PREVIEW – Looter shooters and Games As A Service have become pretty popular terms for this console generation. The idea that you buy one game (or free to play), and it gets content drops for years has been an enticing offer for gamers from publishers and developers. While in theory, this is a win-win as gamers get to play a product that is constantly updated, and publishers get to rake in a steady flow of cash from gamers through microtransaction, or various expansions.
Three big attempts were made this generation by AAA publishers, one by Bungie, one by Ubisoft, and now one by EA. Destiny and The Division worth both games that promised the moon, and barely got off the ground – both game’s plot was barebones, plus the content was not the best. While in the end at least The Division got a lot of content, both games decided that unlike Warframe they would release a numbered sequel where they mix up the balance and the gameplay mechanics. While Destiny 2 needed another expansion, and the fate of the franchise is up in the air as Bungie has decided to split from Activision. Anthem meanwhile looking promising decided to crash, and burn during its beta phase, due to its technical issues, and general bulletsponginess.
So it is left for The Division 2 to see if for a second round they were able to improve, or just stagnate.
„I’m Just a Secret Agent On A Capitol Hill”
The Division 2 takes place in Washington D.C. seven months after the first game, as a Division agent, we arrive at the Capital after a distress call redirects them. The player will be able to explore the entirety of the city, and once again it has been mapped 1:1, although with some liberties taken when it comes to shops, and other buildings. The enemy is vying for power to take over the town, and the developers are trying to hammer in just how evil these factions are compared to The Division 1. The Hyenas are survivors who just want to take and kill people without any mercy. The True Sons are warlords led by an old Joint Task Force member trying to Make America Great again after The Collapse. Then there are The Outcasts who are survivors of The Dark Zone and blame everyone for their misfortunate.
There is also a fourth faction called The Black Tusk, a highly technological unit trying to take over D.C, and also eliminate any traces of the Division. Once the play reaches level 30 they will take over most of the map, and main activities for the player. The story of Division 2 is average, and while the player character is once again mute, all of the other NPCs are less annoying, and the scripts are a bit better. There are also a few clichés that the developers decided to use like reclaiming the Declaration of Independence from a vault or using The White House as a base of operations. It is all fun, and joy, with the usual Pro-American message of unity, but do not expect too much from it (at least from what I saw in the Beta). It is still a better story than Anthem’s or Destiny’s Scifi jargon though at this point.
Times Are Changin
With leaving New York City behind, we lose sadly lose some of the charm and atmosphere of the first game. Rather than snow, we got heavy thunderstorms and hot summer days. The game has more variety compared to The Division 1 in terms of buildings and locations. While New York City was just a massive city with skyscrapers, and barely any identity. Here D.C. is filled with interesting buildings, locations, and even large open spaces. The Dark Zones are also more distinct and separated from the main areas, but the best thing is that there are now no loading walks when entering certain locations. Everything is seamless (unless fast travelling) when running around the world with the agent.
The mission structure will also change in the sequel where instead of just one base, you have multiple settlements you can protect, upgrade, and there will be also checkpoints to take over. When a checkpoint is taken over by the player it is populated by allied NPCs, who are actually useful this time. You will be also able to respawn at these locations not just at the base of operations or at safe houses. It streamlines a lot of things to allow the player to get back into action with relative ease. Also The Dark Zone has much more story content to it, and not every loot is contaminated, which means you can use some pretty top tier weaponry in certain cases.
The health system has also been revamped. Rather than having just a health bar, the players now also get armour on top which makes the game a bit more manageable. The health and armour of enemies scale based on the number of players, which currently still needs a bit of balancing, but still, it is better compared to the first game. Even in the end game level which is available in the beta, it was far more fun to play than any of the older content, since you just did not have to shoot one boss enemy for ten minutes to make a dent in their life.
Special abilities are back, but the game here gives more freedom. You can control bombs manually, and target enemies if you are using the turret. There are no more signature abilities, instead what we get are three distinct classes when we reach level 30, each with their own specialist weapons (Crossbow, Sniper Rifle, and Grenade Launcher).
Welcome to D.C.
In the end, the beta does have its fair share of issues. The graphics can be a bit wonky, and the audio keeps cutting out on certain cues. Crashes are constant, and also some of the AI can be a bit dense at the time. Most of the time it works, and I’m hoping by next month near the release date these bugs will disappear. It is a massive improvement over the first game and feels much more playable. Massive should tweak the enemy health and armour pool though when playing with three or four people as it reaches Division 1 sponginess. Regardless I cannot wait to get a hold of the full version in March.
A massive improvement over The Division 1, and hopefully by release date they iron out the issues. Might be the most feature rich game compared to Anthem and Destiny.
Developer: Massive Entertainment
Relase date: March 15, 2019