Tom Clancy's The Division 2
Ubisoft has lit the beacon and has activated the agents of the Division, once again. This time, it’s not New York City that needs our help, it’s Washington D.C.. What improvements, or lack thereof, have been made with the sequel heading to our nation’s capital? Find out in our review of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.
Setting the Looter Shooter Bar
The Looter Shooter genre is one that hasn’t been around too terribly long. It’s defined as a game with tons of loot spread out throughout a gaming world, with some of the loot easy to find and others requiring more time and commitment. The shooting aspect of the name is typically your run-of-the-mill First-person or Third-person shooter. Games like Borderlands, Warframe, and Destiny fit that description. However, Ubisoft has unleashed a new one that has the capabilities of hanging with the elites in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.
Why is that? For starters, Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment made is possible find loot EVERYWHERE. Upon entering the game, for the first time, I was like a kid in a candy store, going from one alleyway to the next, finding better and better gear. Now, at a certain level, the gear you find lying around won’t progress you as much as the ones you’ll craft or find at the end of missions, but it’s not enough to deter you from looking, as selling or dismantling lower tier weapons still help in the long run.
Furthermore, loot isn’t exclusive to the streets. There are plenty of other ways to fill your inventory with the latest, greatest gear. Helping settlements, finishing projects, completing missions, participating in world events, donating resources, Strongholds, and of course defeating agents in the Dark Zone will certainly gift you with better loot, and thus making your character into a ridiculously, powerful tank.
By just participating in the game, Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment will reward you and that’s something that should be commended. In my experience, other Looter Shooters will tend to just give you random gear that serves little to no purpose when you open chests or complete a mission. Only by doing select missions THEY want you to do can you get something that will advance your character, and even that’s dicey sometimes.
In Division 2, I never felt that was the case. Sure, the street loot was a bit lower tier, but the rest of the loot you received from completing various projects and missions is typically enough to make you stronger. You always feel like you’re progressing, and that’s really what matters in a game like this.
Without a doubt, the main focus of The Division 2 is loot and finding better, stronger gear. It’s not really about the story, at all, that’s just the vehicle they use to give you a reason to continue liberating Washington D.C.. At its core, this is a looter shooter and it’s done remarkably well.
Quick, Lacking Story and Repetitive Mission Design Highlight Negatives
One of the biggest complaints with looter shooters are that they don’t tend to make the story a priority. Just look at Bungie’s Destiny. When Destiny 1 released, the story was barely anything. It was simply go here, go there, and you’re done. Fans were disappointed by this to the point that Bungie worked hard to make a story worth following, which spawned Destiny 2 and the vast amount of DLC that accompanied it, each including more pieces to the story.
The Division 1 was similar to Destiny 1, in that fact, as both saw the story as not much of a priority. Unfortunately, where Bungie learned from their mistakes, Ubisoft/Massive really didn’t.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 begins 7 months after the smallpox pandemic ravaged most of the continental U.S. You’re called away from a firefight against a well-outfitted enemy to help in the efforts to restore Washington D.C. Once there, you help liberate the White House from enemy invaders. Afterward, you meet the various survivors and allies intent to help the people in our nation’s capital and restore some semblance of order. From there, it’s your duty to run around the massive open-world landscape, fighting factions, and helping people.
The main missions of the game do have some ties to the bigger picture in the Division series, as you do try and find the cure to the epidemic, but that’s really about it. The villains of the Division 2 are the factions you face but no one true villain you can really grasp. In fact, the whole point of the main campaign is to defeat enough factions that the next, more powerful faction, Black Tusk invade D.C. to create more endgame content. That’s all well and good, but there aren’t enough moments that highlight a formidable antagonist. The whole situation is the antagonist and, while it’s ok, the game is craving for that game-changing villain interaction.
Another down I had stems from Mission design. While the level design and the open-world are exceptional, the missions, themselves, can feel very formulaic and repetitive. Often times, you’d start a mission by running in, shooting members of the enemy faction, eliminating them, move to the next stage, eliminate faction members, move to another stage, eliminate faction members, find the macguffin, eliminate another onslaught of faction members, which will include at least 1 Gold Tier enemy. Fight more faction members on the way out and then exit the mission area. That’s the concept for nearly every single mission, and it does get tiresome, at times, especially if you’re running solo.
Massive Gameplay Improvements in a Difficult Environment
I believe the best thing about The Division 2 is how Massive Entertainment took what they learned from the first Division and advanced, on exponentially. The fighting mechanics just feel so much smoother. Each weapon feels differently, the specialty weapons have variety and use. There were no unnecessary items. Nothing that was there just for the sake of being there. Every weapon, specialty weapon, armor piece, etc has their own distinct look and purpose.
It’s fantastic that the mechanics have improved so much, because The Division 2 is actually very challenging game. If you’re underleveled, the game will punish you for it. If you don’t use proper combat strategy (like me), the game will punish you for it. If you team up with a friend who is about 6 levels higher than you, the game will punish both of you for it, by putting enemies within 5 levels under the highest level, in your path.
That said, if you’re tactical and coordinated, you can get out of almost every situation. In fact, that’s where a lot of the fun of the Division 2 stems from, being creative in your victories.
One of the features that’s really improved is matchmaking. I was blown away by how easy it was to call for backup and bring in other agents to help finish a mission. Often times when I was getting wrecked by overpowered factions, I’d simply request help and other gamers would come to my rescue and help me with more missions. The advances to matchmaking were quite impressive.
Overall, the advancements and innovation far outweigh the downsides to Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. It’s the looter shooter we craved it to be since the first Division released, but to a whole other level. I certainly wish we’d get more story, something to follow, something to yearn for the next chapter. If it’s in the cards, great, but if not, The Division 2 has enough going for it to keep us coming back for more.