The Division 2 released eleven months ago (check out our review here), taking aspiring agents on a journey through our nation’s capital as they tried to free Washington DC from the grasp of the Black Tusks. It’s been a tough fight over the last year and with the latest update, Episode 3: Coney Island: The Hunt, opening up yesterday (Year 1 Pass holders got their tickets to ride a week early) our time in DC is almost over. For many, the episodes have been an excuse to jump back into the game for a week or two, complete the new missions, gather up the additional exotic weapons, and then head back into hibernation.
This time around, though, there isn’t any time to rest. The Division 2 is getting its first full expansion, The Warlords of New York, on March 3. If you’ve been away from The Division 2 for a while there have been plenty of changes over the last year and the new expansion is set to overhaul several existing systems and add a few new ones. For those of you who have passed on The Division 2, this is the perfect time to get your feet wet. How do I know? Well, I left DC to the Black Tusks many moons ago and just recently got drawn back into the game by a buddy looking to gear up for the trip to New York. I’m glad I accepted his call for help, and I have 7 reasons you need to jump back into The Division 2 along with us.
Back to the Big Apple
Roaming around Washington DC has been fun. It has a good mix of urban sprawl and open areas to give you a variety of biomes to explore. For anyone who has ever visited DC, seeing all the iconic landmarks and tourist spots really gives you a connection with the game. You’re not just fighting baddies on some make-believe world, you are defending a real city, saving helpless people who could easily be your friends or family in real life.
Even with that connection, there is still something missing – the sense of a hulking city just waiting to crush you – that New York City offers. Skyscrapers tower above you, casting shadows into areas the light just can’t reach. Sounds echo off buildings making it difficult to discern where they are coming from. And that’s in a regular NYC, so imagine compounding that with the devastation of a recent hurricane to give us an even bleaker setting than we saw in DC. Visiting the Big Apple with the 1-to-1 scale that we have in The Division 2 should be quite the journey.
Your Friends Are Out Of Excuses
Having a buddy or two is the perfect way to play most shooters, and The Division 2 is no different. If you have a friend that is reluctant to give The Division 2 a shot now’s your chance to finally goad them into giving it a try. To top it off, all of the usual excuses to avoid getting into a multiplayer game after the initial launch window are covered:
- It’s a waste of money if I don’t like it – Your friend can jump into The Division 2 for the unbelievable price of $2.99. That’s cheaper than most indie games and is all but unheard of for a triple-A title less than a year old. Once the action of reclaiming DC sinks its hooks into them they’ll undoubtedly pick up Warlords of New York expansion.
- I’ll never catch up – There are two ways to ease a new player’s concerns about being able to catch up. First, they have you to help them level up. With about a week and a half before Warlords launches on March 3, you should be able to get them to level 30 and push on through the World Tiers with a few minutes left over to get some sleep before heading to New York. Second, and even easier than leveling up, anyone pre-ordering Warlords of New York can automatically boost their agents to level 30, instantly making them ready to take on the new threats lurking in New York.
- I won’t be geared up – With the rework of the skill system and increase in the level cap, we’ll all be back on the hunt for new gear. Running around with a friend or two makes it even easier to gather up the loot you need.
After all of that, if they are still reluctant to give The Division 2 a try you probably need to find new friends.
New Story Campaign
Some say the journey is more important than the destination. For those people, there is a new story campaign to experience and 10 more levels to power through in Warlords of New York. For those who don’t already know, the new campaign sends you back to New York to hunt down rogue agent Aaron Keener. Before the final conflict with Keener, you’ll have to take out his four lieutenants, and all of them are powerful ex-agents in their own right. Each of these bosses will use one of the four new abilities being added to the game – Decoy, Shock Trap, and the 2 Sticky Bomb variants. I’m almost more excited to see how the four bosses use the new abilities (you have to defeat the boss to unlock the ability) than I am in trying them out myself. The AI in The Division 2 has always been very predictable, so I am hoping these new bosses will effectively use these new abilities against us.
Hordes Of New Loot
Let’s face it, loot is the reason we play games like The Division 2. Well, some players might be enticed by the idea of taking down the rogue agents that are ruling over New York, but it will take new gear to get the job done. There will be plenty of regular gear to pick up as you level up in New York, plus we’ll be getting new exotics and gearsets to hunt down as well.
Speaking of farming gear, the release of Episode 3 has already introduced the targeted loot system, and I’ve been very pleased with how it works. Instead of just running around and hoping for the specific gear I need to drop, I can quickly look at the map to see which area is offering a higher drop rate for that gear and focus my efforts there. You’ll still get other items, but the targeted loot system gives you a better chance to get what you are really looking for in the shortest amount of time. It’s a small quality of life improvement that both casual and hardcore players are sure to appreciate.
