The Division 1.6 update will nearly double the size of the Dark Zone

Ubisoft announced today that the launch of The Division DLC Last Stand, which we learned about yesterday, will be accompanied by the release of update 1.6, which along with "the regular balancing tweaks and changes" will also feature an expanded game map, new "Contamination events," updates to Named gear, Dark Zone leaderboards, and a brand-new difficultly level. 

"In Update 1.6, the gates in the northern parts of the Dark Zone will open and Dark Zone 7, 8 and 9 will finally become available! While the Dark Zone has never been the most welcoming place in New York, the situation up in Dark Zone 7-9 is especially dire," the announcement states. "We don’t want to spoil too much in this article, as we’d rather have you experience the new areas on your own, and there’s a couple of surprises waiting for you in there. In total, these new areas—including all their vertical space, like rooftops and underground locations—almost double the playable size of the current Dark Zone." 

Despite the greater size of the Dark Zone, the number of players present in each instance will not be increased, meaning they'll be spread out more and thus have more opportunities for PvE combat. The update will also enable fast travel between Dark Zone checkpoints. It will not bring in a new World Tier, however, as "we don’t want you to have to go through old content to increase your gear score again before you can do any new activities." 

Contamination events will see elite Cleaners appear in underground locations where masses of body bags have led to much higher than usual levels of viral lethality. The Cleaners are set on burning everything in their path, which sounds like a smart idea, except that it also includes any civilians they may encounter along the way—and so it falls to you to stop them. Complicating matters is that the increased concentration of the virus means your filter isn't enough to keep you protected, so you'll have to move quickly and manage your health while you're roaming around in these infested locales.

The new Legendary difficulty is meant to "give our hardcore players a real challenge." But instead of just upping the hit points and damage of enemies, "all the previous content has been taken out and replaced with new, powerful and much smarter LMB [Last Man Battalion] enemies that use more advanced tactics against you and your team," Ubisoft said. There will be a wider range of enemy types present, as well as Named enemies with unique behaviors and skills.

"This mode is supposed to be the most challenging mode in the game, even more so than Heroic Incursions, and is really going to test your build, your tactics and your group synergy," Ubisoft wrote. "[Enemies] will react to your skills and status effects, will be hard to hit since they keep a low profile, will constantly try to flank you, and you really don’t want to get into melee range of them. If you’ve fought the Hunter in Survival, you have had a brief taste of what is coming." 

The payoff will be "a ton of rewards," including exclusive vanity items that won't be available anywhere else. Legendary difficulty will initially be added to three missions—Times Square, WarrenGate Power Planet, and Napalm Production Site—and will be expanded to additional missions in the future. 

The 1.6 update—which, to clarify, is separate from the Last Stand DLC, and free for all players—will also make a wide range of changes to Named gear—now known as Exotics—and Gear Sets, armor and resistances, skill power and skills, PvP balance, the economy, and more. A release hasn't been set, but it's expected to show up soon on The Division PTS.