Exciting gameplay overshadows forgettable story in ‘The Division 2’

Most humans have been wiped out by a fatal biological super-bug, but somehow this bug is weaponized.

Secret groups of government agents, or “Division Agents” are considered to be the last line of defense in rebuilding and defending the nation.

In “The Division 2” players get to create and play their own Division Agent and scour post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., looking for supplies, weapons, and, most importantly, reclaiming the enemy-occupied landmarks and neighborhoods by force.

The-Division-2-Review“The Division” franchise has some history as a pretty bland third-person-shooter with loads of potential. The genre of “shoot-and-loot” games maintains a meager standard in the massive multiplayer online role-playing game (or MMORPG) world.

The first “Division” game was fairly bland. The beginning was strong, the story was decent, but the “endgame” was severely lacking at launch. Ubisoft’s developers were very receptive throughout all of “The Division’s” lifespan. They listened to their players and offered fixes and content to respond to the suggestions of their fans.

“The Division 2” is almost similar to the first game, but with all of the balance fixes, loot, and content that it had lacked from the beginning. It is a much better game that raises the bar in the MMO shoot-and-loot genre.

The story is reasonably engaging, though a little boring for my taste. I find myself not paying attention during the more significant events, but that is because my taste in shooters does not include semi-realistic, hyper-tactical super soldiers. I don’t like working or playing for “The Man.” I am more of a sci-fi fan. However, this does not take away from my experience, because the gameplay is excellent.

The beginning is not very challenging, but the endgame is. “The Division 2” truly starts after 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, when you start unlocking “World Tiers,” which are the_division_2_gold_art_1.jpgessentially harder versions of the world the player is already roaming. The open world also becomes much more dynamic after level 30. The world is always moving, changing, and being occupied or invaded by different enemy factions.

After reaching the level cap of 30, the gear-score grind begins, along with openings for different “specializations” that unlock more ways to play the game.

There are three specializations, and each gives a new tree of “perks” that help refine your preferred play style. “The Division 2” does not emphasize, but merely includes, the “Tank, healer, DPS” style of MMO, albeit with a more complicated execution. The specializations have something for (almost) everybody, whether a player wants to focus on explosives, sharpshooting, survivability, or pure gun damage-per-second.

  “The Division 2” would not be complete without “Dark Zones.” or DZ. Dark Zones are contaminated, quarantined areas that are unlocked later in the game. The DZ is where players go for some of the best loot, and player vs. player conflict. The DZ was arguably the best part of the first “Division” game.

In “The Division 2,” the Dark Zone is split into three smaller areas instead of one large one. The three DZs “normalize” each player’s gear score, which balances everybody’s armor and damage output. This way, nobody has the edge over another player by having better gear, so players are rewarded for higher skills.

Each DZ has a unique landscape which forces players to move and react in certain ways. One DZ is compact and busy, while another is very open and spacious. The third is a bit of a balancing act between the other two. Additionally, Dark Zones can gain an “Occupied” status if the “big bad” faction, the “Dark Tusk,” takes over the zone. That changes the mechanics to be much more unforgiving. In Occupied Dark Zones, normalization is turned off, gear score matters, and the NPC enemies are harder and smarter.

Dark Zones also have the option for a player to go “Rogue,” which toggles PVP activity for somebody who would rather hunt other players instead of the PVE content. The Occupied Dark Zone removes the rogue option entirely so that players can shoot other players on sight.

“The Division 2” is a step in the right direction regarding the genre and triple-A games in the first place. “The Division 2” is the first game released in 2019 that does not feel like a $60 beta test. Yes, there are bugs, as annoying as they are, but they are few and far between.

Props to Ubisoft for their successful releases during the last few years. “The Division 2” is a breath of fresh air. The gaming industry is in a very greedy state, bringing a world full of battle royals, and unfinished, cash-grabbing piles of hot garbage as far as multiplayer games go. –cough- “ANTHEM” –cough- (Good job, staying true to your reputation, EA). The rest of the gaming industry should consider letting their developers make the games, not their shareholders.

“The Division 2” is far from perfect, and I fear the redundancy of the first game might leak into the second a little bit. But I also have a little faith that Ubisoft will keep listening to their players, and consider fan’s suggestions when creating future content. I give “The Division 2” an 8/10.

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