Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Ubisoft open world loot-and-shoot game that works. No, really!
12 24+ hours playing the full version of The Division 2 pretty much instilled my faith in loot-and-shoot games with open environments to faff about in.
Granted, it’s not going to take much to impress people after they’re burned out by Destiny 2 and Anthem. But sometimes, it’s the little things that Ubisoft and Massive worked on that add up; the kind that makes their “online services” game feel complete and a little more invigorating than it has any right to be.
That, and the challenge of being a four-man army (or one if you’re daring to go solo) against a battalion of heavily-armed and accurate mofos with guns is indeed an eye-opener. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
America’s Other Army
For instance, EVERYTHING is seamless, from getting to places to going into instances for some action. After you load up your character, you basically go to Washington D.C White House to set up contact with your new handlers and help liberate the region from different killer factions from the Hyenas to the True Sons. And everything about the game from matchmaking to combat transitions smoothly.
There is little to no loading in this game; short of you dying and restarting at a checkpoint or fast-travelling to safe-houses you’ve unlocked, The Division 2 is a smooth experience through and through that get you straight to the exploration and hunting action.
Narrative-wise, It’s a lot to take in since it’s a continuation from the first game, but you don’t have to be thorough about it. It’s just you, your group of Division friends, and the main mission of rebuilding Washington to a liveable state while cleaning up the mess the bad guys have caused.
With many districts like the main capital to a makeshift theatre, you’ll be scavenging and collecting parts and items to help rebuild these shelters through sidequests called Projects. Finish them, and you’ll be rewarded with more gear, weapons, and mods to help you out in combat.
Olympus Has Fallen
Speaking of which, you’ll be doing a lot of shooting, duck-and-cover manoeuvres, grenade-tossing, and flanking when fighting the many, MANY soldiers from these rogue factions. You’ll fight gunners, armoured heavy weaponry-carrying goons, melee guys, engineers who can throw explosives-rigged RCs and set up turrets, and a lot more.
And this is just the path leading towards your goal of reaching Level 30. You’ll be fighting a heckuva ton more elite soldiers and giant drones/robots in the endgame.
Best of all, these enemies are pretty dang smart even in the early parts of the game. They will make an effort to outflank you and reposition themselves to fan your group out with grenades.
Fortunately, The Division 2 offers a ton of weaponry and skills so that you can take care of business. In addition to your usual military shooter arsenal -assault rifles, snipers, LMGs, and a few more that sound really authentic- you also have access to devices and gadgets. Once you get enough skill points, you can equip turrets to place, drones to send out to lay down explosives, and even chemical gels that can debuff enemies camping in the far corners like the jerkasses they are.
Even the locations you fight in are pretty cool setpieces, ranging from a food cafeteria with a ton of tables and counters for cover, to the Washington museum where your firefights happen in the Vietcong War display. I even had skirmishes in a planetarium where enemies were pouring from the ceiling. The later stages when you’re level 20 and beyond are also lovely setpieces to fight in, from national monuments and landmarks to simple TV broadcast stations where the fuzzy TVs can be perfect camouflage for your foes.
Even if it’s your typical kind of cover-based combat, the change in scenery and the smart AI helps elevate it beyond its peers. The dystopian vibe fast-paced electronica tracks composed by Ola Stradh that play during key fights also help intensify the mood.
White House Down
I still have yet to reach the endgame since I’m at Level 12, but so far I’m having a heckuva time just grinding and playing through The Division 2.
My time with The Division 2 was anything but dull. Chaotic? Yes. Tough? Yes, thank to the challenging enemy AI. Buggy? Sure; my game usually disconnects at random at rare times, but I jumped back into the fray pretty quick. But it wasn’t frustrating at the very least. For the first time in a loot and shoot game this year, I feel joy just exploring the lively dystopia of Washington D.C, taking up random Side Missions and gathering loot from conquering Control Points.
Maybe it’s the potentially awesome gold and purple-coloured I get to procure when defeating tough bosses with super-smart squads. Maybe it’s the action setpieces accompanied by a heart-thumping soundtrack and really punchy-sounding guns with various buffs & active effects. Maybe it’s the fact that the game world is lively and makes me want to help rebuild each and every major safe zone to see it get more and more populated.
Either way, everything about this game just clicks positively with me so far. It’s hardly a standout or revolution of the genre -that honour goes to Warframe.
But it does enough to make me keep on trucking until the endgame and its supposed plentifulness. Colour me enthusiastically interested, Ubisoft.
I’m not putting in a score just yet; I have yet to explore the Dark Zone and Conflict modes to the fullest. But I will leave these Pros and Cons for now. Come back next Monday for the full skinny.
-Shooting and cover mechanic feels great and intuitive.
-Beautiful & lively setting (for a run-down version of Washington D.C).
-Endgame expands your weaponry and challenges.
-Great combat soundtrack.
-Challenging AI and enemies.
-Won’t change your mind about the loot-and-shoot genre.
-Still a bit buggy in some places.