The Division 2 - Bringing D.C. To Life Through Lessons Learned From The Division

For Julian Gerighty, the creative director for The Division, and the team at Ubisoft Massive, it has been a long journey to get to this point.  When The Division launched in 2016, it was met with a lot of criticisms.  As a fan of the Rainbow Six games, especially Vegas, I was eager to jump into this world.  Although it wasn’t a true 1:1 recreation of NYC, I loved the feel that the design team brought to the city.    The design of Grand Central Station and Grand Avenue were fantastic.  However, where the environmental design was great, other areas felt lackluster at launch.  The game was extremely repetitive, especially when it came to mission design.  They all felt very similar, and didn’t have a lot of life to them.  Even the enemies felt like bullet sponges, and often the weakest of enemies would take a lot of bullets to kill.  After a few months, my friends and I stopped caring about the game and left to never look back, or so we thought.  I have to give it to Ubisoft Massive for taking all of the criticisms and improving the game.  It would take 2 years for both myself, and podcast co-host Gerard to go back to the game.  When we went back, we found a vastly different game.  The enemies felt scaled to the player’s level appropriately; really like it should have been day one.  Through the season pass they brought more content to the game, and it breathed a breath of fresh air in the game.  It is these changes along with playing the demo for The Division 2 at E3 2018, that gave me faith that The Division 2 was on the right path to being a great game.


From the first time you start to play The Division 2, you realize that the team at Ubisoft Massive took all of the lessons learned from the first game and corrected them.  The enemies are not purely bullet sponges just because.  Their are enemies that have multiple layers of armor that you need to get through.  Also, the enemies have a really great A.I on them.  They will flank you, and if you are not careful, you will be a dead agent real quick.  The guns handle extremely well.  For anyone that says that some guys are just terrible, I would say look to upgrade the accuracy and stability to make them more accurate.  Another positive for guns, is that one you unlock the attachment(scope, magazine, etc), you can use it on multiple weapons instead of having to buy multiples like in Division 1.  The addition of multiple skills is fantastic and allows you to tailor them to fit your play style.  As a player who is more a sit back and snipe, I run the drone and turret.  There is something satisfying about being able to control the battlefield in a way that makes the enemies react to you, instead of having to react to them constantly.  The gear drops have been vastly improved.  Although the stats on an item may not be better than what you have equipped, the game does drop gear that is within a level or two of your current level.  


There are 3 areas though that I think really make the game fantastic and keep me coming back for more: the design of DC, the upgrade workbench, and the missions/mission difficulty.  Let’s start with the missions and their difficulty.  Like all looter shooters, there are some that seem way too easy for your level, and rightfully so, if you go into an area well below your level it should be.  But it is the side missions and bounties that really will challenge the player; the bounties especially.  With the bounties, you hunt down a named enemy for a chance to get some great gear.  However these missions are multi-tiered.  First you have to face off against the front line enemies guarding the entrance which is not easy by any means. You will have a second phase that usually includes a high level yellow enemy.  Finally you will have a third phase that includes the bounty themselves.  All of the bounties make you think tactfully and if you get too arrogant, they will punish you.  Unlike other missions that have check points, if you fail a bounty, you have to restart it from the beginning.  The next area of improvement is the work bench.  In The Division, you had to find the blueprints for both the gun type and its level.  In Division 2, this has been vastly overhauled.  Now, once you unlock the blueprint, you have that blueprint for whatever level your workbench is.  That’s right, you get to upgrade your work bench.  This allows you to make gear at level.  Also, when it comes to attachments for your guns, you only have to  make it once.  No more do you have to make extras to cover all of your weapons.  As someone who prefers to make their gear versus buying it, I love this aspect of the game.  Finally, the biggest leap for me in this game is the environmental design.  The team at Ubisoft created a 1:1 recreation of DC.  Everything is in its proper place and looks as it should.  The team did a lot of research in order to make DC come alive, and it shows.  The ensured a lot of the little details were there, and no place is this more evident than the Lincoln Memorial.  Inside the memorial on each wall are engravings that are recreated word for word.  For those have been to see the memorial, you will instantly recognize them.  Also, the site that is the Washington Monument is amazing.  In DC is stands a beacon for all those that drive through downtown DC or when you are driving into DC from one of the many highways.  The game is faithful to the places where you can see the monument at street level.  Another upgrade in design is how time changes.  You will experience DC both during the day and at night.  This time change offers its own sets of challenges before they throw rain into the mix.  The ultimate challenge for missions is when the mission is taking place at night in a thunderstorm.  This impacts both enemy and player alike.  Seeing an enemy’s silhouette when lightning flashes is really nice and can add the player in combat.


Overall, this game is great.  Does it have some things that seem repetitive, sure, but what looter shooter doesn’t have that.  I like that you can drop into the game and complete a few missions on your own, but you can also join up with other players through matchmaking.  This game knows exactly what it is and wants to be.  For anyone that is a fan of Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six, I highly recommend giving this game a try.  For those that are looking for a challenging game that doesn’t force you to play with other, this is a great game that wont require time consuming play sessions.  I tip my hat to Julian and his team for taking the hard lessons of The Division, learning from them, and making a truly great sequel.

Matt Diorio (CGN Host)
Matt Diorio (CGN Host)
Editor/Podcast Host/Content Creator