The Division 2 DEALS
Get up, gear up and get back into disenfranchised America. The Division 2 is the sequel that shows the progression of the events of Black Friday and the Dollar Flu 7 months after, to see if America is on the mend. On the long and short of it, it’s not, and if it’s going off the state that Washington D.C. is in, the whole of America is in a total shit storm. Nevertheless, that provides all the content we need to take the fight to the rap-scallion causing drama across the nation. This article also contains spoilers to the loose storyline, but if you’re into the Division lore side of things and don’t want it spoiled, you’ve been warned.
Naturally, I’m going to be doing a fair few comparisons with the first Division game. 7 months after the events of Black Friday, when the Green Poison outbreak (also known as the Dollar Flu), you assist in defending a civilian outpost from an attack when suddenly a distress call across the Division network is called from Washington D.C. It’s hard to assume if you are playing the same agent you created in the first game or a brand-new face, but the principle remains that you are to assist and help out in D.C.
You arrive in D.C, assist in clearing out bandits assaulting the Whitehouse, meet up with the Division Controller, Manny Ortega, to which he just says “There’s a new sheriff in town”. And that’s it. It’s not really a plot line to be honest, and it’s a bit disappointing. The game just chucks you into Washington and says “Do stuff, sort this mess out, cheers, thanks, bye.” There’s no real story immersion; even the first one was a little more intense and story driven, you actually had a sense and a purpose of what was going on, other than ‘there’s a whole load of bad people which we solely depend on you sorting out’.
Then there’s the enemy factions – they’re great. A whole bunch of diverse individuals who each have their own reasons for occupying Washington and fighting against the system. So, why doesn’t the game deliver them like this? Apart from being thrown into the game, your enemies seem to have been given the same fate, you don’t have a clue who they are or whatever their backstory is, so you are in the dark about them as much as you are about the plot itself. The only times figured out their intentions and their backstory were from collectables such as video footage, echoes and recordings. But that shouldn’t have been the delivery of things, it needed a bit more context, something to really state how deadly and dangerous these guys are.
Then there’s the story from the previous game. A First-Wave Division agent called Aaron Keener, managed to successfully steal the means to recreate the Green Poison virus, as well as capturing Vitaly Tchernenko by force, who is the immunologist who can assist Keener in creating a new virus. We are left in the lurch about their story as well, you would have thought something might have happened after 7 months’ time but the only evidence of him in this game so far is also from recordings.
The story has a lot of great content but it had all the delivery of a blind courier service. If it had just explained a few things, like maybe the enemies and the reason Washington is down the shitter, then I would have been hooked right from the start. It’s not like they are incapable of doing this either; a great example was from another Tom Clancy game, Ghost Recon WildLands. They had short sharp cutscenes which gave each enemy personality and an indication of what they are like. If they had just done the same thing in Division 2, then I wouldn’t need to rant on for four paragraphs.
Despite the delivery of the story, the game has a lot to offer, and even more so in the coming year.
Health and Mobility
The manoeuvring and navigation of your character feels…no, it’s exactly the same as Division 1; your character is still an absolute unit, can run without running out of breath, reload whilst sprinting and loves the obstacle course too damn much. Buttons and hotkeys are easy to learn, vaulting and parkour actions are fluid, cover to cover system is unchanged and generally not much about the overall movement has been altered. What has changed is the health system, however. I may have over exaggerated how much of a beast you really are, glass cannon would be the best term to describe you.
The old system just had a ‘3-block health bar’ system, where you would regain the 3rd block over time and the other 2 could be restored with health packs and abilities. Now the game has an Armour/Health system. Your armour depletes when you take damage and doesn’t regenerate unless you use abilities and gadgets, or finish an engagement. You can replenish your armour to full strength by using armour kits, but this takes time. Once your armour depletes your health will start to take damage, which has the resistance properties of paper when matched with gun fire. If you’re out of armour, run. You die faster than you can say “shit, I need armour”. I prefer this new system however, because it does provide a little more realism to gameplay, as strange as that sounds for The Division series. Also, your enemies use the same system too, so everyone is pretty much on the same page.
