Following on from yesterday’s grand unveiling of The Division’s newest expansion, Last Stand, Ubisoft Massive has released a blog post detailing some of the big changes that will be coming in the free 1.6 update. 1.6 is intended to focus on PvP, but there’s a surprising amount of stuff there for PvE players as well.

Firstly, we now have a better idea of how PvP is being rebalanced in this PvP-focused update. Rolling now has a one second cooldown to stop players diving all over the place, and hip firing reduces stability. You can’t reload while sprinting and body shots will now result in a closer amount of damage to headshots. Medkits are being tweaked, letting you remove some status effects (presumably thing like burning) when used at full-health, adrenaline will heal over time instead of give extra health instantly, and you’ll be able to tell when other players use their kits.

Lastly for PvP, some talents (mainly Rejuvenated, which does the same thing as what using a kit at full health will) and skills (On the Move, Battle Buddy and Critical Save) will be getting unknown rebalances. All of these together should help encourage players to use cover more often, as currently the dominant strategy in the Dark Zone is to get as close as possible and unload your magazine instead of playing tactically.

Last Stand, the new mode set within Dark Zone North.

Last Stand, the new mode set within Dark Zone North.

We were also given more information about the new Dark Zone North areas. All three areas are, as the name would suggest, north of DZ6, however 8 and 9 are placed east of DZ7 instead of reaching further away from the current map. The new landmarks will features waves of NPCs, as opposed to the single set of them that exist at them in the rest of the zones, but beating them will give you rewards directly in your inventory (without the need for extraction).

Contamination events, one of the things included in the recent datamine leak, are definitely coming now. These will take place in Dark Zone North, and see players fight against strong Cleaners in the underground sections of the zone. As the name suggests, the virus contamination is higher here, and so no filters will successfully keep the infection at bay. It seems as if killing quickly will be the emphasis to these events, which will run each hour and net you decent loot.

Outside of PvP, a whole host of rebalances are being brought in. The biggest one is the removal of armour as a major stat, to be replaced with health (and current health stats will be replaced with a new ‘resist all’), on all gear. The big problem before was armour was the be all and end all of whether an item was considered good or not, and so skill power (including first aid) and using medkits just weren’t useful when managing health.  This change also nerfs some skills that deal damage directly to health, as the health pool of a lot of builds is set to shoot up big time.

Alongside this, skill power is set to become a lot more important in 1.6. Builds will need higher skill power stats in the later world tiers to keep up efficiency of their abilities, much the same way as armour works at the moment. Sticky bomb, first aid and shock turret will also be getting minor adjustments – sticky bomb being the biggest alteration with new skill mods and a delayed explosion to give players a chance to move away from it.

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Gear sets are also being rebalanced. AlphaBridge, which is the current most popular gear set, is getting a major nerf. Currently, AlphaBridge allows you to use all the talents from both of your weapons, as long as they’re the same time (so two assault rifles, two snipers etc.). In 1.6, this will change so that only the freely available talents (ones not linked to your stats) are shared. This is a huge blow to the set, but it has become such a ubiquitous build these days that it may be for the best.

Reclaimer and Frontline are also getting adjusted: Frontline will not remove the effects of ballistic shield mods instead of removing critical hit chance, and Reclaimer will now give support stations all of their mods simultaneously as a four-piece bonus. This might be what pushes me into a Reclaimer-based build in 1.6, as I love me a good support station, especially in the Incursions.

There is some new content as well! A new gear set, SEEKR, will be focused on body shots (another attempt at encouraging the use of cover?), with its four-piece bonus guaranteeing a critical hit once two shots to the body have connected. This might work well with shotguns then, due to the combination of short-range and high damage working in a body-shotting build’s favour?

There’s also a new difficulty mode for three of the story missions, legendary. This is said to be tougher than Heroic-difficulty Incursions and feature new, tougher enemies, which is pretty intimidating to think about. The three missions getting this first are WarrenGate Power Plant (the recent site of a farming exploit that had to be patched super-fast), Times Square and the Napalm Production Site. This is intended to be the hardest content in the game, and so completing them will net players new cosmetics on top of better loot drops. Tough luck, solo players.

Finally in this gargantuan update, there will be some changes to the economy. Recalibration – the ability to change talents on gear – will now be unlimited, but get more expensive for the first five times you do it. Currently you only get to change one talent slot, so being able to freely tweak guns is going to be an interesting change.

My favourite change to the economy, though, is that helping civilians in the light zone (the ones who come and beg for supplies) will now give you intel. In the end-game, intel is used to access high-value targets, but doing search and destroy missions to access them can be a bit tedious. Earning intel while just roaming about sounds lovely.

1.6 looks set to be utterly massive, which is a nice change from the relatively slim 1.5. 1.6 is intended to be a counterpart to the game-fixing 1.4 update, as it focuses on the PvP element while also finishing up some of the tweaks the earlier patch made. From what we currently know it feels like this will be a significant change to how high-tier players play, promoting a more tactical, slower playstyle over the run and gunning that dominates at the moment. I’m feeling pretty good about where my game of the year 2016 is heading!

The release date for 1.6 (and Last Stand) are currently unannounced. There will be a short testing period on PC before the update is launched for all platforms at the same time.

Joe is LPVG’s resident hardware nerd. If it’s overpriced and has gaudy RGB lighting, he’s probably drooling over it. He loves platformers, MMOs, RPGs, hack ‘n slashers and FPS, with his favourite games being Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Oblivion and Dead Space. Don’t ask him about his unhealthily large Monsters Inc memorabilia collection. Seriously, just don’t ask…

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