Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 – Review

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 takes place seven months after the events of the original that saw New York devastated by the dollar flu. Ubisoft decided to go a bit south for the sequel though with The Division 2 taking place in the capital of the United States, Washington D.C. When you first start up the game you play through a quick prologue where you are helping some fellow agents turn back the enemy during a big attack. As you clear one wave of enemies and are bracing another your watch all of a sudden flashes some coordinates. The coordinates are for the White House in Washington D.C. and it is a distress call. You immediately set out for the capitol to see what is going on and to try and prevent it from getting any worse.

When you arrive in Washington D.C. you see that things are just as bad as they were in New York. The city has been devastated by the Green Poison (a.k.a. The aforementioned dollar flu from the first game) and you immediately have to fight your way through some enemies to get to the White House. With everything that is going on the White House looks to be in really rough shape when you arrive. Windows are boarded up and it has been essentially turned into your base of operations. As soon as you get there you meet with the Division coordinator who gives you a quick lesson on what has happened. Once you do that you are free to explore the open world that Ubisoft has created for The Division 2 and there is a lot to do and see.

Division 2 is a third person cover shooter. If you have played the original title you know exactly what to expect here, and that is a good thing. The development team has refined some things for the sequel which has made Division 2 even more fun than the original title. The entire map is pretty much open to you from the very beginning after you get past that initial part in the White House. Even though you can go pretty much everywhere though you definitely should be careful about the areas you visit. If your agent is at level three then you definitely do not want to go into an area that has level 30 enemies lest you be taken out immediately the first time you run into a group of enemies. So with that said you will want to consult the map in the game so that you stay in the appropriate areas until you are adequately leveled up. Much like in the first game though the enemies will scale to the level that you are at so it isn’t like you can get your agent at level 20 and then go and wipe out some of your opposition that is level 10. It doesn’t work that way in this game which adds to the overall challenge. In addition to level scaling, the enemy AI is also very intelligent in this game. You can’t just hide behind cover and pick enemies off one by one.

If you are fighting a small group that is just roaming the streets that might be an efficient tactic but during missions or if you are engaged in a firefight with a big group somewhere else you are going to have to use some strategy. There are different types of enemies out there such as snipers that are waiting for you to poke your head out of cover, or suicide bombers that will rush right at you and try to take you out or big tank enemies that have a lot of health that will take you a while to get through. They will use different tactics to try and get to you as well in the heat of battle. I’ve had enemies try and flank me on all sides. I could be engaged with an enemy 20 yards in front of me but all of a sudden I am getting fired at from the back or from the side. They will also warn each other if I am trying to do the same thing with some friends. This isn’t a game where the enemies just mindlessly walk into your bullets. There are some that do that but generally speaking if you just try and take the “run and gun” approach and you don’t approach each situation with a strategy, you might not last very long, regardless of what level you are at or what equipment you are using.

Division 2 is a game that will keep you busy for a very long time. In addition to the plethora of main story missions, there is no shortage of things that need to get done. For starters, you need to find SHD caches that are spread around the world. You do see their location on their map and you can use the in-game GPS to get to that area but there are times where you have to solve a small puzzle to get to them. This might involve something as simple as shooting a lock off a gate so you can open it. Or it could involve something a bit more advanced where you have to go into a building a couple of hundred feet away and then find a bridge that connects it to another building that will allow you to drop down into the area where the SHD cache is located. These SHD caches are the in-game currency you use to unlock different perks as increasing your inventory, being able to carry more health packs, adding a weapon slot, getting access to bounties, and much more. Additionally, there are different skills that you will have the chance to unlock as you complete the main storyline missions. These skills involve having a turret, drone, chem launcher, a shield, and more. You can have up to two skills equipped at once and for me personally, the skills that I use the most is the turret and the drone. Strategically placed the turret can definitely get you out of some tough situations by consistently damaging enemies that are trying to get to you, especially the aforementioned tank characters that have a lot of health and take a while to eliminate. The drone is also a very helpful tool that has helped me eliminate some of my opposition. By focusing on an enemy and hitting the right bumper (you assign your skills to either the left or right bumper) I can tell the drone to go after a particular person, which can be a great way to get my opponent out of his hiding place and into plain sight so it is easier to take him out. You can use both skills simultaneously, however, there is a cooldown period after using each skill. You need to keep this mind as you are going through a mission. I would always try and save my skills until we are either being overwhelmed or we have a couple of really tough bosses coming after us. A nice protip for using these items is to destroy them after you are done using them as opposed to watching them self destruct when their timer runs out. The reason you want to do that is it will shorten the cooldown time for your skills. For me, I would hold down the left bumper until the turret self-destructed which meant I would only have to wait 45-60 seconds until I could use it again as opposed to having to wait almost two minutes to use it again if I let just let the timer on it run out.

When you get to a new area in the game you will want to immediately find that area’s safe house. Not only will that open up a new fast travel location for you but going to the laptop in each respective laptop will allow you to download some information which will tell you what needs to be done in that specific area. You will also see locations pop up on your map of things that need to be done. There will be control points that are being held down by the enemy so you will need to go and take those over. Doing that will get you another fast travel location once it becomes a friendly control point but you will also gain access to the supply room that has new weapons you might want to use as well as potentially some armor and other items that you can use to craft better items at the base of operations. This is also how you locate those SHD caches in any given area. There will also be random items that pop up on your map from time to time, such as when one of the enemy factions is in the process of publicly executing a civilian in the middle of a street. There were quite a few times where I would see that pop up on the map and rush over to help and eliminate that enemy force before they could attack the civilians. There are also rescue operations where you have to rescue a civilian that has been taken hostage. Additionally, there are propaganda broadcasts that you can shut down, territory control points where you need to stop them from expanding their territory and so much more. As I alluded to up above, there is no shortage of content in Division 2.