Weapons, Gear and Skills
Weapons and Gear have remained somewhat untouched; there are of course a few new weapons within their own ‘class’ such as shotguns, rifles, machine guns, etc. All gear comes with a rarity feature, general rule being the rarer an item, the better it is. This in turn coincides with your character level, but once past level 30 it then becomes that famous battle of gear score.
Gear score is your characters overall level average depending on the level of all your gear combined, but that’s the end game stuff we’re not at that stage just yet. Weapons themselves have a real kick to them, and excel in their own field. They also get considerably better once you level up to high levels, especially with recoil. Good luck hitting anything when your only level 3. Weapon mods themselves have been reworked too; they are no longer collectible on the field.
You earn them by collecting blueprints from missions, unlocking them at the quartermaster, and then crafting them. Once you have them, you have them for good, and can fit them as many times as you want to any weapon that can utilise them. Some have straight up buffs whilst others will both have a buff and corresponding de-buff alongside it, so you can really play around with what suits you which is nice.
It’s worth noting that the DPS stat from the Division 1 has been removed, mainly because it was broken and gave an incorrect representation on exactly how much DPS you deliver. With Division 2, it’s a lot more straightforward because the DPS is entirely dependent on the weapon you are using. Mods and perks of course can increase the damage your weapon produces as well, depending on the stat.
Gear such as armours, holsters, masks etc is what makes your character tougher and stronger. All gear besides weapons have an armour stat. The more your armour, the harder you become to takedown. Gear can also have mods attached to them. Mods are sort of what replaced the weapon attachments from Division 1; they too come with their own rarity and carry additional stats to increase your Agent’s potential, such as increased armour, higher skill power, critical hit damage increase, that sort of stuff.
When you reach higher tier gear, they can come with additional perks which can provide bigger bonuses than the adverse mod, but specific stats need to be obtained for them to become active. Division 2 has 3 main stats; Armour, Health, Skill Power. Health and Armour are pretty standard and similar, increase them to become tougher, although health is sort of pointless since without Armour you die very quickly.
Skill Power is little different than the first Division, as it used to increase the power of your skills, not anymore. Once you start getting mods for specific skills, they require a specific number of Skill Power you must surpass in order for those mods to work, these mods can include things like extra ammunition, health, damage and so on.
Finally, you have the Skills and Gadgets themselves. We see some brand-new Skills as well as the return of some old ones. Most of the new skills are pretty neat; The Hive is particularly effective offensively and defensively. It’s sort of like a throwable mobile home for mini drones which, depending on which modification you chose, can heal, revive, buff you and allies, or deal damage to enemies regardless of their cover. I’m not going to question the realism at this point of tiny little shards filled with the power of magic able to revive a dead corpse, but I threw out realism with the Division a while back, still fun as hell though.
What is believable is the Drone, another new skill which is a nifty little device designed to either harass your enemies, perform bombing runs, even repair you or any allies. It sacrifices toughness to be able to attack enemies far away and also in cover, something the turret wasn’t capable of doing. Some new skills aren’t quite as effective though, in my opinion, such as the Firefly. The Firefly is another much smaller drone, which when locked onto enemies and thrown it can blind, place proximity bombs on enemies, or even destroy weak spots. It’s pretty effective, when it works. If literally goes in a straight line from one enemy to another, regardless of what is in the way, so when it does decide to slam into a wall because an enemy walked around a corner after you threw it, you now have to wait some time before you try again.
Some of the returning skills have had some significant tweaks in their mechanics too; The Ballistic shield now has 3 variants which changes its size as well as what it can do, such as being able to use automatic weapons but losing protection to your legs, or even a shield which deflects rounds to other enemies once fire upon, very neat stuff Captain America. Seeker mines have changed too, as has the Turret; the standard Seeker Mine needs to have a target manually selected, so it’s not automatic anymore, the airburst version is even worse as you have to select and area in which it bombards, which can be difficult to do if your enemy are on higher ground. The Flame Turret variant that everyone knew and loved has also been affected by the change, and now only burns enemies to BBQ goodness in a frontward facing cone, rather than tracking for a full 360.
