The Division 2 Review
In an age of early access games and update-driven releases, it is a rarity indeed to find a game that, upon release, truly feels like a finished product. Too often are developers pressured into pushing their games out too quickly, leading to outrage from the community and an overall poor experience. The lesson to be learned here is that quality cannot be rushed, and that developers need to remind gamers of this fact and not allow themselves to make compromises for an earlier release date. Ubisoft, for its part, has certainly known for its resistance to this pattern. Can Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 reverse the current trend with its large, open world and improved endgame? Let’s take a look!
Learning from the past
I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in The Division 2‘s Private Beta. Even from that limited experience, I knew that this would be a release to watch closely. When most people looked to the first Division, the biggest issue that sticks out is the lack of end-game content. The game itself was balanced and polished quite well. It was simply that once the storyline had been completed, there was very little content except for PvP.
To combat this issue, The Division 2 has a very heavy focus on end-game content. In additiion, the PvP ‘Dark Zones’ have been completely revamped. This will open them up to a wider range of players and create more outlets for replayability. Since there is so much content in this game, I will be breaking the review into 2 parts, the main campaign and the endgame.
In fact, Ubisoft’s suggested timeline for completing the Day One content for this game is impressive. They suggest 30-40 hours to finish the campaign and hit max level (30). After that, a suggest 15-20 hours just to try each category of the endgame experience including specializations, invaded strongholds, the World Tier system and much more!
The Glorious Grind
For me, nothing beats a good grind in a game. Not the frustrating “I must kill 20,000 boars” or “Watch me die for 2 hrs straight before finally killing this boss” type of grinds, but the rewarding upgrading grind. Taking on increasingly difficult opponents while learning your own strategies, upgrading your gear, and learning new skills. That’s the grind we love. And The Division 2 offers one of the most satisfying grinds we’ve seen in a long time.
Can the missions start to feel a little stale or repetitive? Sure. But no matter how many buildings I fight my way through that lead me to an epic roof-top shootout, I will still be having a blast. It must be said that weapon modification and uniqueness go a long way to helping this aspect of the game.
While players should not expect deep weapon modding (a la Escape From Tarkov), there are sufficient weapon mods that allow you to improve you loadout significantly. That, combined with the wide range of firearms available and how differently every gun feels in your hand provides a refreshing combat experience for a triple-A MMO.
Open world, with direction
I often talk about balance. Balanced combat, balanced difficulty, etc. One of the most important balances, however, is found in open-world games. This is the balance between freedom and direction. We as players want to feel that what we do next is solely our decision, not the game’s. At the same time, we want to know what our options are, and we want enough information on those options to allow us to make an informed decision.
The Division 2 simply nails this balance perfectly. At any given time you can see what the ‘Recommended Action’ is, you can see what is remaining in each zone to liberate it, or you can just run around looking for hidden tech caches to boost your perks. You can even roam around and find other Agents who are calling for backup and just lend a hand while snagging some loot.
The self-contained nature of the missions, actions and free-roam also allow for The Division 2 to be picked up and played for any amount of time you have. Got 20 minutes while you’re waiting for dinner? Hop into a control point or snag some more tech caches. Spending a lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch? You’ll have plenty of missions to keep you occupied and lots of side quests to enjoy as well.
Customize for YOUR Playstyle
One of the greatest things about this game is how drastically different the game can play. This is determined entirely by you and your choices. Like getting up close and personal? Grab a shotgun and an assault rifle, perks and skills to match (such as the Firefly ‘Blinder’ which will leave enemies defenseless to your assault) and charge right in. Prefer keeping your distance? Start with a marksman/sniper rifle with an SMG for backup, an assault turret to watch your flanks and start popping headshots from behind cover.
I won’t get in to all of the customizations available in The Division 2, there simply is not enough time to cover it all. Suffice it to say that any potentially viable strategy you can think of will be supported by a host of different weapons, perks, skills, attachments and even weapon brands that will help you get the most out of your chosen path.
As promised, The Division 2 greatly improves on its predecessor with a fully-functioning endgame experience. With additional content pouring in over the next year (and likely the year after), including the first 8-player raid in Division franchise history, there is no shortage of gameplay options for players who have reached the end game. In fact, I would say The Division 2 is actually one of the few games that becomes more enjoyable once you have finished the main storyline progression – not an easy feat!
The Division 2 is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Pick up your copy today at tomclancy-thedivision.ubisoft.com