Review: The Division 2
The Division 2 is Ubisoft's latest Open-World Looter Shooter that picks up where the original game left off. Is this a worthy sequel to the franchise, or are we missing the New York winter months?
It's no longer Christmas forever in The Division 2. We leave snow-covered New York behind and head to Washington DC for the summer. The city is completely in the hands of all the scum and it's our job to bring order back to the land of freedom. Ubisoft's latest Looter-Shooter takes many of the hallmarks from the first installment, but manages to improve upon most of them in many sizes. Everything seems to be at the helm of the Division Agents, but we don't make our way through the streets of Washington without a fight.
The Live Service and the Looter Shooter franchise have not been very positive in the last few days. The genre is plagued with criticism about the lack of content and the way these types of games are developed. When it comes to The Division 2, all these concerns and criticisms are not valid. If you're concerned about the amount of content The Division 2 offers from day one, without DLC, I'll take those concerns away.
Story ready? Let the game begin!
The story in this game will keep you busy for about 40 hours where you still have options for various die-missions and other activities. Such as taking over checkpoints, collecting collectibles. Here and there, enemy factions will occupy parts of the street and/or buildings to spread propaganda, execute hostages or protect supplies. Also thwarting these activities will give you XP and some rewards.
While you're doing this, your Division Agent will level up and you'll find better gear and unlock new skills. Once you've finished the story and reached level 30, the real game begins. the Black Tusk, a fourth faction will enter the fray and will invade mission areas. These missions are now called "invaded missions". In these missions you will again thwart the plans of the enemies, but this time that of the Black Tusk. This faction is a lot more advanced than the rest and enemies make frequent use of hi-tech gadgets. Fortunately, as a Division Agent you also have some nice gadgets to play with.
Now that you have reached the maximum level, the trick is to find better and better equipment to make the so-called endgame content mayor. This endgame content is closed behind a certain 'gearscore'. gearscore is assigned to your gear and the higher the score, the more powerful you are. In order to participate in endgame content activities, you must meet a certain gearscore. You improve this by finding and donning better gear.
A real challenge
The Dvision 2 takes the cover-based mechanic very seriously in this version. Without a cover you will be dead in no time and it is important that you proceed tactically to overpower your enemies during every encounter. In addition, this part in the franchise is a lot more challenging than its predecessor. There are several enemy attacks that require you to keep moving, while remaining protected from enemy fire. This means you are scanning for the different types of enemies with every encounter so that you can prioritize certain types. For example, the projectile throwers of the Outcasts are super annoying, but the technicians with an RC car packed with knives are no fun either.
The Hyenas have nasty enemies that come to charge you with a club and there are True Sons soldiers that try to reach you from behind at a fairly fast pace so that you are completely protected from enemy fire from no side.
The constant pressure adds a certain atmosphere to the missions which makes the game feel a lot more challenging.
Beautiful world, but that also costs something
The world in The Division 2 looks really beautiful. There are a lot of little details in the world and in general everything looks super slick. You are in a post-apocalyptic world and you can tell. Everything is dilapidated, sprawl and the streets are littered with wrecked cars. You can see the markings of the different factions everywhere and some areas are still closed due to the virus. The world radiates ruin, but looks colorful and incredibly beautiful. You can shoot through glass causing a piece to crumble so you can shoot entire car windows while shooting at an enemy from cover.
Unfortunately, all this beauty also has a downside. We talked about it briefly during the beta, but the texture pop-in is still present on the Playstation 4 (Pro). The device starts to sweat a lot while playing, but the frame rate remains good! Unfortunately, it can happen that you walk into areas where the world around you is not yet fully loaded. Sometimes this also takes a while, which makes it feel quite uncomfortable for a while.
Also technically there sometimes seems to be a problem that means that your skills do not always do their job well. For example, you can summon a turret to support you, but after a few seconds the device disappears and is on cooldown for 15 seconds. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes your skill will not have a cooldown timer, but it will be on cooldown and activating the skill will result in a state where your character has nothing to hold on to and you have to switch weapons for a while to get it functional again. They're minor annoying bugs, but in the heat of battle you can't miss these precious seconds and it's just frustration.
Dark Zone and Endgame
The Dark Zone is a very interesting piece of content in The Division. In the first part, it was already an entertaining approach to PvP. In The Division 2, this focus of PvP is slightly decreased and the Dark Zones in Washington are both Pve and PvP. There are several points that are guarded by enemies from the different factions, as well as players who may or may not have your best interests at heart.
To make everything as fair as possible, the Dark Zones are normalized. This means that all gear is equalized so that a level 3 player can deal and take the same damage as a level 30 player. The Dark Zones are all about skill instead of gear. At least that is true until you walk into an "Occupied" Dark Zone. This Dark Zone is not normalized and your gear plays a significant role here. In general, the Dark Zone is a lot better decorated than in the first part. You no longer automatically become a rogue when you shoot at another player. You will have to manually activate rogue status before you can attack other players. In addition, new and creative ways to deal with your rogue status have been added, something The Division was sorely missing.
Once you have reached 'endgame' you will have to find better gear. Depending on your World Tier you will find stronger gear. World Tier 1 goes to gearscore 300, World Tier 2 to gearscore 350 and so on. Every Tier you move up brings new challenges and will increase the difficulty of existing strongholds so you have to keep scaling your gear score.
The Division 2 sets a more than excellent foundation for a Live-Service Looter Shooter. Which will provide a lot of gameplay in the coming years through raids and the like. The content on release day is incomparable to other games in the genre. This makes this the only looter shooter that is worth your money from day 1. The story is quite long and besides the story there is plenty to do in Washington. The story isn't all that great, but the friction between the factions and the missions based on them are interesting enough to follow.
All in all, The Division 2 builds on all the positive points from the first part. The negatives have almost all been examined and adjusted for the second part. We have a much larger world with much more content than we are used to from the first part.
The game is still struggling with a number of technical defects at the moment that will be ironed out over time. Fortunately, after a sporadic crash, it's easy to rejoin your friends in the mission without losing progression. This is also something that many games can learn from.
That said, The Division 2 is the first live-service looter shooter to be worth it from day one. All upcoming DLC will be made available for free. With Season Pass owners getting access to the new content 7 days early.
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