The original The Division had so much potential. A viral outbreak in New York City. Death, despair, destruction. A secret government sleeper cell activated to provide aid.
It’s classic Tom Clancy near future scary stuff! It’s a bit of a letdown then that it doesn’t tie into the larger Clancy-verse.
There’s no mention of Third (or Fourth) Echelon, H.A.W.X., Team Rainbow, the Ghosts or even the events of End War. It’s a damn shame but luckily the premise was strong enough to stand on its own, without needing an expanded universe to prop it up.
Too bad it’s all pretty much ignored in the sequel.
What is The Division 2?
At its core, The Division 2 is a loot shooter, in the vein of Destiny and Borderlands.
It’s a third person game, set in the near future in the ruins of the US., after a bio-engineered plague’s been unleashed in the country. You play as an agent of the Division, a secret governmental cell that’s meant to activate in times of dire need.
Set 7 months after the events of the original game in New York, The Division 2 continues the plot, but this time is set in Washington D.C. Somehow, the cutting edge tech the Division agents use are failing and it’s up to you to find out why. The answer seems to be in the distress signals the agents receive, which points to Washington DC.
Like a mother hen calling back its chicks, agents of The Division are all converging on the city to find out what’s causing the issues and how to fix it.
The plot of the game’s barely touched or expanded upon, so if you’re expecting some closure to the events of the first game, you’re not getting it.
It may come with further expansions in the future, but as it stands, The Division 2 is pretty much standalone, though there are some audio logs that relate to the first game.
Compared to the first, the plot of the second is much more localized and personal. You’re no longer trying to neutralize the plague; you’re now fighting for survival of the Division itself. If the Division falls, so does the last hope of the US government.
Despite the smaller scope, the game’s actually been expanded on what’s offered in the first game. The map definitely feels larger, with multiple sections to take back from the gangs and 3 different Dark Zones to explore now.
Plus, Ubisoft’s promised that all future content will be free, which means no more Season Passes to worry about that will fracture the player base.
Ironically, Ubisoft’s still fragmenting the player base by not including an option to change servers.
Right now, we’re all stuck playing on the Asia server, which is fine since it’s relatively lag free. There’s certainly no noticeable lag like that in Fallout 76. Despite it needing an online connection at all times, The Division 2 feels like a single player game with regards to response times. That’s the upside.
The downside is not a lot of Asians seem to be playing the game on the PS4, which leads to long queues for matchmaking. Whether it’s for the story missions, finding a crew to venture into the Dark Zones or just to freely explore, finding people is a major hassle.
Clans lessen the wait time somewhat but finding a decent clan to join is a challenge in itself. Weirdly, you can join a clan mate if they’re playing in a different region but there’s no way to switch regions by yourself.
Part two, just like part one, only better.
At its core, The Division 2 is pretty much the same game as the original. Depending on your stance of the first game, that could be good or bad.
You’ll go through the map sector by sector, clearing main story missions, side missions, bounties and projects. The first two have elements of plot to them, while bounties have you hunting down special elite enemies for better rewards.
Projects, on the other hand, are completely new to The Division 2.
Each project has multiple requirements and completing them nets you a rewards PLUS an improvement to civilian enclaves in the city.
Basically, by completing them, you’re helping the enclaves get better equipped with more facilities and giving you more manpower for your base at the White House.
Of course, that’s all just secondary to the main point of the game; killing enemies for loot.
Killing enemies gets you random loot, with their rarity influencing how powerful they are. The point of the game is to get better gear so that you can kill even more powerful enemies, which in turn drops even better gear! It’s an endless hamster wheel, but a rather fun one.
Once you hit Level 30 and finish the main game, you get access to Specializations. It’s arguably here that the real game begins.
Specializations allows you to tailor your agent to your playing style.
Right now, we have three; Demolitionist, Survivalist and Sharpshooter. It doesn’t really take much to see what type of gameplay style they’re each geared for.
Each Specialization has its own skill set, with their own perks and each of the game’s weapons are under a Specialization. While it sounds fun in theory, it still needs tweaking to get to its full potential.
I’d love to be able to mix and match the skills to create a custom Specialization (hopefully that’s incoming in a future content update), but that’s something that’s impossible right now…which is sad.
I prefer to use LMGs (which are buffed under Demolitions) for close range combat while relying on Marksmen Rifles to deal with distant threats. That means I’m effectively neutered since both weapons are from different Specialization trees.
If I choose LMGs, Demolitionist buffs it. On the other hand, to get rifle buffs, I’d need to specialize as a Sharphooter. I’m screwed one way or another.
Still, I love the Specialization aspect as a whole. It actually gives you stuff to do in the endgame. In fact, I’d argue that The Division 2 only gets better AFTER you finish it.
