Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment has been hard at work enticing players with the premise that they will bring The Division 2 back to where it all started, New York City. Most of us who follow The Division 2 believed that the Coney Island Update would be the mission to bring us back, until Ubisoft surprised us all with the announcement of The Division 2: Warlords of New York. We sat down with Ubisoft Producer Nick Scurr to get some details on the new update, and what players can look forward to.
The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity
MMORPG: Could we start by having you tell us who you are and what you do?
Nick: My name is Nick Scurr, I’m a producer at Ubisoft Leamington and Ubisoft Reflections, and we’ve been working on The Division 2: Warlords of New York.
MMORPG: Fantastic. With this new content, did you think about or can we expect any new Specializations?
Nick: We aren’t focused on Specializations for this update, our real focus was streamlining the RPG experience and making it accessible for everyone. We wanted to maintain the depth that we have essentially under the hood, so all the complexity our hardcore fanbase likes to discuss on reddit, and so on, and make sure that players can immediately tell when they find a piece of loot that, “I want to keep this, or this is better than what I’ve got,” whether they equip it, or break that item down and store it in their new recalibration station to apply it to their better gear and weapons. And the other cool thing is that we’re bringing back god rolls so, (you’ll find) pieces of armor that are maxed out on everything.
MMORPG: With the way that gear is changing, will there be any changes to how gear interacts with the current specializations? Like how you have certain gear sets that are made specifically for Survivalists, and the other specializations?
Nick: We haven’t made any specific changes to specializations that I’m aware of, but our main focus has been the gear and the weapons, not just the gear and the weapons that already exist in the world but the new ones that we’re adding with this expansion. It’s going to be super keen to see what new builds people are going to create, because it’s not always going to be about finding gear pieces with high damage or headshot stats in them anymore, you’re going to be easily able to make skill builds. With the new skill system, it will give people a simplified skill level system so people can create builds with overpowered turrets, or seeker mines which will make those viable in open world missions, raids, PvP and the DarkZone.
MMORPG: With this new expansion we’re going to have new abilities, will the new abilities have new variants like the original abilities, and will we be able to slot mods in them?
Nick: The 4 new skills we have, Decoy, Shock Trap, and 2 variations of the Sticky Bomb Launcher that’s making a return from The Division, they won’t have any variants, aside from the sticky bomb launcher, and you’ll be able to acquire those by defeating Aaron Keeners 4 rogue agent lieutenants. The cool thing about that is they’re actually using those skills against you to begin with in the boss fights, so you can be taught those mechanics of those new skills before you can actually use those skills yourself against aaron keener.
MMORPG: You mentioned earlier that there would be new weapons and new exotics. Is there going to be a different, or easier way to grandfather in the existing exotics when you raise the level cap?
Nick: With the launch of this expansion we’re increasing the power level from 30 to 40, so you’re going to be finding a lot more new loot, and there’s every chance that you’ll find the old exotics, which we’ve actually reworked the talents on those as part of the RPG overhaul, they could drop again. If you have them already, you’ll still have them. If you log in at level 30, world tier 5, those exotics are still going to be there, but they’ll have their reworked talents. Also, as you level up, you’ll be able to increase the level of your crafting station, so if you have these exotics that essentially become redundant because they aren’t at the right power level, you’ll be able to craft them again at the crafting station once you’ve reached the new end game level.
MMORPG: So, it’s similar to how it is now?
MMORPG: It was mentioned there will be a premium paid battle pass:
MMORPG: Is that going to be similar to what the Year 1 Pass is? Or is there going to be a Year 2 pass along with the Battle Pass? Or is the Battle Pass going to be all inclusive? What can we expect from the Battle Pass?
Nick: Yeah, so the new end game is seasons, and this is a 3 month mini-campaign that will leverage the manhunt structure that we use in Warlords of New York. We’ll also add in new activities there as well, such as leagues, which are challenges and time trial for the player, and then bringing back other events such as Global Events from The Division, but brand new for the seasons and Warlords of New York. As Players play through the season they’ll earn seasonal XP and rank up their season level, and each time they do they’re given new rewards. The Battle Pass system essentially is for players that want a little bit more out of seasons, they can buy that, and it gives them another reward track. But all the activities and those things that form the seasons features’ themselves are available for everyone. They can be played in New York and in Washington DC if you’ve bought the Warlords expansion.
