Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 kicks off its second year with Warlords of New York, serving up the game as its first major expansion, which returns players to where it all began in Lower Manhattan. Now, we’re exploring what has happened just a short time later and just what the Dark Zone turned into after the thaw. Here’s our review for The Division 2: Warlords of New York.
+Lower Manhattan is back, but no longer as a Dark Zone area, allowing players a fresh look at a once lethal area
+Several gameplay improvements including end-game progression changes
+Removal of Item Level/Gear Score massively improves replayability
+A strong narrative that brings a much bigger enemy into the fold than Aaron Keener
-Minor graphic glitches, audio cutouts, and framerate dips in action-intense areas
Editor’s Note: Please note before reading this review. This review will contain minor plot point spoilers for those just starting The Division 2 and it is highly suggested you please return to our homepage to avoid the spoilers.
When Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 first launched and our review was released, it was hard to imagine what a second year of the MMO-hybrid title would be like. The first title was sprawling to life with each and every update, adding in minor global events, new raid content, new fireteam deep-dungeon missions to enjoy.
The Division 2, however, hasn’t been doing that near as much. Instead, it has opted for a bigger picture, one that has brought in three new episodes, each setting up the hunt for the antagonist and rogue agent, Aaron Keener. Now, here we are, a year later and already kicking off the second year of content, which sees players return to a familiar scene with Lower Manhattan becoming the hotbed for the hunt.
It’s a setting we’d grown used to in our frigid trek through post-Black Friday New York City, one where the Green Poison virus had originally been released, quickly tallying up its death toll in just a few short weeks. The scene, however, has changed from a frozen hellscape to one that’s thawed out, revealing the calamity that befell the Lower Manhattan region, a former Dark Zone where rogue agents, Division agents, and the local gangs once duked it out for the best gear in the game.
Narratively, not a lot has changed, but rather, expanded upon
The hunt for Aaron Keener remains the central focus for The Division 2: Warlords of New York. You’ll find yourself returning, as stated, to the once beautiful city, one that feels eerily vacant due to those that once inhabited having passed on or left due to the virus that ravaged their once-great city.
You’ll find the story structure to work just as it did in titles ranging from Ghost Recon: Wildlands to Far Cry 5, where you’ll take out a specific target, dwindling down their resources and their assets down to nothing before moving on and forcing your opponent to play their final hand while all their chips are down.
As the story does hit its climax, you’ll find that Aaron Keener is up to something bigger, that he has surrounded himself with other rogue agents, each of them controlling sects of former groups of both the Rikers and the Cleaners; Rioters and the Last Man Batallion having fallen apart at the hand of your agent from the first game.
His new arsenal is one much more lethal: He wants to unleash another bioweapon. A weapon that could do much more damage than Green Poison had, one that could wipe out the remaining numbers of Washington’s population in a single blow. Except, in a way, the story is convoluted, slightly messy, and it has a familiar issue I had with Far Cry 5, despite the fact I absolutely loved the game: The story structure feels off, hard to follow, and one that is basically scattered about in pieces and made so you will put it together on your own.
The one enemy that will stand out the most is Theo Parnell, a rogue agent you’ve encountered before, one that was a part of the preview event (Episode 3) that led up to us going into Lower Manhattan and taking on the Warlords of New York content. The overall duration will last a good 4-5 hours before you finally come face-to-face with Keener himself, allowing a climactic experience unfold before you before the bigger picture plays out.
But before you get there, there’s something new about this expansion: New abilities that unlock and will help with each and every encounter you will face.
The New S.H.D. tech is good, if not great, and it adds variety
You’ll find several new abilities to unlock, one for each agent, minus Keener. Each rogue agent – once defeated – will offer new abilities including the sticky gun from The Division and even some electrified mines that stun enemies that run into their proximity.
Long-story-short: The gear is nice and it’s definitely more of The Division, which if we’re being honest, isn’t actually bad. It’s not a half-bad experience when taking on new enemies, unlocking new abilities, encountering them in massive arenas where you take them on one-at-a-time with massive waves protecting them.
