From 2014 onward after the release of Destiny, the shared-world loot-shooter was of the most popular and most played games online. This includes Ubisoft’s own entry into the genre with a post-apocalyptic near future set The Division in 2016.
This was before the likes of Player Unknown: Battlegrounds, Fortnite, and now Apex Legends dominated the multiplayer gaming market in the battle royale sub-genre. So these games don’t have anywhere near the same appeal amongst the gaming masses that they used to.
What the shared-world action-RPG experience does offer over the battle royale genre, however, is depth. Additionally, games like Destiny, The Division, and even Anthem give their players a more meaningful and rewarding experience that you can’t get with a game like Fortnite.
Unfortunately, there are usually teething problems with games in this genre and players who love the drop-in and drop-out experience that you get with a game like Apex Legends won’t get that with a game like Destiny. Especially if they are waiting for the developers to continuously release patches to address a never-ending list of problems.
This is where The Division 2 comes in, after building the first game into an enjoyable and polished experience several patches later Ubisoft has the opportunity to apply what they have already learned with the first game can capitalize on the opportunities left open by Anthem’s very troubled launch this month. Let’s take a look to see if The Division 2 has what it takes to simultaneously learn from its own mistakes fill a gap in the market left open by its competitors.
30 Best: The Game Can Be Played Entirely In Single Player
As a shared-world loot shooter The Division 2 shares a lot in common with the likes of the Destiny series and the recently released Anthem. While those games can be played co-operatively and as a single player experience, The Division 2 – like the first game – works equally as well as a single player game.
The lengthy campaign works well as a solitary experience and the lonely every-person-for-themselves atmosphere in the game’s recreated Washington helps to pull you into its survivalist storyline.
29 Worst: Pay For Early Access Works Against PvP Nature
Ubisoft has been following the same pay for early access in a similar manner to EA’s recent Anthem. Rolling launch dates can work for single player or co-operative gaming experiences only but The Division 2’s PvP allows gamers who are willing to pay more to get an advantage over new gamers.
In a game like The Division 2 where stats, leveling up, and high-value equipment mean everything, it ends up shutting out players who can only afford to pay the standard asking price. It’s yet another worrying trend that grants more privilege to gamers with deeper pockets.
28 Worst: You Don’t Feel Like You’re Getting A Full Game
The concept of purchasing a so-called “ultimate edition” of a video game can be an expensive decision to make for a gamer. Especially for those looking to pay the full $119.99 for The Division 2 in the US or £92.99 in the UK which is almost double the recommended retail price for extras and a season pass.
There’s no escaping the feeling that you’re only getting half of a game and you’re being forced into paying extra to get a complete experience. While season passes are nothing new in today’s gaming market one should still expect a complete game for their money rather than withholding important plot resolutions for the DLC.
27 Best: 40-Hour Campaign Mode
Ubisoft is obviously holding a lot of the game’s story back for the inevitable downloadable content and (expensive) yearly season passes. However, The Division 2 has a substantial and lengthy campaign for players to get to grips with and the game is packed with side quests.
In addition, the game’s grind-heavy nature means that players can’t just steamroll their way into the endgame content. This means those with early access will still need to work hard to gain that early advantage provided by The Division 2’s early access.
26 Worst: Performance Issues Not Present In Beta
Before the official launch of The Division 2, Ubisoft had released both private and open betas for fans to play around with to see if the game lived up to expectations. Beyond losing connection to the server on a few occasions, the game ran surprisingly well in beta form.
However, the performance seen The Division 2’s full release sees a game running with more issues than before. Loss of server connection seemed to happen at a more frequent rate and worse still the game seemed to run into issues with slowdown and texture pop-in
25 Worst: The Division 2 Feels Like A Big Expansion
After the release of the very flawed Anthem by EA Games, it seems Ubisoft did well by sticking with the formula that eventually made The Division a hit with fans. It wasn’t the runaway success that Destiny was at launch but the company pressed on with patches and DLC constantly adding more quality of life improvements.
