Another day, another loot shooter. Or was it another battle royale? Whatever the case may be, I got a new beta to try out and write about, this time being The Division 2. Without further ado, let’s get some numbers popping and feet running in an abandon D.C. area.
I could talk about the story elements here, but what is the point? Why care about the overarching story when at the end of the day, it’s all about that sweet loot? From what I could tell, the virus that infected New York in the first game made its way to Washington D.C., and that’s about it. There is obviously going to be a story that plays out in-game, but that will most likely be about the struggle between the good guys and the leader of one of the enemy factions. This sounds demeaning, but the lack of a great story didn’t really dampen the experience. The only thing the lack of a story affected for me is the enemy factions aren’t as well built story-wise as the first game, but that didn’t really affect me all that much.
Gameplay is ultimately what matters in this game, and from what I have played I would say I am overall positive on the game. The beta takes place in one section of the map and includes some main missions, some side missions, one section of the dark zone (the game’s PvPvE area), PvP multiplayer, one mission with an endgame character, and all of the smaller activities found in the open world. Before I even get into how good or bad the gameplay is, I would like to applaud the sheer amount of gameplay in this beta. There is a solid six hours of content in this beta alone if you are just trying to complete everything; trying to get max rank and spending time in the dark zone or multiplayer can easily add another five-to-ten hours on top of that. Just from the size of the beta, I can tell that the developers are confident in both the amount of content in their game as well as how complete their content is, which leaves me with high hopes considering how often loot shooters never get it right at launch.
When it comes to improvements or changes between this game and the last, I can’t really help. I did play the first game, but I never really got into it to know all of the minute details. There are some changes I did notice, but this blog won’t be a complete side-by-side comparison.
I didn’t think the developers could pull off a cooler environment for the game than the snowy New York setting, but I think the new D.C. area is better. The overgrown greenery and interesting locations are overall better than any building I can remember from the first game. Plus, your base of operations is the White House, which is way more memorable than whatever building was used for the first game. These monuments and buildings play an important role, as for they are where missions take place or settlements are made. The settlements have a nice upgrade loop to where upgrading the settlement by doing missions will unlock more missions and more stuff to do at the base of operations, and having that expanded to however many settlements there will be in the game will be a lot of fun.
Outside of settlements, I found the content to be pretty familiar. The one big exception to that, however, are the vast amount of smaller activities that happen. While I do remember these smaller events happening in the first game, I think they are much more prevalent here. One of the big new ones is called control point, in which you capture a random piece of land from enemies. While this felt like the biggest, there are plenty of other activities like recovering supply drops, stopping executions, and more. The other thing that is out in the open world are NPCS, and a thing I like about them in this game is the ecosystem that surrounds them. Groups of NPCs are constantly walking around with different roles like scavenging or patrolling, and it made the world feel more realistic and lively.
Guns and enemies are the name of the game, and while I think this game falls in line with the rest of the loot shooters in terms of its time-to-kill and whatnot, The Division 2 has some smart systems in play to make the gameplay feel less spongy. If you play co-op and you have a different level compared to the person you are playing with, then the level of the enemy is balanced to make it fair for both players. The big improvement that I liked the most, however, is the game essentially stripping enemy and weapon levels away in the dark zone and in competitive multiplayer. The big issue I remember having with the dark zone in the first game was how hard it was to kill AI enemies because of their level, but that isn’t an issue anymore. The numbers game is fun and all, but it is also nice to have a break from it.
Whenever a loot shooter game is talked about, the big question that usually comes up is how strong the end-game is. The Division 2 did a smart move by adding in a few end-game characters to play as to test the waters. I don’t think there is enough shown to get a real sense of the end-game, but from what I played I didn’t like it all that much. The content I played was essentially a mission I already played earlier in the beta but with harder and smarter enemies, and I also had a specialty weapon. I think there are some new missions and whatnot, but if the majority of the end-game content is just a rehash of previous content, then I don’t really want a part in it.
When all is said and done with this game, this is ultimately another Division game and another loot shooter. You scavenge for guns with high numbers so you can pop large numbers off of an enemy’s head until their health number becomes too big so you have get a better gun with an even bigger number. Personally, I have been trying to get away from the genre because I don’t find as much fun it; but at the same time I do think The Division is the best one-of-those out right now. The first game had a pretty crappy launch (what loot shooter doesn’t at this point?), but I think the improvements and changes made throughout the first game made a rock-solid formula for this game to follow. If the developers do things right -and from what I have played I am going to say that they are- then I think The Division 2 will be the most solid launch compared to the launch of other loot shooters. At the same time, however, I can see myself easily waiting another year-or-two and buying this game at a reduced price with all additional content released.
In conclusion, I think The Division 2 Beta shows a very solid one-of-those. I think this game will have the least amount of issues at launch compared to the launches of other loot shooters, and I think the sheer amount of content available just from the beta alone speaks to a game that can easily be worth its price. While this is a very solid loot shooter, this game is still another one-of-those, and if you are not a fan of that genre then this game will most likely not change your mind.