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The Division Damage & Damage Mitigation Guide: How to get the most damage from your weapons and surviving the toughest challenges

Here's a guide by Leodigarius which will explain to you, how to both get the most damage out of your weapons as possible as well as surviving the toughest of game modes.

Below is Leodigarius gearing right now. Compared to most, it is extremely decent, but it could still use some serious improvements.
Photo by Leodigarius

Photo by Leodigarius

Also, these are his equipped skills:
  • Tactical Scanner
  • Smart Cover w/ Recharger
  • Survival Link
And Talents:
  • Battle Buddy
  • Tactical Advance
  • Evasive Action
  • One is None
Survivability

The biggest and most important thing that you can possibly get is more armor. Armor provides a straight up damage reduction, which is self explanatory, and you need a lot of it to make a serious dent in higher level and stronger enemies. Right now, I sit at 4654 armor, which provides me with a 65% damage reduction. On top of that he have 10% All Damage Res and 19% Elite Damage Res, which may not seem like much, but it adds up and makes a massive difference because of multipliers. From what I can tell is all the various damage reduction percentages that are available are multipliers off of one another. This is a very important feature. MULTIPLIERS ARE AMAZING. What a damage multiplier does is it takes your base armor mitigation value and then any further damage that you take is tweaked.

For the purposes of this demonstration: you have 65% armor mitigation, 25% elite mitigation, and 10% all damage mitigation. Lets now say you get shot for 67500.

67500 * 65% (armor reduction) = Damage reduced to 23625 
23625 * 25% (elite damage reduction) = Damage reduced to 17718.75
17718.75 * 10% (all damage reduction) = 15946.125

End result = You took 15,946.125 damage instead of the initial 67,500 damage hit

Already, that big hit you took is much more manageable. Instead of globalling you, it takes you down to half health. The more damage reduction multipliers you add simply increases your survival in harder content.

What does this mean? Well, several things. The first thing to look at is gear and both the major and minor attributes they have. You want to make sure that you have armor and preferably health or Elite Damage Reduction in most of your gear. The chest piece can roll the highest amount of armor out of all the gear pieces, as expected, so you want it to make the biggest impact.

Another thing to note is Effective Damage Reduction. This is where things get a little complicated, but it is actually relatively easy to understand. Let's start with a basic example. If you take a have 90% damage reduction, with no other multipliers, and you take a hit for 100 damage.

100 * 90% = 10 Damage

That is a pretty big reduction. Some people may be thinking, "Why would you want to have more damage reduction? If I stack any more, the diminishing returns will cause me to waste a bunch of stat points to gain a couple measly points of damage reduction. That is useless!". You would be incorrect in that assumption. Because of how EDR works, you actually are gaining a huge amount of damage reduction relative to what you had before. Let's look at the same scenario, but add just one more percent of damage reduction:

100 * 91% = 9 Damage

Now, you might be thinking," You only shaved off one damage! It was useless!". That isn't true at all. Effectively, you gained 10% damage reduction compared to what your previously had. That is a massive bonus. It can get even crazier than that too. Let's add another four percent damage reduction:

100 * 95% = 5 Damage

You have now gained an effective 50% damage reduction compared to when you have 90% damage reduction. That is absolutely massive. This just shows that even a single percent of damage reduction is more than worth it because of how EDR works. When you are looking at your stats and wondering what to do next, keep this in mind so that you can perfect your gear. Let's kick it up a notch so you can see just how significant this can be. Let's say you take 100,000 damage:

100000 * 90% = 10,000 Damage

Gain 1%

100000 * 91% = 9,000 Damage

Gain 4% more

100000 * 95% = 5,000 Damage

If you are limited on health or are running a glass cannon build, 1% more damage reduction means the difference between life and death, and the higher you stack it, the more effective it becomes relative to what you had before.

Always make sure you have multipliers to stack for mitigation. Single most important thing to remember if you want to survive harder content.