It’s fair to say that The Division was quite the improvement about a year or so later. So it’s hardly surprising then that Ubisoft carried these improvements over into the sequel. Unfortunately, it feels so similar that the new setting could be mistaken for another round of substantial DLC.
24 Best: The Open World Is Spectacular
For some reason, Ubisoft doesn’t seem to get enough credit when it comes to creating open worlds. It’s quite possibly because we see a lot of games in the open world genre from the company on a yearly basis. Nevertheless, they really are at the top of their game with the likes of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and now The Division series.
Not only is Washington D.C. stunning to look at but it is absolutely packed with secrets, hidden pathways, shortcuts, underground areas to discover, and more. There’s just so many distractions to draw you away from the game’s main quest line. Events happen organically and are a far more interesting way of developing the game’s plot than the Echoes from the first title.
23 Worst: The UI Is Cluttered And Messy
An issue with the first game that seems to have carried over into The Division 2 is the cluttered looking user interface. The maps can get overwhelming as more side missions and their descriptions keep getting added around your safe houses.
You may also start to wonder if your eyesight is deteriorating when playing the game. It’s not your eyesight, however, but the developer's decision to make to small unreadable text the game’s default text size. Worse still, increasing the text size has no effect on the game's loot descriptions and tutorials.
22 Worst: The Real World Weapons Aren’t Very Interesting
Unlike Anthem and Destiny which have a science fiction setting, The Division 2 is set in the real world. This means that unless you’re really into your guns then one weapon isn’t going to be that distinctive compared to the next.
The sci-fi setting of Destiny allowed the developers to get very creative with its guns. The same, however, can’t be said about The Division series. As in the first game, you’ll find yourself collecting a seemingly endless amount of upgraded models of the same weapons with pointless modifications early on.
21 Best: The Action is Far More Tactical
The enemies’ artificial intelligence in the first entry was tough but as combatants, they didn’t do much beyond moving from cover to cover. In this regard, The Division 2 is a huge step up and will force you to continuously rethink your position in combat scenarios.
This time around there’s no getting too comfortable in the same spot as you gradually chip away at your enemies health bar. Now, even the grunts will make every effort to flank and surprise you with an attack out of your line of sight.
20 Worst: RPG Mechanics In A Realistic World
On the surface, The Division games look like fairly standard team-based shooters but when it comes to character progression the games are all about the numbers and its RPG mechanics. In this regard, the leveling system is far more in-depth than Destiny and Anthem.
This is great but there is something that feels off about having an RPG set in the real world when compared to sci-fi or fantasy games set in the same genre. For many gamers, enemies not going down after getting hit with perfect headshots will always be at odds with such a realistic looking setting.
19 Worst: The Bullet Sponge Enemies
While The Division 2 does offer more in the way of tactical combat than the first title one of the most complained about issues remains and that’s the bullet sponge enemies. In common with Anthem, the game artificially ramps up the difficulty by making enemies almost impervious to machine gun fire.
The developers at Ubisoft Massive have at least tried to explain away the ridiculousness of this gameplay mechanic by covering some enemies in huge amounts of armor.
18 Best: The Settlements Feel More Alive
Even huge fans of The Division will tell you that as fun as the game can be there was something very barren about the experience as a whole. The Division 2 sets itself apart immediately by having a more believable world filled with community settlements that you contribute to building.
Right from the get-go your first settlement comes to life in a way that resembles the likes of the communities built in The Walking Dead series – minus the zombies. As seen in ABC's popular zombie drama there’s a sense of desperation as the NPC’s are busy tinkering away on maintaining their settlements and keeping threats at bay.
17 Worst: It’s Difficult To Make Your Character Stand Out
Creating your own character in The Division 2 is a huge step up from its predecessor. With options to customize everything from your body type, eye color, ear size, and hairstyle it should keep you busy for a while even before setting foot into the game world.
Sadly, there’s something very generic and plastic looking with the finished result. It seems that no matter how much effort you put into creating a unique looking character you’ll end up with a soulless looking mannequin that looks just like everyone else's.
