There’s something to be said for mixing two delicious things together. Peanut butter and bananas, for instance! Ketchup and mustard! Mashed potatoes and corn! Shooters and RPGs! Borderlands showed how well that last concept can work. Over time, we’ve seen other games take the concept even further, such as with Tom Clancy’s The Division and its sequel, The Division 2.
The Green Poison virus laid waste to New York, but it wasn’t the only problem to face the country. Soon after the events up north, Washington DC faces its own issues as the Division’s SHD network goes down. This leaves the city open to attacks that promptly lay waste to the White House and much of the government. As a Division agent, it’s your job to bring law back to the city through force and plenty of hiding behind chest-high walls.
If you’ve played the previous Division, you pretty much know how this goes. This is a cover-based shooter of the sort that was incredibly popular around the time that the Xbox 360 and PS3 launched, so it’s got something of a retro feel. Hide behind cover, pop out to take some shots, pop back in to avoid incoming fire and reload. It’s a pretty simple arrangement and it works well enough. There’s a plot, sure, but chances are you won’t care all that much about it. You don’t need to. There’s baddies to shoot and goodies to grab.
Your opponents will consist of the usual NPC mooks as well as other players in the PVP Dark Zones; notably, time-to-kill feels pretty significantly decreased all around, so you’re encouraged to go with a more defensive and cautious playstyle but you also spend a lot less time unloading into bullet-sponge enemies outside of boss battles.
The Division mixes things up by implementing RPG elements like active and passive skills – the former in the form of high-tech gadgetry that can be customized to suit your needs – as well as a variety of loot to collect and equip. There’s a ton of guns and gear, so you’re able to customize your character to suit your combat style. Want to go up close and personal? You can grab a shield and SMG and take the fight to the baddies. If you’d rather snipe, you’ve got turrets, drones and rifles to make that happen. The Division is all about playing the way you want, and this sequel really emphasizes that side of things; there’s even more customization and itemization with the addition of new mechanics like brand-based set bonuses on gear and mod slots for active skill gadgets. Things get even crazier when you finish the game and hit the level cap, unlocking “World Tier” difficulty boosts and even more crazy goodies.
I’ll admit to a little bias here – as a native of the Baltimore-Washington area, I really love games that are set in DC. The Division 2 really scratches that itch, offering all kinds of monuments to check out as well as little nods to the city here and there. You’ve got the most accurate representation of WMATA Metro system I’ve ever seen here, for instance, especially the fact that it’s not working and is often on fire. Much like in the first Division, being able to explore the world makes Division 2 that much more enjoyable. Another cute setting bonus – you’ve got summer gear instead of winter gear this time, making dress-up feel totally new again.
From a presentation perspective, Division 2 looks and feels a lot like its predecessor. I suppose if you compare screenshots of both you’ll see improvements, but generally speaking this is the first game but more so. There’s not a lot wrong with that, of course; The Division’s near-future aesthetic did a lot for it back then and does a lot for it now. Again, I think the highlight of both games is the environment and level design, with plenty of detail to check out if you’re patient.
While it doesn’t really break new ground – really, it ends up feeling like an expansion pack rather than a sequel – Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 doesn’t really need to change much to work. The original Division was a solid looter-shooter in pretty much every aspect, especially once it saw a ton of DLC that made it that much better. We can hope that this game sees the same sort of expansion, especially since it’s got such a great baseline to work with.