Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 aims to improve upon previous user experiences, and doing so, delivers a timeless classic and an exemplary title that should be considered one of the best there is on the market as far as looter shooters go in recent times, but it goes far beyond that and now, it’s time to find out why.
+A satisfying end-game experience for fans of loot-based games
+Delivers a hauntingly beautiful experience both visually and audibly
+Perks, skills, and specializations have been heavily improved upon
+Post-game content adds in more depth and story to the game
+Onscreen GPS/Tracking works a lot better than the previous title
+Dark Zones each come with their own unique story
+Customizable HUD allowing for ease of access
-Difficulty scaling can be a bit off-putting for newcomers to the shooter genre
When it comes to looter shooters, I’m a hard one to impress in recent times due to the quality of these games. It’s not to say all of them are bad. In fact, a few of them are great, better than great really, and then there are the few that struggle significantly more than others.
Some lack in story, making it hard to connect with the world around you, which puts a disconnect between the player and the world they wish to enjoy. Then there are games like Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, which was developed by more than half a dozen studios in unison, each one bringing their own personal touches to a unique, and disturbingly beautiful setting.
For the past 50+ hours, I’ve been enjoying my time in a post-epidemic Washington; a place where a new chemical called DC-62 got into the wild, taking countless lives while Green Poison, a man-made virus, continued to show its rippling effects on the world around me. Through its devastation came life, through that life came a lack of government, a lack of leaders, and most of all, a lack of governance means those who seek to take advantage in the chaos that can ensue.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is a chaotically beautiful masterpiece and visual eye-candy
Inside this chaos comes moments of beauty, visual stimuli in the likes we’d never seen before. Plants of overtaken the streets, taking back what humans once kept under control. Wildlife has come out of hiding as deer, dogs, and various other creatures skitter about, fighting for their own survival as a few Hyena junkies walk down the street, a few captives walking just a few feet ahead of them. An execution squad no doubt, one that’s waiting to pilfer their bodies once they dispose of them.
Those moments beckon forth a harsh reality, one that humanity – I hope – could face if our social structures came tumbling down around us. As that reality sinks in, I can hear it in the distance. The soft howl of a storm kicking up as small sprinkles of water fall from the sky, hinting at a severe thunderstorm that’s rolling in.
At sunset, this could be a problem as vision will become limited, and keeping an eye on those Hyenas could become a bigger problem than before. But that’s the beauty in it all. It’s a harsh reality, one that many games don’t see anymore these days. Sure, Anthem is one of the few that offers a setting we want to believe, that we want to touch, smell, and experience for ourselves.
But it doesn’t do it good as this. Whether it’s in a building, at a dock, or even an enemy stronghold, the artistic nature of this game is – without a doubt- one of the best since Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey launched late last year. However, it’s not just the artistic nature one needs to appreciate in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. It’s how their use of creativity brings the game to life, how it emphasizes on the reliance for cover-to-cover based combat scenarios, pushing players to work together in a back-to-back style system.
To be quite honest, it feels as if Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 was more-so the vision that the teams at Ubisoft had planned for the first title itself. While it didn’t succeed in execution until late in its life, Tom Clancy’s The Division was still a profoundly unique game that had a lot to offer when said and done.
Here, it’s chaotic, it’s beautiful, and every inch of the game has been designed with every core mechanic at its core. But that’s the beauty in it all. It’s a very, very, carefully designed game, where detail is absolute and ensuring that vision is even more of an absolute must.
Every fight is a unique encounter and not one of them will ever be the same
As the rain begins to fall there are two choices here. One, I can remain quiet, looking for an alley to dash down as the storm begins to unleash its fury, or I can engage the targets as my dads character quickly runs up the street behind me, almost exhausted for the fact I left him back at the White House alone, a 0.2 km trek through enemy territory.
But our time is critical. We can save the survivors, letting them flee back to the nearest settlement, or we can quietly walk away, letting them meet a grim and unfortunate fate. Eventually, we’ll get revenge, we always do. But can we atone for their deaths? The reality is, we need them taken out, just as we’ve done with previous events that dotted the entirety of Washington D.C. up until this very point.
We’ve cleared them out before, freeing up Washington D.C.’s streets, offering us more control over every zone we’ve trekked through time and time again. It’s in these very moments that Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 begins to shine the brightest. Combat is frantic, every encounter just as much as the moments leading up to when bullets begin to fly.
As a game designed around how combat works, every experience is quite unique, and every weapon you will wield, even more so than the others with it. In some encounters, you might find that the “Turret” skill works the best when coupled with the Chem Launcher, allowing you to heavily fragment an enemy leaders armor value while the turret whittles away their health due to the exposed parts of their bodies.
