Releasing simultaneously on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Xbox One, Ubisoft’s sequel to the Division has arrived at last. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 takes a ton of what made the original game good, and polishes the experience into something worthy of being a proper sequel. Our review is based on the PC version of the game.
Say what you will about Ubisoft, but they have a good track record of polishing their franchises into something better rather than letting them devolve into something generic over time. The last two Assassin’s Creed titles managed to feel refreshing partly thanks to new and (awe)inspiring locations to explore, and The Division 2 follows a similar pattern – shifting the action to Washington DC after the original game took place in New York City.
A lot of the gameplay polish in The Division 2 actually came during the post-launch phase of the first game, as Ubisoft kept expanding and improving the core game. Everything that resonated with gamers is back here, so if you’re an existing player then the sequel will feel like a warm bath right from the get-go. Gathering loot and cover shooting still play a central role, and The Division 2 has a ton of content ready for you to sink your teeth (and countless hours) into.
Narratively speaking, it’s a direct sequel to the first game as well – taking place shortly after your work in New York wraps up and the infection has spread, causing massive panic everywhere. Reacting to a call, you head to Washington DC, where much of what happened in New York is now unfolding again. The Division was always a game where the setting was stronger (and more prominent) than the narrative itself, and the sequel doesn’t change this.
The Division 2 is an online title, but unlike many games in the genre it can also be played very well solo. I’ve always thought this was one of The Division’s key qualities – an area in which the first Destiny game was flawed and other titles don’t even bother catering to the solo player anymore. The Division 2 is a lot of fun to pay by yourself, with plenty of tactical depth on top of the basic shooter gameplay. That’s not to say that the game isn’t more fun when played together though, as communication is another key to success that you can dip into in that scenario.
Combat feels improved in The Division 2, with a generally offensively-oriented enemy AI system often causing tense moments. This doesn’t always equate to smart behavior in their part, but it does frequently create scenarios where you (and your buddies) find yourself surrounded and seemingly overwhelmed. Since loot and leveling up are also factors in the game, picking your battles wisely also plays into the amount of challenge you can expect – you’d be smart to avoid stronger enemies with more armor until you’re up to the task.
It’s not all about combat though, as The Division is packed to the gills with things to do and explore. In between the action, there are plenty of moments where you run into survivors and quietly interact with them – adding to a finely crafted post-apocalyptic sense of atmosphere. There are people living here, buildings to explore, loot to uncover, famous landmarks to run into and tons of other points of interest – no one should ever accuse Ubisoft’s latest for not having enough to do, and this is not even considering the inevitable post-launch content that will follow. If anything, The Division 2 is at risk of being a tad overwhelming to those who didn’t ease into the original game before diving into the sequel.
This makes The Division 2 an extremely solid, near-perfect sequel. If I had to fault it, I would probably point out its fairly risk-free approach – not doing much to draw new players in. There could be a more prominent narrative experience (the setting is great for it), but for those who loved what the first game ended up being (post-updates), this is a purchase you don’t need to think long about.