Diaries From Washington DC: The Division 2 First Ten Levels

The Division 2 is a very Division-esque title, which is going to be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you approach the franchise. If you like your sequels to take the prior title and expand upon it, you’re golden. If you hated everything about The Division down to its core mechanics, you’re not going to find much to love here.

I want to talk about some immediately obvious positives in The Division 2, and particularly that the game is a whole lot less jank than its predecessor. The Division was pretty great when it came to movement and it’s kind of amazing to think back to the trailers when we were mostly all in awe at the simple idea that your character would close a car door automatically while taking cover behind it. That said, movement in the original game was kind of rough in spots and your character felt like he was walking on a treadmill leading to more confined areas being a real pain to get through. Additionally, while enemy AI wasn’t terrible it wasn’t exactly intelligent, and Ubisoft balanced this by making the game into a bullet sponge festival.

Thankfully The Division 2 has mostly fixed all of this.

Enemy AI is going to surprise you quite a bit as you experience what this game has to offer. Evidently the Washington DC wasteland still has plenty of brain food, as raiders will intelligently flank you, use grenades to push you out of hiding, send in suicide melee squads to force you from your cover, and just generally utilize more coordinated tactics than you might anticipate from such a game. It’s almost unfair at times when you get pitted against a dozen or so baddies in an open space and suddenly find yourself knocked out of cover while the sniper forcing your attention made way for the two guys who just appeared behind you. Unlike its predecessor, I have rarely come out of a death concluding that the game was cheating me.

On the other side of this coin the bullet sponge enemies are mostly gone and good riddance to them. I would say that The Division lands mostly on the realistic side of the Tom Clancy media spectrum so the idea of having gang leaders walking around with no noticeable body armor but somehow still needing two full reloads of shotgun shells from close range in order to kill is just ridiculous. The Division 2 still has named enemies, and they are more powerful than their low-tier mook buddies, but they aren’t sponges. They might have armored vests or helmets, and take a couple more shots to put down. There are a few enemies scattered about during missions that are covered in full body SWAT-tier bomb squad armor that take a lot of bullets to kill. They are far less present and can be dealt with easier than their predecessors.

It’s also nice to be able to walk around the various locations without your character bumping into everything like a drunken bumper car operator.

The game itself is freaking gorgeous. Obviously I’m saying this from the stance of someone with a computer good enough to run the game on its highest settings but boy did Ubisoft put a lot into making the DC wasteland look beautiful and create a living world in the process. The city itself tells a story and everywhere you look you can see the remains of failed quarantines, rescue efforts, and people just trying to survive. You come across a regular bounty of random events including public executions, propaganda broadcasts, and more, that can be easy targets for some quick loot. My personal favorite are the supply drops, where you’ll come across three supply crates that you can salvage for gear and resources. The caveat to this is that the various other factions are also out for these and can actually steal them from you. As far as random encounters go, the supply crates offered the most varied fun for me.

Gear, at least in the first ten levels, has been pretty great. The Division has been throwing enough stuff at me via the main missions, side missions, and generally tracking down and looting stuff in the wilderness that I haven’t felt bereft of new toys to play with.

The first ten levels of Division 2 have taken up around five and a half hours of gameplay, and so far I have to say I am enjoying this far more than I did with The Division. I am looking forward to discussing the game more as I continue playing.

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