The Division 2's first free episode is out now

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The Division 2's first DLC episode, DC Outskirts: Expeditions, is live now, letting agents venture further afield and visit the Manning National Zoo and a Black Tusks base hidden deep in the woods. After all this time spent cooped up in the city, it'll be nice to riddle people with bullets beneath some trees. 

Along with a pair of new missions that will send you to the areas above, the episode also introduces the Expeditions feature: events that take players to unexplored locations where they can expect "new narrative and gameplay opportunities". There are special bosses with unique mechanics, puzzles and collectables you can't find anywhere else. 

New assignments and a Discovery Mode difficulty for Operation Dark Hours have also been included, along with, as you might expect, a bunch of new gear. 

The Diamondback Exotic Rifle is a level action rifle with talents that let you mark enemies for guaranteed critical hits, faster reload speed and more damage. You'll also get an armour bonus every time a round is loaded, and if it's holstered, you'll get an 8 percent bonus to armour when you reload or cycle your current weapon. 

The BTSU Exotic Gloves, meanwhile, give your skills a 50 percent status effect duration and skill haste. When you apply a status effect, the gloves get all powered up, becoming infused for one minute. During that time, you'll have get a 10 percent boost to your skill damage, healing, repair and skill duration for each Utility on your gear.  

You'll also be able to get your hands on a new pair of regular guns, an assault rifle and LMG, as well as a flashlight attachment for pistols. 

Accompanying the new episode is a pretty significant patch that brings with it big changes to skills and skill mods. 

"We took a hard look at the current meta," says Ubisoft. "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."

Skills and skill mod power levels have been tweaked as a result, while cooldown reduction has been replaced with skill haste. At 100 percent, skill haste reduces cooldown by 50 percent, so you can invest more beyond 100 percent and still benefit. Here's the impact of cooldown changes: 

  • Removed the 90% Cooldown Reduction hard cap.
  • Lowered the minimum Cooldown cap for all skills from 10 seconds to 3, except for the Chem Launcher which is now 8.
  • Renamed all instances of Cooldown Reduction on existing gear to Skill Haste, with a 50% increase to their base values.
  • Eg: +10% Cooldown Reduction will become +15% Skill Haste.
  • Increased Surge talent Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%.
  • Increased Alps Summit Armament 1-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%.
  • Increased China Light Industries Corporation 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%.
  • Increased Petrov Defense Group 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%.
  • Increased Tip of the Spear 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +20% to +40%.

Check out the full patch notes here

The Division 2's servers are back online after today's maintenance, so you can go for a wander around the zoo or the woods now if you have the Year One pass, or on July 30 if you don't.  

Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.