On the other side, you’ll have players like my partners for this review – David and Elona – who each come with their own unique skill preferences. One finds flame turrets to be their best asset, setting enemies on fire while providing armor restoration via the Hive skill while the other uses the sniper turret and a repair drone to keep us in the fight.
Even as tougher fights come before us, our skills will change, allowing us to adapt to every encounter put before us. Mods and even a specialization will change how fights are experienced. For me, it would become the Survivalist specialization, offering me a unique weapon to that very tree once I hit level thirty and completed the base campaign itself, putting the Hyenas, the Outcasts, and the True Sons into disarray. However, what came next, I wasn’t ready for.
After thirty hours, The Division 2 really begins to shine, and the story takes another massive turn
Without spoilers, there’s one thing you need to know. Your first thirty hours or so? That’s all a primer for the things to come, each mission, each level you earn, and every weapon you use preparing you for what Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 really has to offer. Of course, you might already know, that each faction is essentially a tutorial for the things to come.
With the Outcasts, you had to learn to fight against enemies with rushing tactics, and their ability to control the ebb and flow of combat due to their overreliance on incendiary grenades. On the other hand, you have the True Sons, who are all about the use of S.H.D. tech, and their ability to use drones to their advantage.
Then there’s the Hyena’s, the ones who like to get close and personal when combat starts. However, there’s one group we haven’t mentioned, a group you won’t experience until the main story comes to an end and their chapter begins: The Black Tusk faction. One of the key elements behind a game like this is giving players a high-end replay value. One where they can either go into end-game zones (the Dark Zone) or work on their world tiers altogether.
However, working on end-game progression isn’t as easy as it sounds. The Black Task will put all your culminated experiences into a single test, each fight requiring you to know the ins and outs of your build, of how those enemies work, and what will best counter the current situation.
Do the enemies have drones? If so, then shock damage might be your best friend – if you have it. Are they dealing tons of damage and require you to heal quite often? The Hive or repair drone might be your best friends in that stick situation while your flame turret keeps them busy. Along with the black tusks and their end-game progression comes entirely new story elements that are exclusive to this part of the game.
The Black Tusk faction will put your skills to the test and their effects are felt across the map
One of the best design choices for and end-game faction is the Black Tusk faction. Let alone does post-campaign include them, but their hostile invasion is felt across the map. Dark Zones become occupied, your settlements are blockaded, limiting your access to each of the zones that you carelessly traveled through once before.
The Main Mission’s are even harder as Black Tusk troops have been sent to undo everything you’ve done. Here, high-tier loot can be earned, and your World Tier can get upgraded, allowing for your item level/gear score to improve, which in turn, allows you to take on Black Tusk strongholds, each one increasing in difficulty as you go. A well-designed risk versus reward system that will see players adventure on as they please.
The risk to reward system does increase, however, when you take to the Dark Zone’s themselves. Some will be invaded, allowing for better loot, but at higher stakes. Players will be able to PvP without little to no risk to themselves. Here, anything goes, and it’s best to not travel alone when you go here. You and those you are with need to be prepared.
In these Dark Zones, rogue agents aren’t marked on screen or the map. Instead, bullets fly, and when they fly, players and NPCs will drop as quickly as they arose to the challenge. On the opposite end of this challenge comes the rewards. Gear is better, it’s of higher quality, but getting it comes with great cost. Players will kill you, NPCs will kill you, but if you and your squad can outlast them – the rewards are well worth the efforts.
But the same can be said for the other Dark Zone areas. They still have high-tier reward and items that can only be obtained via the Dark Zone itself. This includes armor, weapons, and even mods for your gear, which only adds to the depth of the game itself. It’s also where the game begins to emphasize on loadouts, set perks, and weapons you will want to use.
However, keep in mind, everything in the Dark Zone areas has been set to a baseline stat across the board. Every player, every perk, and every stat has been generalized, giving no one a specific edge over the other. Weapons all do the same damage (to some extent), all gear has the same armor value, but perks remain active from mods and armor sets.
Even solo-players haven’t been left in the dark
One of the unique things about this game is the fact it has something for everyone. Whether you want to play alone, with a group, or somewhere between the two with random players; there’s something for everyone who wants to play the game how they prefer.
For most of my adventure, when David or Elona wasn’t around, I took off on my own, taking time to explore the underbelly of the beast that is Washington D.C. itself. I took time, took advantage of the ever-rotating Control Points the Black Tusk and their UAV and drones would attack.