MMORPG: As far as Manhunts go, it shows Keener is part of the manhunt, along with his subordinates, and that is a big part of Warlords of New York, so as a feature that coincides with the Story, will that manhunt always be there, or is that part of the season?
Nick: We have the campaign of Warlords of New York, which is a manhunt for Aaron Keener and your investigation not only in where his rogue agent lieutenants are but where he is himself, which you’ll only find out after you’ve defeated all of them. But the Manhunt that takes place in seasons, is essentially finding new rogue agents, so not the people that are part of the campaign, you’ll defeat them, whether you’ll defeat Aaron Keener or not, I’ll wait until people play the game, but the manhunt for these agents in seasons are brand new rogue agents.
MMORPG: A big thing you guys are changing, which I thought would happen with Coney Island but it’s not happening until Warlords, is the skill tiers and how skill tiers are going to be changing, which is enormous, because skill power goes away, and we’re basically looking at, if you want to increase your tiers, you have to look for ear that has Skill Tier on it?
MMORPG: One of the things that I noticed was that there was an overcharge in the skill tiers, so how exactly would someone obtain an overcharge? Is that, you have more skill tiers than the maximum?
Nick: An overcharge is when you have armor or gear pieces that get you to the max level. Not all of the skills have an overcharge version, I believe they’ve shared some from the state of the game. One that they shared was the flame turret, and the overcharge version has an incredible range on it. The other cool thing is that, when you’re in a PvP situation, and an enemy agent deploys a skill, you’ll be able to tell by looking at that skill, the power level of it. You can decide whether you feel like you can take that on, or if you should potentially run away and get nowhere near it.
MMORPG: So, there’s going to be specific gear that has an overcharge, you’ll know that this gear is for a specific skill?
Nick: Yeah, especially if you find a god roll item that really maxes out the skill power for that gear piece.
MMORPG: In terms of the way that the skill tiers work, there are still mod slots on the abilities, will mods be locked to tiers?
Nick: We’re treating them more like weapon attachments now rather than before when they were tied to the skill power that you had, which meant that there was a lot of depth there, but for most people it was very hard to create a build that would have enough skill power to equip those. Eventually oyu would just end up collecting a lot of skill mods you couldn’t use. So this way we’re treating them more like weapon mods, so it lets players get the maximum benefits out of those.
MMORPG: Is there a possibility of getting a mod that increases the skill tier?
Nick: I’m not sure on that yet I’m afraid.
MMORPG: You added the hardcore agent beta not too long ago, and I noticed that it was a selection when logging in to Warlords, would you be able to start a hardcore agent at level 30, and head directly to New York?
Nick: We added the Hardcore Agent beta shortly before Christmas so it’s actually out there and it’s a small addition to the game that we’ve made that we wanted to see how the community reacted to it, to where we take it next. What it does for our players is, you’re creating an agent from scratch, and go out into Washington DC and you’ll play the game, but if you die at any point, you’re done, and you’re dead. So there are commendations and patches for people who make it to end game and actually complete the raid, and we’ve seen a few people do it, but yeah it’s for hardcore players. My understanding is, if you want to play Warlords of New York in hardcore mode, you have to start out in Washington, and work your way through. So, it’s going to be an amazing challenge, you can imagine that you complete Washington and then you transfer to New York and get killed straight away, and be like, NO!
MMORPG: Oh yeah that’s one heck of a task.
Nick: But you know, they may change how those things work when it comes out, people who are really excited about hardcore mode, and people stream everyday to show a journey of how far they can get.
MMORPG: When you came up with Washington DC, the big thing about it was that it was actually DC. A very, 1 to 1 representation of what DC looks like. Now that we’re heading back to New York, what can we expect to see? Will it be the same New York as we’ve seen before that wasn’t as accurate or will it also be a closer representation of New York?
Nick: This area, South Manhattan that we’re in, the 4 named zones we created for this playbox for agents, is a 1 to 1 recreation of that area of New York. We’ve taken all of the things that we’ve learned from creating Washington and have applied them to this essentially, so it’s created from the ground up to be a scale representation of that area. Obviously, it’s been ravaged by a hurricane so if you’re familiar with those areas, it may look a little different, but the feel of New York City should definitely be there, for people that are familiar with it.
MMORPG: Thanks a ton, we appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions!
Nick: Thank you very much!
The Division 2: Warlords of New York will be available March 3rd 2020 on XBOX One, Playstation 4, Windows PC and Uplay+. More information can be found here.