I spent a reasonable amount of time this past weekend with the private beta build of the Division 2. Not as much as I would have liked but that’s general to my gaming time these days. I was going to put down my views on the beta build almost as if reviewing it. I stopped myself though as it’s pretty much just more of the Division. You can go back and listen to any of my conversations around that games release to know what I think about it. What I thought I would do instead is tell you about a familiar game played differently.
If you’ve read my previous writing on the Division 2 you’ll know I played the division solo for the majority of it. That changed this weekend. I experienced the beta almost entirely with a friend, Aadil. Even with this I took on a very familiar play style, rarely deviating from a certain build.
I enjoyed the mid to short range gun play in the Division. I ran mostly with an assault rifle and a shotgun. Playing solo this felt comfortable and provided a decent safety net should enemies get close. Head shots and dragging down those numbers at mid range followed by a swift final shot with a shotgun is satisfying. It allowed me to stay at a reasonable range from the enemies with only a few of them ever getting close to me. Sometimes this style of solo play was a little overwhelming and I’d join up with a friend or some randoms for a mission or two. This might see me change a little dropping the shotgun dependent on the build of those I played with. Back in the open world and in the Dark Zone and I was solo once again, falling into the play style I’d become comfortable with.
In the Division 2 Aadil and I started together and apart from the first 5 minutes and messing around with joining each others party’s we stalked DC together. I naturally gravitated towards to assault rifle / shotgun combo. This worked well as Aadil tended to stick to assault rifle and sniper. This suited a comfortable experience in a game that was familiar. We’d keep enemies at a distance and I’d sweep up anyone that broke through like the melee attackers. Having that additional person to call out enemy locations and actually use skills with is a fantastic way to play. It made me feel like I’d missed out on the division and more determined to play this game in this way. We had a good pairing which should only improve as we delve deeper into the builds. Some elements of the main game were locked off like the skills and this will further improve our ability to pair up and support each other. It gives me that mmo raiding feel I haven’t had in a long time.
I would have liked to explore play styles a little more, use the beta to its full potential. Unfortunately time didn’t permit that. We finished the story missions available and played the Dark Zone tutorial but I stuck to my build. Having played this already when I return to the full release I may use the first few levels to play around, get a feel for the other weapons, explore the skills.
There are a few additional changes of note when playing with others from the first to second games. Loot works better. Rather than each having to loot any containers one person loots, gear and resources then drop on the ground. No pressing square. You can just walk over it to collect. The same for the restock boxes. Equipment and items are also trade-able. As long as you’ve collected it in the same session as the group you can share items between you. Essentially doubling or quadrupling the available gear drops for you. Cleverly sharing equipment and weapons can maintain you at the enemies levels whilst sticking to your preferred play style.
Finally the end game. I got a little time to try out a specialisation and an invasion mission. Grouped with three randoms I’d chosen the Demolitionist, equipped with a grenade launcher and my preferred assault rifle and shotgun. So had two others in the group with the final member picking sharpshooter and the 50 calibre sniper rifle. We were a random mix. It was a tough mission with waves of ever harder enemies coming at us. Whilst I used the healing drone on my teammates I didn’t feel the different specialisations did anything to enhance each other. Rather than just a weapon specialisation I’d like to see a buff or something else to try and balance out the choice for grouping. Whilst it was hard it was fun but playing with friends would have been better.
The Division 2 is more of the Division. If you liked that game you’ll like this. It’s the same but does enough to feel like a more full experience than the Division did at launch. I definitely missed a trick by not immersing myself into that game with friends but it’s not a mistake I’ll make again. The Division 2 can offer me what I’ve missed from mmo’s a fun, exciting experience which I can play alongside my friends.