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Washington DC looks a tad bit different to what the travel brochure advertised. I mean sure, all the landmarks are there, from the Jaeger-sized Abraham Lincoln who awaits the day when the Union returns to unleash their Southern Kaiju in a new Civil War to the towering erection that immortalises former president Bill Clinton’s infidelity that is known as the Washington Monument.

It’s a scenic tour of a city that happens to have seen better days. Roving gangs of heavily armed lunatics stalk the streets looking for Capitol gains, private militias seek to carve out their own kingdom where they never have to worry about being betrayed by their government ever again and a weary populace find themselves caught in the middle of ideologies gone rogue.

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The Division 2 has the potential to say a lot about the current American landscape, but its silence on taking a stand on any side is absolutely deafening, save for some jingoism here and there. It’s a good thing then that its gameplay doesn’t just fill that silence, it makes it an afterthought as this sequel from Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment checks every box on what a follow-up should be and then some.

First up, that political elephant in the room.

If you were looking for The Division 2 to have something to say about the US, their ideology of exceptionalism and their violent culture of guns having an impact on society, you’re bang out of luck. Instead, The Division 2 is Ubisoft’s most neutral game yet. Sure, there’s a tale there about saving the political heartland of a nation and reuniting the scattered communities of Washington DC into an organised collective of hard-working flag-wavers, all wrapped up in typical Tom Clancy ideas.

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Namely that of you being a near-future super-soldier who rattles off technical military lingo while fighting America’s real enemies, like bandits armed with flamethrowers and socialism. And you know what? I’m kind of glad. Ubisoft made no bones about The Division 2 being a game set in the middle of today’s ideological divide and it’s all the better for it. If you can’t please any one side, you might as well cater to none of them.

Instead, The Division 2 focuses its attention on its gameplay, which may look similar to the original game at first glance, but is miles ahead of its predecessor. Here is a sequel that has added some serious muscle mass to its bones, taking everything that it learnt from the original game and applying them a more feature-packed beast.

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The primary drive of The Division 2 is still one of you crouching behind a conveniently erected barricade, firing off rounds and watching enemy heads erupt in a geyser of numbers, but it’s the fine art of how you get to that advantageous position that makes all the difference. Instead of crouching behind a single box, The Division 2 encourages you to keep moving, to keep an eye on your surroundings and to use your various tech to your advantage.

You’ll need to stay agile as well, because the various enemy factions are packing plenty of heat on their side, gear that is designed to push you out of the safety of your position and set you up for a quick death. It’s wonderfully silly stuff as well, because while you might be able to pop a turret to defend you or send a tennis ball of death hurtling towards a grunt, they’ve managed to jerry-rig flamethrowers together or even remote control cars armed with explosive buzzsaws that look like they were stolen from the set of Robot Wars.

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That all makes for an exceptional core that keeps players on their toes. In a genre where the journey towards loot is just as important as the acquisition of said loot, The Division 2 is a mean machine that feels worth the dozens and dozens of hours required to invest in it. Upgradeable skills makes the search for SHD-tech caches to plug more points into your various patriotic weaponry makes for some exhilarating skills, while the various guns and gear reflect Massive’s aim to make your character one a soldier who can specialise in any field to the detriment of the other.

Want to make your drones and riot control foam guns more powerful? You can mod said gear with buffs at the cost of your overall bullet-sponginess, while focusing on your physical attributes locks off many of the better skill mods. That quid pro quo is a subtle but important distinction, one that is expertly balanced with the gear on offer and Ubisoft’s key strengths in open-world building.

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Washington DC is an amazing city to explore, one that is overgrown with vegetation, refuse and graffiti. It’s a city that Mother Nature has slowly begun to reclaim, but still capable of hiding plenty of its own secrets. The streets can be quiet for a moment, and erupt into a cavalcade of chaos as rival factions duke it out at the drop of a hat.

There’s so much to do at any given time in The Division 2, and at the start of the game it can feel absolutely overwhelming. A few hours in, and I’m already in a flow. I’m helping out control points that I’ve liberated, I’m bolstering my supply routes with more JTF recruits and reclaiming Washington DC block by block across bloody turf wars while upgrading my weapons so that they always out-math the opposition harder and faster than the last time they faced me.