Overhauled Gear Systems
Having all of that new gear to check out is nice, but currently trying to sort through all of it and trying to decide what is worth keeping is a pain. Comparing item after item to find those few extra skill points or talents slows down the gameplay and was one of the primary reasons I quit playing in the first place. The new gear system will simplify the whole experience, allowing players to quickly assess what to keep and what should go.
Working in parallel with the gear update is a rework to recalibration. Currently, recalibration means storing a pile of junk in your stash on the slim chance it might have a stat that can be used in the future. The new system will do away with all the clutter and replace it with a Recalibration Library. When you find a piece of gear that has a good attribute roll all you have to do is extract it to your library. When you are ready to recalibrate an item, all you have to do is pull up the stat you are looking for in your library and apply it to your gear. Even more exciting, when you come across a piece of gear with better stats than what you already have stored in your library it will be highlighted for easy identification.
Another exciting change to gear is a revamp of skill power system. Gone is the need to track your skill power until you get it high enough to slot in a powerful mod to enhance your agent’s skills. With the new system, increasing the power of your skills is as simple as wearing gear with the Skill Tier core attribute; the more pieces you wear, the higher your skill tier. Some exotics and gear sets will even allow you to go above the normal maximum of tier 6, putting your skills into an uber-powerful Overcharged state. This new method should be much cleaner to manage.
New End Game Mechanics
Warlords isn’t just about gaining 10 more levels and then leaving the game until the next update. We are also getting several new end game mechanics to keep you coming back for more in the coming months. Similar to the Guardian Levels of Borderlands 3, Warlords of New York will be adding infinite SHD levels to incrementally increase the power of your agent. Hunting for the perfect gear set can be grueling, to say the least, so having the SHD levels to give a steady dopamine drip in between finding your perfect pieces of gear (with god rolls of course) will go a long way in keeping players engaged once they hit level 40. As detailed in a recent State of the Game Livestream, SHD levels will add a multitude of incremental improvements in all the key areas: Offense, Defense, Utility, Miscellaneous, and even Scavenging.
The addition of SHD levels isn’t the only thing to keep you occupied in NYC. Replacing the episode installments we have seen over the last year will be Season content. Each Season will run for three months and bring with it a new narrative story complemented by a set of challenges to complete, including a new rogue agent to hunt down. For those so inclined there will be a premium season pass available for an additional progression path, but the basic path will be open to all players. I always welcome content that can be broken up and consumed in small chunks and the new Seasons look to fit that bill perfectly.
For anyone looking for replayability, there will also be new difficulty levels to give even the most skilled players a run for their money at end game. To start things off, heroic missions will be expanded to include all of the factions, not just the Black Tusk missions. The three existing Strongholds will also get a new Legendary difficulty that will scale to the number of players in the group. Legendary will go beyond simply boosting enemy health and damage, with Ubisoft promising improved AI tactics paired with shortened ability cooldowns to test your mettle. The payoff for taking on the increased difficulty levels is improved loot rolls, of course. The final piece to the difficulty puzzle is the addition of Directives. These optional modifiers will allow players to tweak the difficulty of the open-world map and missions alike, adding buffs and debuffs as they see fit to increase the XP rewards. Directives will be available in Washington DC as well as New York, giving players another reason to head back to the original map.
You know the drill: Start a mission, run-in with reckless abandon and hope you kill all the baddies before they kill you. When they kill you (at least that’s how it usually works for me), all it takes is a quick reset and you’re back at it for another try. All you really lose when you die is a little time. Even with the addition of the new difficulty levels and Directives, the risk is always worth the reward.
Hardcore mode changes that. Death is permanent and, with no access to your stash, the loss of your agent means all the time and effort (and loot) you have put into them is gone. With everything on the line, even small random encounters have to be treated with caution. Sure, the cost of losing everything when you die (and sooner or later you will) will keep many players from ever going hardcore, but the little victories along the way come with more weight than regular play for those willing to give it a go.
The best part about hardcore mode is joining up with a friend or two and depending on them for your survival. A lot of times co-op is really just a few people running around doing their own thing, but hardcore gives you the chance to play the style of character you always imagined your agent to be. If you’re one of those slimy sniper types, you can hang back and headshot the heavy opponents while a defender keeps the rushers from getting to you, all the while those with the desire for close combat can go face to face with the enemy. Remember, though, too much distance between you and your teammates means they won’t be able to reach you for that game extending revive.
So there you go, 7 reasons to jump back into The Division 2. If you still need a little push, you can check out Brandedwolf’s hands-on impressions of Warlords of New York, and keep up with all of the latest State of the Game livestreams for more information.