Platforms: Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4
Release Date: March 15th, 2019
Reviewed On: Xbox One X
Developer: Massive Entertainment, Ubisoft.
Price: $59.99 USD
While many people frown down upon the term “looter shooter” there is no doubt it is a currently booming market in the video game industry. Destiny 2, Warframe and Anthem are all games that fall into this genre, with of course the announcement of the king of looter shooters Borderlands making a return in a huge way. One of the most consistent problems found in these games (outside of Borderlands) is lack of content and technical issues at launch. All of these games, including the original Division, needed many updates, and content drops to get these games into a good place. This begs the question, can the Division 2 break this genres stigma and be great out the gate? Let’s dive in as I give my thoughts on the latest entry in the Division franchise.
The Division 2 is set after 7 months after the events of the original Division game. You are tasked with joining a small force of the Division in Washington DC after receiving a distress signal from the White House. This plunges you into a story about fighting off villainous gangs, and well organized mercenary groups who want to control Washington DC. The potential for the story that could have been told here, is massive. But unfortunately, it becomes very forgettable, very quickly. It falls in line to how I personally felt with Ghost Recon: Wildlands story, amazing game with an absolutely lackluster story. While the story is lackluster, which unfortunately seems to be a standard in this genre. It feels like Ubisoft outside of the Assassin’s Creed series seems to struggle with making meaningful characters to guide their story the Division 2 continues this trend.
This is the meat and potatoes of any looter-shooter, how addictive is the gameplay loop and how clean is the performance. Ubisoft has quickly become the masters of the modern setting in terms of gunplay. The gunplay feels tight and dynamic with each gun feeling unique, which is no easy task. One thing that immediately stood out to me was the wide variety of firearms you had at your disposal. With the ability to kit up with two main weapons and a sidearm it offered a lot of flexibility in terms of situational flexibility. I found myself often relying on a combination of marksman/bolt action sniper for long term high damage output, with an assault rifle with a lower RPM (Rounds Per Minute) but high damage output.
One of the most important things to note is that the Division 2 is a very challenging game especially if you intend to tackle this game solo. While the game is not impossible by any stretch of the imagination if you go try to run in all guns blazing you will be massacred. This is a VERY tactical based shooter, often requiring quick maneuvering in order to stay alive. Ubisoft has greatly increased AI intelligence, with even the most common enemy types always being very aggressive. You must be wary of your surroundings as some enemies will pin you down with fire to offer flanking opportunities for their allies.
Unlike some other games in this genre, there is no shortage of loot in Division 2. I constantly found myself having to go through my inventory to scrap loot that I was quickly out leveling. While there is a grind to get the best of the best gear, the balance seems almost as close to perfect in any game in recent memory. There is no shortage of content within the world to constantly play to find more loot. With randomly generated enemy activity, on top of story missions, control points, and side missions. There is never a shortage of activities to play whether you are playing solo or with friends. With a well laid out plan of post-launch content, there is no doubt that there will be no shortage of content in the Division 2 anytime soon.
One of the weakest points in the Division 2, unfortunately, is the voice acting. Characters feel bland and phoned in, which is unfortunate because there was a really big missed opportunity here to do something special. With that being said, outside of the voice acting, the audio design of the game is phenomenal. Guns come alive, as gunfights feel very immersive as bullets fly by you and explosions go off constantly. Constantly listening for enemies calling out tactics, or listening to gunshots to hear an optional encounter are some of the best we have seen.
Graphically the Division 2 is phenomenal whether you play on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC this game’s graphical fidelity and performance is top notch. Through my playtime with the game, I experienced no technical issues such as framerate drops or crashes. Which compared to my experiences with Anthem, Fallout 76, and Battlefield V was a welcome change of pace.
One thing that needs to be mentioned is the dynamic weather really adds to the overall atmosphere and is impressive in a technical sense. Being able to have it pour rain, without performance drop, and have AI behavior adapt to the weather needs to be seen to believe. Being able to sneak past patrols in a rainstorm where you can’t see 5 feet in front of you is some of the best atmospheric gameplay I have played.
While the Division 2 has some shortcomings in the storytelling department. The game is pure fun, whether you choose to play solo or in a squad prepare for a premium tactical experience. It must be commended to Ubisoft on tackling so many weak points in the looter shooter genre and being able to launch day 1 with only a minor list of issues. With no lack of content ahead, I don’t see the Division 2 falling short. I think this game will be going and continue to only get better with every update.
Are you struggling with the Division 2? Then don’t forget to check out my guide here for some quick tips to getting started.