I’d work my way through, gathering various resources to help out those I kept, and those I would eventually regain control of. I’d even take my time, doing random dailies for each of the Settlements I began to retake little by little in the post-game content. Even as you work on gearing up once the main story has been completed, you’ll find yourself in a constant state of semi-rewarding upgrades where weapons, armor pieces, and even mods will increase your item level no matter what you do.
For myself, I enjoyed it quite a bit, finding myself constantly in a fluctuating state of gearing up and optimizing my character for the perks and states each item has to offer. Along the way, I also found myself working to grab every S.H.D. cache, hidden electronic device, or public event I could along the way.
Doing so, I was in a constant state of essentially felt like leveling up in an entirely new way than ever before. I continued to earn new points to put towards my specialization, allowing the way I experienced combat to alter based on what abilities I chose to upgrade. Do I want my seekers to follow friendlies and heal them? Certainly a viable option, but what about being alone? That won’t work.
Because I’m alone, I can change that, going into perks such as Triage Specialist, which allows me to increase my healing by a total of 15% when all stat points are allocated into that very perk. Want a better chance at survival? That’s fully possible for solo players, which allows you to increase your protection against Elites. All of these enhance my chances at survival, allowing me to upgrade my character as I please, allowing me to excel in combat in ways never before seen.
Eventually, I’ll have all of these maxed, allowing me to take full advantage of the experience Ubisoft has. The trick to this? Leveling up post-level cap. Meaning, you’ll need to continue on leveling, earning a total of 160 points when said and done. There’s a lot to do to help you with this whether you play alone or with your friends. Even if you don’t have friends, matchmaking is available, and it’s one of the best I’ve yet to experience.
As a PvPer, however, it’s hard not to mention the Conflict modes. So let’s talk about that a second.
Conflict is one of the best modes that The Division 2 has to offer for PvPers
When I first saw Conflict as a matchmaking option, a few things went through my head. First, why a PvP focused mode? We have the Dark Zone after all. Second of all, are the rewards actually worth it due to the normalized stats and the objectives you will use? What about the fact it reminds me a lot of Destiny 2 in ways? Well. All questions were answered within a matter of hours.
In this mode, you have several game types that will be available in Conflict once you try it. Conflict modes include Domination, where players will fight for control of the map, locking down specific points while pushing back their enemies forces. Each task completed, which can include a special deed, will help further the score and increasing the odds of winning. A straight-forward Domination experience for many who play the game.
Then there’s Skirmish, where teams will work against one another, with the ultimate goal of forcing the others respawn tickets to hit zero before taking the team completely out, forcing a victory for their team. But what’s more surprising about these modes is the depth that there is for each of them.
Not one match will ever play the same. They’re all about tactics, forcing players to use their PvE experiences with cover-to-cover combat, their abilities, and loadouts to their advantage. While all stats are normalized, it’s a very tactical affair, and it’s one that doesn’t come off as a run and gun experience by any means.
In one match, I tried that, hosing down as many enemies as I could before being taken out. The outcome? They won, I didn’t. That was a ticket off our respawn allowance, ultimately pitting my team in a negative place due to my lack of acknowledging how the game itself actually plays.
These organized PvP experiences also come with their own set of rewards that players can unlock after a match has been completed. It’s a fun and rewarding experience for those wanting to not worry about the NPCs of the DZ’s themselves.
The Conclusion: Even as the missions come to an end, what The Division 2 has to offer is ever-growing
Even though its a few weeks post-launch, it’s hard to truly emphasize on how absolutely massive Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 actually is. It’s huge in scope and size. There’s more to do than I’d experienced in previous loot shooters and dungeon crawlers alike. When it comes to how a looter shooter should be executed ahead of its launch and at launch, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is the poster child for these games when all things are said and done.
It offers plenty of post-game content without compromise and it seems that Ubisoft is set on keeping it a premium experience and readily available to all. Whether you own the Season Pass(es) or not, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 should rightfully be considered a gift that keeps on given. With an already solid 2019 roadmap in place, this game is ready to go the extra mile, and it doesn’t seem that it will disappoint.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment, Ubisoft Reflections, and Ubisoft Annecy
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $59.99 – $129.99
Whether it’s from the beautiful and always transforming landscapes thanks to a dynamic weather system or the constant struggle to keep a stronghold from occupying forces, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is an absolute delight and a must-have of this generation. It’ll be exciting to see what Massive, Redstorm, among the many other teams at Ubisoft have planned for the game moving forward.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.