In 2013 Ubisoft unveiled to the world for the very first time their answer to the loot-shooter genre with Tom Clancys: The Division. The reveal showed a brutal, iced-over depiction of a ruined New York City in the midst of a viral plague and civil unrest as gangs and organizations terrorized the people of the big apple. When the game launched in 2016, the game was met with mixed results citing issues such as poor optimization, un-rewarding gameplay loop and host of other grievances that took away from an otherwise good game. The Division, did not launch at a good state whatsoever.

But then, something unimaginable happened in the loot-shooter world: the game improved significantly over the years without having to purchase any sort of “we’re sorry” year one expansion. The team at Massive Entertainment, based out of Sweden, doubled-down and continued to add game-improving updates. Now, The Division 2 has launched confidently showcasing everything the team at Massive has learned over the years with a myriad of improvements and additions that make the game hard to put down.

Fallen Nation

The Division 2 takes place nearly seven months after the original game’s events where a smallpox epidemic spread through banknotes which caused chaos and panic across Manhattan.

In the sequel, players are sent to investigate Washington D.C. after the SHD Network, the Division agents communication and technology system, falls apart leaving them cut-off from the rest of the country. It is now up to the agents to return order back to the capital of the nation, and to defeat the various factions that are vying for control.

Your first look at the end of society itself.

All in all, it is a pretty standard Tom Clancy-esque story of badass agents fighting the terrorizers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Unlike Destiny and Anthem’s convoluted narrative of space wizards and magical Macguffins, The Division 2’s story is a straightforward experience that doesn’t highlight it’s narrative. It uses it as a vehicle to set up a tone for a game you’ll be playing for hundreds of hours.

That being said, I found myself impressed by the performances by the voice actors, especially in the audio-logs that ranged from okay to downright harrowing.

Some of the small stories you can find, including the fantastic environmental storytelling, really adds to the feeling of wandering a near-post-apocalyptic world. This feeling of wandering is only exemplified by The Divison 2’s open-world, which should be considered a shining example of open-world development.

The Capital Wasteland

Visiting Capitol Hill.

The Division 2 is my second favorite depiction of a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. (the first being Fallout 3, of course). Luckily, there are no deathclaws to eat me alive in this game, but what we do have is the absolute best open-world in the loot-shooter genre.

One of my biggest issues with other games in this genre is that the worlds are usually pretty bland. They may feature some beautiful visuals and fantastic elements, but when it comes down to it, they’re usually uninteresting to traverse and serve as filler space of going from point A to B. It’s an absolute awful feeling when you have a beautiful world like Bastion from Anthem only to serve as a place to fly around, but not truly explore.

I’m confident I can walk around real life D.C. at this point.

The Division 2 however, features a brilliantly designed world which is a 1-to-1 scale recreation of Washington D.C. which is an impressive feat. The Division 2’s depiction is just a lot of fun to explore and traverse. Part of this is thanks to how many little nooks and crannies, underground tunnels, car garages and other locations are peppered throughout the game. The other part is that the world feels alive.

Going from point A to B is not as simple as other loot-shooters; in The Division 2, every step you take will probably lead you to a fire-fight, jumping roaming mobs carrying supplies back to their base, taking over control points etc. Something is always happening in every corner, and the wonderful in-game map makes sure you miss nothing at all thanks to its accessibility and fantastic design.

This is how you design a functioning map.

There are also projects in the game where you can do activities and donate materials to restore the settlements in the game, breathing life back into the communities.

Massive has done a fantastic job in creating the visuals for the game through both its technical fidelity, and the art style. The Division 2 does not have the advantage of being a fantasy, sci-fi universe but it more than makes up for it in its clever depiction of an I Am Legend-esque world. I am playing on a PC, and as you can see by the screenshots, the game is a looker.

Reborn, and full of life.

Tell Me Your Short Stories

The campaign missions are beautifully designed.

Though wandering a beautiful world filled with dynamic events and activities is fun, the campaign and side-missions are the real treat when it comes to what you can do in the game. I mentioned that the game’s story is pretty standard, and it’s true, but the actual campaign missions are thrilling and an absolute blast to play.

The Division 2’s campaign missions are some of the most exciting, difficult and rewarding missions I have played in both this genre and in many third-person shooters in general. They never feel like half-baked, shoe-horned missions that are there for the purpose of leveling you up.

Some of the best examples of the game’s campaign missions are the museum missions, where players go through fighting off waves of enemies and doing light puzzles all the while immersed in a richly designed environment. However, this thrilling nature of the main-missions also applies to the side-missions.

The side-missions are well thought out and unique.

The side-missions are significantly shorter, but doesnt sacrifice the quality you find in the main campaign; they still feature beautifully designed levels, exciting challenges and a ton of loot. Side-missions in games like this are usually pretty lackluster as seen in other games in the genre including its predecessor, but The Division 2 side-steps the mediocrity to give us great missions both big and small. To compliment the fantastic missions, Massive has also created some truly exciting gameplay

Armed and Dangerous

*sips tea* This is fine.

Much like its predecessor, The Division 2 is a third-person cover shooter that rewards tactical positioning, use of cover, and relies on your general understanding of the environment around you. While the first game had these elements, the excitement of each firefight was muted by some questionable A.I. and bullet sponge enemies that could take magazine after magazine to take down. Massive once again shows off how much they have learned from their experience.

While the first game felt like an RPG with shooting elements, The Division 2 showcases an expert blend between the two elements. Combat in the game feels fluid, frantic, and exhilarating with every encounter feeling different.

