Hands-On: The Division 2 Aims to Reinvigorate the Franchise | Tech News
I have mixed feelings about Tom Clancy’s The Division. The original game featured some of the best third-person shooting mechanics I’ve ever experienced. It also had exceptional, jaw-dropping graphics. Story-wise, it was a disappointment. Its less-than-engaging narrative structure undermined its intriguing premise. Fortunately, Ubisoft has a chance to deliver a stronger experience with The Division 2. While the game isn’t reinventing much, it introduces subtle changes that can potentially go a long way.
The demo I played was the same one shown during the Xbox E3 briefing. I, along with a group of three others, had to go to a Control Point and take out a group of bad guys located at the crash site of Air Force One. Control points are new to The Division 2. These public events are a great way to nab rare loot. As you can imagine, they are also very challenging. In fact, my team and I were not able to complete the mission. Thankfully, the developers allowed me to play the demo a second time.
The demo had three different character classes: Demolitionist, Specialist, and Sharpshooter. I choose Demolitionist since I just wanted to get in close and blow stuff up. My character had an M4 assault rifle and a shotgun. She also had two character class-specific weapons. One was a powerful grenade launcher, while the other weapon was a device that shoots small missiles at foes. This is a great area-of-effect weapon that’s perfect for large groups of baddies. Needless to say, I loved my Demolitionist.
Like I said above, The Division has some of the best third-person shooting mechanics out there. This is the same for the sequel. As before, it is immensely satisfying moving from cover point to cover point and picking off targets. I loved flanking and taking out unsuspecting foes. My team didn’t talk much, but I made sure to stay close in case I or anyone needed help. Whether it was indoors or out in the open, the game’s level design allows for a great deal of mobility. It encourages you to stay on the move, lest enemies get the drop on you.
One of the biggest complaints lobbied at The Division is the bullet-sponge enemies. Most games have enemies that can absorb dozens of bullets before dying, but in The Division it felt worse. It makes sense if an alien or a robot is a bullet sponge, but that’s not the case when your foe is a random homeless person. Enemies in The Division 2 are bullet sponges too, but at least they all have armor now, which explains why they can take so much damage. Bigger, more heavily armored foes require a great deal of ammunition to defeat. However, if you manage to shoot their weak points, you can bring them down relatively fast. For the most part, Ubisoft has fixed The Division‘s bullet sponge problem.
The Division 2 takes place seven months after the Black Friday virus outbreak in New York City. Instead of The Big Apple, the game is set in Washington D.C during a heatwave. Like NYC, the nation’s capital is overrun by various factions vying for control. The Summer setting allows the game’s Frostbite Engine to flex its muscles in a different way. I found the sun-drenched environments convincingly realized. You could almost feel the heat and humidity coming off the screen. While I miss the impressive looking snow from the original, it was a wise choice to set this game during a heat wave. It creates a nice contrast between the two titles.
The Division 2 demo was a great deal of fun but it didn’t show me how the game’s story plays out. I love the premise of the franchise, but I’d like the narrative to play out in a more dramatic fashion in the sequel. I didn’t feel connected to the characters or the world in the original. Yes, it was fun to shoot bad guys, but without an emotional connection, it was an empty experience. Perhaps I’m spoiled by games like God of War, but I need a little more from a game’s narrative. I’ll hold out hope The Division 2 has a story worthy of its gameplay.
The Division 2 is set to release in February 2019. That’s still a long way out, and we have many lingering questions. How does the game incorporate Dark Zones? What does the End Game look like? Will the story have more impact? Will we see a form of Battle Royale? Hopefully, we’ll get more details in the coming months.
The Division has a solid foundation. If Ubisoft can build upon it with The Division 2, we should get something truly worthwhile. Let’s keep an eye on this one and see where things go.
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