The looter-shooter games seem to be the new popular kid in town these days. All major publishers -2K, Activision, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft- have tried their luck in the genre, although with different storylines. Both Destiny and The Division started quite well, and despite having some elements that could be improved, they were able to successfully expand their base titles in the direction based on community feedback.
Focusing on The Division 2 , we have to say that Ubisoft Massive has done a fantastic job learning all the lessons from the past and making this second part an example of how to make a title of this genre and, in addition, As we can see, an example of how to make a game as a service.
Washington, DC after War
Division 2 is a role-playing game in the third person with a strong cooperative approach, although it can be played alone as long as we are connected to the internet. As a looter-shooter, we need to level up, getting better equipment, modding our equipment and doing certain missions and challenges to get the rarest drops is an essential part of the experience.
This adventure follows Ubisoft’s special formula when it comes to development. An open-world title and we’re in Washington DC- is full of things to do, with main and secondary missions, as well as many other minor challenges with which to conquer territory and gaining experience. The primary and secondary missions are very similar in their requisites and quality, and the main difference is that the secondary level is adapted to ours, always one level above your level regardless of when you do them.
The missions are very entertaining, even though, with the exception of some, their design is very simple. The reason why they are so fun is that the gameplay is fantastic and that the scenarios are very, very varied. Unlike the first, where all the levels were very similar, here they are all almost unique, and we will go through art galleries, basketball stadiums, apartment blocks, government buildings, parks …
With such a rich environment and such good gameplay, it is much harder to get bored of doing missions and secondary challenges. The optional challenges, which generally involve conquering an enemy territory, more or less complex, or rescuing civilians or commanders, are nothing special, but they are usually quick to complete and done with pleasure. In addition, the game constantly rewards us with objects and experience when exploring and defeating enemies, so -if you are not in a hurry- you never have the sensation of wasting time.
If you are in a hurry, there are some things that can be improved. Things like not being able to respawn at the same location when you’re killed if you’re playing alone -because you do not have anyone to revive you- can be a bit annoying, or a somewhat limited matchmaking that does not offer much information when it comes to joining other players , and it can end up losing you a lot of time throwing you into the adventure, without knowing exactly what these players are doing.
You must also bear in mind that The Division 2 can be a very difficult game at times that forgives no mistakes. Both enemies like us take less shots, forcing us to take fewer risks during battles. It is common for an enemy to flank you and hit you with a shot in the back, and force us to restart the whole mission from the beginning … unless a partner can rescue us. Therefore, playing with people is the best way to enjoy The Division 2, particularly if it is with friends.
And if you are worried that the friend you want to play with will take you 20 levels, we have good news. The game will temporarily raise the level of your friends so that they can play the same missions as you without falling behind, although that raise only applies to the story, and not to the PvP modes. Once we stop playing together, our partner regains his normal level. We thought it was a great idea that solves one of the big problems of titles like this one.
As you already know, a small resource management component has also been added, so to speak. We have a series of projects that require us to donate materials or objects, complete missions, recruit characters and improve our settlements, which is necessary to progress, gain experience and unlock secondary missions.
Similarly, for example, the control points that we liberate from our enemies are going to need certain resources such as water, food or technology, and we will have to be aware of them if we want to gain a few extra experience points. It is not very demanding, but it is there, it has its presence and it may require our attention.
Dark Zone and Conflict
The Division 2 has two online player vs. player modes. The first is the Dark Zone, a PvE and PvP area where we have to get polluted loot, take it to an extraction zone, launch a flare, and defend ourselves from enemy attacks while we wait for the helicopter to come and take these objects to decontaminate them. We can also play as renegades, which makes it easier to get objects through interaction with certain elements, but it will make us more visible.
Here we are going to meet other players, and their intentions are totally unknown. There will be people who want to collaborate and repel with greater ease the attacks of the rivals controlled by artificial intelligence … or who want to kill us. Or that pretend to help us defend ourselves … and in the end, they kill us and take our loot. It is as intense as it was in the first part, although we believe that we liked the dark and oppressive environment of the original.
Then, we have the Conflict, the traditional PvP mode. Divided into two modes, Skirmish and Domination, invite us to face in teams of four to survive or dominate territories, respectively, and the truth is that they do not contribute too much. They seem more ways that “had to put”, and they have not wanted to bother too much in designing them. Proof of this is that it has cost us a lot to find players to try them.
The strongest bet for the PvP is still the Dark Zone, which with that added intrigue of not knowing how the other users are going to behave offers us the most intense games so far. Even so, it is appreciated that they have included purer and classic PvP modes for those who prefer it.
We really liked The Division 2’s game mechanics specifically, its gunplay. The feeling of the weapons is fantastic, as well as the sense of progression. There are many types of weapons, and as we usually change to one that has more level, so you will try almost all. This allows us to see how different they are from each other and almost forces us to specialize in one type as we move forward to perform better.
We are also seeing how they improve the mod mechanics. So we can upgrade our equipment to a superior level, thanks to the modifiers, each time they have less recoil, they are more precise and respond better. It’s one of the most satisfying parts of the game, and it makes you enjoy every lethal impact you get.