All-in-all the skills are still fantastic addition to the game, but they do have a price. The time it takes to reactivate some skills are still unbalanced, some can be up to around 3 minutes waiting for a skill to refresh. You can get perks which reduce this but all in all there needs to be some balance changes with the skills in future patches.
There are 4 enemy factions in total, that have seized control over Washington with no context whatsoever. Each faction has a variety of archetypes which perform in different ways, creating a variety of tactics and gameplay style to take them out.
The Hyenas are your typical street riot, hooligan only around to cause chaos. They use minor tactics such as flanking, to overwhelm your position. Weirdly enough some of their gear is quite advanced, some even have grenade launchers which is bizarre. Their most annoying tactic is bombarding you with gunfire whilst the Rushers, a type of enemy class that all factions have, screams at you and flails a baton in your face until you die.
The True Sons are ruthless mercenaries, banded together by an ex-JTF Officer, Antwon Ridgeway. Using military expertise and equipment, they are, in layman’s terms, the guys who got their shit together. Organised, well equipped, they are the ones who probably have the most power during the beginning of the game, especially when their stronghold is Capitol Hill. That being said however, they are probably the easiest to fight. As weird as it sounds, they can be a little predictable, all enemies are in general, but with military practise comes military style tactics, including their call-outs to one another, giving you an exact indication of what is happening during a firefight.
The Outcasts are one of the more interesting factions, once you gather the knowledge on them. Turns out they are called Outcasts because of how the JTF treated them in the quarantine zones. One person to profit off the sick and angry was Emeline Shaw; an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, in short, she’s immune but is a carrier of the virus. After losing her daughter, Emeline rallied others to her cause of revenge and are hellbent in spreading the virus across the nation. Although not massively well equipped, their suicide bombers, molotov cocktails, and even flamethrowers are enough to make any agent think twice before hitting them head on.
Finally, when you hit the end game material, and bizarrely out of nowhere, the Black Tusks appear. Highly trained, technologically advanced super soldiers, who use a number of tech to eliminate their enemies, such as sniper-fitted weird ass robot dogs, proximity drones, grenade launchers, taser drones, I mean these guys want you dead and they will let you know that, trust me. They have also been secretly funding and arming the different factions with equipment; explains how the Hyenas have access to grenade launchers.
The problem is with these guys they are quite elusive when it comes to their lore, they don’t really have a head honcho and I’m not joking about how they just show up. I completed everything on the map, maybe not all the collectables but all the missions, side missions and control points, then these bastards just crop up and I have to redo all my work again? C’mon.
All in all, the variety of enemies are great, there’s a lot of diverse types and their own quirks you have to learn to counter them.
The AI can be a little sketchy at times though; sometimes they’re great, working well together and manoeuvring effectively, dodging incoming grenades and using cover, fire and movements effectively. But sometimes they can be really dumb and just walk towards you slowly as your shooting them. If you see a group and throw a grenade whilst you haven’t been seen, they conveniently stop to allow your grenade to get as many kills as possible. I mean, bollocks to that. Grenades have some weight to them and you would know if they had landed by your feet. You would think they would look down, panic, then get blown to pieces, other than just standing still thinking “well shit I had a good run”.
The game has a variety of activities to keep you occupied and progress your character to acquire the best gear. Firstly, you have a base of operations which evolves as you progress through the game, unlocking more content such as firing ranges, vendors, bounties, stylists and so on. It’s also the only place you use to acquire more Skills and the mods for them. Use also spend SHD Tech here, a type of currency used to give your character additional perks like inventory upgrades, weapon attachments, extra grenades and the like.
