Let me start this piece off by putting my cards face-up on the table – I loved The Division.
The snowy streets of an infected Manhattan never ceased to slacken my jaw and the grind was rather fun though admittedly it did feel labourious at times.
I eventually roped a few friends into the game and we spent many hours running missions and gearing up.
In short, it was a fun game and I was very excited when Ubisoft revealed we’d be getting the sequel this year during 2018’s E3.
So with the wrapping up of The Division 2’s first private beta, how does the sequel compare to the original?
The Division 2 is still very much a loot and shoot game with enemies which take more bullets than you’d expect to bring down.
At the start of the game (and I mean the first two missions here) this feels tedious. Your guns don’t do as much damage as you may hope and you’ll spend most gun fights hiding behind cover, peaking out every so often to fire a few shots in the direction of the enemy.
The loot you get comes through thick and fast and before long I was decked out in passable gear that saw me through the missions I was given for the beta test.
The missions are still very much a case of go to a location, clear out enemies, kill a boss, get loot, return to Base of Operations, repeat.
With that having been said there are a number of improvements to the core game which make for a welcome surprise.
For one enemy AI is massively improved over The Division. This was noticeable right from the first mission where the enemies flank you and follow you as you move between cover. It adds a layer of complexity and planning to the game that reminds me a lot of Wildlands.
Playing missions alone can be a slog especially as the enemies get stronger but I never felt that I was facing an uphill battle. The difficulty or sponginess of enemies is actually rather nice and the variety of enemies I faced in each encounter had me planning my attack before diving into a storm of bullets.
As much fun as I had in The Division 2 this weekend I do have to state something that should be blindingly obvious but critics are ignoring – we were given a literal slice of the game to play.
The main campaign in The Division was rather weak. The story kept me moving from mission to mission but looking back it wasn’t all that good. Where the game shone was the end-game and only after Massive listened to the community and made vast changes to the game.
Once that was done however the game was fantastic and I spent 130 hours grinding through the game, getting my agent’s power level up and looking for sweet new beanies to wear.
And that’s where The Division 2 will shine, in the end-game. When folks are min-maxing loot and building loadouts for different activities, that will be what will make or break The Division 2.
Right now, after playing approximately eight hours of The Division 2 I am pleased with what Ubisoft and Massive have created here. It’s a great base for a game and I’m excited to see how it evolves.
We do of course need to address the bugs that marred the first day of The Division 2’s private beta. At go-live time many folks found their accounts were suspended when trying to log into the game. Beyond that many streamers also reported the game forcing you to quit every 2-3 hours because it would crash.
Those issues were fixed with a patch on the second day of the private beta and I never experienced any issues while playing aside from my own internet crashing on Saturday.
Overall this private beta was good. For returning fans the quality of life improvements will be welcomed but judging the game on the slice that we were given is incredibly tough.
To sum up my thoughts, The Division 2 will offer fans of the original game more of the same with a number of improvements to the graphics, the gameplay, and the engine itself. As a returning player the quality of life improvements in things as simple as selecting a primary and secondary weapon without having to go into a clicking frenzy is welcomed..
For anybody who is curious about the game we highly recommend waiting until after release for reviews and thoughts on the end-game.
There is talk of a public beta but at of time of writing that cannot be confirmed. If you missed the private beta this last weekend keep an eye on Hypertext for news of a possible public beta test.