Part of this is thanks to the brilliant artificial intelligence of the enemies. Regardless of the level or enemy type, NPC’s are smart, taking advantage of their environment and abilities, and never giving you a chance to gain the upper-hand. The A.I. is not unfair though, just quite challenging which makes every firefight feel like your last.

Combat is brutal and rewarding.

Massive has also tweaked the time-to-kill, which has drastically changed the sponginess of enemies. While some heavy or boss enemies still take a lot of ammo to take down it never feels cheap. This is due to the new armor system in the game which both the NPC’s and your characters have; enemies have weak points in their armor and gear that can be exploited and once it’s gone, you can shred the health away easily. The tiny bit of bullet sponginess feels more believable now.

The fantastic combat is supplemented by a deep, customizable RPG experience where you can min-max your character depending on your loot similar to Diablo 3. Min-maxing compliments the eight base abilities at your disposal; from flamining turrets to shields, each ability has roughly 3-5 variations giving you flexibility in combat. Between the min-maxing of your equipment and your abilities, the gameplay loop is exciting since the game essentially showers you with loot.

Give Me All Of Your Loot

Loot. So much loot.

For a military shooter steeped in reality, this game does not shy away from giving you loot. In fact, I sometimes find it overwhelming when the game gives me more loot than I can literally carry in-game. I can’t stress how happy that makes me.

The Division 2 is a game centered around loot where each piece of weapon, armor and even your bag can give you various statistical advantages/disadvantages (rolls) and perks. There are many combinations that you can put together to create your ultimate character, which doesn’t feel like a chore when you have access to a sizeable loot pool filled with a surprising variation of guns, masks, armored vests, gloves and much more.

Half of these items are from random world containers.

Just the other day, I spawned at a control point where each day you can open up some random world crates. Soon as I opened my first one, I got a high-end M60. By just walking around the world, you can get amazing loot or trash that you can break down and re-use in the crafting system.

The Division 2 rewards you for exploring the world, doing the activities, and by simply being a part of this game world, and that I find compelling and gives me a reason to keep playing.

A thrilling experience from start to end-game.

Invasion of the End Game

Many people play loot-shooters for the end-game content, luckily for you my fellow looters, The Division 2’s end game is deep, rewarding and hasn’t even been fully realized yet. After finishing the campaign and hitting level 30, as well as taking down the three faction strongholds in the game, something unexpected happens. A cutscene plays showing the survivors celebrating their recent victories against the other factions, which is unfortunately short lived.

The Black Tusk has arrived in D.C., a technologically advanced organization that rivals and even eclipses the capabilities of the Division agents. When you reach the end-game, the entire map that you have fought so hard to liberate is taken over by the shadow organization and they are here to stay. The Black Tusk are no re-skinned enemies, they are an entirely new faction with advanced weaponry like gunship drones and robot dogs, and every soldier is a deadly threat.

Not pictured: Me taking cover from the Black Tusk.

You will have to fight this new deadly faction through invaded missions (the campaign missions replaced by the new faction), re-taking the open-world including control points and fighting the original strongholds with the Black Tusk replacing the other factions. The Division 2’s end game also sees the return of world tiers which you can move through as you increase your gear score. Currently world tier 5 is locked until the release of Tidal Basin, the fourth stronghold and the Black Tusks home-base.

The Division 2 has a lot to do in its end-game, including activities such as the priority target network that I haven’t experienced yet. The end-game is riveting, diverse, dense and ultimately so rewarding all before the inevitable launch of an 8-player raid which will usher the series first raid. In other words, clear your calendars, you will be busy for quite some time with this game.

The Battle Wages On

While The Division 2 (much like many other games) is not perfect with some bugs, a few disconnects, etc., it is a stunning example of where the loot-shooter genre should be going. The game is packed with so much content, and so much more to discuss that it would far exceed the limits of this review: I would need a good 2000 more words to discuss how fantastic, brilliant and confident this sequel is. I haven’t even talked about its MTX, which is not unfair and actually rewards you apparel caches (the games loot boxes) by playing.

I haven’t even talked about the games PVP mode. Even the Dark Zone which I haven’t mentioned in this review, had a full revamp changing the way we see the infamous PvPvE mode. There is so much to say about The Division 2!

The Division 2, is bar-none the most fully-realized game in the loot-shooter genre, and a pinnacle example of what it means to create a true sequel that pushes the series forward free of empty promises, and filled with moments of brilliance. I am so excited to see what the next year brings, now if you excuse me, I’m going into the Dark Zone to hopefully rob people of their beanies.

A confident, thrilling sequel that redefines the genre.
The Division 2 Review
The Good
  • Brilliant open-world design
  • Exciting gameplay and deep RPG mechanics
  • Great game well before the end-game
The Bad
  • Minor bug issues
  • Some disconnects, rubberbanding
  • Enemies sometimes feel bullet spongy
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)
6.4

About The Author

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Robin Ghosh (a.k.a. SpectreRobin) is a Sr. Staff Writer at GAW. He is a published writer, photographer, videographer and budding filmmaker and is currently the content director of TABOOZAPP. Having recently finished his masters in media production at Ryerson University, he is gearing up to take his career to the next level (ha, gaming pun). Robin is in love with role-playing games, sim-shooters like Deus Ex and Prey and has a soft spot for survival games like DayZ. He will play anything with a good story and a compelling world to explore. That being said no matter what year it is, he will probably at some point have a craving to play Skyrim again for the 3rd time..4th? Who knows, he really....really likes Skyrim.