When The Division first launched in 2015 it was an ambitious project by Ubisoft to bring an American city to life on a scale never seen before. New York City was a beautiful mess, and although the game suffered from a rocky launch, several post-launch content drops made it one of the best open-world shooters of all time. The Division 2 returns to the same universe, taking place seven months after the outbreak of the Green Poison. With humanity on the brink, it’s up to you, agent, to reclaim the nation’s capital and build settlements to stabilise the region.
The Division 2 is a big game, which is a great thing to be able to say at launch. Beginning the game, you’ll create a character, choosing a gender and then some basic facial features. Piercings (which made an appearance in the beta) were unfortunately removed for now, though we wouldn’t be surprised if they return in a later update. After creating your character and getting a bit of a back story about the events that have occurred in the 7 months since New York City, you head towards the White House and quickly establish your central hub. The White House is one of four settlements that you unlock and upgrade as you progress through the game and upgrading them leads to new features unlocking such as bounties, weapon customisations, and the PVP dark zones.
The fast travel system works quite well in The Division 2, with reasonable load times on the Xbox One X. You can fast travel to the settlements, one of the numerous safe houses around the map, as well as any control points which are currently under your control. Much like its predecessor, there are no useable vehicles in The Division 2 so you’ll be making the most of fast travel, particularly in the later parts of the game, though there are plenty of reasons to explore Washington D.C. and discover what it has to offer. Other than the sight seeing, there are Echoes scattered across the city which are augmented reality scenes that show a brief glimpse of the past, usually as the Green Poison is changing the city. There are plenty of other collectables scattered around, which gives the game a typical Ubisoft feel.
Agents are also expected to gather resources such as food, water, electronics and more from objects like bins, vending machines and crates to help build up the settlements and complete projects. There are also plenty of crates lying around the city that will reward you with new armour and weapons, as well as vanity items such as clothing and emotes. Vanity items can be purchased using a premium currency bought using real money, or you can earn a different currency that you can spend on loot boxes that have the chance of getting them. The important point here is that loot boxes are not purchasable using real money, so therefore gambling is not a part of The Division 2.
Leveling up is quick and easy at first but slows down a bit from level 10 onwards. There are main missions which are level capped meaning you can’t play them until you reach a certain level. Some players prefer to be able to play through the main story whenever they want, and although the game does have a feature that raises the levels of lower level players in your group to allow for better team progression, it didn’t tend to help too much with advancement as difficult areas required better geared players, not boosted lowbies looking for a free pass.
There are three factions of enemies that you take on before reaching endgame, and the gradual increase in difficulty is countered by the increase in your skills, perks, and gear. There are only a few parts of the game that are challenging as you level up unless you decide to try and go it alone. In higher levels, some of the harder AI will crouch or even go prone making them harder to target. This was frustrating given there’s no way for your character to do the same, so hopefully the option to crouch and go prone can be added post-launch.
Weapons and armour play a vital role in how easy progression is in The Division 2, and as you get better gear, you’ll notice that you can apply skins and modifications to them, making your character quite unique. Typically, weapons can have three or four modifications applied at once while some armour pieces can have one or two. Modifications are found in the wild, though you can also craft weapons, armour and modifications which are usually unlocked via completing side missions. Fortunately, Ubisoft has given the option to have alternate setups with a quick menu change, allowing you to swap between a sniper rifle and a shotgun as a secondary weapon easily as well as changing up your armour, though this option is a perk unlock and not immediately available.
The endgame faction The Black Tusk uses sophisticated technology to their advantage, and raises the bar to a new level, though most players will find themselves well equipped to take them on. As you progress through the endgame missions the world level increases as well, so if you progress too quickly you can find yourself in over your head but if you stick to group play, The Division 2 is never really too difficult.