Across the map there are control points which you can capture from enemy control to acquire more loot. Other activities and encounters can provide decent equipment too, such as preventing public executions, securing a supply drop, defusing hostage situations, there’s a lot to keep you going. The tougher missions are in the form of Strongholds; where a factions last stand will generally take place, and require a fair amount of firepower to take them down.
On the exploration side of things, there’s collectables like echoes, which gives you a digitised overview of the situation once activated. There are also collectable recordings which give you a broader overview of what the situation was like, as well as people’s desperation to survive and enemy faction intentions. All of these can be found across the map and in contaminated zones. Further along the line, you have the chance to take on Bounties, which are high value targets you must track and take down to earn additional rewards. Some of these bounties are timed, some you also have to spend intel on, and during the end game stages some are locked unless previous bounties are killed first.
So fair to say there’s a lot of activities you can take part in, but what about the games performance? To start off you’ll always bump into something when heading to a destination; some sort of activity or firefight happening somewhere. Combat itself is pretty good all things considered; the cover-to-cover mechanics and firing strategies provide diverse gameplay, combined with your skills creates some interesting combat techniques. There are a few issues though. Firstly, using scopes in the game is available, but the transition from 3rd person to 1st person isn’t what I’d call slick, so I tend to stay away from those scopes. Secondly, some of the interface can be a little disruptive; in one case when you’re out of armour and you hold down a button to repair your armour, it will sometimes glitch a bit, wasting precious time, before you repair yourself. This has caught me out a few times, and can be quite frustrating. Despite the few issues though, I do praise how tense some fire fights can be.
End Game Content
Like I’ve mentioned before, you’ve just climbed through the levels, got some nice stuff and about to enter the end game stage. The map is clear of enemies and all is righteous in Washington. Then BAM! Black Tusk move in, your gear is now obsolete and all your progress on making the nation free of oppression has gone to shit. It’s a bit thrown in your face a little, maybe if there was a bit more context to this manoeuvre or introduced a piece at a time, then I’d understand. In either case, End Game stage unlocks your true potential, new enemies, new loot and new skills. Once you max out to level 30, your power is matched by a Gear Score. All gear is scored and ranked, collecting higher tier gear, with a high gear score, raises your gear score average.
Missions recur but with the special Black Tusk twist, giving you a different enemy in a similar scenario to the original mission, which is ok to be honest. I guess a higher power attacking the most valuable assets of the Division makes sense story wise but I can’t help but think they were just recycling content. Strongholds have also been taken over by the Black Tusk, but there is a catch. Whenever an enemy stronghold is defeated, the ‘World Tier’ raises a level. The higher the World Tier, the better loot you acquire but the enemies become stronger.
What does give you a significant boost against this new threat is the introduction of Specialisations. They are basically the replacement for Signature Skills from Division 1. Each specialisation has its own perk tree and signature weapon; The Demolitionist focuses on explosive damage and buffs to correspond that, and carries a powerful grenade launcher. The Survivalist uses an explosive crossbow, and has perks which both heal and buff teammates and themselves.
Finally, the Sharpshooter uses a powerful sniper, and is focused to perform singular DPS damage, scout out and spot enemies with relevant perks. These 3 Specialisations provide a new game changer, as they have perks focused to buff specific weapons. All the perks can be chosen as you like and more importantly, Specialisations are not locked to a character, which means they can be swapped out and changed at any time from the White House quartermaster. To level up and acquire the perks within a Specialisation, completing missions and other activities will unlock specialisation points depending on which one you have equipped at the time.
Changes to the PvP side of things with the Division have had some significant tweaks too. There is a Dark Zone in the Division 2, in-fact – there’s 3 zones. 3 smaller separate zones instead of 1 large Dark Zone means not having to travel far to an extraction point for captured loot, however it also means that engagements or seeing players will be more of an occurrence. They’ve also made significant changes to create a balance for both rogue players, and those who eliminate rogue players. Going Rogue is all about Risk vs Reward, with more of a payoff and additional challenges for surviving when reaching ‘Man-Hunt’ status, they even have a special vendor they can buy and sell from.
