Unpopular opinion incoming: I’ve never truly been a huge fan of Tom Clancy games. Despite their huge popularity with gamers today I just found I couldn’t get into them. Being an MMO player at heart I thought things would change when the first Division game came out, but I wasn’t impressed at launch and, well, first impressions are everything in the MMO world. It’s for this very reason that I find myself extremely surprised with how much I’ve been enjoying my time in The Division 2. Between the fantastic gunplay, tactical gameplay, gorgeous environments, and well-executed loot system (take note Anthem), Ubisoft has really knocked it out of the park. I’ll take you through some of these points – at least so far as I’ve experienced them sitting at level 20 – in our first review in progress for The Division 2.
Washington DC Like It’s Never Been Seen
Out the gate, you get introduced to a gorgeous rendition of an overgrown, war-torn Washington DC that’s an absolute beauty to behold. I know many people loved the snow-covered cityscape of the first Division but I personally found it to be a bit dull. The Division 2 stands in stark contrast with its lush green overgrowth in city areas that I can’t help but get feelings of The Last of Us periodically, which isn’t a bad thing in my book. The world of Division 2 feels much more dangerous being out and about on the streets, as well. With respawn timers being increased I find myself stumbling upon enemy patrols, public executions and battles between ally NPCs and enemies on a frequent basis. There’s been more than once that my path to my next mission has been interrupted by an untimely death by my overconfidence in approaching a group of these wandering baddies.
Danger Will Robinson, You’re Going to Die
Part of what makes running into the extra patrols so dangerous is the fact that enemies feel more deadly. Once your armor is broken your life will vanish fast – and that’s not to say your armor will last you long out of cover, at all. This isn’t a game where you want to find yourself exposed, where you can blatantly march forward while blasting foes with a shotgun. You’ll last maybe five seconds under gunfire while out of cover and there are plenty of enemies that will knock you out of cover as well. The biggest enemies to give me problems have been melee characters, who will pop a buff that gives them a bit of extra life, then rush in. If there’s only one or two it isn’t much of an issue but there’s has been a few times that I find myself swarmed by three or four, rolling backward to get away from their strong melee attacks only to be taken down by a spray of bullets once out of cover. Make no mistake about it – Division 2 is a dangerous world and picking your cover careful, your enemies wisely, and moving are necessities in combat that become more and more evident as you increase in levels.
After Anthem – the loot disappointment that keeps on giving – I was worried that Ubisoft would make a similar mistake with Division 2. For some reason, too many loot games don’t seem to understand that the joy of continuing to do very similar things over and over again comes from the better and better loot you can get your hands on. I’m extremely happy to report that loot progression feels really good in Division 2 – at least so far. Like I said in the intro I’m only sitting at about level 20 but by this point I’ve progressed out of white drops, greens are laughably rare, and I’m mostly seeing blues drop, the occasional purple and I’ve even rocking one orange weapon that shreds through baddies at close range like an absolute beast. The pacing of loot is nearly perfect – teasing me just enough with better and better stats and talents that I want to keep going to see what kind of gear I’ll get on the next side mission, cache or story mission. Getting a new piece of gear feels great and each weapon feels different enough that you can develop your own style of gunplay to suit your tastes.
Keep Tuned For Part Two
There’s a lot that I’ve left out of this first review in progress – and that’s on purpose. Skills are an important part of Division 2, obviously just like the first Division, but I want to unlock far more than I have before I go into an in-depth discussion. You can unlock one of each category for one skill point, but unlocking additional skills for Drone, for example, costs multiple skill points so it will take a little more work on my part before I have enough unlocked to give a good breakdown of well balanced they are and what they bring to a group environment. If you spend time collecting caches in each zone you’ll end up with enough perk points to unlock everything well before level 30, but a few are still gated off by people I have to recruit and level 30 requirements so before I give a rundown on what to take and when I’d like to have everything unlocked, and all my NPCs recruited. Bounties, Strongholds, and Dark Zone shenanigans will also be discussed in part two, but for now, I’m really enjoying my time in Division 2. Elder Scrolls Online is probably the last game to captivate my attention like the Division 2 has, at least outside the first two to three days of post-launch hype and I’m glad to find myself still wanting to log in every day to knock out a few quick missions. So perhaps you should pick up a copy, give a shot and join us in-game and contribute to the tone of part two – I doubt my mind will change by the time it comes out and right now I can’t help but give the game two thumbs up.