Much of it is thanks to the enemies who, even though they are a bit kamikaze, are rivals to be taken into account. Normally they will win us in number and try to flank us or take us out of our coverage by tossing grenades and Molotov cocktails, but when they are caught they take refuge and we are the ones who have to go and look for them.
Much is also to the design of the scenarios, which are now much more open and with several levels of height. This means that the shots – and the most aggressive enemies – can come from anywhere, multiplying the tension by knowing that the rest is no longer just in front of us, but around us.
Also, the remarkable amount of enemies that we need to face is very challenging. From the traditional ones – snipers, gunslingers, gunmen … – to others like the suicides who come running towards us to immolate themselves, the armoured ones with a hammer, the ones that throw us small armed vehicles … Ubisoft has created a quite complete cast, which even expands once we complete the game and arrive at the endgame with new additions, like a kind of patrol robot that is not easy to defeat.
The endgame: back with more force
Speaking of the endgame, we also liked how Massive managed it. Once we reach level 30, the city of Washington is submerged in a new chaos with a new type of enemy. The so-called Black Fangs take control of the city, practically restarting all the progress we have achieved so far.
Now is the time to specialize in one of the three classes that are unlocked -between which we can switch if we wish, that will offer us a new skill tree and a new very powerful weapon that will be added to the three that we already have This weapon has very limited ammunition so it is difficult to use it during missions, and it becomes a kind of last resort.
Our level is measured by our strength, a figure that depends on our equipment and weapons, similar to Destiny. The enemies will have levels, although they will be some new type that indicates their dangerousness within this endgame.
Now is the time to go out again to face these new rivals – although the old ones do not disappear -, redo the main and secondary missions with the incentive of fighting the Black Fangs, retaking our settlements … A curious detail is that the endgame is a bit endless, infinite, with elements such as the control points being recaptured by our rivals, and causing that, even if we complete everything, new challenges arise.
In essence, it is to remake what we have already done, but, we repeat, it has such an entertaining gameplay and so varied scenarios that it does not become excessively repetitive, especially if you dose it. It is worth remembering that all the downloadable content of the first year will be free, so this is just the beginning of what users will receive with the game, as the first raid for eight players that will arrive in a few weeks. And yes, there are micro-transactions and loot boxes, all merely aesthetic and that does not influence the player’s progress at all.
We have done this analysis on PS4 Pro, and there are things that we liked a lot and others that we did not. Let’s start with the positive. The great work that has been done designing the map. The variety of environments is fantastic, both outdoors and, above all, indoors, full of details and with a phenomenal artistic direction.
We must add the variety that is derived from the cycle of day and night and the climatic effects. These completely change the appearance of the game, giving rise to a multitude of combinations. For example, we can have the mist at dawn, which paints the streets yellow with very sharp shadows, or a spectacular night storm in which the lights illuminate the drops of water.
And best of all, this also has its effect on the gameplay. If there is fog and it is night, it is very possible that we will not be able to see our enemies, whereas if it is daytime and it is clear, enemies will be visible from a far distance. All these effects modify the games in real time and make the same mission seem totally different depending on how we play it.
Everything is very, very careful in The Division 2. The stages are full of details and, as dead as they are, the cities convey the feeling of being alive – or at least, populated – and it is curious to see a city recreated at a 1: 1 scale in a videogame. It is not complete, of course, but what it is in real size, according to Ubisoft.
As we said in our previous text, Ubisoft preferred to give priority to the stability of the image per second rate. They locked it 30fps on the console, and very stable. PS4 Pro supports 4K output, giving us a super-sharp image, and the HDR is a real pass, adding strength to the contrasts so remarkable that it already has in itself.
Of course, we would have preferred dynamic resolution or some other sacrifice to improve popping, both objects and textures. It is not as serious as in the beta, but it is still a notable problem. It makes the whole thing much more to constantly see how things are generated in front of us than to temporarily lower the resolution by a few pixels. It’s great that companies manage to reach the 4K on consoles, but we believe that resolution is not everything.
In terms of sound, the sound effects are great, but the music has seemed rather lacking. The music ends up becoming the noise that accompanies the battles, very little inspired, but there are also some accurate and epic melodies.
Together for the victory
The Division 2 is a great game that takes the great base of its predecessor and improves it to become a benchmark of the genre. We believe that there are still some aspects to improve, such as matchmaking options the repetitive design of missions – paired by the great gameplay and the excellent variety of scenarios – but in essence, it is a title with hours of content, and highly recommended for those who enjoy the first one.
Yes, it is tremendously full of activities, and we would like to have seen some more variety with the future DLC, since Ubisoft is famous for “more is better”. In addition, all the downloadable content of its first year will be free -cosmetics aside-, which guarantees us to have a game for a while. If you want a title to enjoy online, Ubisoft seems to present you one of the best options available!
We have prepared this review on a PS4 Pro with a digital review code provided by Ubisoft.