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The Division 2 patch notes: DLC Episode 1 brings new missions and Expeditions, Exotics, and big skill changes

The Division 2 patch notes for this week are all about Episode 1 - DC Outskirts: Expeditions, which is now available for Year 1 Pass owners. The balance changes in the DLC's corresponding update have gone out to all players, but non-pass owners will have to wait until Tuesday, July 30 to access most of the episode's new content. That being said, here's all the new stuff in DLC Episode 1. 

New activities in Episode 1 

As you may have guessed from its name, Expeditions are the focus of Episode 1. "Expeditions are free events that bring players to unexplored locations around DC to discover new narrative and gameplay opportunities," Massive explained. "These sites offer unique challenges and lore not found anywhere else: new collectibles, treasure rooms, environmental puzzles, unique boss mechanics, and more await every Agent who embarks on our Expeditions!"

Expeditions will be split into three wings, with new wings arriving each week. Completing all three will let you access a new treasure room, so be sure to stay on top of the weekly cadence.

Aside from Expeditions, Episode 1 also added two new missions set in Manning National Zoo and Camp White Oak, as well as two new classified assignments featuring DC's Central Aquarium and NSA Site B13. As you complete these missions, consider responding to backup requests from other players, as the update also added a Shepherd title and endorsement system to recognize players who regularly help others. 

In addition to all-new activities, there's a new way to play the Operation Dark Hours raid. If you're struggling to make headway in the raid, try the new Discovery Mode difficulty to get accustomed to the environments and enemies. Discovery Mode raids are considerably easier but also yield reduced rewards, so they're ideal for players who are new to raiding. On the opposite end of the spectrum, parties of clanmates can now compete on the raid completion time leaderboard for the standard difficulty. 

Gear and Exotics 

Division 2 Diamondback

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

New activities mean new gear, and there's a couple of promising pieces in Episode 1. The headliners are two new Exotics: the Division 2 Diamondback Exotic rifle and the Division 2 BTSU Exotic gloves. The former is a five-round lever-action rifle which marks enemies. Defeating marked enemies grants critical hit, reload speed, and damage boosts. Each time you load a round into the Diamondback, you'll also receive bonus armor for three seconds, and you'll even gain some armor when cycling or reloading other weapons as long as you have the rifle equipped. 

The new BTSU Exotic gloves, meanwhile, grant status effect duration and skill haste for skills that apply statuses. Applying a status while wearing the gloves will grant you skill damage, skill healing, and repair bonuses - and applying statuses will be easy since the gloves also apply the Infused status to enemies within six meters of your skills, causing them to take more skill damage. 

Notably, Exotics like these will now drop from Heroic bosses provided you've received them before or own the blueprint (the raid-exclusive Eagle Bearer notwithstanding). Exotics will also roll with maxed-out damage and armor values. 

Finally, there are two new normal guns to try out: the Carbine 7 assault rifle and Stoner LMG. The Carbine can come with the new talent Overflowing, which doubles your mag size every three reloads (from empty). The Stoner LMG, meanwhile, introduces Overwhelm, which grants stacking weapon damage each time you suppress an enemy. 

Skill changes 

In an effort to improve build variety and effectiveness, the update for Episode 1 also made sweeping changes to the skill system. "We took a hard look at the current meta," Massive said. "The builds that are fun, effective and popular. We knew that skill builds, while it being something people want to play with, was nowhere near competitive. We knew there was an explosives damage build that was on the fringe of popularity, but none that actually relied on really good skill mods driven by skill power."

To that end, cooldown reduction has been replaced with Skill Haste, which works on a normalized system. If you have 100% Skill Haste, your skill cooldowns will be half as long. You can also go over 100% "and still get something back," Massive said, though there is a point of diminishing returns. Critically, the minimum cooldown for all skills (apart from the Chem Launcher) has been reduced from 10 seconds to three. "This allows us to have a good amount of Skill Haste possible from gear, but even larger amounts granted by high skill power Skill Mods, granting skill builds more frequent access to their souped up skills."

On top of this fundamental cooldown change, several skills and skill mods were tweaked on a more granular level. Cooldowns were reduced by up to 75% for some skills, and their duration was also increased by up to 300%. Others received quality of life changes, like the Pulse Scanner, the cooldown on which now starts three seconds after activation rather than at the end of the skill's duration. You can view the full list of changes in the official patch notes

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