Hands-On: Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2

* PS Nation was invited to an event in San Francisco, California for a hands-on preview of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Travel and lodging was paid for by Ubisoft and the game was played on an Xbox One X.


We all know that The Division has gone through its ups and downs during its almost three year lifespan. Massive Entertainment learned a lot about what worked well and what was broken. I reviewed the first game and I explained my problems with it.

My main issue with Tom Clancy’s The Division was its post campaign content. A lot of people refer to this as the endgame. At launch there wasn’t much to do after you reached max level and completed the campaign.

Sure, it had daily challenge missions, but these were just the same things you had already played at a harder level. There was nothing to make you think about how to engage an enemy or do things differently.

For me, the Destiny franchise set the standard about how to handle endgame content. Yes, I know Destiny is not a perfect game, but the raids that they released were some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing games with friends. You’d be playing in a vastly different way than you had just hours prior while playing through the story missions.

Fast forward to 2019. The looter-shooter genre has grown and competition has become fierce. EA has Anthem, Bungie has Destiny 2 and Ubisoft has Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. All of these games require you to level up, get loot, get stronger, and repeat to get even stronger. Playing with friends via co-op is where these games shine.

The Division 2 moves the overall story forward 7 months. We thought was contained in New York but now it’s begun to spread across the country. Washington, D.C. is the next major city to be impacted by the outbreak. Obviously this city is important in keeping the country running so The Division agents have been called in to help keep control.

Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2

Having an open world is a major focus for this game. You’ll be exploring the city without loading screens, moving from mission to mission while working on other random side missions that you happen to run into. The campaign is there and it sounds like it will be about forty hours for the average player.

Hitting Level 30 will be your goal while going through the campaign. The Dark Zone will return as well, but with some slight revamps as to how that operates. Sadly, I was unable to cover the Dark Zone during this preview event.

The first mission you do upon your arrival in the city is to help regain control of the White House. This will become your new base of operations. Similar to The Division, how you upgrade your base will depend on the things you do out in the open world.

Massive Entertainment spent a lot of real time in Washington, D.C. to make sure they got the city right. They did a great job in The Division with pretty much nailing New York City. This time around they’re even using GPS tech to help make a 1 to 1 map of the city.

The virus has caused D.C. to devolve into a chaotic state. Now three enemy factions have taken control of certain parts of the city. Pushing back against these factions is one of the major side stories during the campaign.

Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2

While playing through the campaign you’ll see how your actions affect different parts of town and neglecting certain areas will cause the factions to grow larger. Each part of D.C. has a stronghold that you’ll need to take back. Think of them as a smaller base of operations.

These strongholds will need resources to help them survive and grow. Friendly factions will help you build those resources while enemy factions will try to push back against them. Multiple side missions will pit you against the factions. These can range from taking back control of a radio tower to simply freeing a small group of hostages that have been captured on your way to a main mission.

Not much has changed in the core gameplay mechanics in The Division 2. It’s still a cover based third-person shooter and you have full control of how you choose to fight. Based on buying gear or getting gear to drop, you will have multiple choices.

Close or long range weapons will dictate your playing style and your abilities are a large factor as well. A new addition to The Division 2 is the drone. This is a device that, once upgraded, can help heal you or your teammates or be put to use for offensive purposes. You can even send the drone out to attack or distract your enemies.

Other abilities that were in The Division are still there. Turrets feel very overpowered and the cool little seeker mines are still my favorite. Nothing made me feel better than to send out a little ball that tracks the enemy and have it explode next to them doing major damage.

Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2

One of my complaints from The Division was the AI. The enemies were very predictable and not aggressive in the base content. That has completely changed in The Division 2 as the AI is much more aggressive and unpredictable in this version of the game. I was caught off guard multiple times by a flanking maneuver or by them coming in from a room I did not expect.

One of the major changes made is the removal of the signature skill from The Division and its replacement with the specialist classes. Specialists will unlock once you have completed the base campaign and hit the level cap at 30.

The specialists are Sharpshooter, Survivalist, and Demolitionist and you won’t be locked into one of these. You’ll be able to change if you want to but each one will need to be leveled up. Each class will bring strengths and weaknesses to each encounter and, of course, having a well-rounded team will be a huge help when playing the harder content.

I was able to play some of the endgame content briefly at this event. My specialist was already chosen for me and the biggest surprise was the introduction of a fourth enemy faction that invades the D.C. area after you have completed the campaign. This really brought me to another level of interest in the game. It’s almost like a second campaign had kicked off.

This fourth faction is very aggressive and organized and they feel like an organized military unit. I was able to play two endgame scenarios called Invaded missions. You’ll be fighting against this new faction that’s trying to push back against everything you have been doing in D.C.

Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2

These missions were what surprised me the most. In The Division, you could hunker down in one area of the room you were in, methodically kill all the enemies, and then complete the objective. This was not the case in these missions. My team was often caught off guard by enemies coming in from directions that were completely unexpected and even directly behind where we had just come from.

We had to keep on our toes and make sure our communication between team members was quick, otherwise one of us would go down. Fighting the enemies was different as well. Several of them were heavily armored and breaking that armor was the priority. You could knock off the back plate or an arm guard which then became your focal point for the team. To me, this is not a major gameplay mechanic, but it is nice to see focus fire actually mean something in a game.

I still have my concerns about the viability of the endgame. Like I mentioned above, I don’t enjoy harder missions because I really want to see new gameplay mechanics and learning how to do something on the fly. Sure, once you figure it out it becomes easier, but trying to troubleshoot it with your friends is what I find the most fun.

The specialists will add a new dynamic to the game and I hope that adds enough of the variety that I’m looking for. I am hopeful with The Division 2 endgame, but I’m also being reserved in my final judgement. Eight player raids will be available shortly after launch, but no information is known about them at this time.

Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Hands-On: Tom Clancy's The Division 2

What I took away from my time with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is that all the good features that The Division added over the last three years will carry over to The Division 2 and it feels even better. The way you level up even feels more streamlined and easier to understand.

Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment have committed to providing free post-launch content to The Division 2 for the rest of 2019 and all updates and changes to the world will be free to all owners as well. The Division 2 will be released on March 22, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Written by Dave Hunt

Dave Hunt

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