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That groove is magnificent stuff, and one that will easily devour hours of my time beyond the end of the main campaign thanks to The Division 2 having a proper endgame. Even with missions that feel well worth a replay, The Division 2’s endgame feels like the culmination of every criticism levied at the original game and its lacklustre drive once the end credits had rolled.

In fact, the entirety of The Division 2 feels like a lengthy training scenario in retrospect, one that is designed to prepare you for the proper challenge ahead. Beyond that, there’s even more action to be had in the Dark Zones, titles which are not just an apt description of my mental space whenever I see sports on TV.

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Whereas the original dog eat dog world of back-stabbing and hastily-forged partnerships was a hellhole of griefers running rampant, The Division 2’s Dark Zone feels so much better in comparison thanks to the consequences of your actions inside. Player vs Player vs Enemy combat feels more rewarding thanks to a balanced playing field, that occasionally gives way to free for all brouhahas when certain events occur within.

Alliances are tenuous at best thanks to the drive to not only get the best loot in the game, but to make certain that you get your pals goods as well in a Shakespearian betrayal at the eleventh hour and going rogue may be tough but the benefits for being a bastard makes the very idea an intriguing possibility.

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That’s not to say that there aren’t some criticisms to lob at The Division 2. It may be as pretty as can be (On Xbox One X where I played it), but the gorgeous vistas and lighting can come undone by some shadows and blacked out areas that hinder your vision tremendously. It may tie into the crumbling society facade of The Division 2, but walking into a dim corridor and not seeing anything at all in front of you can be frustrating in a game where such an inconvenience doesn’t have to exist for the sake of authenticity when I’m being attacked by bionic helldogs unleashed by Black Tusk soldiers.

There’s also something to be said for The Division 2’s cosmetic side, which feels thriftier than the previous game and makes a massive noise out of your multiple deaths rewarding you with a pair of cheap Oakley sunglasses. Sure, you can find gear randomly by searching every discarded backpack in Washington and you can earn keys to unlock another box of wondrous random clothing, but loot crates in 2019 feels like backward game design at this point.

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Flaws aside, The Division 2 is a masterpiece of investment. Every level feels like a corridor shootout that would make John Woo proud, the drive to be better is surprisingly addictive and even without a solid story to become attached to, Washington DC is hands down one of the most interesting environments to explore in video games today.

Last Updated: March 25, 2019

The Division 2
As a first step towards a future of more live service content, The Division 2 already feels amazingly complete. It works from day one, its various systems are staggeringly deep and its combat is in a class of its own. Everything else that’s still to come over the next couple of years? That’s a satisfying cherry on top of an already massive sundae of excellence.
9.0
The Division 2 was reviewed on Xbox One
82 / 100

139 Comments

  1. Only 13 hours in and I already feel I am lagging behind? haha 😛 having a lot of fun though!

    Reply

    • Kromas

      March 25, 2019 at 13:15

      No need to rush. Just enjoy the ride. Most of us are stuck at WT4 because the delayed WT5 and the raids launch.

      Reply

      • Viper_ZA

        March 25, 2019 at 13:15

        Definitely not rushing, doing all the side quests & extras as I go along 😉

        Reply

        • Kromas

          March 25, 2019 at 13:26

          Also join a clan. Those come in handy.

          Reply

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 13:26

            I tend to play without a mic, but will look into it nonetheless.

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 13:26

            You play PC right?

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 15:49

            Nope, playing on the One X at the moment. Turning the Home Theatre up makes it sound like WW3 in the living room lol 😉

  2. Viper_ZA

    March 25, 2019 at 13:45

    So what is the DZ like? Only unlocked the first wing last night but shit scared of what could / is happening in there?

    Reply

  3. CrAiGiSh

    March 25, 2019 at 12:42

    Unpopular Opinion … This looks more like Division 1 … DLC.

    Reply

    • Kromas

      March 25, 2019 at 12:54

      Have you played it?

