The main missions and content in The Division 2’s Episode 1 is available only to Year One pass owners, but balance changes are live for everyone.
The Division 2 – Episode 1: D.C. Outskirts content is now live. As is Title Update 5 for the game. Both released early this morning alongside full patch notes detailing everything new – much of which has already been discussed by Ubisoft over the past few weeks.
While the actual main content of Episode 1: D.C. Outskirts remains locked behind the Year One pass for at least another week, Title Update 5 contains balance changes and the Discovery Mode for Operation Dark Hours – all of which are available to all Division 2 players, with or without the Year One pass.
Lengthy patch notes released by Ubisoft detail a ton of changes to the game, including a complete revamp of most skills along with gear balancing (replacing skill haste).
"We took a hard look at the current meta. 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."
Just about everything related to Skills have been reworked. Skill haste has replaced Cooldown Reduction, and works equivalent to speed. 100% skill haste, for example, reduces cooldown by 50%.
“This means that the player can invest in more than 100% Haste and still get something back. It also means there’s a diminishing return to Skill Haste, as opposed to cooldown reduction where each point was actually worth more than the last one,” Ubisoft explained.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of skill changes though. Just about every skill and its associated mods have received changes, including Pulse, Turret, Hive, Seeker Mine, Drone and more. Ubisoft explained the logic behind these changes:
"It basically started with looking at the DPS meta and how much damage you can do with weapons. At the moment you can do up to 3 Million DPS with an assault rifle build. They then basically used that as a benchmark and started working on the Skill Builds so that they can keep up with that. The goal was not to nerf the weapons – but to buff, a 100% Skill focused to build up to that level."
Crafting has also been adjusted to allow the Gear Score 500 items to be crafted, with no random range in terms of score or power. To upgrade your bench to World Tier 5, you must first complete the “Enter WTF”-project, which requires one weapon and one piece of Gear Score 490+.
Deconstructing High-End gear has been improved, and now guarantees a brand material versus the previous 50% drop chance. Deconstructing gear set items will award four of each Specialized material.
As for Discovery Mode in Operation Dark Hours, this brings the long-requested in-game matchmaking to the raid. However, to offset its functionality, Ubisoft has lowered the difficulty of the raid. It’s designed more to familiarize players with the mechanics and process of the raid, which also means the loot is not as good. While Discovery Mode still guarantees GS 500 rewards, it will not drop the Eagle Bearer or Raid Exclusive Gear Sets.
Title Update 5 also improves the loot system, providing new ways to farm Exotics. Bosses on heroic difficulty missions can now drop Exotics, but only ones that the player is “qualified” for. Crafted exotics require the player has the blueprint, while world drop exotics require the player has found that drop previously.
Also implemented is the Shepherd Reward System, which has been designed to encourage players to help others with the incentive of earning a reward. Answering Calls for Backup will get you endorsements from other players and raise your Shepherd level. This is done through an “Assistance bar” that tracks the XP you’ve earned with the player you’re helping, preventing players from just dropping in and out. The maximum Shepherd Rank is 99 with Apparel Items, commendations and patches rewarded as you level up.
As for the contents of Episode 1: D.C. Outskirts, Year One pass holders can now play through the two main missions: Camp White Oak and National Zoo. Both of these have been detailed in great length, so read more about them here.
Also available for Year One pass holders are Expeditions, a multi-week activity in which three different wings — each varying in theme and tone — are unlocked on a week-by-week basis. This new type of activity encourages exploration, puzzle-solving and some good ol’ fashion shooting enemies. Only the first Investigation Area of Kenly College is available for Year One pass owners right now, with the second area opening next week (both areas will be available for all Division 2 players July 30).
As a reminder, all of the content in Episode 1 D.C. Outskirts will be made available for all Division 2 players, regardless of whether they own the Year One pass or not. As part of Ubisoft’s robust post-launch plans for The Division 2, all of the content releasing within the first year will be free. The Year One pass only provides timed exclusive access for a one-week period. So players without the Year One pass can look forward to all of this content unlocking on Tuesday, July 30.
This is only the start of the adventure in The Division 2. There are still two more Episode planned for release within the first year.
Episode 2 Pentagon: The Last Castle is slated to release this fall and will introduce a second 8-player raid. Episode 3 Brooklyn: Homecoming will arrive in early 2020 and take players back to New York City.