As I made my way through the story and started clearing areas I did appreciate how I could actually see that my work was improving the current situation. When I first went into one of the settlements it was in rough shape. There was just a field of dirt, not much was built up, people were generally miserable and everything was just in really rough shape. As I accomplished individual objectives that settlement came to life. Eventually, that field of dirt turned into a garden where they could grow vegetables. I was able to up upgrade the settlement so they had some solar panels which meant they would always have electricity from that point on. I was able to help get equipment that helped purify the water so they could drink it and so much more. There were paintings being done by both kids and adults that slowly progressed over time. I would always try and check them out when I returned to the settlement to see what they had done since I had last been there. Being able to see that my work was improving their lives a great deal and I could see tangible results as a result of my actions is a great feeling and something I always enjoy in games that do that.

Once you get through the main story missions your journey has really only just begun. Certain events that I won’t spoil transpire and now you have something else to deal with. The level cap for your character is level 30 so once you hit that point it is no longer about your character level. Instead, it becomes about your gear score. Your gear score is an average of everything you have equipped. As you keep playing and clearing out areas and completing new objectives you will see a score associated with everything. You’ll likely have multiple weapons to choose from with some of them having a gear score of 200 while others might only be 175, as an example. You want to get the highest possible gear score for a number of reasons. Part of the endgame content is going through a number of strongholds but they require your gear score be at a certain number. The highest you can go right now is roughly around 500 and I have to assume you will need to be near that number if you want to participate in the first raid that Ubisoft is going to release towards the end of April. Once you hit this point in the game it will also be about what world tier you are in. As you complete strongholds you will get to a higher world tier. As you get to a higher world tier you can craft better weapons and items at the base of operations. You will have to mess around with items to see what works the best for you but for me, my main weapons, while I was going through this endgame content, was the Hunting M44 (gear score 496) and the SPAS-12 (gear score 498).

Of course, everything I mentioned above can be done either or solo, with a group of friends, or with random people via matchmaking. I highly suggest you go through the main story missions with a group of people. While Division 2 is generally a very challenging game overall, going through these missions with others definitely helps out, even if for no other reason that you can revive each other if one of you gets taken out suddenly. The best way to do this is to roll with a crew of your friends but I went through missions both with friends and with random people and had fun either way.

The Dark Zone has also made its return to Division 2 with three different areas that you can visit. The Dark Zone is a blend of PvP as well as PvE as you try and get better gear, recon some missions, and just generally survive so you can extract some items. In addition to your character level and later your gear score, you will also have a level within the Dark Zone. There are different ways to approach the Dark Zone in Division 2. There are also some secrets to find that can really help you out if you are brave enough to try and get them. One of the first things I did was hack SHD networks. This course of action turns you rogue so you are going to want to be careful doing this. If you hack enough SHD networks over a short period of time you will gain access to the Thieves Den, which is an achievement if you are someone who is trying to get every achievement in Division 2. As you level up in the Dark Zone you will want to periodically return to the base of operations so that you can get your rewards. You can get up to level 50 in the Dark Zone so there really is no shortage of things for you to do. There are supply drops that take place periodically which get contested so you are going to have to decide whether you want to work with other agents to eliminate the opposition or turn on each other. There are also AI-controlled landmarks that you can try and take down if you so choose or hunt down disavowed agents to eliminate them (also an achievement). This is another area of the game that can potentially keep you busy for quite a while.

Division 2 is a really great game that has pretty much taken up all of my game playing time since release. With that said, it isn’t without some issues. The first one is the loading times. Getting into a game takes way too long. Once I am loaded into a game there is hardly any loading at all which is nice, except for instances like when you try and fast travel. It is an interesting tradeoff that some other titles have done as well and I think I prefer this way of doing things but there has to be some way to lessen that load time. As with many open world games I have also come across the occasional glitch. There was one instance where an enemy got stuck where he wasn’t supposed to be so we had to figure out a way to get rid of him so we could get further in the mission. The matchmaking at times seems to be a little lackluster as there have been instances where I have waited a while to matchmake with someone before starting a mission and no one ever shows up. There are also instances where I’m standing in front of the mission and after I initiate matchmaking I immediately receive an invite to another agent’s group. Some of the time I get put into their group and we are able to do the mission. Other times I am put into their group but I am transported into the White House or another safe house in the game which would get frustrating since in those instances I now have to make my way back to the mission location. Then there were other instances where it worked perfectly and as soon as I sent out a matchmaking request I had other agents in my group within a few seconds. It would be nice if it was a bit more consistent though.

Overall I could continue to go on about Division 2 but you really just need to pick this game up. I can see myself putting in at least one or two hundred hours into this game with everything there is to do and I created a second character as well to play with some of my lower leveled friends. Washington D.C. looks pretty incredible and using a nice pair of headphones the game sounds incredible. Whether I’m walking through a puddle or firing a weapon or listening to an enemy combatant warn his colleagues that I am healing, the development team at Ubisoft did an amazing job fully immersing you into this experience. If you enjoyed the original Division title I highly recommend you pick this up. If you had some problems with the original title I would still give this a shot as the upgrades and improvements they made for the sequel might be the thing that gets you to enjoy this franchise. Hopefully, we will see the third iteration in a few years.

Score: 9/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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