I completely skipped Tom Clancy’s The Division when it first came out, that was a mistake. Like countless people I recently picked up Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 while it was on a 95% sale to promote the release of the game’s new expansion Warlords of New York. I was hooked by the end of the character creator.
Initially, I skipped the first Division game because I was worried the online multiplayer nature of the game would lead to an experience similar to that of Assassin’s Creed Unity. Which is to say, terrible. My experience in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 thus far would indicate that was an incorrect prejudgement.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is largely an open world, third-person shooter. The different regions are somewhat level-locked, but nothing is stopping the player from running through those high-level areas like I ran through Stranglethrone Vale back in my World of Warcraft days. Although The Division’s leveling system is much tighter than other games. There have been times where enemies only a level or higher than me were incredibly tough. Which keeps the game well-paced.
Presently I believe I have about half-way through the PvE story and the game has transitioned in difficulty smoothly. Early on your enemies are armed with clubs, pistols, and SMGs. Later they transition shotguns and assault rifles. Where I’m at in the game now the occasional sniper or special enemy has been added to the mix. There have been times where it seems like I’ve hit a plateau and the enemies become bullet sponges. These periods are shot and generally don’t impact the overall gameplay.
In Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, you play as an agent for the titular agency, The Division. Set in a post-viral-apocalypse United States, your job is to clean up the streets of Washington DC before the rebuilding of the nation can begin. You can do this in real life by not voting for Republicans.
Cleaning up the streets of DC is done by discovering settlements and handling whatever missions and projects they have. You also fight back against the gangs running around the capital by taking their control points, engaging them in skirmishes, and liberating and hostages and supplies they have along the way. This is always achieved through government-sanctioned extrajudicial violence, which is a problem.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 has a strong pro-government message that isn’t carefully examined by the game itself. Littered in optional collectibles and a few story cutscenes and quick quips about how everything is better now that there isn’t any red tape. Really? Everything is better now that most of the population is dead and you can kill whoever you wish without needing to bother to get a warrant or even establish cause? I’m not going to dwell on this too hard because I get that it’s a platform to build the gameplay off of. As far as state-sanctioned violence goes, the game would just be better if it didn’t try to justify your actions as being better than things were before. Because once we go there we have to realize that there is no central government in this scenario and the division is no different than one of the many paramilitary organizations that litter the map. The only difference is that your group controls the White House. While the framing of the game is certainly problematic, it is something that can be forgiven and doesn’t impact the experience once you dive in.
Gunfights and skirmishes in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 are where the game really shines. The weapons feel crunchy and mechanical. While shooting, cover is both needed and easy to transition to and from. This makes gunplay exciting and feels more tactical than many of The Division 2’s competitors. There are some clunky issues with the grenade and gadget controls on PC at times, but usually, you’re opening combat with those so you have time to fiddle with them. The only thing really missing is destructible environments.
Speaking of environments, while playing with my close friends we all constantly commented on how well crafted the environments were. Most games set in cities feel sanitized, this is not the case in The Division 2. Streets and alleys are cluttered with trash. Abandoned vehicles clog the streets, parks, and nearly anywhere a driver could cram it before abandoning it.
Sadly, the 95% off sale has ended so sadly the game has returned to a price that, at the time of writing, is just north of forty dollars. I would still recommend this game, with one caveat. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is only fun when you’re playing with other people. If you have friends that play you should pick this game up now. If you have friends you can convince to play as I do, you should convince them to play. The Division 2 is by far the best cooperative shooter I have ever played. I regret not playing the first one and I hope you can learn from that regret.