Introducing The R&D Gear System! Hello, DCUO! Today we are pleased to announce the new R&D Gear System, launching in DCUO with or soon after Episode 18. The concept is simple. With this system, you can salvage those common gear items you don't want, and turn their components into the rare gear you do. Not simple enough? Here's how it works. Play content Defeat bosses Loot gear Salvage unwanted gear, breaking it down into new components Convert those new components into the rare gear you do want using new R&D Plans The R&D Gear System expands the existing R&D and salvage systems to offer a new, complementary progression path to the same rare gear found in large group content. The system does not replace playing content for drops - playing content for dropped gear remains the primary means to progress beyond vendor gear - but it does add an alternative, slower, and guaranteed path to rare gear for those losing the battle with randomness. With the R&D Gear System, every drop matters - every drop is progress - and you are no longer fully at the mercy of random luck. In time, if you have not found the gear you want, you have the power to build it yourself. That's it. That's the R&D Gear System. For those of you looking for the system's overview, stop reading right here! For those of you who want a more in depth look, keep reading and we'll break down exactly how and why this system works. Why R&D Gear? We are implementing the R&D Gear System in direct response to your feedback and frustration surrounding loot, randomness, and progression. Before we can talk about the system itself, though, we need to talk about what ELSE is happening with loot starting in Episode 18. As you know, Episode 18 is the start of a new 3-month release cycle, and that means: New Gear Release Schedule Starting with Episode 18, all quality levels of EACH gear slot in each cycle will be released in the same Episode. This means each piece won't have a replacement until the next cycle, or three Episodes later. Phrased another way, this expands the time between one piece of gear's launch and the launch of its replacement to at least 12 weeks. For example, in Episode 18, you will find the vendor, rare, AND elite versions of Chest, Back, Legs, and Waist gear, and you won't find gear for those slots again until Episode 21. Increased Drop Rates With Episode 18, the rare gear drop rate has been increased by at least 40% when compared to 17. This means more rare drops, less common drops, and that's before we even get to R&D. Weapon Reward Box Starting with 20, weapons will no longer drop individually. Instead, you will receive a Weapon Reward Box as a drop which, when opened, let's you choose which weapon you desire. Vendor Gear Stays The Same No changes have been made to vendor gear, vendor gear cost, or vendor gear progression requirements. These four points alone might feel like plenty of good news for one post, but we have taken your loot and progression feedback and frustrations to heart. Beyond these improvements, we have created the new R&D Gear System to further address both. So Really, Why R&D Gear? The R&D Gear System was built in response to your feedback. Below is a short summary of the most significant concerns, and how the system directly addresses them. What You Said: You get frustrated when you complete an instance but feel like you have made no progress toward your goal of rare gear when you only receive common drops.What We've Done: With the R&D Gear System, common drops now progress you toward rare gear, so progress is guaranteed with each boss, and you know how many bosses you need to get that next piece of gear.What You Said: You get frustrated when you are striving for that last piece of gear you don't have but you keep getting the rare drops you already do have. Even worse, you know that (while unlikely) it is possible that you will never, ever get that last drop.What We've Done: With the R&D Gear System, you can now create that last piece of gear that eludes you, and you know you can do it for a predetermined amount of components. You know for certain that you will eventually be able to obtain that last piece, even if luck never turns your way.What You Said: You get frustrated when you feel like you must play just one piece of content to progress onward, when there is so much other new content to play.What We've Done: With the R&D Gear System, all content and gear drops in your current 3-month cycle progress you toward the rare gear from that cycle - every solo, duo, alert, op, and raid.What You Said: You get frustrated hunting for your preferred weapon, and having to play with some other weapon or an older, worse weapon until you find the one you want.What We've Done: With the R&D Gear System, you can create outright the weapon of your choice as soon as the Episode it is included in launches. Okay, Details. How Does The System Work? How To R&D: By now, most of you should be familiar with receiving gear drops - from common to rare, green to blue to purple. You can receive one of these from every boss in modern content, and generally the purple rare drops are what matter to you. Instead of ignoring the others once you have better, or the purples when you get them over and over again, you can now salvage your unwanted gear for new components. Step 1: Salvage green, blue, and/or purple gear for some number of gear scraps. Green gear returns the lowest number of scraps, while purple returns the highest.Step 2: Using an R&D Plan, create Fused Scraps from a certain number of gear scraps.Step 3: Purchase Matter Enhancers and R&D Plans with Marks of Victory.Step 4: Using the correct R&D Plan, combine the appropriate number of Fused Scraps and Matter Enhancers to create your desired piece of rare gear. And yes, this created gear is exactly the same rare gear you find as drops. What To R&D: You may also be asking yourself just exactly what can be created. All rare (not elite) gear can be created in this way. Some rare gear must be created in this way. Why? This allows us to standardize the number of drops each Episode (always four) and even out drop rates month to month, so you always know what to expect. Here's what a full cycle of dropped and created gear looks like: Month 1Drop or R&D: Chest, Back, Legs, WaistMonth 2Drop or R&D: Helmet, Hands, Feet, ShoulderR&D Only: FaceMonth 3Drop or R&D: Neck, Trinket, Utility Belt, WeaponR&D Only: Ring #1, Ring #2 The next thing you are probably wondering is how long it will take you to obtain enough scraps for each piece of gear. The numbers are still in flux, as far as how many scraps come from each piece of gear and what the plan requirements are, but we are carefully calculating these requirements based on how many drops a player can obtain playing on average five days a week, without replays, at different points in the 3-month cycle. Keeping in mind that this is a complementary progression path, not intended to replace obtaining gear as drops, it is currently intended to take about six weeks to build each piece of gear. It is also worth noting that, because more drops become available as each 3-month cycle progresses and more content is added, the number of required scraps increases for the new gear added from month to month. All of these calculations will assume no replay use, and of course using even a small amount of replays will accelerate the process significantly. Our Expectations! Not everyone will utilize the new R&D Gear System in the same way. Players will fall into three major categories, and our expectations for each are below. Scenario 1: The R&D Refuser If you are this player, you refuse to participate in the R&D Gear System entirely, and you continue to play only for drops just as you did previously. You take about 10 weeks of play, without replays, to obtain each Episode's gear set. Scenario 2: The Random Refuser If you are this player, you refuse to run content for or even accept random drops, only utilizing the new R&D Gear System. You are now able to progress, albeit very slowly, where you were unable to progress at all before. It takes you about 6 weeks of play, without replays, to obtain one gear piece. Scenario 3: The Intended Path If you are this player, you choose to take advantage of the new R&D Gear System AND random drops. You progress faster than you could previously, now utilizing both systems. It takes you about 6-8 weeks of play, without replays, to obtain each Episode's gear set. These time frames closely mirror years of standards set by quarterly Episode releases. With the refinements to the gear release schedule starting in Episode 18 (see above), each piece of gear is "best" for about twelve weeks, or three months, or a quarter of the year, just as it was in previous quarterly Episodes. As such, the intended time to completion is about the same: from six to eight weeks per gear set. Players that play less will go slower. Players that play more will go faster. Questions? Comments? If you have questions or feedback, we have answers and/or time to consider your thoughts, so please take a moment to let the new system sink in, and then post below. We have kicked things off with a brief FAQ, and will add to it as common questions arise. Thank you for reading!