In trying to use the best equipment, I've been assuming that a larger number for the gear the better it is. But is this really true, and how does the item's level factor in? Is a level 15 body armor with 60 better than a level 13 with 75?
When you see "level 15", that is actually the level requirement. You must be level 15 to wear level 15 chests, for example. Higher armor is naturally better than lower armor, but there is far more to it than that. I will provide a run down of gear comparison, but do not get caught up in it. You can hit level 30 very quickly, in The Division, at which point your objective is effectively to swap out all of your gear, with the use of an additional major comparison factor.
There are a couple of basic indicators you can use to quickly compare gear.
- Level: The level of the gear only officially enforces a level requirement. However it is usually a good indicator of item value, within items of the same quality.
- Quality: The quality of an item is represented by the colour. Higher quality items generally offer higher stat boosts, and may also provide more bonuses. Item quality goes in this order: grey, light green, blue, purple, yellow, dark green. Do not worry about confusing the two greens, as you will only run into the later for completing level 30 activities. Note that quality usually precedes level, as a lower level purple can easily beat a higher level grey.
- Value: To a lesser degree, items of better quality will offer a higher resell price. This is not really the best way to compare items, but its certainly a universal factor you can look at.
Primarily, the gear you wear will give you armor, major attributes, minor attributes and skill attributes.
- Armor is important to absorb damage. It might help make tougher fights easier, but not as much as simply playing with other players. I personally experience armor as a poor way to compare items.
- Firearms, Stamina and Electronics: These are the main stats, and should typically be your focus. Firearms effects how much damage you do with guns, Stamina effects how much health you have and Electronics effects the effectiveness of your skills. You might also notice similar bonuses that confer the same benefits, without directly raising one of your main stats. You should look for gear that supports your playstyle (Firearms for DPS, Stamina for tanking and Electronics for support), or otherwise help bolster areas you have significant weakness in.
- Minor Stats: These are additional benefits, that will not have as big of an influence, but still provide some sort of benefit. It might be an increase in experience from enemy kills, or an increase in the chance of looting higher level gear from crafting resource containers. You should pay attention for minor stats that you particularly favor.
- Skill Stats: These are additional benefits that influence a particular skill. They might make your health pack last longer, or make your turret stronger. You should only go for these if they favor the particular skill you use.
Weapons offer a different set of statistics for comparison, but they are mostly uniform. When comparing, it is important to consider a few things:
- Type of Gun: The type of gun makes a big impact, as stats do not reflect model differences too well. A shotgun, for example, indicates far more damage then a similar assault rifle. However, in practice, you have to get a lot closer for the shotgun. Likewise, marksman rifles will likely not accurately reflect your skill, when it comes to landing head-shots.
- Mods: Not necessarily a good comparison, but always consider how many mods a gun can take, and how many are equipped. Two identical guns might only differ in that one allows you to use an additional mod. Two identical guns might appear to give the same damage, where one is actually boosted by the equipped mods, and the other is keeping up on its base power.
- DPS: Consider how much damage the weapon does, how quickly it fires, how quickly you reload, and how much ammunition the gun holds. All of these will equate into a DPS, which tells you how well the gun performs. You might notice a gun has good short term DPS, but slows down over long firefights. Keep that in mind, and remember that you can have two separate weapons equipped, for different conditions. It is important to note that in my experience, the game itself is very bad and conveying a weapons DPS, so do not rely on the direct DPS given over your personal experience.
- Accuracy: Consider the general recoil of the gun, the zoom you have when you look down the barrel, and various stability bonuses. The more accurate a weapon is, the more shots you are likely to actually land on the target. Furthermore, if you an get away with landing more head-shots, you will deal more damage. Remember, if your not sure between two weapons, equip them both under different slots, and try it out.
The End Game
Once you hit level 30, gear gains an additional stat: Gear Score. Gear Score is effectively your past-30 level. You will need high gear score to enter some of the end-game content, to in turn work towards much better gear. As a secondary, players might typically assume your skill based off your gear score.
Your primary focus will generally be items of the highest gear score, at this stage. However, there are some flaws to this system. While intended to immediately represent an items overall quality, it is not uncommon to have better items of a lower gear score.
As of Patch 1.2: Conflict, the gun with the highest gear score will count for all three weapon slots. For example, if you have a gun with 214 gear score, and two guns with a gear score of 38, your total weapon gear score will be 642, or 3 x 214.