Review – Tom Clancy's The Division 2
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 has players grinding their way to higher and higher equipment power levels in a ridiculously chaotic version of Washington, DC, and it’s a loot treadmill that I don’t want to get off anytime soon.
Washington is a city still reeling from the effects of the plague unleashed prior to the events of the first game, though if I’m being completely honest the storyline here didn’t grab me anywhere near as much as the original’s did. The problem – if it really can be called that – is that there’s just so much to do in the world that keeps distracting you away from a focused narrative experience.
Going from a story mission to the open world where I could spend an hour or more preventing public executions, stopping propaganda broadcasts, exploring underground bases, and flipping control points back to the ‘good’ guys before hitting up the next storyline mission, it proved very hard to remember who I was supposed to be after.
Fortunately, The Division 2 isn’t really aimed at being a narrative masterpiece – it’s the loot and the battles that you’re here for, and you’ll get both in spades. Missions follow much the same progression as the first game: select the one you want to do, travel to it – fighting random battles along the way, go through the mission – generally a series of battles leading to a final climactic showcase battle against a leader, and then collect your loot.
Each mission offers set rewards, plus there are generous drops from enemies and the open world holds a frankly ridiculous number of loot-containing boxes/backpacks/crates to open, and going through missions with friends it’s pretty common to have ‘loot breaks’ that consist of everyone rummaging through their backpack to see if they’ve gotten anything new and shinier. Loot is individual, so you don’t have to worry about being greedy about picking things up, and you can share something you don’t need with people who were in the group when it dropped.
Adding to all that is the lure of the Dark Zone and the top-tier loot it contains, if you can survive both the AI and human enemies that inhabit it. I was a huge fan of the Dark Zone PVEvP (if that’s even a real acronym) in the first game and that love continues here. As of right now there are no really overpowered builds steamrolling through the Dark Zone, and that helps make things feel fairer and more fun. Still, if you’re heading into the zone you’ll want to bring a friend, preferably three.
Like with our Anthem review, it’s too early to say how The Division 2 will hold up long-term – and this is another Games as a Service title that’s promised a ton of updates over the next year – but it’s a very solid foundation that builds on what the original brought to the table so it’s easy to recommend to existing fans. Your character handles smoothly in and out of battle, and the combat system has enough skill and gear varieties to lend itself to pretty much any playstyle you want.