The Division 2 Review: Hands-on

When Ubisoft launched The Division, the game showed a lot of potential – potential that arguably wasn’t realised until several months – and expansions – later. With that in mind, you can be sure that the company wants The Division 2, unveiled at E3 2018, to impress right out of the gate.

It’s only a matter of weeks until excited fans can get their hands on the second instalment of Tom Clancy’s RPG shooter The Division 2, and we’ve had the chance to get a bit of time with the game during The Division 2’s closed beta. We experienced fast-paced gunplay, intense battles and had a taste at end-game gameplay – find out what we thought in our The Division 2 preview.

The Division 2 release date and platforms

The Division 2 is set to be released on 15 March 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, and can be pre-ordered ahead of release via Amazon (£49.99) and GAME (£49.99) in the UK, and Amazon ($59.99) in the US.

There’s also a Special Edition of the game available from GAME (£57.99) in the UK, and for die-hard fans, there’s an Ultimate Edition (£99.99/$99.99) containing a 30cm Figurine of Heather Ward, three-day early access to the game, a Lithograph book and the game’s soundtrack too.

Despite the upcoming release of The Division 2, the first Division game is still going to be subject to updates. But with that being said, expect the better part of the updates to be directed towards The Division 2 going forward. What more could the sit-at-home Division agents ask for?

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The Division 2 preview

Like the first in the series, The Division 2 is based in a post-apocalyptic doomsday setting created by the endowment of man and a pathological virus, with a band of sleeper agents known as The Division fight to make things normal-ish again.

After spending the weekend playing the Division 2 private beta, we feel split. On the one hand, the co-op RPG shooter offers something that the gaming industry has been crying for, but we also feel like we’ve been playing a reskinned version of The Division.

While that’s arguably good news for the loyal The Division fanbase who already love the first of the series, some missions (as well as the open world itself) bear an uncanny resemblance to the previous title. Of course, the end of days isn’t likely to look that different in a different State, but we didn’t expect some battle zones and city blocks to look so familiar.

Landmark locations are The Division 2’s saviour, with the addition of a handful of popular DC landmarks that gives the game an identity separate from the original game. Some of these landmarks are home to side missions and other events that give additional depth to the areas and help make them stand out as more than just a part of the scenery. The landmarked have a more linear feel, so stage reruns will feel the same – with the exception of stronger foes, of course.

The foliage and destruction of mankind sets an eerie scene, which arguably hits home more because a calamitous event, like that which ended the world in The Division, feels like a possibility in the real world.

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Moving on from that slightly depressing thought, NPCs have had a significant improvement in The Division 2. The NPC AI feels more advanced than the first game, making battles feel more challenging and dynamic as enemies will actively seek out different ways to flank you and attack from different angles. The introduction of technology like turrets forces you to think tactically to defend yourself to the onslaught of angry gun-wielding citizens.

Of course, if the trusty turret or seeker mines cant help, you can call for a fellow Division agent to provide backup and help you pass the struggle. And after playing a section of the game alone, it’s clear that’s what Ubisoft wants you to do.

Simply put, this game isn’t very satisfying for lone players. Tactics and strategies that make The Division 2’s battles engaging and fun only work when you’re playing with other online players as part of a four-man squad. Without the thrill of communication, you find yourself focusing on the fact that you’re essentially doing the same thing over and over again – shooting bad guys.

Like the first Division title, there’s a lot for players to do once the main campaign has been completed. The endgame is where you utilise your strongest gear and weapons, finding the right build and class to enhance your personal play style. Whether you are the kind to run-and-gun while taking out enemies with speed and precision, or whether you like to set up and unleash rounds from a distance, you’re spoilt for choice.

And with Ubisoft confirming a year of free content updates for all players, we’re excited to see what the future of The Division 2 will offer.

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It wouldn’t be The Division 2 without the Darkzone. For the uninitiated, this is where all of the PvP action and high-level gear looting takes place. You can take on other online players as well as mobs of NPC enemies for the chance to grab some legendary drops.

That’s only half the job, however, as once you loot something in the dark zone you must get it decontaminated by taking it to an evac point and waiting for a chopper to come and pick it up. You’d better keep your eye out for other online players too, as they’ll be coming for you and your sweet, sweet loot. 

Early verdict

If the first Division never did it for you then the sequel is unlikely to win you over. This is a sequel with a small ‘s’, refined rather than revolutionary, squarely aimed at fans of the first game who are eager for more.

Still, if Ubisoft can learn from the previous launch and ship The Division 2 with the depth of content that the first game reached a few expansions in, it should more than hold its own. At least until Anthem comes along.



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