INTELLIGENCE ANNEX #13: TAKING A STAND
Player versus Player combat in The Division has always been a special kind of beast, taking place in the dangerous and infamous Dark Zone where PvE and PvP gameplay mix. Gameplay in the Dark Zone has always been open-ended and without any clear objectives, as it was designed to be. Love it or hate it – if you want to fight other players, that’s where you have to go.
In Expansion III: Last Stand, we’re adding new ways to compete with other players and a new way to experience the Dark Zone, in a brand new separate game mode! Compared to the open and unstructured nature of the Dark Zone you’ll find in the game right now, Last Stand is session based and features clear objectives and win conditions, while still incorporating aspects of the Dark Zone such as PvE enemies and Landmarks.
With Last Stand, you have an extra competitive option to choose from – an option where you know you will find combat against other players that are also there for the same thing. Expansion III: Last Stand will release simultaneously on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One and we’ll have a release date for you soon. It will be available as a part of the Season Pass or as a separate purchase.
Last Stand will also be open to Season Pass holders on the upcoming Public Test Server ahead of its official release and we want to hear your thoughts and feedback, so please join us on our PTS forums – that’ll become available at the same time as the PTS – to discuss your impressions of the expansion.
Expansion III: Last Stand will also include a new Incursion, which will be available on the PTS and that we’ll talk about in more detail in the future.
The expansion is not all that’s coming to The Division! The free Update 1.6, which is one of the biggest updates we’ve ever done, is coming at the same time as Last Stand and we’ll have a lot more information about it for you very soon.
Introducing Expansion III: Last Stand
When the situation in the Dark Zone escalated, as the outbreak spiraled out of control and all semblance of civilization collapsed, the Joint Task Force was forced to withdraw from the area, leaving behind important tactical terminals; SHD tech data relays loaded with operational information. Now, Rogue agents are closing in on those relays and if they manage to get their hands on the information, it would be catastrophic for the SHD and the mission to save New York.
It will be your job, together with a group of seven other Division agents, to stop that from happening.
A new way to fight
The Last Stand game mode offers session based player versus player combat in The Division, mixed with a strong PvE aspect, and a brand new way to experience the Dark Zone separate from the regular game. In it, two teams of eight players are fighting each other on an instanced map to control the aforementioned terminals, until one team has transferred enough information to win the match. When taking part in Last Stand, the game will always assume that your team are the Division agents while the enemy team will be seen as Rogues (note that they are just labeled as Rogue for lore reasons, as the actual Rogue mechanics do not apply in Last Stand). In other words, you will always be the good guy when playing Last Stand. When the match is over you can go straight back to the queue and don’t have to return to the main game to queue up again.
Each side of a Last Stand match is made up of eight players, divided into two teams of four players. You can queue up solo or together with up to three friends, but you won’t be able to queue up as an eight-man group. You need to be level 30 to play Last Stand.
In Last Stand, the Dark Zone is split into four different maps (roughly based on DZ 1-3, 4-6, and the new Dark Zone areas 7-8 and 8-9 respectively, which we’ll talk more about when we talk about Update 1.6) – you’ll know from the match making screen which of those four you will be playing on next – and each match can last for a maximum of 20 minutes. Each map has three tactical locations – A, B and C – that in turn are divided into three encryption points that all need to be controlled in order to start the data transfer. Over the course of a game, you will try to control as many of these locations as possible, while neutralizing any points held by the enemy team.
Capturing a terminal will also activate a spawn relay, which will give you more options on how to get back into the fight if you get killed. To give you a better overview you will choose where to spawn from the megamap instead of from the list you get in the regular game. At a given point during the match, the rules change, and you can start automatically spawning in close to your team mates, making the later game more aggressive and fast paced.
Last Stand doesn’t use the Rogue mechanic and you can PvP in there without fear of punishment. In the current Dark Zone, if you die, you lose something – DZ XP, keys, loot, currency… In Last Stand, you don’t have to worry about any of that. While many players dodge engagements when playing in the Dark Zone, sometimes out of fear of that loss, in Last Stand you are funneled into fights, and the mode itself pushes for group combat in some of the best combat arenas in the game.