      Reply

      • CrAiGiSh

        March 25, 2019 at 13:04

        I played Division 1 when it came out and put in a decent amount of hours into the game.

        I then tried the Division 2 Closed and Open BETA.
        The game looked nice and you could see a Graphical improvement but with regards to the gameplay, it felt like the first game and honestly didn’t seem like much had changed there.

        If it was different on launch, fantastic.

        Reply

    • The D

      March 25, 2019 at 13:04

      It may look like it, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

      Reply

      • CrAiGiSh

        March 25, 2019 at 13:04

        I’m assuming its much better than the Closed and Open BETA – cause that for me didn’t make the game seem any different.

        Reply

        • Yahtzee

          March 25, 2019 at 13:04

          I almost did not buy the game thanks to the closed beta xD

          I even skipped the open beta because of it.

          Reply

        • The D

          March 25, 2019 at 15:21

          Enh, if the beta didn’t sell you then the full game won’t either.

          Reply

          • CrAiGiSh

            March 25, 2019 at 18:38

            Yeah, will give it a skip for now then and will rather wait for a sale … 😛

    • Yahtzee

      March 25, 2019 at 13:04

      As someone who hated the Division 1 with a passion that most here can vouch for. I am actually having a blast in Div 2. It really is an upgrade to the first in so many ways. Pushing hard now into end game and still enjoying it.

      Reply

  4. Kromas

    March 25, 2019 at 12:54

    The game is amazing so far and the massive improvements made above it’s predecessor is a welcome change to the genre currently. However I feel giving this game a score BEFORE the true end game is released is a mistake.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the game but it’s staying power resides in World Tier 5 and the raids. The mountains of activity is just a side dish to the main event and before we see that I believe it should not be judged.

    Reply

    • Nikola

      March 25, 2019 at 13:25

      Great game and there is actually a LOT more end game content and content in general than I thought it would be!! Excited for raids etc well first I need to get through World Tiers if Eskom lets us play:( But overall excited for end game and the content unlike all those poor people that bought Anthem instead of this…

      Reply

      • Kromas

        March 25, 2019 at 13:26

        Oh I agree but my point still stands. You don’t review a car based on it looking amazing. You need to at least test drive it and fully experience all the features. And currently the main feature of the game is locked behind a time window.

        Reply

        • Nikola

          March 25, 2019 at 13:26

          100% agreed!! But also have to remember that lots of people will probably never play the raid. So maybe a separate review should be done just for end game content. And for people who just want to play the base game etc this will serve them well. I know a lot of people that will just finish the game do maybe a bit of end game and move on:)

          Reply

    • The D

      March 25, 2019 at 13:04

      It’s a valid crit, and I totally hear you. Thing is, I’ve had nothing but a good time so far from Ubisoft’s post-launch services for their games, and I’ve got full confidence that they’ll nail this as well for The Division 2. I’ll eat one of my Batman cowls if the post-launch stuff is mediocre.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        March 25, 2019 at 13:26

        I’ll eat one of my Batman cowls if the post-launch stuff is mediocre.

        [SCREENSHOT SAVED]

        Reply

      • Kromas

        March 25, 2019 at 13:04

        I am with you on this but I have had way too many bad experiences lately that when something like Division 2 launches in an acceptable state I immediately get wary.

        Also as a side note. Not being political has put the game into some hot water …. not that I care. I just found it funny that the game launched fine and they had to really scrape the bottom of the barrel to find some controversy.

        Reply

        • The D

          March 25, 2019 at 13:04

          lol yeah, people on whatever side of the divide have to have something to moan about.

          Reply

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 13:04

            So when are you doing. “Where is Cassie and what does she have for sale”?

            Also she is next to the theater settlement and has nothing but junk. 😛

          • The D

            March 25, 2019 at 13:04

            Testicles to that. I like having Friday nights to myself again.

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 13:04

            Lol.

          • Pariah

            March 25, 2019 at 13:04

            For some reason that makes me think: “Friday nights at Freddy’s”.

    • Yahtzee

      March 25, 2019 at 13:04

      It was still a 30 hour push into the intro stages of end game. So a huge chunk was just getting to WT1 which is still just most of the game minus the raid and world tiers.