Surprisingly in The Division 2 the only reward you get for leveling is a box which usually contains two or three pieces of equipment at your new level to give you a kind of head start. There are eight unique technology skills to unlock such as drones, shields, seeker mines, and turrets, and these unlock one at a time after completing the main missions. Each type has different configurations which can be unlocked using SHD caches, i.e. a drone can be used to kill enemies, mark enemies, or heal you, similarly the turret can be used for close-range mayhem or for sniping enemies from afar. Perks are rewarded by gathering SHD caches which you get when you find and unlock a new safe house, or by looting one found in the open world. Luckily, they’re all on the mini-map and relatively easy to gather, and we found all perks were unlocked by the time we hit max level.
Once you hit level 30 The Division 2 essentially starts again. Players choose between three specialisations and are awarded an end-game weapon with unique ammo that only drops if you kill enemies in a certain way. Demolitionists get a grenade launcher, survivalists get a crossbow with explosive bolts, and sharpshooters are awarded a huge sniper rifle. New talent trees are also unlocked, and XP earned at endgame goes towards unlocking even better perks.
The Division 2 offers two different styles of PvP. Dark Zones are back, allowing players to scoure the fringes of Washington D.C. You will come across other players as well as PvE enemies so it’s vital to keep on your toes, but the rewards are more than worth it and can be used back in the main game. Dark Zone mode has its own leveling though, so we argue it’s best left until you at least hit level 30. Conflict Mode is new to the series, and currently there are two different styles in Domination and Skirmish. Conflict is 4v4 PvP on unique maps that aren’t found elsewhere in the game, and has its own unique rewards that can’t be found in other game modes. We thought perhaps that Ubisoft would be looking to have a battle royale style mode in Conflict but currently there are no announced plans for such a feature.
Both main missions and side missions provide agents with some amazing exploration experiences through Washington D.C. The city is known for its monuments and museums and Ubisoft has done a fantastic job recreating them for us to toy around in. Whether you’re going through the exhibits at the National Air and Space museum, or scurrying through the Lincoln Monument, this 1:1 true to scale replica of the United States’ capital city has some jaw dropping attention to detail. The climactic ending at the Capitol Building is also a great conclusion to what was one of the best tours of a city we’ve experienced in a video game.
Though the game looks stunning in 4K on the Xbox One X, unfortunately some features such as lighting are not maxed out compared to what you can achieve on high-end PC’s. We did experience a texture issue where the game wouldn’t load high-res textures when loading the Xbox from standby, though we were able to fix this by transferring the game files to the existing external HDD. Physics of inanimate objects are a bit mixed, with some glitching out while others such as traffic cones and bollards not responding to bullet fire as one would expect. For the most part though, The Division 2 looks and plays incredibly well on the Xbox One X.
We were lucky enough here at Rocket Chainsaw to get a few review codes for The Division 2 which allowed us to give a more thorough review of the game’s multiplayer. While settlements have matchmaking stations, they are unneeded as you can do matchmaking via the social menu tab at any stage. You can also call for help from random players via the map at any stage, and we found that after just a few seconds in the game we would typically get calls for help from other agents to fill the group. Matchmaking for random events was quick, however matchmaking for endgame missions tended to take a bit longer. Groups are usually co-ordinated and work together regardless of skill level. We noticed very little toxicity within the online community, which is always a huge positive.
The Division 2 delivers on all its promises at launch. It is a solid third person online shooter with plenty of different options and playstyles for each type of gamer. The matchmaking works a charm whether you want to jump into someone else’s game or call for help, and we experienced minimal disconnections and freezing which are probably just teething issues for the game’s launch. It has enjoyed an extremely smooth launch and for anyone on the fence about trying it, and Ubisoft has guaranteed that there is plenty more content (such as eight player raids) coming to Washington D.C.
- An amazingly buzzing open world with seamless fluidity from missions to freeroam - Plenty to do as you level as well as in endgame - Matchmaking is importantly super quick.
- Some minor teething issues with matchmaking, disconnections and freezes - Typical occasional Ubisoft physics bugs draw away from realism - No ability to crouch or go prone, despite the fact the AI can.