With a new location, new season and the experience and feedback from The Division, does Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 learn to run after learning to walk?
In 2016 Ubisoft released Tom Clancy’s The Division, which competed with the champion of console looter shooters, Destiny. A virus – and not a zombie virus for once – was released in New York on Black Friday, leading to mass casualties and causing Manhattan to go into quarantine. Sleeper agents known as The Division were called into action to bring back New York from complete chaos (think Escape from New York and I Am Legend).
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 takes place seven months after the events of the original game and is based in Washington DC. Your agent receives SOS coordinates and, upon arriving in the nation’s capital, is instantly caught in the chaos, defending The White House from a gang known as The Hyenas. Players are subsequently directed inside The White House, and given a damage report. If you thought New York got the virus bad, Washington DC legitimately looks like it’s been attacked by a zombie horde! Crashed helicopters and bodies litter the street, while nature starts to take back the CBD.
Right upon launching The Division 2, players are treated to the outstanding colourful cinematics that Tom Clancy games are known for. The character creator in The Division 2 has also been improved, now allowing a greater selection of beards, hairstyles, scars, glasses (you can now unequip your glasses, which was a requested feature in The Division) and even clothes. That’s right, with your character creation you can now decide what clothes you want your character to wear from the start. Sadly though, your character from The Division will not carry over.
In The Division, your agent started in Brooklyn, before making their way across to Manhattan. This acted as a starting zone for players to comfortably learn the controls, mechanics and practice their aim by shooting bottles. In The Division 2, as soon as you create your character you’re thrown straight into the action by having to defend a small outpost somewhere on the east coast, before being called into Washington DC. If you’ve played The Division before, you’ll find it easy to pick up and play. However, if you’re new to the series there can be a slight learning curve, but thankfully The Division 2 has a simple control layout, and the combat is similar to Ghost Recon Wildlands and Gears of War.
New York City was a great setting for the first entry in the series, though it was a little claustrophobic with narrow streets, and very little greenery. As soon as your agent arrives in Washington, you’ll instantly notice how open and free the game is in comparison. While it isn’t necessarily as exciting or as recognisable as NYC, the variety of environments in Washington is impressive. One minute you’ll be traversing the business district, the next you’ll be in an open park taking cover behind a flipped army truck.
If you loved The Division’s gameplay from 2016, it’s back – and improved. The snap to cover mechanics, the realistic gunplay – even the bright orange digital layout – is back. The Division 2 also adds a new end game class system called ‘Specialisations’. This allows your agent to use a class specific weapon, which comes in handy for the end game enemy faction known as The Black Tusk (you’ll need some clever tactics and heavy firepower to take them on).
The special equipment/abilities from The Division also returns, however its slightly different from how you may remember. Rather than picking one of three separate classes, and equipping two skills from that class, players can now mix and match different equipment at once, all of which have new mechanics. For example, not only does the healing stim shot return from The Division, you can now alter it so that it fires a canister of explosive gas at the feet of enemies. As such, when they fire their weapons anything caught inside the gas radius will catch fire.
Thankfully Ubisoft have listened to feedback from The Division and provided some great changes. Previously, raid bosses or legendary enemies were basically bullet sponges. In The Division 2, however, high-end enemies wear body armour that soaks up the damage that you and your team are dealing. So, if you or your team are all focusing on the chest/belly section of an enemy, their armour will eventually break off, revealing a weak spot.
The world mechanics of The Division 2 are the same as the first game. The map is split into districts where the game recommends you to be at a certain level before venturing into that area. Dark Zones return, AKA The Division PVP areas. Certain sections of the map are blocked off due to the virus being particularly lethal in these areas. Agents can enter the Dark Zone, battle other players and take on Dark Zone bosses for top tier loot, though this loot can be stolen by other players.
The Division 2 also has strongholds, which work like raids, though it’s recommended that you get past certain levels before attempting these. The rewards from completing a stronghold, however, are worth the effort. The Division 2 also introduces a new mode. ‘Conflict’, which is a more traditional head-to-head PVP with team deathmatch and location-based point capture. The Division 2 not only makes matchmaking easier (The Division can be played solo, but is best played within a team), but agents can now join clans. Being in one will earn XP, which unlocks perks and vanity items.
There are microtransactions in The Division 2, though thankfully they’re only for cosmetic items such as outfits for your character, weapon skins and emotes. It may be a little upsetting for some fans of the series to encounter this, as in The Division players would constantly find clothing scattered throughout New York. As clothing can now be purchased with premium currency, the drop/find rate of clothing in The Division 2 has been scaled down
Ubisoft has stepped up with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. The combat, world and gameplay has not only been improved from The Division, it’s set a new standard for looter shooter sequels. If you loved The Division, were disappointed by a previous looter shooter release, or you’re a fan of the Tom Clancy series of games, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is a must.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is available now for PS4, Xbox One and PC.