The Dark Zone also includes a unique feature which scales everyone’s damage to be at the same level, so no longer will you encounter players which are either higher or lower level than you, they should… SHOULD be evenly matched against. Of course, that is if you want them to be; one of the Dark Zones has this feature turned off, which provides and additional challenge and proves how worthy your gear actually is against other players. This effect changes to different Dark Zone sections on the map from time to time. It’s a neat system, but PvP in general will all be determined on both an agents stats, what mods and perks they have equipped.
What I also like about the Dark Zone is their introduction to each area. You have to do a mission to open and unlock each Dark Zone, which in turn gives you an idea on what each zone is like, what the Dark Zone is about, warning you against rogue agents and even a little bit of lore too. Seems they diverted more of their attention into telling players about the Dark Zone than they did about the whole storyline of the game.
The other PvP feature included is Conflict. Now introduced into the main game, this used to be part of the DLC for The Division 1, which introduces a 4v4 team-based Combat. 2 game modes consist of Domination; a capture the objective style gamemode, and also Skirmish which is the first to 20 kills to eliminate the enemy’s lives, preventing them from respawning.
Both gamemodes scale player levels to the same level, although there is Conflict games which this feature can be turned off, bringing more of a challenge just like the Dark Zone. It’s pretty fun and a good break away from the main game if that’s what you are looking for, however games can very to be very close or completely one sided, most times when it becomes one sided, there can be trouble with spawn entrapment. Teamwork is key during these game modes just as much as the PvE side of the game.
This is a nice-looking game, don’t get me wrong; the new location and season gives off a very different vibe compared to the cold winter of New York. The bright summer colours give off a nice summer bloom, despite the huge amount of debris and devastation across the nation. There’s also this impression you are given that makes the map seem huge, partly because it seems a lot more open compared to New York’s right streets and grid; it’s a beautiful mixture of nature overgrowing and overflowing the aftermath of the tragic events of Black Friday.
There is a problem that I have to pick a bone with, the lighting. I’m not entirely sure if it’s an issue I can resolve myself, but the transition from dark rooms to light areas is quite slow, and when you enter a dark area with a smidge of light coming through, good luck trying to see anything at all, it’s nigh on the borders of pitch black. It would be great to see the huge areas they have in the surrounding buildings and sewers but I couldn’t see any of that due to the lighting. The other issue I have is although the textures and details from the enemy models are brilliant, there isn’t enough of them, meaning there could have been a few different models with each archetype of an enemy faction, instead of constantly sending me baton wielding Hyena’s for me to gun down, just needs a bit more diversity.
Audio during the Open Beta was a bit of a mess to start off with; a few bugs in regards to weapon sounds and cut outs of audio entirely. Now though, audio is fixed which is grand here. The audio can be a little on and off; on one hand there some great ambiance. The weapon sounds powerful as well as the explosions from grenades, you also get a considerable amount of tech-like noises which does make you have this futuristic feeling.
I’m particularly impressed with the collectable audio logs, some of them can be really convincing, you get a real impression of the struggle and the insanity people went through during the crisis. But then on the other side you get these battle noises and screams from the ambiance matches the issue of same texture models, they’re are the same – everywhere. It’s like that same guy has been screaming in pain or for help no matter where I go around the map. Even if the noises had changed or differed depending on which area of Washington, I went into would have made a bigger difference.
The Division 2
The Division 2 is a great game for filling a void of boredom; plenty of activities to do and many ways to develop your Agent by acquiring better equipment, skills and crafting, followed by the PvP modes to distract you from the main game. This game should have been a lot better however if they managed to develop and execute their story a lot better, as the lack of delivery of this left me with a lot of questions. That being said, it’s a solid game with decent gameplay, and recommend it to anyone who needs their 3rd person shooter/RPG fix.
- Great Gameplay and Mechanics
- Good Open World and Graphics
- Plenty of Activities
- Lighting transition needs work
- Delivery of Story was done by Hermes Logistics
- Needs a bit more Diversity in some aspects