      Reply

  5. Admiral Chief

    March 25, 2019 at 13:26

    [FOMO INTENSIFIES]

    Reply

  6. Yahtzee

    March 25, 2019 at 13:26

    The first thing you want to do when buying this game is turning off the VOIP as it’s set to default.

    -The entire Div 2 community

    Reply

    • Kromas

      March 25, 2019 at 15:49

      I like VOIP!!!!

      Reply

      • Yahtzee

        March 25, 2019 at 19:07

        I don’t like hearing someone fight with their significant other while I need them to take down this heavy thats going to town on my ass.

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief

          March 25, 2019 at 19:07

          take down this heavy thats going to town on my ass

          Kinky

          Reply

          • Yahtzee

            March 25, 2019 at 19:07

            *smirks*

        • Kromas

          March 25, 2019 at 19:07

          I got this one guy in my clan. His kids watch him play and they give him some amazingly useful tips that make me wanna cry from laughter.

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief

            March 25, 2019 at 19:22

            LOL, example?

          • Yahtzee

            March 25, 2019 at 19:22

            I get the mechanical keyboards with the MX blue keys, while some dude is heavy breathing from smoking to much.

          • Admiral Chief

            March 25, 2019 at 20:33

            Siesa

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 20:33

            I only use PTT so my heavy smoke filled breathing as well as my keyboard is usually muted.

  7. Viper_ZA

    March 25, 2019 at 13:45

    So what is the DZ like? Only unlocked the first wing last night but shit scared of what could / is happening in there?

    Reply

    • Yahtzee

      March 25, 2019 at 13:45

      Have not been into the DZ yet. Waaaaaay to much meat on the bone with PvE.

      Reply

    • Kromas

      March 25, 2019 at 13:45

      The DZ is a waste of time right now.

      Reply

      • Viper_ZA

        March 25, 2019 at 13:45

        PvE it is then 😉

        Reply

        • Yahtzee

          March 25, 2019 at 13:45

          It was the hackers in the DZ back in Div 1 that made me quit the game, so I enjoy staying far away from it.

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief

            March 25, 2019 at 13:45

            #NeverForget

          • Yahtzee

            March 25, 2019 at 13:45

            #RIPakeyboard

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 13:56

            Right now everyone uses the 1 shot sniper build (that you can use green items and still make it work. Also no need for headshots.

            So basically unless you are at Flash like levels of speed and have great sub 40ms ping you will lose every time.

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 13:45

            Oh snap, that’s right but that was more a PC version problem yeah?

          • Yahtzee

            March 25, 2019 at 13:45

            Yup, was a huge problem that was just left and not fixed.

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 13:56

            That’s a pity, still will give it a go sooner or later, until that one extraction goes wrong and someone tanks like crazy…

          • Yahtzee

            March 25, 2019 at 13:56

  8. Jonah Cash

    March 25, 2019 at 13:45

    I am 19 hours and 55 minutes in and only at level 15… This game is brilliant. Played two missions with random people through the matchmaking yesterday and it changed the whole game. This game is brilliant! It is probably the most complete shooter I have ever played. Really enjoying it so far.

    Reply

    • Yahtzee

      March 25, 2019 at 13:56

      A group makes it a million times better. Solo can be pretty tough on your morale when you work so hard to take a room down only to restart it all thanks to the boss getting a lucky shot in.

      Reply

      • Jonah Cash

        March 25, 2019 at 13:56

        I had a boss literally run at me and shoot the shit out of me in 2 seconds. Coulnd’t even get to new cover. Was infuriating and exiting. I took him down on the second attempt though!

        Reply

        • Kromas

          March 25, 2019 at 13:56

          Wait till you are soloing a boss with a chainsaw and have to actively keep running to avoid it for 20 minutes till a friend can join you. 😛

          I eventually figured out their weakness.

          Reply

          • Yahtzee

            March 25, 2019 at 13:56

            Their weakness is getting tired of killing you.

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 14:08

            It may have been at one time. 😛

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 14:09

            I trolled a chainsaw boss into following me up the underground ladder into friendly “fodder” for me to finish off, was nice to see them being of some use.

