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Platform: Xbox One
Reviewed on PC

The Division 2 Preview - E3 2018

Trying to save the capital city of the United States

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In between all the flashiness of Anthem, and the marketing push for the latest Destiny 2 expansion, some players may have missed the "workhorse" series in the multiplayer shoot-and-loot genre that has grown so much in the past few years. The Division 2 is a confident and non-showboating sequel to the original which set all-time sales records for publisher Ubisoft. The original launched in 2016 and has evolved significantly since launch, essentially revamped entire gameplay systems based on fan feedback over time. With its E3 2018 debut, the sequel is promising players the same solid level design, great shooting, and an expanded end-game. We had a chance to play through a demo during the show.

The Division 2

The original game let players explore a New York City after a deadly virus was unleashed and a large portion of the populace was wiped out. Gangs roamed the streets, and to stop them and try to restore some form of society a group of citizens known as The Division agents were activated. The first game offered a great mix of satisfying gunplay, immersive open world, and plenty of loot grinding. The E3 2018 demo we played through was similar to the gameplay shown during the Xbox E3 Media Briefing, it seems the elements from the original are quite intact.

The sequel takes players to Washington, D.C. as the city is also under the threat of collapse. The stakes are said to be higher because of the capital falls, the whole nation may follow. You're once again an agent of the Division, trying to keep the city afloat after the pandemic. The action now takes place during the summer months, introducing a new color palette to the world after the snowy streets of New York. In our hands-on demo, we moved as a squad of 4 through a museum, fighting off a few groups of enemies, coming out to a clearing where a plane had crashed. There, we fought off more enemies to secure it, until a boss spawned and had to be dispatched. The enemies we encountered were called the True Sons faction, and this type of mission was said to be just one of many activity types in the final game. In the distance, we saw the Capitol Building, in what will likely be a faithful recreation of the city much like the first game.

The action should feel instantly familiar to anyone who has played the original. The tight third-person controls, and the great feeling of the guns and the satisfying sound effects of gunfire and explosions are all still very much intact. Taking cover behind debris, flanking, and using your special abilities are key to victory. Enemies are smarter as well, taking advantage of their flanking opportunities, and also using a new foam that can get players stuck and needing a teammate to move again. Another new concept are the specializations – end-game player classes that let you focus on a combat function that suits you and the team. In our demo, we first played as the Sharpshooter, and for the second run as the Demolitionist.

The Division 2

The two classes featured slightly different primary and secondary weapons, SMG/Sniper for the Sharpshooter and assault rifle/shotgun for the Demo. But the key difference was their abilities and a signature weapon. To bring up the special weapon, you hold Y as in the first game, but to get ammo for this weapon you must hope that it drops (as blue ammo) from fallen enemies. The former gets a powerful .50 caliber sniper rifle, and the demolitionist got a nice grenade launcher. There's also the special abilities – like a deployable drone that you can command to target a certain enemy, or a swarm that targets enemy weakpoints. Other abilities include the classic rolling mine, or a chemical launcher that deploys ignitable smoke clouds.

While you can be a well versed player, the demo wasn't pulling any punches, and our less experienced teammates kept going down. As before, a squadmate can come over and revive you, or the whole team can get wiped and you’ll need to restart at a checkpoint. A new function was added to stem the bleeding by holding a button. Also new to the sequel is the idea of destructible armor, which gradually degrades as you take damage. We didn't have a chance to see how this affects your defensive stats. The gear menu looked better organized to manage all your collected loot, from the brief glimpse of it that we got in between the shootouts.

One of the chief complaints of the first Division was the end-game. After completing the main story mode, players were left with too few engaging activities at launch, and few ways to get high-end gear. Over the course of the two years, the developers worked diligently to address this problem, releasing numerous paid and free DLC that significantly revamped the end game. It's perhaps then no surprise that the E3 2018 showing for the Division 2 focused heavily on promoting plenty of post-story content for the sequel. Alongside the mentioned Specializations, players will be able to customize their appearance, participate in new Raids, and more. In speaking with the development team, they told us that they've learned a lot over the course of developing the first game, as well as the successes and mistakes of other games that arrived in the meantime (namely, Destiny).

The Division 2

The Division 2 was not the flashiest or the most heavily promoted game at E3 2018. But it didn't really need to be – building on the incredibly solid foundation of the first game, which started off strong and only got better overtime, Ubisoft should feel confident that this sequel will satisfy returning fans and should bring in some new audiences. From what we've seen and been promised at E3, The Division 2 offers the same great gameplay mechanics, more options, and expanded end-game.

The Division 2 is planned for launch in March 2019 on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

The Division 2
The Division 2 box art Platform:
Xbox One
Our Review of The Division 2
Reviewed on PC
Game Ranking
The Division 2 (PC) is ranked #384 out of 1978 total reviewed games. It is ranked #14 out of 144 games reviewed in 2019.
384. The Division 2
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