The Division was one of my favourite games of *checks calendar* 2016. My squad and I put countless hours into exploring the post-apocalyptic city, a snowy, ravaged environment that was filled with gangs of nasties just waiting to be cleaned up. While I gave it a strong review initially, it definitely hit a certain point in the end-game where I wished for more juicy content than what was available. This was mostly fixed with lots of ongoing support and content updates, but still, I know plenty of people who gave up before that.
The Division 2 has the ability to right some of the wrongs from the original, and while it’s hard to tell for sure… it’s definitely feeling like a case of so far, so good.
The first thing you’ll notice about diving in to The Division 2 is how beautiful the world really looks. No longer set in winter, there is gorgeous lush greenery and plants, while still being littered with the remains of Xmas when the virus took its toll. A strong opening cut-scene quickly outlines the stakes and then you’re off, shooting more bad guys, upgrading your gear and establishing your first base – The White House, of course. A nice touch.
“…more missions, more things to do and plenty of smart quality of life improvements…”
It’s worth mentioning that I felt incredibly comfortable in this world right away. Like slipping into a cosy pair of my favourite pajamas, it’s a very familiar feeling that I enjoy, and quickly was reminded of how much I loved the 200+ hours I pumped into the original. That means that if you didn’t like The Division the first time around, this is unlikely to change your point of view.
No, what you get here isn’t very different, but for a fan that’s just perfect. What you get here is more. More detailed environments, more missions, more things to do, a refined Dark Zone experience and plenty of smart quality of life improvements that made me nod with a smile and a thought “this just makes so much more sense”.
I found myself back in that satisfying rhythm with my squad, competing missions, getting more fancy guns and gear to upgrade my agent. While I only spent a few hours with the game, it became clear to me that there were more objectives that I could choose to complete, and therefore more opportunities to suck me in.
Along with the main narrative, there are bases you can upgrade in different ways, each with separate requirements in order to get the most out of them. The smaller checkpoint-like areas still exist in The Division 2, but with them come larger game hubs that feel as important as your home-base. I had the urge straight away to achieve the (sometimes optional) tasks so that I could upgrade the first one I came across, the satisfying gameplay loop still very much intact.
Then there’s the quality of life stuff. I can’t tell you how good it is to have access to so many cool upgrades to choose from and a range of perks you can access early on in the experience. It’s also so clever that you can quickly judge to see if a piece of equipment is better than the one you have equipped, with the ability to switch it out then and there without navigating a menu.
The Division 2 is just peppered with smarter decisions and the foundation of strong gameplay that made me fall in love with the franchise in the first place. It looks incredible, environments are a joy to explore (as joyful as they can be when everyone is trying to kill you, anyway) and the cooperative thrill of shooting and looting with friends is ever present. Sure, some enemies still kind of feel like bullet sponges, but that’s the kind of sponge action I’m here for.
I can’t wait to play more.
The Division 2 launches on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on March 15th, or March 12th if you pre-order one of the special editions.