Photo by Leodigarius

High end gear pieces come with talents that are baked into the item. You can't reroll them, so the only way to get a better talent is to either craft another one or find another one. Finding the gear with the right talents takes time and can give you a big boost in surviving, dealing damage, and farming for resources. Make sure the talents that are on your gear are actually benefiting you since they will provide the final bit to have the perfect build.

It is currently impossible to get above 65% damage reduction through armor. 4600 armor should be your maximum that you have.

Recalibration Station

Photo by Leodigarius

This is a workbench in the main base that you can unlock via the Tech Wing. It is something highly recommended not worrying about until much later down the line. If you are level 30 and are wanting to get more out of your gear, this is important. When rerolling gear, you get several options:

Let's use knee pads as an example as to what you can reroll.

Knee Pads
  • 1st slot - Mainstat
  • 2nd slot - Armor, Elite Damage, Elite Protection, Critical Hit Damage, Exotic Damage Reduction, Health
  • 3rd slot - Burn Resistance, Scavenging, Enemy Armor Damage, Kill XP, Bleed Resistance, Shock Resistance, Disrupt Resistance
  • 4th slot - Same as 3. Note that you cannot have more than one of each type. For example you can't double roll Scavenging
  • 5th slot - Same as 3
  • 6th slot - Skill Bonus
  • 7th slot - Gear mod slot, Health, Damage to elites, Elite Protection, CHD, Exotic Damage Reduction
Ideally you would want your Kneepads to look like this:

Knee Pads
  • 1st slot - High Mainstat
  • 2nd slot - Armor
  • 3rd slot - Enemy Armor Damage
  • 4th slot - Elite Protection
  • 5th slot - Elite Damage
  • 6th slot - Skill Bonus
  • 7th slot - Gear mod slot
Photo by Leodigarius

The Gear Mod Slots are EXTREMELY valuable. They allow you to augment your gear beyond what it could roll in that slot making it an excellent, and almost mandatory thing to have on your gear. Ideally you start out with purple mods that increase your primary stat, and once you get high end mods going, have one of them be a Stamina mod for extra health or Electronics and Firearms for tanks. Your secondary abilities are really up to you and your personal preference. Be careful though, it is pretty pricey to reroll a stat, especially on high end gear.

Don't get too carried away with all the stats you think you can reroll, you can only choose ONE stat. After you reroll it, that is the only slot you can reroll. That means that if you get a piece of gear that needs a lot of work and isn't a serious upgrade via the talent, don't even bother. If the talent is worthwhile, reroll the mainstat so that you don't take a big hit to your build.

STAT DISTRIBUTION

It is a good idea to choose a specific stat that you want to increase. Firearms is for damage, Stamina for tankiness, and Electronics for skill power (healing, damage, buffs, etc). A balanced road will hurt you in the long run since you are less likely to be able to deal with higher end content that is geared towards players that specialize in certain areas. Pick something you like doing and master it, don't try to be the jack of all trades because it simply doesn't work.

The stats you should choose are self explanatory, or so I would hope:
Tank = Stamina
Tech/Healer = Electronics
Soldier (Straight Weapon DPS) = Firearms

You can do some hybrid builds with a mix of two different stats, but not all three. If you choose to run a hybrid build, then you are playing a support role. Trying to balance all three will end in disaster.

WEAPON DAMAGE

First things first: 

Accuracy is NEARLY useless. For most assault rifles, sniper rifles, SMGs, and some LMGs, the accuracy that is with the weapon is perfectly fine. Shotguns don't need it, so if you stack accuracy on a shotgun you are just wasting stats. In some cases accuracy CAN be beneficial. What accuracy does is provide a tighter grouping of shots, which is ideal for longer range engagements. In the average firefight, you won't need that much accuracy, but it does have its benefits. Most weapons can even have increased accuracy as a talent, which can completely negate the need to ever put more accuracy on a weapon especially with the range limitations. The only type of weapon that will benefit in all circumstances are burst fire weapons. It guarantees the grouping will be tight meaning that when you shoot an enemy they will all land closer to each other, instead of only one or two bullets hitting. 

