It’s been a little over three years since The Division fist launched, with Ubisoft recently releasing it’s sequel. I put in a decent amount of time into The Division and was mildly excited to hear a second game was arriving.
However, playing The Division 2’s betas left a bitter taste in my mouth. I was frustrated the enemies were too strong, the weapon recoil was a tad ridiculous (to the point where I used my pistol more than my main weapon) and annoyed by the button layouts. This, coupled with the launch of Anthem, made my enthusiasm for The Division 2 waiver.
When it finally was released, I was surprised to find some of my concerns from the beta had been fixed. Weapon recoil was drastically reduced and lower-level enemies didn’t take (what felt like) 30 critical shots take down.
Within the first half hour, I started to notice a few of the same problems The Division suffered from, as well as brand new ones.
First off, the story in The Division 2 is laid out very similar to that of The Division’s. Very little cutscenes, with most of the information given to you via your com link and collectibles you find. This doesn’t make for a great story experience and disrupts the flow of playing the game.
It’s not even how they chose to lay it out, it’s the lack of a story in general. The Division at least introduces the Dollar Flu and explained the fallout that occurred because of it. In this title, our main goal seems obvious, take back the White House and control the chaos. It’s very simplified, with little to no depth and cutscenes that attempted to invoke some sort of emotional response.
In comparison, combat in The Division 2 feels entirely different. Enemies don’t seem as mindless. They use tactics like flanking your position (you can even hear them saying so), lying prone and running cover to cover far more often than before. Some enemies are also armed with new weapons, like a chem and grenade launcher. Others run around with metal mallets, relentlessly chasing you down the street.
Consumables have been removed, so you can’t buff yourself like you could before with Soda or an Energy Bar. Special ammo can’t be carried or equipped either, but can still be found in small ammo boxes a few clips at a time.
The new Skills are rather underwhelming compared to The Division’s. Three of the original Skills were brought over, the Turret, the Pulse and the Seeker Mine. Variants for these skills have been altered, with Pulse being affected the most.
Pulse pings enemies, making them visible through objects. You could then attach a mod which made enemies receive more damage. This used to be one of the keys for winning, pretty much, every scenario in The Division. It’s now an almost useless Skill in early game, unless you really wish to see the exact location of your foes.
Other Division skills have been removed entirely, being replaced with new, subpar versions. To be fair, the skills in The Division were beyond powerful. Skills like Recovery Link ( heals and cures your team, revives fallen allies, can “overheal” past maximum health and is automatic when you take lethal damage while solo) and Smart Cover (reinforces cover, increases accuracy and stability while reduces incoming damage) could be stacked among your team, essentially making you unstoppable.
Skills are still attached to upgrading sections of your Base of Operations, but no longer have Mastery Perks. Instead, each Skill can have several mods, some which boost the Skills damage and health, or decrease its cooldown time (among others). Skill mods drop in the wild and, on occasion, can be found at the vendors.
Weapon Mods have also seen adjustments. The insane amount of variants and rarities that used to haunt me in The Division, have been reduced to simple blueprints that are easily obtainable through finishing missions or Projects. This essentially removes having to spend countless hours searching fo a single mod, relieving some of the grind for specific gear.
Recalibration is extremely important to how strong your agent will be, especially when you hit level cap. There are plenty of options to spec your agent to a specific playstyle you’re comfortable with. However, it can be material intensive when recalibrating several high-end pieces and it gets tough to find the exact Talents or Stats you want.
Aside from the major changes made to combat and skills, the scenery has also seen some improvements. Instead of the drab, snow-covered streets of New York, you actually get to see greenery. There’s trees full with leaves and plenty of overgrown tall grass. Sometimes you happen across an unkept fountain, still holding water (with or without a body in it). It certainly makes for a better experience while traveling, since you do walk quite a bit.
However, there have been several graphic hiccups. Textures don’t always load in, guns disappear (both on you and the enemy) and NPC character models mannerisms can act crazy. The graphics in general don’t appear to be any better than The Division’s, even with the game’s HDR on.
Customization options when making your Division agent are limited and I would have rather transferred my original agent, verses making a new one.
Despite the surroundings eventually becoming a boring sea of gray and green, unlike The Division, there is no short of objectives for your agent.
Control Points are scattered throughout D.C., each one being held by an enemy faction. Once you’ve cleared a few waves of enemies at a Control Point location, you’re given access to a supply room that contains several loot boxes. These points can also be used as fast travel locations, cutting some of the long distance walking down.
Strongholds are also new, though there are only a few available once you reach the higher levels. These act like miniature Raids, don’t require a team to complete and contain a large amount of higher-end gear.
There are new and old world activities which randomly spawn across each section of the map. They include events like Hostage Rescue (save the hostages), Propaganda Broadcast (stop broadcast transmission) and Supply Drops (fight for supply crates dropped in a location). These activities give a small amount of XP, are typically not time consuming and have the chance to drop needed loot.
While it’s great the development team listened to the player feedback from The Division, it caused a different issue.
With all the extra activity on the map, getting from one mission to another becomes a real pain. It seems once you travel to a location, the game decides to spawn an event nearby. It also has a tendency to spawn enemy patrols very close to safe houses and friendly Control Points. The constant combat gets tedious, especially when you just want to get to your mission or find a collectible item.
Your Base of Operations isn’t split into separate wings anymore, so you don’t need specific supplies to upgrade each section. Going through the missions expands your Base with NPC’s that give you access to bounties, Projects, crafting, the recalibration station and more
Another new addition to The Division 2 is Projects. Completing these is not difficult, usually just taking some materials and a bit of time. Most projects you obtain from settlements you unlock through main missions, as well as any Clan projects (if you have one). Finishing a project gives varying types of blueprints for weapons and weapon mods.
Honestly, The Division 2 has a lot going for it. While the missions definitely feel the same, the open world is far more interactive than The Division’s. All the added activities gives this game the longevity its predecessor didn’t have. Even the simple adjustments to the menus make for a better overall experience.
That’s where my problems lie, because these adjustments are quality of life improvements that could have been added to The Division. Instead, a sequel was made with half of a story, missions that don’t stand out and a never ending supply of random world events.
It should also be mentioned that The Division 2 doesn’t actually start until late game. Reaching cap didn’t feel like an accomplishment, since so much more was unlocked afterwards. It changes events, Control Points, enemies.…everything, preparing players for the eventual arrival of the Raid.
*** There will be a separate review for the Dark Zone and Conflict modes