When The Division came out in 2016 it was my first official gaming experience with a Tom Clancy game. I didn’t always like the soldier style games but there was something about The Division that drew me to it and I not only ended up playing it, I loved it. I was genuinely impressed with the way it looked considering that it was in my hometown of NY. The attention paid to detail and the sheer size of the game made it a pleasure to play and explore.
The story itself was something from a really good political thriller with the base of the story being based on bio-warfare and the eventual fallout then the fight for survival that ensued afterward. It was the makings of a great video game and it was. There wasn’t much to complain about with The Division. However, despite all of those positives somehow The Division missed the mark when it came to its endgame and The Division fell into problems. The endgame wasn’t the only problem though. Incursions were riddled with glitches that allowed players who didn’t put in the work to skirt through without actually doing the missions and these players got some of the best gear and that frustrated players trying to do it fairly.
The Dark Zone was kind of a clusterfuck with rampant extraction point looting being the major issue and lastly, the overall updates. While the updates were necessary improvements that made the endgame better, they were spaced out too far to even keep it’s most loyal players around. So, knowing this, the question becomes if you had played the first Division game would you be willing to play the sequel knowing that there’s potential for the same problems to present themselves in this game? Good question, and one only YOU can answer but I can tell you in no uncertain terms that that The Division 2 is a solid and perfect sequel. This game only looks like it’s predecessor. It’s much improved and it gets a lot right this time around and the endgame? So much better. I’ll just give you the finer points of it and my general impression based on how I played it up to this point.
IT’S GOING DOWN IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL
The stage is set and Washington DC is in full display in The Division 2. Just like the first game, The Division takes advantage of the scenery, architecture and world famous landmarks in the DC area. I’ve gone through each zone of the game in its entirety and they are incredibly detailed with stunning accuracy (At least that’s what my DC homies are telling me). Seeing the White House albeit in shambles and Air Force 1 crashed and now being used as control points within the game gives you a true sense of how bad things really are in The Division 2. There is a ton of land to cover and the city is the place. I’m currently playing on the PS4 Pro and this game looks great. If you’re playing on PC it’s that much better if you’re playing in 1440p or 4K.
GANG WARFARE AND TERRITORY IS WHAT THE DIVISION 2 SEEMS TO BE ABOUT
Gangs are the big thing in The Division 2 this time around. There were gangs and factions in NY but the primary goal in NY was to contain the bio chemicals that were killing off the civilians and the mastermind behind it. There wasn’t a huge focus on gangs as a whole. This is the not the case with this game. Gangs run DC and they all have a goal in mind and they’re all fighting for turf and The Division is caught in the middle.
There are 3 main gangs in The Division. One isn’t worse than the other. They’re all bad asses. It’s the True Sons, the Hyenas and the Outcasts. All three have an agenda and all three believe that they are the reason that society will be saved which makes them dangerous. It also doesn’t help that they all have crazy leaders. You’ll run into these gangs constantly throughout the game depending on the zone you’re in or the mission. They are constantly at control points which you’ll have to take from them and secure or they’re spreading propaganda, kidnapping civilians and taking hostages. I try to avoid them as much as possible but I have no problem shooting them down when I see them. It’s the crux of the game.
THE GUNPLAY AND THE AI ISN’T WHAT IT WAS IN THE FIRST GAME, IT’S BETTER
Gunplay in a looter shooter or any shooter for that matters is the most important factor in the game. If it’s bad, It won’t matter how good your game looks, nobody will play it. The Division didn’t necessarily have a gunplay problem. It was a combination of the guns being powerful but the ads in the game being more powerful and requiring too much use of your guns to kill enemies. This meaning sometimes you would have to empty entire clips and then some into standard enemies even if you were at max level. I won’t even talk about the armored enemies. In a nutshell, enemies were bullet sponges, thus in certain events like main missions and incursions you could easily end up being overwhelmed and getting killed and having to redo missions over and over just because the enemies won’t die.
Gunplay is much more balanced and the enemies realistically die when you shoot them correctly. Armored yellow bar enemies are still a pain in the ass but when you shoot them with head shots or a high powered gun you see the damage and the armor begin to fall off. There’s a certain pleasure in killing them now instead of a sigh of relief. You should decide early what type of guns you like and how you want to use them because guns behave very differently. Especially shotguns. Oddly, in this game shotguns don’t have a whole lot of pop. I don’t always use shotguns in really any shooting game because I suck with them. I never get the range right but I can never dispute how powerful they are as destructive chest blowing guns. The Division 2 for some reason didn’t make good use of that power. Maybe it’s just my experience with the shottie. I decided to use rifles and snipers. For me this is the best combination of weapons. If you’re a shotgun user there are a plethora of those so it’s quite possible that I could be wrong about them.