Weapon DPS in The Division is skewed and doesn't accurately display your actual damage. What the Weapon DPS calculates is the crit of your weapon, the damage per shot, the rate of fire, magazine size, accuracy, and stability and then puts all those stats into a mythical scenario in which every bullet hits the target. Because of this, the displayed weapon DPS you get is never going to be truly accurate. The things you need to care about most are:
  • Damage per shot
  • Crit Chance
  • Crit Damage
  • Weapon Damage % increase
  • Stability
  • Optimal Range
Accuracy is all fine and dandy, but to be honest it doesn't help as much as the other stats do. If your weapon has at least a third of the bar filled with accuracy and you aren't shooting from super long range, then you don't really need it that much. Range is extremely important because it dictates from how far away you are still dealing the full amount of damage. If you take a base AK, it's optimal range is about 25-30 meters. Typically that is fine if you like to keep your enemies within a relatively close distance to you, but if you want to fire from a long ways away, range is going to be the number one stat you want to make sure you have. Stability is all about making the weapon as easy to control as possible. When using a weapon, you can look at the recoil pattern and see if you want to focus on horizontal stability, vertical stability, or overall stability and this is particularly noticeable on weapons with a high rate of fire. 

Photo by Leodigarius

The Vector above is an excellent example of how accuracy can skew stats. As it is currently built, it does a ton of damage and literally melts through enemies. Absolutely amazing. Now let's adjust it and add accuracy.

Optic

Photo by Leodigarius

Rail

Photo by Leodigarius

Muzzle

Photo by Leodigarius

End Result

Photo by Leodigarius

That adds a TON of calculated DPS with a bloated stat. If you want to see high DPS numbers, just toss accuracy on. It certainly won't help you at all, but you can cheese your numbers. What's worse is it severely diminishes the effectiveness of the weapon. Accuracy is literally next to useless in most situations.

Here is a brief explanation of what each stat on a weapon does:

Accuracy - This increases the accuracy of the weapon, obviously, and keeps it accurate over sustained bursts of fire. High stability mixed with high accuracy can lead to a monster of a weapon.

Stability - Makes the weapon easier to control. There are several types of stability though: Overall, horizontal, vertical, and initial bullet. Overall simply makes it easier to handle, horizontal lessens the recoil to the left and right, vertical reduces up and down recoil, and the initial bullet stability reduces the recoil from the first bullet fired. IBS is useful in shotguns, marksman rifles, burst fire weapons, and pistols. The other stability types are completely up to you in terms of how your weapon handles.

Mag Size - Easy enough. Increases the amount of bullets in a magazine. This is useful in weapons that are lacking in the amount of bullets you fire in between reloads. I personally like running high mag size stats on my SMGs, LMGs, and pistols, but it can be a universal upgrade to any weapon.

RPM - This is how many rounds the weapon will fire in a minute. This stat is highly useful for slow firing weapons that need a nitro boost, like the M60, or to make you already fast firing weapon a bullet hose. Be careful with this though, if you aren't careful you can find yourself running out of ammo frequently.

Optimal Range - This is the absolute biggest DPS boosting stat in the game. If you are using an SMG and shooting at enemies across the street, you aren't dealing your full damage potential. If you are shooting at them with an SMG when they are on the other side of the car, you are dealing the full amount of damage to the enemy. This is what causes your damage to not be varied on enemies and why you aren't doing as much damage to an enemy as you though you were before. Range is king, hence why it is strongly suggested that you should utilize the firing range in the main base to test out the optimal range of your weapons. This is why SMGs have a high native crit chance and higher base damage than any other automatic weapon in the game.

A brief demonstration of how range affects damage.


Headshot Damage - Self explanatory, useful on anything, especially marksman rifles and weapons with increased headshot damage as a talent.

