Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Review – Better Bring Some Back-Up

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 has been released upon the World and we have spent 30+ hours roaming the streets of Washington DC. The question is, should you venture there yourself or should you leave the death and destruction to the politicians.

Read on to find out

Three years ago Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment introduced the world to a brand new franchise. The Division took off in a hurry and shown the world what a ravaged New York City could look like. The game was met with praise and decent review scores, and created a fan base that were still active up to the release of The Division 2 (and probably still are). Fast forward 7 months after the Green Poison Outbreak, and The Division 2 begins its story arch.

D.C. in Distress

The game opens up as you are defending a settlement outside of New York somewhere and receive a distress call from Washington D.C. You are then transported to the area and must fight your way to the White House, which has been setup as the base of operations for the Joint Task Force (JTF). Once inside, you meet Manny Ortega, the Division controller for D.C, and he informs you of how the city is now laid out and who controls which areas.

Different factions control different areas, with each area having a difficulty level that will limit your ability to control them until your agent level matches or exceeds the area level. The factions are called the Hyenas, the True Sons, and the Outcasts and can be formidable foes, especially if they are much higher in level than your agent. We ran across an enemy that was a 28 while we were only a lowly 10 and the guy killed us with one shot. Each region has control points that’ll need to be taken over, and you’ll have a flare gun to call in some AI to assist you.

Upgradeable Settlements to Build Upon

Scattered across the city are three settlements that are in need of your assistance. As an agen, you’ll have to speak with different folks to unlock side missions that will give each settlement certain upgrades such as a better roof, a better water supply, maybe a games area for the kiddos, or even a shooting range for these folks to learn to defend themselves or sharpen their shooting skills. Every able bodied adult is a member of the local militia, so they all need to know how to safely handle firearms. This is something we could all benefit from, even without this Dollar Flu scenario.

As you upgrade each settlement, you’ll also start on and complete projects for them. Whether its feeding the needs outside the settlement or taking over control points and supplying them with needed resources, these projects will unlock blueprints for you to craft better weapons and add-ons for your weapons. A UMP .45 is a very effective weapon, but add an extended mag and a nice red dot site, and it can be even more effective.

 

The Virus Continues its Destruction

The story is told through cut scenes and collectibles, and if you follow along, you’ll find an intriguing back story that is well written and well acted. Tape recorders are littered throughout the game and can give tidbits of information that reveal the bigger picture. There are also digital echoes that will reveal key scenes from the past and how they played out. There are a few political points we ran across, but all in all they were what we would expect to happen if this grand scenario actually played out. If a virus is ravaging a country to your North or South, it would make complete sense to try to stop said virus at the border, if possible.

The voice acting for the game is pretty well done. You can sense the urgency, the fear, the despair, and/or whatever emotion the actor is trying to project whenever they speak. As someone who is hard of hearing and a pretty good lip reader, the speech animations match up nicely in English as well. This really adds to the overall production quality of the game and it’s impressive. Overall, the acting and the storyline do a great job of telling a decent story. Factor in the living, breathing, always something around environment, and you end up with a pretty damn good game.

Is it an RPG or a Third Person Shooter?

The game is both an RPG and a third person shooter set in a living, breathing, very active and ravaged Washington D.C. As you progress through the story and take out bigger and badder enemies, they’ll drop weapons and armor for you to gather up. These drops will scale with your agent level and will allow you to raise your armor level as you go. Early on these drops might not be as important as when you reach the max level of 30, but keep in mind that armor sets can increase different attributes of your agent, so just because a vest or a backpack might give you a slight armor boost, breaking up a set might make you weaker in the bigger picture.

As you complete some of the main missions, you’ll unlock skill points which in turn are used to unlock one of eight specialized skill platforms. These are all upgradeable devices that will become invaluable to you as you play through the game. Our two favorites are the drone and the turret, but they didn’t become truly effective until we found some mods to apply to them. Better batteries for the drone allowed it to stay around longer and cool down faster, and a better targeting mod increased the accuracy of the turret. The turret comes in several variances like a machine gun turret, a flame turret, or a sniper turret, but that machine gun turret works best for us.