AI in the game is serious. No longer can you really run past enemies or really ignore them. If you run into an enemy it’s a fight. Encounters can and will be very random. If they see you and you don’t see them. You WILL get shot. If you’re on a mission. Plan accordingly. The enemies won’t just stand and get shot anymore. They’ll rush you, flank you, cover, shoot at you until you’re dead and then there’s suicide bombers. Suicide Bombers. The Division 2 makes sure that missions, ALL missions are as challenging as you would imagine a gunfight to be. Running by yourself or with your team requires thought as you have to map out how you attack. Each area in the city offers different terrain and obstacles. Sometimes you’ll have to fight on lower ground and sometimes you’ll have to get higher up. The AI in this game will not allow you to just simply shoot your way through the game. Enemies are packing different weapons. The foam soldier dude is a dick, you’ll certainly get killed a time or ten because of him. Then there’s the chainsaw guy, the flamethrower guy, the sledgehammer guy and the droves of enemy waves each gang will throw at you. See where I’m going with this?
THE DARK ZONE
The Dark Zone. The place where the best teams get tested in a dangerous section of the city in a loot grab for the best gear and supplies. In the Division, this was a place I dreaded going. It was rampant with teams that were camping at extraction points to take your gear while you did all of the work to get your gear without punishment. So going rogue was a common thing to do in the Dark Zone. The loot didn’t always warrant the grind so why not play the game normally and re-do missions over and over? Doing it solo was a no no and leveling up was practically pointless.
Did Ubisoft address these issues? Kinda, the Dark Zone seems to be a lot more inviting. I played the Dark Zone in the Division 2 more in just a few days than I’ve played it in the first game’s entirety. I ran it with my crew and we stumbled through it at first. Once we got the hang of it we were able to take over landmarks, get some contaminated loot and we found ourselves going rogue a few times not realizing that there are terminals with a skull logo spread out within the Dark Zone that make you rogue. No longer do you have to kill fellow agents to go rogue although you can still do that if you wish but this time it seems as if the players in the Dark Zone will be all over you if you do as they’re notified and it’s in your best bet to survive unless you don’t care and you want to go out in a blaze. Keep in mind though, the more you fight, the more the agents in the Dark Zone will be against you. If you can survive being a deadly rogue agent the loot pickups can be epic.
MODDING, SIGNATURE WEAPONS & ARMOR
Modding isn’t new to the Division. In fact, it was probably my favorite part of being a Division soldier. Getting weapons, modding them and making them more powerful and accurate than they were as a standard issue weapon. This still exists in the Division 2 but this time there’s nuance. Considering there is so much gear that you will encounter in the game it’s hard for players to really be able to configure the gear to their play style. In the Division you would have to be really meticulous to get your soldier to play a tank style, or marksmen, whatever. Branded gear sets and weapons help you to create the style soldier you want to play with. Basically, getting a full set of one type of branded armor will open up perks for your character once you start to put them together. Of course you don’t have to approach character building this way and you can play as you see fit but it makes it a whole lot easier. Paying attention to your gear branding is key to your loadout.
THE WHITE HOUSE, THEATER, CAMPUS AND SAFEHOUSES
Since the Division has taken on the call to maintain and try to restore order, it’s only right that they have a homebase and safehouses to heal the wounded, store arms, food and rations. There’s the White House which has now been converted to tactical command central, The Theater which is more like a fallout shelter / survival hub and the Campus which is basically a larger version of the homemade safehouses scattered throughout the city. Find them, open them up, use them. These are your respawn points and your intersections to get around the city since there’s no access to vehicles (and why the f–k is that anyway?). The safe points are also places where you can take on side missions, rebuilding projects, bounties, store your personal weapons and gear and even craft new gear. Nothing has changed here except the fact that you’re way more involved in process of making it all work as opposed to just building the NY command center and that’s it.
THE DIVISION 2 IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED FOR THE SEQUEL
The Division 2 is what I was hoping for when it was announced. Ubisoft and Snowdrop didn’t need to deviate from what already worked with the Division. All that was needed was refinement. The gunplay was retooled and more effective and fun to take down enemies with. The Dark Zone is still challenging and at least for now there hasn’t been a glitch that I’ve noticed that will allow teams and rogue agents to take advantage of everyone and make the Dark Zone unplayable and suck like it did in the Division. Endgame in the Division 2 is so much better. I didn’t mention it really in my impressions just like PvP because my time with it has been very limited (I’m playing quite a few games at the moment). I’ll tackle PvP in a separate review. What I can see already is that endgame was considered a high priority for Ubisoft and players won’t have to wait months for The Division 2 to reach it’s full potential.
Sometimes you don’t have to remake a game completely to get it right. Fix the problems from the first one and you’ve got a great game and this what The Division 2 is. A great game. I’m having a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to going through the endgame and seeing what Ubisoft has in store after reaching level 30. If you don’t have this game already you can pick it up on your respective console store for $59.99 via the standard edition for Xbox One and PS4. PC players can pick it up via the Epic Store for the same price for standard edition at $59.99.