Ubisoft’s The Division 2 released this past weekend for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and with it comes another pulse-pounding round of in-street firefights, augmented reality, and looting, as players travel through a post-apocalyptic metropolis in an effort to maintain order and, hopefully, rebuild society. The Division 2 was one of the first major games to be announced as an Epic Games Store Exclusive, but thankfully, that doesn’t seem to have detracted from the level of effort that clearly went into making the game. Although the game feels more like an expansion than a stand-alone title, The Division 2 successfully takes players back to the fight, improving upon the first game just enough to create an experience that is fun to play alone or with a group of friends.
The Division 2 picks up seven months after the events of the original game, dropping players into the streets of Washington D.C as specialized Division Agents. After regaining control of the White House, Agents are once caught in the middle of a civil war between civilians and enemy factions that were established following the Green Poison outbreak. Agents are tasked with regaining control of the city by liberating marauder-controlled districts and defeating the factions’ leadership, while searching for a cure to the virus outbreak.
First and foremost, it should be noted that although the game is essentially centered around matchmaking and group play, The Division 2 can definitely be played as a single-player endeavor. Traveling throughout the virus and war-torn city creates plenty of one-off opportunities to level up and make level-appropriate main missions more manageable for lone-wolf operations. A greater need to stay hunkered down in cover may arise in these situations, but if patient, taking out groups of enemies by yourself is certainly doable. Of course, for the times when help is necessary, the matchmaking system in The Division 2 makes it pretty easy to get fellow Agent support. That is if you are already familiar with how to join or leave a random group after the mission is complete.
The Division 2’s user interface and in-game menu are, well… not great. It is not very intuitive. There is a lot to take in all at once, and it doesn’t really become easy to navigate until you’ve already spent a considerable amount of time combing through the chaos.
On the flip side, the character controls follow a standard action/adventure/FPS game and are pretty easy to pick up immediately. For all of the negative press that they have received thus far, the bumper buttons for Agents’ skills - yes, the same ones that have been reported as game-breaking - are perfect for performing highly-effective abilities when used properly.
Grouping up remains a staple of The Division franchise in the sequel, allowing for additional support with some of the more difficult missions. Matchmaking is a marked improved upon the original game, with support request wait times being kept at a minimum. Jumping into the fray to help out another Agent is also a relatively seamless process, though there are some improvements that could be made in that front.
From Agent levels five through nine, I answered the call to help out another Agent in need five separate times. However, I was dropped into the same exact mission on every one of those answered calls. Needless to say, by the fourth and fifth time, I was an expert at the mission and ended up leading the group to victory (without ever needing to be revived). While it was nice to able to help my fellow Agents, it would have been much more enjoyable to experience new, or at least different content.
And that is where another piece of The Division 2 lacks a bit of a punch, at least right now. Considering the amount things available to do around the city of Washington D.C. besides the main missions - collecting components to restore outposts, preventing public executions, disabling propaganda-spewing loudspeakers - participating in each activity or event grows a bit repetitive and stale pretty quickly. Unsurprisingly, the same can be also said about The Division 2’s endgame progression, which becomes as tediously grinding as you might expect.
There’s really no variety in terms of handling each situation. Sneaking up and taking out a few initial enemies from a larger group is about all the stealth that The Division 2 manages to allow. Once revealed, players are caught in a firefight until all of the enemies are taken out. It’s fair to desire a more realistic setting (though, that wouldn’t exactly explain the bullet sponge enemies, especially the bosses), but a greater stealth ability could allow for some fun, refreshing ways to take out hostiles.
Thankfully, if the grind starts to weigh on you, The Division 2’s PvP mode, “Conflict,” is there to pull you back in. The mode currently features 4-v-4 matches with two familiar game modes; Skirmish, which is essentially a team deathmatch, and Domination, in which teams must control locations. Conflict even has its own progression system, making it a fun way to experience the game beyond the normal leveling process. If the Dark Zone seems a bit too intimidating to tackle, the two Conflict modes are certainly enough to quench your PvP thirst for the time being. That is until more modes are (probably) eventually added, as well as 8-v-8 Raids officially coming soon.
Ultimately, the majority of issues can be overlooked. For all of its faults, The Division 2 is a fun game with an innate ability to keep you coming back for more. Although variety may be somewhat lacking in regards to each event, players’ attention can be satisfied simply due to the fact that there is so much to do in the post-apocalyptic world. Considering its scale, it was impressive that no heavy technical issues were encountered for this review, which is more than can be said for other recent major titles (*Cough* Anthem *Cough*).
If you are on the edge about whether or not jump into the world of The Division 2, you may want to wait until a bit more content is added throughout the first year, which will include things like new episodes and specializations. For now though, The Division 2 expands upon the original franchise in new and fun ways, which should satisfy veteran players as well as new ones.
3.5 out of 5 stars
A copy of The Division 2 was purchased by TheGamer for this review. The game is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.