16 Worst: Washington Lacks The Atmosphere Of New York
In terms of open world mechanics, The Division 2’s Washington D.C. is definitely an improvement over its predecessor’s New York setting. Yet, it somehow lacks the spooky and downright eerie atmosphere of New York’s ruined streets.
Maybe it was the depiction of a post-apocalyptic New York that fell during the silly season. It is so easy to associate Christmas with the city that never sleeps because just about every Christmas film ever is based there. It seemed as though The Division set out to destroy the scenes of hope which were set up by films like Home Alone 2, Scrooged, and more by making us explore a city that turned on itself during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
15 Best: Lots Of Side Quests And Events To Keep You Busy
If you’re the kind of gamer that loves participating in side quests in between the game’s main story then The Division 2 has you covered. This will certainly appeal to gamers that enjoy participating in these quests to unlock meaningful loot.
In addition to the game’s many side quests, there are public events to take part in, too. These will usually have you cooperatively battle against waves of enemies before reaching a mini-boss to reap the rewards. They are surprisingly tense but rewarding and more importantly, they are a lot of fun.
14 Worst: Repetition Will Rear Its Ugly Head
Shared world games like The Division, Destiny, and Anthem require a lot of commitment from its user base to appreciate the rewards of its loot progression system. Due to the amount of time and effort that is expected of the player, there is no escaping the fact that things will start to get repetitive.
The Division 2 is the same in this regard, and there’s no avoiding the fact that it will become tiresome taking down the enemies that look and sound the same over and over again.
13 Worst: Unimaginative Boss Battles
On one side you have more intelligent and clever foes that work together in ways that will definitely catch you off your guard if you don’t pay attention. This goes for the boss battles too, as they have a habit of keeping you under whilst the grunts work towards getting the advantage.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to the boss fights than this and just like its predecessor, it boils down to firing off enough bullets into your target so you can bring their life bar down as efficiently as possible.
12 Best: The Arcade-Like Shooting Mechanics
Even though The Division 2 isn’t as realistic as other Ubisoft titles like Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon when it comes to the shooting, it is technical and varied enough to be just satisfying. Just like those titles the game offers players several ways to play the game depending on what playstyle they are comfortable with.
The arcade-like cover-shooting mechanics are responsive and light enough so that just about anyone can pick up and play. In addition, it is also much easier to pull yourself out of difficult situations than the first game as the cover system seems to be more flexible this time around.
11 Worst: The Story Won’t Win Any Awards
It will take you quite a long time to work your way through The Division 2’s campaign and all its side missions. However, you have a hard time remembering or caring about what is actually going on in the story.
There isn’t much there beyond just achieving your goal of clearing out Zones so you are better equipped to deal with all the militia-like gangs that you will encounter as the game moves forward. Surprisingly, you may find yourself more invested in some of the game’s many side quests because they are more self-contained and interesting.
10 Worst: The Silent Protagonist Feels Dated in 2019
The Division 2 is a game looks about as modern as it gets, the visuals, sounds, and themes help show off one of the best looking open world shooter seen this generation. However, by making your character a silent protagonist there’s not only a disconnect with the character interactions but it makes the game seem dated in its execution.
The developers have gone to such a great effort in crafting an incredible city for you to explore, it’s just unfortunate that the immersion is broken with one-way conversations. Even Anthem addressed this issue by providing a voice for your chosen character.
9 Best: The Dark Zone
The Dark Zone in The Division 2 functions in the same manner as the original only this time the experience is more refined and accessible to new players. There are three Dark Zone areas in the sequel, Dark Zone East (Union Station), Dark Zone West (Potomac Waterfront), and Dark Zone South (Georgetown).
The areas contain the best loot and you can never truly trust your teammates because at anytime someone can go rogue and shoot you in the back. Additionally, you can also rob loot crates that others have worked so hard for, turning you rogue without physical conflict.
8 Worst: NPC Characterization Is Terrible
You’ll meet a lot of different non-playable characters as you progress through The Division 2. Unfortunately, you won’t remember many of them because they simply aren’t interesting enough to care.
