The one thing this game didn’t do was divide, as The Division was well received on launch. Can the second one do the same? Billy braved the BETA to find out.
I remember when the original Division beta came out and it was at a time when Destiny was the ‘next big thing‘ and had been doing the rounds and Activision and Bungee’s behemoth was starting to become a bit stale. Too much fantasy, said a slightly younger version of me. I wanted something gritty, more realistic, as well as having guys with flamethrowers that blew up spectacularly when you shot them.
That’s what I remember around that time, as well as REALLY ENJOYING The Division Beta and then, subsequently, the full release. Heck, I even bought all the expansions before they were due on the season pass on the strength of it.
We’re a few years down the line now, and the second in Ubisoft’s squad based tactical shooter is imminent. The problem is though, can it show enough of an improvement to the original whilst retaining the user base it inherited, as well as avoiding some pretty big obstacles, in the form of Anthem, Devil May Cry 5 and the ‘out of nowhere’ Apex Legends, which took EVERYONE by surprise.
Well, it certainly feels like you’re putting on an old pair of slippers. The feel of the game is very similar, which is not a bad thing at all. The first game had a lovely touch and felt like a student from the Gears of War Academy, which I still maintain has the best third person interface of ANY game series. You never felt like you were out of control with The Division and there was (and is) a reassuring satisfaction of being in total command here. The case of not being broke and therefore not needing to fix it definitely springs to mind.
One of the big changes in The Division 2 is that you’re playing in Washington DC, with a downed Air Force One almost reinforcing the point. The fact that there is a totally new location to survive/shoot/loot in is great, but for me there was just something really mesmerizing about playing through New York in the snow. I never got tired of looking at the scenery in the original. You have to remember though that this is a Beta, so you won’t see all of it in one go. I’ll keep my fingers crossed though.
In terms of your looting and leveling, things are similar to a point, but whilst you can still categorize what you’re using, the detail has improved, where is feels more like a proper RPG, like Diablo, or anything Bioware did before the consoles. Some people may want a more streamlined experience, but you’re never going to be able to keep everyone happy with something like this. I do like to sit and use my weapon and armour stats to properly be kitted out for the next main mission, but there will be those moments you want to just pick up and play. If this is the case as time goes on, this could turn from good to bad, but I have to admit, my geeky side is liking it.
What i will say is that the way to follow your stats in other areas is a fair bit easier to navigate. It was very easy to get lost in so many menus when trying to keep track of your optimum setup, so trimming that back a little bit helps make things easier to follow. Again, I think it really depends on whether you’re in “QUICKPLAY” or “STAT FILLED” Division mode as to seeing if this is of use at the time, but I do feel they have listened to people over the course of the first game’s life.
In terms of the online aspect of The Division 2, pretty much EVERYTHING now has a matchmaking variant, which does allow for instant squad creation. The thing is though, for me anyway, was that this game was always one you played with your friends. it never felt like a game that you could head in with a random, especially in the Dead Zone areas. You all know there is nothing stopping an unknown from wiping you out and stealing your gear, so I suppose it keeps the risk, but I’d rather stay away from it on a personal level.
There’s no real reason to try and talk about a storyline when you are playing a small Beta, so I won’t. You do get a similar vibe with Division 2 as you did with the predecessor. Do I hope there is a but more story to it? Yes. Do I EXPECT it though? Not really. With any of these games there has to be that trade off between a good bit of prose to keep you engrossed, and a snappy gaming experience that ensures you’re happy whilst getting that next nugget of info. Destiny showed in the second game that a story CAN enhance a game model like this in an MMO environment, so I hope this is the case here too.
They do say the more things change, the more things stay the same. With The Division 2 and it’s BETA, I feel that could not be more true. It is, first and foremost, a very well made and crafted online multiplayer experience with a solid base and the potential to be a great addition to the Tom Clancy series if it keeps gaining momentum as it has the past few years. There is only one real gripe I have though. There are still some of those really noticable bugs from game one still in here. I used to think it was my Xbox One, but the fact some weapons still fire with, and I use this term with the greatest of sarcasm, the greatest silencer in the world, STILL bothers me. Why have a gun that should make noise when it doesn’t. I had to keep checking for hit points in the first game to make sure the gun worked before I took it back for a refund.
I hope they get the old bugs out and keep things tight for release though. I loved The Division when it came out, in fact, I couldn’t get off the console when I played it. This has got me excited again for more of the same. I just hope that other games don’t affect its release. Also, I do hope the support post launch is hefty and substantial.
I’m definitely looking forward to it when “Tom Clancy’s: The Division 2” comes out on 15th March.