Not an Easy Game for Solo Play

The Division 2 works best as a team centric game, but it is possible to play through it solo. The game requires an always-on internet connection and you’ll see other online players in your world quite often, but once you start a mission, you’ll be on your own unless you already have team mates. If you do find yourself in a dire predicament, it is possible to put out a call for back-up and hope someone will come in and save your ass, but those calls are only answered if someone online takes the time to actually answer them, and there’s no guarantee they will. If they do, prepare to see more enemies than you had before as the game will actually adjust that according to the number of players in a team. While that might make the mission a little harder, at least your team mate can revive you if you go down so you won’t have to restart at the checkpoint, unless you both go down.

This isn’t a run-and-gun, spray and pray like Rambo style game. That method will result in your death. Make no mistake on that point. If you run into an area, during a mission, unprepared and hoping to just kill everyone in one quick sweep, you will fail miserably and you will die. If you just stand out in the open, with no protection other than the armor you are wearing, you will die. Doesn’t matter if you have level 30 gear with some awesome weapons, if the enemies are somewhat close to you in level, and you try to act like Rambo, you will die. The game uses a cover based system that works very well, and blind fire is your friend. Playing solo with a drone and turret does make the game a little easier, but still, use cover and your brains or you will die.

The AI Bad Guys Are Not Stupid

One of the things that surprised us the most was how intelligent the artificial intelligence is in the game. While the lower level enemies might have a lower IQ and are easily led to slaughter by using a doorway as a choke point, the higher level you go, the smarter they become. You’ll need to pay close attention to the layout of each battlefield and make damn sure you can cover your six by either utilizing a wall or planting the turret accordingly. The AI won’t stay stationary either, as they will constantly try to flank you or maneuver behind you.

The enemies use of grades and gas can be a pain in the ass as well. The can hit you with standard frag grenades, electric grenades, fire grenades, or our least favorite is the confusion gas grenade. That damn thing will make you think up is down, right is left, over is across, or run is jump. Your controller becomes useless because it doesn’t do what you want it to do. The first time we were hit by it, we thought we broke our controller somehow, then we read the tip on the screen and realized the developers were just being buttheads. Honestly, it is a very creative weapon and very effective, even against the AI. We have noticed that regardless of who throws it, everyone within is the gas is affected, and the same goes for fire, meaning that the AI can actually hurt their own team mates.

Map of D.C.

It really feels like the developer spared no expense when researching and creating the overall maps of Washington D.C. Using GPS to map the area on a 1:1 scale, they did an incredible job of recreating it in-game, albeit aged and decayed accordingly. From the White Hose to the Lincoln Memorial, this has to be the best recreation of a locale to date in a video game. The game is complete with wildlife like wild dogs, rats, deer, and vultures.

The buildings and locations themselves are also recreated internally, with most being repurposed by whichever faction took that area over. The space museum made me want to try on an astronauts space suit, or at least find some armor that looked similar. There’s one place in a museum where the Vietnam War was being historically displayed, complete with sound effects of a Huey. That made for an interesting battle once the bad guys showed up.

The DZ and End Game

As with the previous game in the series, the Dark Zone returns. In the Dark Zone, other online players can follow you around and wait for you to find some cool gear, then kill you and take it. It’s an area of PVP that can really be a pain in the ass while playing solo, but with a decent team, can be a lot of fun. We aren’t big fans of folks taking things from us that we worked hard for, so this mode can really get our blood boiling.

Upon reaching level 30, Division Agents will be able to activate one of several specializations. Each one unlocks a unique signature weapon and additional skills that offer new ways to play. These are the Survivalist, the Demolitionist, and and the Sharpshooter.

Glitch Free and Gorgeous

After spending over 30 hours in the game (we aren’t finished and shall continue on), we have yet to come across any glitches or even have any crashes. After participating in both the closed and the open beta, with only a few issues there, the beta seems to have helped the developer squash any bugs folks came across. We have heard about issues with turrets not deploying properly, and skills not acting properly, but we haven’t personally ran across these issues. We have also been told of the sound occasionally dropping but haven’t experienced that ourselves.

The graphics for the game on our PS4 pro are some of the best we have seen. The game has run smoothly with little to no frame drops, even when we were heavily outnumbered and stuff was blowing up everywhere. We were sent a code for the digital version of the game and that 90GB download was a bit much, but after experiencing the graphics, we know understand why it was so large.

Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment set a pretty high bar with the first game in the franchise, but they went above and beyond the call with The Division 2. An exceptional story, memorable characters, great voice acting, with an RPG weapon and armor system that will keep us busy for some time to come.

Very impressive!

9


Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 provided by the publisher. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.

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