I played a lot of Ubisoft’s The Division when it released in early 2016. It was one of my favourite games in a year where my tastes were catered to consistently with new releases. It was a competent third person cover shooter that did something well no other game that year did, merge single and multiplayer experiences. It did this in an excellently realised open world New York City. It had a satisfying loot system and I felt that I could customise my character to the play style I wanted whether by myself or as part of a team. Whilst I played it a little more solo than with friends I liked the community, enjoyed sharing tips and discussing builds. One of my gaming regrets is that I never finished the final story mission. This was due to the both the drop off in players and friends and the additional content that had been released which I preferred to do when I returned to it.
These reasons plus the excellent updates, patches, revisions and the additional modes that were released (survival mode was brilliant) has me very excited to play the follow up, The Division 2.
From what we know it’ll be the same core game to its predecessor. Major changes come from a different setting, additions to the class system in specialisations, 8 player raids and most importantly a years worth of free expansions. I’m excited for some of these changes more than others to enhance an already fun game. Yet my biggest hope is that the core game, shooting and looting, is similar to The Division after some of the major changes it experienced in its second year. Revisions to both of these made for tight, satisfying controls, tense and hard encounters and gave a feeling that when you died it wasn’t a cheap death but your own poor performance. It provided better loot drops which occurred more often. It’s development of an end game was also backed up by potential never ending upgrades and improvements you could strive towards with your load out. The key word for me here is satisfying. I was satisfied by the changes made to the systems enough to jump back in every few months. If The Division 2 releases in a similar state to how The Division is now I’ll be very happy.
The addition of sub classes is also something I’m excited to get into. I’ve been discussing playing the second game mostly with friends so I get to experience it in a different way to the first. Having a deeper class system is a great way of enhancing that squad building to fill a specific role. Team play didn’t always feel necessary in The Division, I played a lot of it solo, so I’m hoping for a little change to the way abilities work. Most helped with performing a roll so I mainly stuck to dps abilities whilst playing solo. I would like abilities that complement each other perhaps even combining to perform multiplayer super abilities. With the specialisations affecting the end game this should give the base game and its inclusion of raids more longevity with me than its predecessor. Out of the three specialisations so far revealed (I’d like there to be some more) I think I’m looking forward to the Survivalist. I’ve always favoured high dps with a little crowd control in the mmos I’ve played so Survivalist sounds like a good fit.
One thing I’m yet to be convinced of is the new location, Washington DC. The change in setting from winter to summer is interesting and provides a different tone to exploration, random encounters and the story’s of survivors (if there are any). Yet I could take or leave the United State’s capital. It may be that as I’m unfamiliar with the city, apart from a few political dramas, as the Mise en scene may not work as well as in New York. New York City had landmarks almost everywhere which you could navigate by. It had a variety of wide streets as well as tight alleyways leading to hidden gardens. It had access to rooftops which changed your perspective. I don’t know how Washington will be able to do that, to convey a sense of place in an unfamiliar city. It could be done with the change of season and the vegetation growth we’ve seen but the urban grain needs to be solid to give it the same presence that New York City in the snow had.
Finally I’m intrigued by the story. A lot of it will revolve around the setting (seat of power and all that) but it sounds as if it could be, much to the developer/publishers denials, a very political story. If it can match Spec Ops: The Line in quality writing, voice acting and can make people think then it could be elevated above a competent looter shooter. If it’s just “We’re here to stop someone stealing power after the disaster, quick get it back for the real government” I’ll be disappointed. I also can’t wait to get more into Division lore and the story’s of survivors. I spent a ton of time exploring New York listening to inhabitants, reading notes and collecting phone messages. I’ve really enjoyed Red Dead Redemption 2 for its environmental story telling as much as its main story lines (Arthur is best boy of 2018) and think The Division 2 could take a big cue from Rockstar.
So there is plenty to look forward to in The Division 2 for me. I’m eagerly awaiting a little more information before release, hopefully more specialisations and what a new Dark Zone will be like. With this I’ll be fully invested for it to draw me away from the plethora of games releasing before it in 2019 such as Metro Exodus.