Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Review

The original Division was by no means a bad game. It lacked any meaningful end-game content (at launch), but for the most part, the gameplay was fine and as a whole – it was fairly enjoyable. And many, even those who have played the original for hundreds hours and loved it, were afraid that the sequel will launch in exactly the same state. However, it appears as Ubisoft has learned its lesson, and it learned it good, as The Division 2 is a drastic improvement upon the original.

Just like the original Division, the sequel mainly concentrates on the core, plot-infused narrative. But where such takes ten hours to complete within the remits of the original or even both the Destinies, it will take most roughly 24 hours to complete within the sequel. As Division 2 does not only feature more core content, but it is also features much more meaningful and comprehensive pacing. Meaning that you play through the game at an immensely enjoyable pace, and unlock more and more meaty content as you progress.

As you play through The Division 2 for the first time, you’ll notice that no matter how little of the sidequests, or auxiliary tasks you do, you can always progress through the mainline story – without a hitch. This is mainly due to the fact that the title in question features a plethora of extensive, strike-like missions, which unlock in batches offering you either a challenge on a level or two above your character, or a leisurely stroll which either matches your level, or is below your current rank.

Mainline missions within the Division 2 are, at least to me, the very best that the title has to offer and that is mainly due to the fact that they are more than just 15 minute sequences with a boss at the end. Some of them can last as much as forty minutes, and they are all situated within intricate and intriguing environments, which really show off the work of the art team behind the game. On your journey to activate the Division’s SHD module (which is the goal of the main story), you’ll visit dilapidated water plants, planetariums, underground bases, and much, much more.

The Division 2’s Washington D.C., really is a great world to play within, as despite of its urban, real-life setting, offers more than just grey office buildings, and brown warehouses. It is packed to the brim with vibrant and intricate environments, which are awe inspiring and a joy to experience. Whenever you think that you have seen it all, the title doubles down, and presents you with ever new and exciting environments to explore, and liberate from the numerous factions which exist within the game.

In addition to the above described mainline missions, The Division 2 also features an abundance of side-activities such as hostage rescue, check-point takeover, as well as side quests, which while not as extensive as the title’s main missions, are just as complex and exciting despite of their shorter time span. The best thing about all this, is that every single activity, side-mission, and story missions, unlocks new content upon completion. So once the mission completed bar appears on your screen, you are then bombarded with line after line, of items, attachments, and additional missions which you’ve just unlocked.

The abundance of gameplay based content which The Division 2 possesses, really is refreshing, as it offers more than some franchises do combined. The best thing about it is the fact that once you reach the soft ending, you are still left with another 20 hours or so of content. As once the final credits roll, you will still be left with a ton of activities, side-quests, and strongholds to complete, which thanks to Ubisoft learning from its mistakes, are all incredibly exciting, and challenging – and really give you a sense of getting a band for your buck.

The Division 2 is a complex, and intertwined mix of content which will entertain you for many dozens of hours. And if you happen to enjoy the grind, then the dozens will turn into hundreds, as The Division 2 features randomised loot drops, which ensure that you can spend days, if not weeks looking for than one very special loadout, which will suit both your wants and needs. The only thing which could be perceived as negative about the titles loot system, relates to the fact that high-end loot drops, from level 25 onwards, can feel a little too common and ultimately, they don’t feel as rewarding as they should.

The Division 2 truly is a great game. But when you’ll reach the final credits you may be left feeling a little confused. And that’s due to the fact that among all that content, the main plot of the title can get a little lost, as ultimately, the freedom which The Division 2 gives the player, immensely takes away from the final story. Personally, I didn’t expect the final credits to roll when they did, as I honestly believed that I was nowhere near the *true* ending. This may be a little disheartening for the quote-on-quote Sunday players, who enjoy to soak in the plot of each and every game that the play.

The main story does have its moments, especially within the final third. But those for the most part relate more to the gameplay, than the narrative itself. And while this is not necessarily a negative feature, it will leave some disappointed. But if you do not care about the story, and all you want is the core and uninterrupted gameplay, then you are going to feel right at home with The Division 2. As in truth, the true Division begins where the story ends. As the end game content, with its strongholds, and the upcoming raid – is truly where the meat of this particular dish lies.

