The Division 2: Warlords of New York — The Big Changes and How They Work

The Warlords of New York DLC for The Division 2 brought a ton of welcome changes. We go over the big ones.

The Division 2 is bigger and better than ever with its latest expansion, Warlords of New York. A huge new play space, overhauled systems, new gear, a higher level cap, and new abilities are just some of the major changes hitting the game with this DLC.

But is this the revolution that takes a great game to the next level, or does it smooth some of the rough edges and leaves a semi-precious gem wanting?

Yes and no.

This is still The Division 2 at its core, so if you weren't captured the first time, the new DLC and its updates won't bring you back. However, if you need a reason to return to post-apocalyptic New York and Washington D.C., you'll find plenty to sink your teeth into.

Let's take a look at some of the most important systems that saw changes and updates with this latest release, including gear, progression, and abilities. 

Gear 2.0

One of the biggest selling points of Warlords of New York, beyond the return to its eponymous city, is the total rework of gear and loot progression. Ubisoft is calling the new system Gear 2.0, and at its core, it's a massive simplification effort streaming gear across the board.

First, Gear Score is gone. What remains in its place is equipment level from 1-40. Perks and other stats are still randomly rolled, and higher difficulty activities will yield better rolls overall. However, you won't be searching for the perfect 500-score gear piece with the ideal rolls and abilities. 

Second, the complicated skill armor/skill power/weapon damage hierarchy has evolved into a set of Core Attributes and Standard Attributes that affect all equipment types. Red is for Weapon Damage and associated bonuses; Blue is for Defensive abilities like health and armor; and Utility is for skills and everything about them.

Third, the volume of available weapon and gear attributes has been significantly pruned. You won't be looking for a needle in a haystack anymore, either.

Last, Gear Talents now only appear on chest and backpack gear and weapons. There are still plenty of Talents to choose from, and while you won't be combining them across six pieces of equipment, you still have up to five different Talents to synergize alongside your Skills.

Additionally, Exotic weapons and gear, mods, gear sets, and Skills saw a rework and rebalance. Mainly, everything about your equipment saw a suite of changes. So how to make the best of it?

Mastering Gear 2.0

If you want to take your build to its ultimate form, there are two things you need to do: recalibrate and focus on a specific build trajectory.

Recalibration also received a significant update, and now you can dismantle specific gear to extract specific abilities, stats, and attributes. Once extracted, you can apply the improved stats to a weapon of the appropriate type. For instance, extract high Headshot Damage from a sniper you'll never use and put it on the one you love.

You can extract both Core and standard Attributes, too. It's best to take the time to improve each stat to its maximum, or at least to about 75% of the maximum. Only the highest-difficulty content is likely to need more than that. The sniper rifle above, for instance, isn't perfect, but 98% increased headshot damage will be more than enough for standard play.

As you wander New York and D.C. (available again once you complete the New York campaign), take stock of all the High-End gear you find. A lot of it will be worthless save for maybe one stat. Unlike vanilla Division 2, you're not likely to be mass-dismantling or avoiding every trash loot drop you find. That one on the ground might have what you need to perfect your build.

Speaking of which: don't try to create a jack of all trades build, at least at the start. Focus on a single specialty. There are a lot of them. Pick a skill or pair of skills that focus on a single concept: healing, area denial, distraction, or straight damage, among others. Build around your idea almost at the exception of all other considerations, and you will be unstoppable if you play to your strengths. 


Warlords of New York brings with it four new Agent Skills: Shock Trap, Decoy, Explosive, and Burn Sticky Bombs. While they're powerful on their own, they're best used as part of a specific build. 

However, you don't have to use the skills for their most apparent purpose. A Shock Trap might seem like a great area denial skill, but pair it with a high single-target DPS build and careful placement near a boss? Free damage on a short cooldown.

An explosive sticky bomb might seem like a great way to clear mobs but take it into the Dark Zone, and a few well-placed shots will make any Agent think twice about crossing into your line of fire. 

I'll leave you to deduce the many other possible combinations with the new options at your disposal because all the vanilla Skills are still entirely usable.

Progressing in the Infinite

Finish the DLC campaign (about 10 hours rushed), and you'll be greeted by a whole new mechanic: the SHD Level system, a near-infinite progression system that will likely take dozens or hundreds of hours to fully unlock. 

Divided into four sections — Offense, Defense, Utility, and Handling — each subdivided into four additional groups based on that core theme, your SHD Level progression allows you to incrementally increase your stats every time you would otherwise level up.

Offense, for example, offers increased critical damage or armor penetration. Defense offers health and armor, Utility grants small buffs to skils, and Handling augments your weapon stats. 

Stat upgrades have a maximum of 50 increments, though I'm not sure if it expands farther than that. I don't even think there's been enough time since the DLC's release for someone to reach that level, but I would only be mildly surprised if I'm wrong.

Regardless, the SHD Level system allows you to spec even further into your favored playstyle or shore up some parts of your character you feel lacking. There are no real wrong answers here, as the upgrades are small and far enough apart that you'll only see their full effect after many, many hours of play.

We're less than a week out from launch as of writing, so players are only beginning to take real advantage of all these new systems and all the updates to established conventions. And that's not even talking about the seasonal content coming down the pipeline.

We're talking whole new mission lines with unique reward structures, unique loot, and maybe even some additional mechanics along with them. Then there's the second raid to consider, likely postponed to ensure Warlords released on time. 

There's a lot to like in this DLC, and hopefully, we'll see even more depth as the next year of The Division 2 unfolds. 


John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.

Published Mar. 6th 2020

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