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 14:09

            I had one try and come at me while I was slinging bullets at a hunter. The hunter did not appreciate it and killed the guy for me. Damn I love the AI.

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 16:30

            Haha yeah they seem quite adamant at killing each other on a regular basis.

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 16:30

            I actually had a hunter pull a group of Hyenas and a group of Black Tusks while fighting me and my group. He proceeded to clear both groups and then returned to finish me and my group off.

            Needless to say on the second attempt many World Tiers later I downed him and I wear his mask with pride.

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 16:31

            Don’t think I have seen a hunter yet, they sound op though 🙂

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 16:44

            Ever play Division 1? They were the guys hunting division agents at the extraction of the survival mode.

            Needless to say they use the same division tech as agents but are mysterious in origin.

          • Viper_ZA

            March 25, 2019 at 20:05

            I recall, yes! 😀

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 20:05

            Now there are 8 hunters and 4 rogue agents you can hunt down for masks. The agents don’t fight back and you have to 1 shot snipe them or they vanish. The hunters however get pissed of if you find them. I am busy with my clan to hunt them all down cause the masks are super cool.

          • Kromas

            March 25, 2019 at 20:05

            Now there are 8 hunters and 4 rogue agents you can hunt down for masks. The agents don’t fight back and you have to 1 shot snipe them or they vanish. The hunters however get pissed of if you find them. I am busy with my clan to hunt them all down cause the masks are super cool.

          • Jonah Cash

            March 26, 2019 at 19:09

            I had this last night. What the hell is up with that shit??? We were 3 guys and got our asses handed to us non stop!

    • Ir0nseraph

      March 25, 2019 at 18:24

      Working my way up slowly between loadshedding and work last week, hoping this week will be better.

      Reply

    • Dresden

      May 16, 2019 at 15:35

      Would you say it’s still holding up? I’m getting the game for free with my new CPU and I’d like to know if it’s worth it to still jump in two months after launch.

      Reply

  9. Neill

    March 25, 2019 at 13:56

    Is anyone experiencing the bullet lag where bullets and their damage only register a short time after the gun is fired. I know this is because of the latency, but would love a way to minimize this effect. I play solo and do not intend to do any PVP. I just want my bullets to register instantly on NPC baddies. Any advice would be great. Thanks

    Reply

    • Jonah Cash

      March 25, 2019 at 15:37

      Haven’t heard of this before. Will let you know if I hear or see anything on it.

      Reply

      • Neill Louw

        March 25, 2019 at 19:10

        Thanks! I am on a ps4 pro with fibre line. Really glad you guys arent experiencing it. Means there must be a fix

        Reply

    • Ir0nseraph

      March 25, 2019 at 18:25

      Happened to hammer a few times, but his internet was shoddy, we didn’t get that effect last night once his internet was fixed.

      Reply

      • Neill

        March 26, 2019 at 07:25

        Do you know what was wrong and how fixed it?

        Reply

        • Ir0nseraph

          March 26, 2019 at 18:25

          Seems related to his ISP, he only has a slowish DSL line.

          Reply

  10. Umar Ellemdeen

    March 25, 2019 at 15:37

    I need to join a clan on xbox

    Reply

  11. Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    March 26, 2019 at 09:24

    Do I have to be online to give this a go?

    Reply

  12. GeeJee Bee

    March 27, 2019 at 12:11

    The Division 1 dissapointed me very much, so I put it away shortly after I got it in 2016. When all the patches dropped, I picked it up again lately awaiting the launch of the Div 2.
    I have to admit that they improved the first game in almost all aspects. And now I am enjoying myself the F out of the Div 2. What an amazing game.

    Reply

  13. GeeJee Bee

    March 27, 2019 at 12:11

    The Division 1 dissapointed me very much, so I put it away shortly after I got it in 2016. When all the patches dropped, I picked it up again lately awaiting the launch of the Div 2.
    I have to admit that they improved the first game in almost all aspects. And now I am enjoying myself the F out of the Div 2. What an amazing game.

    Reply

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