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.

Story

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

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.

Combat/Gear

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 Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

Graphics

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

Gameplay

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.
Friend­ly Con­trol Point

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.
If you look close, there are four activ­i­ties in prox­im­i­ty to the safe house

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.

The Division 2 Review: A Walking Trance Through D.C.

Bottom Line

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