Matchmaking for Last Stand is based not only on your current Gear Score, similar to the Dark Zone brackets, but also on other factors – like how well you’ve been playing recently. If you suddenly find yourself in a situation where nothing is going your way and your opponents are too skilled for you to handle, it shouldn’t be long until you find yourself playing against – and with – players on a more reasonable level again. If you sign up as a group, the server will aggregate the recent performance of all the players in your group and make sure you end up in a suitable game together.
In Last Stand, we’re introducing a new form of balancing for player builds that limits the impact of Gear Set and stat randomness. We’ll be trying this system on the Public Test Server, and will be gathering as much feedback as we possibly can on it, so please share your thoughts and experiences with us on our PTS forums.
To get started with Last Stand, head to the Terminal and look for the tactical terminal standing close to the recalibration station. It’s hard to miss!
PvP and PvE combined
Just like in the regular Dark Zone, there’s more to it than just player versus player combat – the regular NPC enemies are still roaming the streets and the usual Landmarks are all there. These NPCs are also guarding the control points, with the central control point always guarded by elites that you will have to deal with somehow before you’re able to gain a foothold there.
Killing NPC enemies will reward your team with SHD tech, a team resource that you can use to unlock tactical boosts and fortifications that were left behind by the JTF and the first wave Division agents. In your “home” base – the tactical location you spawn the closest to when the match starts – you can activate automatic turrets to help you defend it, or a large Pulse that will alert you when enemies get too close.
After set milestones during a match, tactical boost stations come online. Using your SHD tech resource as a currency, these stations will give your team different bonuses, such as faster data upload speed or more points for killing enemies. A station can only be activated by one team at a time.
These boosts aren’t permanent though, and only last for a set amount of time before they go neutral again. This means you’ll need a constant stream of SHD tech, but you will also need to plan ahead depending on any boosts the enemy team manage to activate for themselves. Once their boost goes away, what will you and your team do to counter any gains they made during the last couple of minutes?
The tactical boosts are a key part of Last Stand, which means that there is a symbiotic relationship between different player types. Some players might go for tactical locations, actively seeking out PvP fights, while others might go for a more PvE focused game and farm SHD tech for their team away from the control points. Sure, you always risk running into hostile players – it’s in the nature of Last Stand, and of the Dark Zone – but even if you try to actively stay away from those encounters you can still participate and help your team win the day. If you play smart, you might even be able to use the NPC enemies against the enemy team…
The NPC enemies, except the ones guarding the tactical locations, respawn continuously during a match and the Landmarks reset faster than they do in the regular Dark Zone. There is constant activity throughout the zone and there will always be enemies for you to farm. They won’t drop regular loot though so you don’t have to worry about extractions.
With Last Stand, we’re introducing a new progression system similar to Underground. As you play you will gain special experience points and gain Last Stand ranks, up to a maximum of 40. Each rank you attain will reward you with a sealed cache of items, and at certain set milestones during progression you will unlock exclusive vanity items that cannot be found anywhere else in the game – the mode comes with two unique, full vanity sets and two sets of weapon skins. At the same time, even after you hit maximum rank you’ll keep earning Last Stand experience and getting new caches – just like in Underground and how Field Proficiency works. Last Stand ranks do not work as Dark Zone ranks, so you can never lose them. They are also taken into account when matchmaking.
You will get extra rewards every time your team wins, but over the course of a match we track more than 30 actions you might perform. Once the match wraps up, you will be ranked according to how you did, similar to how it works in Survival, and you’ll be rewarded accordingly.
All rewards are given out at the end of the match, so you have to see the whole thing through to get them.
With Last Stand, we’re adding a dedicated, separate player combat arena to The Division – a feature we know many of our players have wanted for a long time. Compared to the regular Dark Zone, it offers a clear objective and session based PvP experience, while also offering a strong PvE component. Together with the balance changes we’re bringing to the game in Update 1.6, Last Stand is an important part in revitalizing player combat in The Division.
As mentioned above, the expansion will also include a new Incursion. More information about that soon!
The Rogues are closing in. The Division, JTF and New York City need you. It’s time to take a stand.
By: The Division Dev Team
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