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Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

Posted by GG Goblin On April - 3 - 2019

Buckle up your backpack agent, there’s another city to save.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, from Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment, is a shooter looter that primarily involves running around Washington DC and shooting bad guys, to be rewarded with new weapons and gear to make it easier to shoot more bad guys. On paper, that doesn’t really sound very interesting. But the reality is that, when it is done right, it becomes incredibly compelling and a whole lot of fun.

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The thing is, there is  a trend among games of this type. The developers seem to release a game how they feel it should be, or at least how someone thinks it should be, and it turns out to be not that great. Then, the game either dies a slow death, or the developers gradually tweak, patch and add more content to the game to create something quite amazing. Players returning to many of these types of games will find a substantially different experience after being away for months. When it comes to The Division 2 though, it seems as though Massive Entertainment may have got it right out of the gate, with a game that is starting out as great and can only get better.

The story, for what its worth, carries on from the first game, with a viral outbreak bringing the country to its knees. Some months after the events in New York, the player is summoned to Washington DC to help sort out their gang problems and make the place safer. This is probably where the game is at its weakest, as the story and most of the main characters in the game are simply not that interesting. Players will find audio logs and echoes as they explore the city, and these actually add slightly more interesting narrative than the forced stuff, but in all it still feels very light on engagement.

But then it doesn’t really matter though, as long as the player is given missions where they have to go and shoot bad guys, the reasoning behind it all is kind of irrelevant. Players who have come to The Division 2 for scathing political commentary will be sorely disappointed, but I can’t see any reason for playing a game like this other than to embrace the thrill of facing overwhelming odds and coming out the other side with the world, or Washington DC at least, being a better place.

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The Division 2 is designed to be a co-op game, with up to four players able to team up at pretty much any point to help each other take on missions and the like. That is not to say that the game cannot be played solo, but it does become that bit more difficult. Players are able to send out a request for help from other players should they feel overwhelmed, and some times they will get help from other places. The world has moved on slightly from the events in the first game, and as such Washington DC is much more lively than New York was. Small settlements have popped up, and the player will find themselves running missions for each of these to improve them and maybe get their hands on some sweet blueprints and the like. Anyway, the map is divided into sections, each with its own level requirement, and in these sections there are control points. These are areas currently under the control of the enemy faction, but the player can take out the enemies and seize control for themselves. This is where the settlements come in as the player can call for help when taking on one of these control points, and AI controlled fighters will come along and do a damn good job of actually helping. So even when playing alone, the player is not always alone.

The fact that the AI allies are so good at helping just goes to show the improvements in the AI. This of course applies to both friend and foe, and players will find the enemies much cleverer this time around. From the melee troops that will not take a straight path before trying to bash the agents head in, to those that seem to throw their grenades with much more abandon, the enemy is trickier. They even go so far as to use their own gadgets from time to time, resulting in some very tense stand offs where simply hiding behind a car will not suffice. The great cover system that will have the player running from one cover point to another returns and is just as much fun to use now as it was before.

Base of operations is the White House, and it is here that the player can do all sorts of house keeping. The base will improve over time as the player finishes the main missions and heads towards the end game, but it is here that the player will be able to unlock various handy perks, such as being able to carry more grenades or have a bigger backpack, and also unlock their gadgets. These range from the blatantly offensive, such as the turret, to the more defensive, like the pulse that reveals enemy locations. The thing is, these gadgets, known as skills, can all be tweaked as well. Want a flamethrower turret? Sure thing. How about a drone that fixes armour? Okay. This means that the player has plenty of choice tactically and, when playing with others, can fulfil very specific battlefield roles.

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There is no letting up in The Division 2. The developers have got the balance just right, doling out the new weapons and equipment, along with progressing the agent just quick enough to ensure that one more mission always needs to be played. It feels as though the player is always improving, and even trash loot can be sold for cash or broken down for materials, so there is always something to gain. Even walking down the street can reward the player with more materials for crafting.

The endgame content, which is where players will end up after as much as forty hours of playing through the game, has been carefully thought out to keep the player engaged. Specialisations become available for agents, which really change things up, and a new enemy makes everything more interesting. Then there is the plan for loads of additional content, which is being presented to players for free over the course of the first year, that could presumably see players coming back for a long time to come.

For the more adversarial player, there is 4v4 deathmatch, which does what it says on the tin. However, the Dark Zone returns and will; be the real destination for players who ant to shoot other players. This time around, there are multiple dark zones and players of all levels will have the chance to enter without risking instadeath. These areas see the player facing off against powerful AI enemies, with the chance of getting equally powerful loot. The problem is that other players are in there too, and they can quite easily shoot the player and steal their loot. The dark zones are very tense places where you never really know who to trust.

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It may sound obvious, but The Division 2 is a nice improvement over the first game. The developers have taken all of the good stuff from the first game and simply improved upon it. There is still the whole repetitive nature of these shooter looter games, something which none of them have managed to solve yet, and the longevity of this title will depend strongly on how varied the extra content turns out to be. However, for the moment, I can strongly recommend Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 for anyone who likes to shoot and loot.




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