At best, you could say that the characters – just like the story – are just an excuse to keep you pushing forward until you get to the Endgame, where the real game begins. It’s a shame because the world that Ubisoft Massive has created seems to be designed to make you care about its world and the inhabitants.
7 Worst: The Lack Of Real Stealth Mechanics
Ubisoft has done a great job in mastering stealth mechanics in many of the videogames. Some of these are Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six, and Ghost Recon, all of which put their own unique spin on the genre.
You would think then that considering that is is a military shooter at heart that the developers would have added some kind of stealth mechanic in this series too. Enemies often seem to be positioned in ways that some kind of stealth take-down technique would have been perfect. It seems like a missed opportunity, especially in a Tom Clancy series.
6 Best: The Amazingly Accurate Washington D.C
Once again, Ubisoft has shown that they are the masters of recreating accurate real-life cities with Washington D.C. Those who played Watchdogs 2 saw what the company is capable of with its incredible depiction of San Francisco.
Ubisoft’s Washington is so pinpoint accurate that locals have described finding their favorite stores and shops exactly where they are supposed to be. As with New York in the first game, Ubisoft is in a league of their own when comes to scale representations of famous locales.
5 Worst: It’s An Ubisoft Game Through And Through
Ubisoft games like Watchdogs, Far Cry, and the Assassin’s Creed series all have one thing in common and that’s completing various activities in order to open up the more zones on the map. In The Division 2, this is done by taking over Control Points.
The premise is a simple one because all you need to is clear the area of enemies, then once your allies arrive, you hold off several waves of even more bad guys for a set amount of time. In typical Ubisoft fashion, the rinse repeat process does begin to wear thin as you work and grind to open up more of the map.
4 Worst: Some Of The Skills Need Some Work
The Skills and Skill mod system from the first game has returned and one hand they’re very useful in battle especially if you choose to tackle the game solo. However, just like the first game they can be incredibly fiddly and difficult to get to grips with.
Early on you’ll definitely struggle with overly long cooldowns and you’ll find yourself in trouble under fire when navigating the UI and selecting the desired Skill especially the sticky bombs. Despite a lot of skills to choose from you’ll most likely stick with the basics like Turrets and mines.
3 Best: It's Better At Launch Than Its Rivals
The Destiny series is arguably the most popular shared-world loot gathering shooter on the market. However, even that series was plagued by problems when both games launched, the recently released Anthem is still struggling to live up to gamers expectations.
When it was released in 2016 The Division was also plagued with issues at launch. It was, however, a much better game several patches later because they listened to the fans. By not deviating too far from the tried and tested formula Ubisoft has released a game that is absolutely better than its rivals at launch.
2 Worst: There's Nothing Very Unique About The Division 2
As a shared-world action shooter, The Division 2 is a solid and entertaining game that will undoubtedly satisfy fans of the first game. The game’s open world experience is leagues ahead of its rivals when it comes to exploration and it is highly unlikely that the fans will be complaining about a lack of things to do.
However, there’s something very vanilla about the experience as a whole. Destiny had its incredible range of unique weaponry and gunplay and even Anthem’s flying mechanics help hide some of its many flaws. When all is said and done The Division 2 is an action-RPG with cover shooter mechanics that aren’t quite as good the Uncharted or Gears of War series.
1 Worst: The Narrative Takes Itself Too Seriously
The Division 2 won’t win any awards for its narrative or its execution. While it does have its moments when tackling the game’s many side missions and collectibles it is ultimately quite thin. The developers have tried to mask the weak plot with its overly serious and somber tone, and shouty characters.
A depressing story is to be expected with a post-apocalyptic setting but even games like Destiny 2 tried to add a bit of comic relief to ease the mood. In addition, it’s difficult to take the game seriously with the silly names for all villainous gangs like the Hyenas, The True Sons, and the Outcasts. It seems that Ubisoft Massive has taken some inspiration from The Walking Dead by including quirky Mad Max-esque gangs.