As you had a chance to read above Division 2, is a great improvement upon the original. As its abundance of meaningful content allows it to shed its prior formed bad press, and elevate the status of the franchise as a whole. But this wouldn’t be really possible if not for the title’s tactical gunplay. As I, and many more believe that the Division 2’s dynamic is really what keeps the things together.

Sure, The Division 2 is a cover shooter just like Army of Two, or most importantly the original. But its punishing nature,  the aggressive AI, and environment design disallow you from just rushing through gun-ho and just running through each and every level. Your Division agent does have a formidable amount of health – but so do the enemies which you face. And if you are not careful, a single, basic enemy can drop not only you, but your entire four man squad. And the tension and the thrill which this uncertainty creates, elevates the title from a simple shooter, to a tactical masterpiece.

Each and every single in-game encounter, especially on higher difficulty settings, requires an unprecedented level of teamwork and tactics, as in-game enemies are not simply cannon fodder, and just like you, they use skills and abilities which can really turn your day into nightmare. It is incredibly important to stay calm and collected when fighting the ever more difficult foes, as if and when you are not careful, you’ll have to retry the same segment over and over again, until you get it right.

The gunplay of Division 2 is simply superb, as all the guns have just the right amount of kick, and sfx. As fun as it is to fights hordes of enemies with just your weapons, then those unfortunately are not always enough to secure a victory. In order to increase your chances of success, you, as well as your teammates have to use the Division agent abilities. As those, commonly are the difference between victory and defeat. And while not all of them are as impactful as the others, then they all do allow you to switch up the gameplay, and explore ever new tactics.

From expandable riot shields, through to healing drones, all the way down to kamikaze fireflies, The Division 2 offers you a host of skills and abilities, which allow you to constantly reinvent yourself and the gameplay. And while they are incredibly beneficial when applied individually, then they truly come to life when used in unison.  But in order to unlock their true potential, cooperation is vital. As you yourself can only use two abilities at the time, so if you want to move to a high ground using a partial shield, in order to scope the battleground and use a firefly on hunkered down armoured enemy, you will need assistance from one of your teammates, who will have to use caustic gas in order to smoke him/her out of the cover for your firefly to lock in.

The agent ability combinations appear to be endless as with four players in my team, I was constantly discovering ever new synergies I had no idea about. But those will truly come to life when the Raid goes live in the game, as with eight players those ability combinations will only get madder. And I believe that unlike for the original, the sky is the limit for Division 2. And it only remains to be seen if Ubisoft will be aiming for the said proverbial sky, or if it will be afraid to crash and burn, and will remain on the ground content with what it currently possesses.

At this point, I have spent nearly thirty hours with Division 2, and I can’t wait to play more. As I love everything about it from the gunplay, through the agent abilities and content, all the way down to the level design. But as with any game, Division 2 is not all roses. As its rather odd and eerie matchmaking architecture leaves a lot to be desired. You can easily find a group of players to freeroam, but if you join them, instead of them joining you, not all your progress will carry into your save file. And when playing with randoms, it may feel a little pointless to do any auxiliary activates, as ultimately you will have to do all of them once again alone, or with friends – and one can only liberate the same checkpoint so many times before he/she just gives up.

Progression aside, the Division 2’s matchmaking also suffers from fairly few quality of life issues, which can create some instability. For example, when looking for a group to complete a main mission, as a host of a pre-existing two, or even three man party it is not uncommon to never find another player to join your crew. You may stand by the mission marker for hours, but that one elusive player will simply never join. Same thing applies for assistance requests which become available when downed a solo player. But those appear to work only once in a blue moon, if ever. And if and when they finally start working, the player whose help you have requested is very likely to join once he/she is no longer needed. Which is rather disappointing.

To summarise, it is important to underline that The Division 2 is a vast improvement not only on the original, but also the games as a service genre as a whole. As it offers an unprecedented amount of content and intricacy, as well as a sound but fair challenge, which disallows you from simply walking over the hostility which it throws at you. But as things stand, The Division 2 can only be truly enjoyed when playing alone, or with a pre-made party. As the existing matchmaking issues make it an absolute chore to try and matchmake with anybody for anything other than a mainline mission – but even the online infrastructure for those doesn’t always work as it should.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Review
  • 8/10
    Gameplay - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Graphics - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Replay Value - 8/10
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User Review
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Overall
8/10

Summary

In many ways, The Division 2 is the title which the original always should have been. A complex and rewarding experience which doesn’t go past its due date just after a couple of sessions.

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