from" perks will be moved here once they've been reviewed and tuned. Once you've unlocked these benefits, they will remain permanently on your character as long as they have that specialization active.
This linear level progression will also reward you with Specialization Points to spend in the new Specialization Tree.
The Specialization Tree
Thanks to the addition of the linear progression system, we will be entirely reviewing the Specialization Tree to provide a stronger focus on customization & choice to the players. Importantly, there will not be enough Specialization Points to purchase every perk on the tree. Instead, you will need to choose what perks best fit your playstyle!
The Specialization Tree focuses on three elements: signature weapons, armor kits, and grenades. For grenades and armor kits, we want to provide alternate uses for these consumables which may be triggered instantly in addition to their standard behavior. The trees permit agents to pick whether their armor kits and grenades have these alternate quick uses and invest additional specialization points to improve them.
For the Signature Weapons, we want to allow players to customize their behavior and to invest Specialization Points to increase the impact those choices might have. This would be a meaningless addition without the ability to make named enemies vulnerable to signature weapon damage, so we are implementing a system to make that possible.
Additionally, we want the whole specialization tree to be valid in all game modes, and this means that we are reintroducing the Signature Weapons to PvP. We want all players to enjoy benefit from these new balancing efforts and improved experience. To avoid seeing signature weapons become the ultimate ambush tools, agents will be treated the same way as named enemies when it comes to signature weapon damage. This will require significant balancing and tuning, so we will be watching build and player performance closely.
The Power of Choice
While a Specialization and its Signature Weapon are tied, that would be no longer true for their mods, skill variants, and sidearms anymore. By sufficiently levelling up a Specialization, you will unlock these formerly Specialization-restricted specific items for use by other Specializations.
Want to use the Artificer Hive with the Mortar Turret while wielding the Survivalist D50? You will be able to do just that.
As you might guess, these changes, among other exciting improvements to come with our next update, are quite a complex topic to handle and we want to take the time to deliver the best experience for you all.
In the meantime ...
Good Hunting, Trick Dempsey, Expert Game Designer
This is all for today agents, we are looking forward to bringing these changes and many others to keep on improving the core experience of The Division 2.
Keep an eye out for future news and don't forget to check out our next Intelligence Annex in November!
Until next time!
/ The Division 2 Development Team