But that’s a bit of where there’s going to be a stick in The Division 2: Warlords of New Yorks boot. It’s a worthwhile continuation that borrows ideas from other franchises Ubisoft has released before, but it doesn’t do much to really change that. It’s still an excellent third-person cover-based shooter that blends in RPG and loot-based mechanics right.
It even forgoes the idea of a paid battle pass with its seasonal events, it even does its best to REALLY draw players into events such as Polarity Shift (currently going as of this being published). That being said, The Division 2: Warlords of New York is actually an improvement on the base game. Long gone are the days of worrying about obtaining an item level, but instead, just cranking up the difficulty and seeing just how much your stats actually matter.
Lower Manhattan is a visual spectacle unlike its former self, which was in ways, disheveled
One of the things that comes off as fresh about this very location is that it feels fresh, unique, and many ways: beautifully disheveled. It’s a chaotic splendor that Ubisoft and their teams have done rather well. You can see just how effective and resourceful both The Cleaners and the Rikers have been in the absence of the LMB and the Rioters. They’ve evolved, they’ve become even more deadly and it’s no surprise that the gangs that call New York home have done rather well for themselves.
They’ve developed into worthy adversaries, ones that our protagonists and their second wave of agents will face down against in overwhelming fashion. You’ll find that the Rikers and the Cleaners have fashioned up new equipment, despite the loss of their faction leaders just seven months prior in the story of The Division.
You’ll even get to see the breadth of the Black Tusk’s capabilities. The set pieces you will encounter themselves are breathtaking from crashed tankers to burning buildings that turn into sprawling labyrinths. It’s a real treat when you get into exploring Lower Manhattan in its fullest outside of missions and hunting down event-based targets for bonus items that can be earned during the course of an event. It’s a nice change of pace and it does add a bit of depth to The Division 2 overall.
Gear changes have received a massive change as well
One of the things that’s nice about this expansion is that part of it came as a free update, which sees in a massive change to the once overcomplicated systems and new endgame chases fans had to work around since the initial launch. Gearing has been simplified, allowing players to use a new retooling system, allowing agents to “extract” or “repurpose” stats and perks from items that they have, saving them in a library to place on their gear at a later date.
Now, god rolls, if you will, are no longer in existence. You can save them for later, applying them to a set-piece or armor that you enjoy. It’s nice to be able to just grab a perk from a junk armor you won’t use and tossing it onto the one you will. It’s a nice change from the min-max system that was in place previously that was a bit harder to use and to understand as you would see your item level go up and down based on what you have equipped.
It’s a new system that I have come to enjoy, using it to make my character the best she can be, often opting for abilities that go along with repair potency. Those who play the most to achieve the highest and most elite ranks in the game will be the ones that see this pay off the most while more general and casual players will only get to touch the surface of this system. All skills, perks, etc, are scalable and will change with every piece obtained.
That being said, it’s a step in the right direction and one that worked rather well for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls and it seems that it will be one that works rather well for The Division 2 moving forward.
It’s time for debriefing agent – Conclusion
For better or for worse, The Division 2: Warlords of New York, is exactly what it says to be: It’s more of the same game, but expanded upon, giving an ironic, yet strange, sense of escapism in current-world events that slightly echo that of the games overall setting. For others, going back, its a major expansion, one that came with a massive update that will change the experience you previously had, allowing you to redefine how you play to something you might enjoy.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Stadia and Xbox One
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment, Ubisoft Reflections, and Ubisoft Annecy
Release Date: Available Now
That being said, Warlords of New York is a solid campaign, one that brings a four-year story arch to its conclusion, allowing fans to see what awaits them once Keener is down and out, giving us a glimpse of what the future is and what it seems to be. For now, however, there’s a lot to take in and let settle after the conclusion to the expansion which will leave players craving more at the end of the day.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game 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. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!