REVIEW: The Division 2

The Division 2 launched on March 15, 2019. It is developed and published by Ubisoft. The game is set in modern day Washington DC USA, after the outbreak of a deadly virus that decimated the population. As a Division Agent, you must fight to restore America to its former glory!

The Division 2 is a third person shooter available on PC and Console as a full AAA title for $59.99 MSRP. Additonal monetization is present with cosmetic item purchases from an in-game store. The Division 2 is initially available through the Epic Store and Uplay launcher. Epic Store exclusivity lasts one year, after which Steam sales will begin. It’s a “looter shooter”, and a very close copy of the first Division game. It also plays similar to Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

The game offers solo and co-op gameplay with up to four players, the content scales to the number in your group. PvP content is asymmetrical and can have teams of up to four players. Combatants engage in open world warfare in certain “dark zone” areas that are clearly designated.

I’d rate this game a medium level of commitment. It took me 33 hours to hit max level, which is about an hour per level. MMORPGs always have a gear treadmill, and this game is no different. Outside of the PvP side of things though, you can stay competitive without much min-maxing. You can just focus on collecting which gear set combos you want, which will probably take a little grinding. Luckily this is a buy-and-play title, so no monthly subscriptions to keep you tied to the game.

The music and sound effects are pretty standard. The music is the same as Division 1. Gunshot sounds are fine, very realistic sounding. Enemy chatter is a little repetitive, but entertaining. It breaks the immersion (in a funny way) to hear the gang members complain about you “healing”. I doubt that’s ever been something said in a combat situation ever in the history of the world. I feel like this is lazy writing, or at least rushed to fit into the voice actor’s timeline.

Graphics in The Division 2 are incredible. The environment is where this really shines. The fallen cityscape looks fantastic, and the random weather effects are on point.

The Division 2 is a third person shooter with a cover mechanic. The cover system is very important to surviving. Your traditional “looter shooter” where you kill tons of mobs and loot tons of weapons and gear, then socket it up for maximum effect. You run around in a persistent open world, fighting small-to-medium groups of enemies. Some enemies patrol, others protect objectives. The “dungeons” are seamless too, part of the open world.

Progression in the game is based on gear level. All your gear is averaged out into your gear score. Loot drops a few levels around your current gear score, which incrementally increases your score with each upgrade. There is a huge variety of weapons, tech abilities, and specializations at end game that offer huge variety in playstyles.

Loot, glorious loot! Loot drops aflood from the heavens in this game. The cosmetic drops are a little stingy, but the stat gear is plentiful. On a positive note, The Division 2 has a rare benefit of being able to loot the cosmetic items sold in the store. There’s an enormous amount of different weapons, including some fun stuff like Thompson machine guns. More are planned to be added too.

I like the seamless world. You don’t get the MMORPG feel of “dungeons”, all the content just feels like a steady stream of consciousness. Your rhythm is only interrupted if you get caught by a wandering patrol. Which leads to another great point, the world feels alive. Patrols are not only random, but they can travel considerably long distances. The (foul) language adds to it, as well as the graphics. It’s a great sandbox to play in.

One of the best features in The Division 2 is the ability to play the game with any amount of people. Solo, two, three, or a full group of four. The game scales to the number you have, not a number you need.

The UI is incredibly clunky. Digging in to see your weekly clan progress for example is buried 3 menus deep. The little ! notification icons are super annoying. It’s sometimes hard to find which item has the little ! tag, which indicates it is un-clicked. There is no clear all feature either, so you have to continue digging and manually click off each notification. Otherwise you’ll have constant unread notifications on your main menu. Additionally, daily/weekly mission-quests have to be manually assigned. I’ve missed assigning them more than once only to have to repeat the activity. Going through the UI is definitely a low point in the game.

There are also a fair amount of one-shot kill possibilities. If you’re a solo player, or not communicating well as a team, you can be surprised easily. Additionally, the cover mechanic can get frustrating. Clicking to leave a cover point, or trying to double-click to dodge near a cover point, can sometimes feel “sticky” and totally ignore what you intended to do.

The scaling system is a final complaint of note. You can group up with players of varying levels, but the current scaling isn’t viable. The lower level players rank up towards the highest level player, but are still not tough enough to handle the content. It takes very few hits to drop a low level player, especially when the level disparity is greater. It’s still an improvement over the first Division game, and once it gets fixed, should actually turn up in the pro column.

The Division 2 has a ‘World Tier’ system to designate difficulty. This system feels kind of pointless as you can crack all three in maybe 4 hours, less if you have a higher level friend that can drop you spare gear. You progress through ‘world tiers’ by completing two invasions then one stronghold. The strongholds have gear level requirements, forcing you to farm them and the invasions until you reach the needed gear level. It’s not really a good or bad thing, World Tiers just don’t seem to have any other purpose than a timesink. This isn’t really a complaint as it doesn’t negatively impact gameplay, it’s just an odd way to handle managing difficulty in my opinion.

All in all, I feel mostly positive about The Division 2. After seeing a pretty unimpressive announcement at E3 last year, I wasn’t hopeful. I like The Division 2 more than I thought I would though. Logging in and running around with friends, vacuuming up loot is really fun. The Division 2 sets a number of “next gen” bars for other games to hurdle, and I look forward to seeing them continue to push the bars ever higher as the game moves foward. The open world is truly a great accomplishment from both a visual and technical perspective. I think the biggest issue to work on is the level scaling for grouping different level players. Otherwise, I think The Division 2 has a bright future in store. I look forward to checking out Tidal Basing Stronghold, the big 8 player raid in the Invasion: Battle for D.C. update that launches today.

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