Crit Chance - This is only useful in large amounts and only if your Critical Hit Damage is high enough to justify using the stat. If you have over 60% CHD, you should always be stacking Crit, if you can get it above 20%. This stat was made for SMGs. Nothing else in the game can come close to SMGs in crit percentages. It is also useful for weapons with Crit Chance talents on them as well.

Crit Damage - This acts as a multiplier for your damage when you crit. Here's an example. If you hit something for 100 damage and crit when you have 60% CHD, you will deal 160 damage instead. This is absolutely essential to any high crit build. Don't ever stack this if you have no crit since it is useless.

Another good thing to keep in mind is the various passives available by each weapon type:

SMG - Comes with lots of crit, short range only. Stack Crit Damage, headshot damage, crit chance, and reload speed/magazine size.

Marksman Rifle - High Headshot damage. Increase optimal range, headshot damage, reload speed, and fire rate.

Assault Rife - Medium to Long range weapon. Increase Stability, Weapon Damage %, headshot damage, and magazine size

LMG - Great for suppressing enemies and laying down a large amount of fire without frequent reloading. Increase Stability, Mag Size, Fire Rate, and Weapon Damage %

Shotgun - Up close and personal kings. Semiautos are vastly superior to pump and double barrel shotguns. Increase Headshot damage, weapon damage %, mag size, reload speed

Pistol - Excellent to finish off an enemy that is below 30% health. Health is the colored bar, not the white pips on the enemy health bar, that is the armor they have. increase range, accuracy, mag size, reload speed.

Always pick weapons that have talents that utilize your stat distribution as they will be superior to damn near anything else you get. The weapon talents are absolutely incredible and completely change how a weapon handles. Of course you want to make sure you have talents on your gear that are actually useful, but having access to a talent is always worth it. If it is wildly out of your stat range to use a talent that is on a weapon, use it if it is better than what you are using, but don't skew your stats just because of that one weapon. Chances are you will be able to find a weapon that uses what you already got.

Photo by Leodigarius

Pakhan, featured above, is the absolute best weapon you can get early on. The talent that it has is absolutely incredible and vastly decreases the time to kill on enemies in Hard/Challenge modes and in the Dark Zone. Save up 500k credits and buy it. This also showcases just how powerful talents can be. It may not have the highest DPS numbers, but that talent makes it leagues beyond anything else in its class, unless they have a similar talent.

GETTING GEAR

After reading all of that, you might asked "How do I get good gear like that?". Well, there are a number of ways to do so. The first is to grind your way through Hard modes until you are in full purple gear. At that point, you can attempt Challenge modes, though it will likely be extremely difficult, or you can head into the Dark Zone. The key here is to only get loot that is an actual increase to what you currently have. Sure, constantly extracting gear can be nice so you can build up a nice mound of cash to sit on, but it isn't very efficient.

Once you manage to get a third of your gear in high end rarities, you can then start pushing further north and trying your skill and gear on tougher enemies. Be warned, DZ05 and DZ06 are brutal for undergeared and casual players. It's highly recommended going in as a group via matchmaking or with friends. It is extremely dangerous.

While you are in the Dark Zone killing enemies, you will get a new type of currency called Phoenix Credits. These are a special type of currency that you can use to buy high end gear from the Special Vendor in the Tech Wing of your base as well as getting extremely rare goodies from the safe house in DZ06, though you need to be DZ Rank 50 to buy anything. Phoenix coins are dropped only by bosses, in the Dark Zone as well as Hard and Challenge modes, and by completing Daily Missions. Bosses used to drop 5-14 Phoenix Credits when they died, but the devs decided to nerf it down to 1-2. That means that Phoenix Credits you earn from boss kills are just pennies to help you along to your dollar, making it much more worthwhile to complete the Daily Missions when they are available.

For demonstration, here is what Leogarius' build can currently do:


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Credits: Special thanks to Leodigarius for this comprehensive guide and videos.

Source: Ubi forums