Like most RPGs, The Division has a handful of abilities that represent the holy trinity of classes: the tank, the healing/support, and the damage dealer. Unlike most other RPGs however, there is a lot more room for experimentation, considering how you can switch abilities whenever you want. On top of that, this allows for some interesting hybrid classes that typically don’t exist in other games.
However, there are some abilities that are clearly better than the rest, whether it be for healers, damage dealers, or anything in between.
At first glance, Smart Cover seems to be pretty useless, especially early on in the game. You essentially get to apply a buff whenever you’re hiding behind something, but it doesn’t work once you leave cover. This effectively means that it’s great for machine gunners who are supposed to stay put somewhere and suppress people, but not much else.
On the other hand, once you reach the late game, Smart Cover becomes what is arguably one of the best abilities in the game, especially with the Recharger mod and the master bonus. When used with such bonuses, Smart Cover gives you a 20 second time frame where you get (at minimum) a 25% boost to your damage resistance, 20% damage increase, regenerating health, and reduced cooldowns for all abilities. Get forced out of cover? Those bonuses persist for around five seconds.
This means that anyone can fulfill any and all of the traditional RPG roles with one ability, the importance of which cannot be understated in a game where you can only use two abilities at once.
As one of the first abilities that you get in The Division, Sticky Bomb, is also probably one of the most popular abilities — regardless of what activity you are doing. Rogues use it, PvE players use it, there is no reason not to use it if you are looking for something akin to a traditional grenade launcher. Throw on the BFB mod and you can almost instantly kill any player who has a low stamina build.
But as fun as causing explosions may be, the more overlooked flashbang mod is significantly more useful, especially in Challenge mode. Sure, it might not do any damage on its own, but you can blind and deafen anything in a eight meter radius, making it almost trivial to mow down even Challenge mode bosses. In other words, whatever you hit with the flashbang will simply stand there for around 10-20 seconds, letting you and your team shoot them with impunity.
Even if you aren’t running a dedicated healing character, the First Aid ability has some obvious benefits in that it lets you heal yourself. That alone would make it one of the best abilities in the game, but the mods for it are what make it truly stand out.
Low electronics skill? No problem, just slap on the overheal mod and you can restore a significant portion of your health compared to before. Low firearms skill? Put on the booster shot mod and you have a 10 second window where you can deal just a little bit more damage, on top of the existing healing ability.
There is really no reason not to use the First Aid ability, unless you are traveling with a full team of course.
A tool for every job, and a job for every tool
As great as these abilities may be, there is plenty of room for experimentation with the other abilities. After all, setting people on fire is just as great a deterrent as a flashbang, and nothing is more satisfying (and a bit nerve wracking) than being able to laugh at the AI behind a giant shield.