In this month alone, 2 highly anticipated looters and shooters dropped. One is doing well, while the other seemed to struggle from launch. The Division 2, the second in a franchise from Ubisoft has hit the shelves in a whirlwind, but it had me thinking what did it do so right? Well a lot actually, sticking to a true and tested formula speaking as an avid Division fan.
The story opens 7 months later, where your agent is sent to attend a distress call in Washington D.C. The Green Poison Outbreak has ripped through this part of the country too causing civil havoc for survivors as it is a dog eat dog world out there. Using the White House as a base of operations, your job is to not only take back the city from 3 aggressive factions, ripping apart the streets for total control but also search for the missing president and a cure after his Air Force One plane is downed. The streets of Washington are a mess of riots, homeless, castaways and gangs, while you alone or with an elite 4-man squad, be the agent to be the hero of the people and clean it up the trash?
The Division 2 plays exactly like the first one but subtly tweaked in all the right places. You are required to mow down enemies on your lonesome if you choose but done best with a squad of four, with an assortment of weapons looted and built in safehouses around this massive open world. Each player also has a chance to unlock skills and perks too, with skills providing 2 extra tools to add to your disposal such as a turret or a drone and perks levelling up areas such as ammo space or XP bonuses. Scouring each of the 11 zones completing story and side missions, other activities such as taking back territory battles, control points and shutting down propaganda towers are all ways to also collect guns, gear and resources. Completing the story missions will enable you to pick a specialist eventually and this is where all your firearm dreams come true.
I have sunk 50 plus hours into The Division 2 with no signs of slowing down
The loot this time feels more balanced and scaled to your character level, at a very tight and fair pace. This is great because boy is there a lot more looting opportunities, whether it be in battle, swapping with friends in your squad or just in the streets. This time the game is teeming with ways to acquire the best gear. It was great to see the recalibration and crafting stations back but with simpler mechanics, as this is my favourite way to customise my load outs.
The enemies are also a lot more enjoyable to engage this time round too. The different types while not overly distinguishable in appearance which is a shame (this is me just nit picking), are infact, quite smart, often flanking you, rushing you, or even building turrets to defend themselves. Most amusingly though was attacking a bulky, tank elite waddling around with his big armour as you spray bullets into him, slowly knocking pieces off, for the eventual kill. Watching enemies biodegrade like that as you pummel their defences was a very cool visual mechanic added to gameplay.
This is the difference between an average and an excellent loot and shoot. They had a well-executed plan. Yes, The Division 2 gets repetitively grindy, but Ubisoft roll out new things to keep you entertained enough to keep coming back. There are collectibles and parachute drops to find, extra side missions, new tier levels of the world, hunter masks to rip from in game dead rogue agents bodies (this is not easy believe me) and even the huge feat of clearing the Black Tusk at the end game.
One thing that does make me sad is the watering down of the Dark Zone, essentially where the game becomes PvPvE. What was once a shining gem for players after the end game of the original has now been slapped on the bum, had a pacifier thrown in its mouth and put to bed. This time round in 2 of the 3 Dark Zones, all characters are nerfed to the same level to even out the playing field. While this makes the game “fair’ it makes it uninteresting. The whole fun of the last one was the ducking and diving other higher levelled online squads, tears, tantrums and all if we got caught and wiped out. I spent plenty of time in the Dark Zone even going rogue often to hack open loot crates, but barely encountered anyone. I will tee that up to not many being at a level to access it at this time of review and hope it isn’t dead out of disinterest.
While it is an amazing gaming and I love it, it is still not perfect
The Division 2 is jam-packed with things to look at. The environments look fabulously rich with apocalyptic garbage everywhere which you would expect find after a world stopping outbreak compared to the dull often barren streets of Manhattan that all looked the same, in the previous instalment. The light dances through the trees, water drops glisten and shadows move dynamically with the character. The weather in the game while frustrating was something to appreciate too. When the day was clear everything was picturesque but when it was torrentially raining or the fog rolled in, man, did it make your mission harder. For a society broken wasteland, the game really is beautiful.
The music and environmental sounds have also even stepped up a notch with a noticeable difference in tones set going into epic gun fights with bullets echoing in my ears even now to thunder rumbling and the patter of rain as my footsteps pound the concrete. Depending on the mission, heavy electro, techno guitar beats will also play in the background. This really amps up the carnage you are about to rain down on your enemies. I found myself listening to the official soundtrack on Spotify for what was an interesting but enjoyable experience.
While it is an amazing gaming and I love it, it is still not perfect. The plot doesn’t seem as strong as the last one, with very little likeable characters, to the point I remember none of their names unlike Faye from The Division 1. There is also no real ending to the game, with tedious tiered world grinding needed till a DLC drop. And while Ubisoft have been very quick to patch any glitches, things like your turret not working can really dampen the mood.
Overall, I have sunk 50 plus hours into The Division 2 with no signs of slowing down. Ubisoft have mapped out a strong game with the grounds being firmly concreted in this RPG, looter shooter. All they can do now if keep building on this already immensely addictive and enjoyable experience, which I know they will.
- Decent story but slightly weaker than the first instalment
- Easy to use, familiar, tweaked gameplay mechanics
- Loads of variety with gear and weapons
- Option to go it alone or a squad on four
- Balanced loot drops and special abilities
- Smarter AI, making for a challenge
- Lots of things to collect and side missions
- Beautiful visuals and sound with dynamical weather patterns
- Hours of gameplay, total replay value for retail price
- Uninteresting characters that you don’t really invest in
- Dull appearance of the enemies
- Lacklustre Dark Zone
- Still a little glitchy but has been mostly patched out