That’s when the whole map resets and you’re thrust into a whole new game of survival as a new threat invades.
You’re still on the same map and play the same missions as you did earlier, but these have been tweaked with new encounters, weapon drops and other surprises to make the endgame feel much more meatier than what was initially available in the original game.
Sadly, the main issue I have with The Division 2 is pretty much the same one I did with the original. It’s the guns.
Since The Division is steeped in realism, that means the guns all have to adhere to the same rule. In practice that means no laser guns, or chainguns or other weird/sci-fi guns, which is a shame since kooky guns can really make a game fun. Look at the Borderlands games for proof. That’s what The Division could’ve been, if it’s not burdened by reality.
Even Exotic weapons in The Division 2 are still in the same archetypes as the basic ones, just with better stats and perks. To really make the grind fun, The Division 2’s endgame guns should all ideally be radically different from the usual fare.
Perhaps that’ll change in the future, but right now, they’re not.
The Dark Zone.
The Dark Zone from the first one returns in the sequel and this time there are 3 of them! If you’ve never played the original, Dark Zones are free for all areas where anything goes. Player vs player combat is possible and you can never really know how you can trust.
Venturing into the Dark Zone is still as thrilling as in the first game, even if it’s much friendlier now. Make no mistake, PVP is still the name of the game in the Dark Zone but now there are risks (and higher rewards) for killing other human players instead of cooperating with them.
Functionally, the Dark Zones are all the same, with their own checkpoints and extraction zones where you can call in choppers to carry away your loot.
Like in the original, you’re most vulnerable when you’re hooking up your loot to the lines the chopper drops, so anybody can just run up to you, murder and then claim your loot as their own.
Luckily, also like the first game, the Dark Zone is completely optional. If you want to do some PVE, there’s always the Strongholds to attempt. Plus, if all goes as planned, Raids will be incoming in the next few months as well.
There’s also the new Conflict mode, which pits agents in traditional team deathmatches. I’ve tried to play the mode, but only managed to get in a few throughout my whole time in-game. Whether it’s due to the lack of players on Asian servers, or due to the timing or even due to the lack of interest, I have no idea.
I can certainly see why people don’t play it though. It’s pretty much just your standard Division 2 gameplay, just in PVP fashion. It’s honestly more fun to play the Dark Zone or just the game’s other missions instead.
The Division 2 certainly looks a lot better, not only in visuals but how distinctive its environments are.
Compared to the original, The Division 2 is like a breath of fresh air. The boring snow that covered pretty much all of New York is finally gone, replaced by lush greenery. Even the ruined areas look much better simply because they aren’t covered by snow. I played a ton of the original and its expansions, and I honestly never got more sick of snow than in the first game.
The Division 2 also has much more interesting locales. The Washington monuments (and even the White House) are all in-game locations you can visit.
Even the generic neighborhood and safe locations are much better this time around, with more variety instead of just your generic safe houses. They’re now subway stations, destroyed buildings…one’s even in the ruined Air Force One.
Plus, there’s nifty weather effects now too. You know instead of snow, more snow, or blizzard level snow from the first game? There’s now fog, rain and even storms to change up how the game looks.
No matter what, the frame rate stays steady throughout. Doesn’t matter if it’s raining, doesn’t matter if it’s a clear day.
Performance in The Division 2 is much more stable than in the first, although there does seem to be a whole lot of maintenance of the servers going on.
There’s one every few days, which is weird since the original never had this much downtime in the early days after it first launched. Hopefully this will taper off as the game goes on but it’s mighty drag not being able to play when you want to some time.
There’s also some issues with texture streaming, especially if you fast travel. You’ll almost always be greeted with placeholder, lower resolution, blurry textures when you spawn in, as the game spools in the higher resolution once to replace them.
They’re an annoyance that’s worth mentioning, but nothing more than that. After playing the game for a while, you’ll learn to get used to them.
The bottom line.
The Division 2 is a great sequel that takes nearly everything from the first game and makes it better. It’s missing a couple of awesome features from the first game (such as the Underground DLC’s random missions) but the revamped endgame content means there’s a TON of stuff to do even after you’ve finished the game.
There are certainly some bugs in the game (our in-game subtitles need to be toggle on again every few days for some weird reason) but nothing game breaking (that we know of) that’s not taken care of in a short span of time.
Overall, we’re in love with The Division 2 and can’t wait to see what Ubisoft has in store for the title, especially considering how great the DLC was for the original.
Great sequel with tons of improvements over the original. Better graphics, more personality and lots of stuff to do, even after you finish the game. Plus game content will be free for all.
– Everything the original was but better.
– Tons of endgame content.
– Free content updates.
– Some bugs.
– Specializations could use more tweaks.
– Conflict PVP mode needs more incentives.