The Secure Homeland Division (SHD) is back again and this time in they’re in Washington DC to erm, well, pump bullets into baddies.

The Division 2 sees players once again taking an agent through the streets of a fallen city in the US which has succumb to looting, destruction and the rise of gang warfare.

As an SHD agent you are tasked with bringing some sense of order back to Washington DC and to do that you’ll need to arm yourself to the teeth.

So far we’ve managed to pry 15 hours of time out of The Division 2 thanks to loadshedding getting in the way of our playtime. We are not ready to pen a full review just yet but we wanted to share our experiences in the game so far.

Loot is abundant

Following the introduction mission you’re put on the approach to the White House. While you can head straight for the distant sound of a gunfight, we peeled off and went in search of loot. We were rewarded and that trend continues throughout the game.

While running between missions, side missions and other activities (we’ll get to those in a moment) you’ll come across various boxes that continue crafting materials, weapons, armour and powerful ammunition.

These loot boxes are abundant and what’s more is that you actually end up using crafting materials even if you aren’t crafting mods, armour and weapons.

Something we’re quite enjoying about The Division 2’s loot system is the fact that even low-level gear has attributes (increased armour, health etc.). There are also sets that you can piece together as you play that unlock additional perks as you acquire more piece from a particular set. It’s a clever way to coach players about the min/maxing of gear that takes place once you reach the maximum level.

So many things to do

Each area in The Division 2 features a number of activities that you can complete.

There are your main and side missions but in addition to that there are safe houses you need to fight to unlock as well as events that take place throughout the world. These events include taking over control points, saving hostages and clearing enemies in a particular area.

What makes each of these encounters unique is how the enemies approach you.

As an SHD agent you have an arsenal at your disposal, like this cute drone.

Each faction has a variety of enemy types including enemies which rush to your location to attack and snipers who pick you off from a distance. Planning your engagement in The Division 2 is vital if you want to survive and that’s simply fantastic.

This forced planning adds a level of strategy to the game we weren’t expecting and, after getting used to it, we can now gauge how well a firefight will go within moments of the first shots being fired.

Do you kill off the low-level enemies first? Do you expend a magazine bringing the entire army down little by little?

We must also point out that this doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck behind cover for the entire game. One particular mission had us frantically searching for cover as shotgunners swarmed us and a boss lobbed napalm grenades at us. It was incredibly challenging playing it alone but oh so thrilling.

Enemies do still have a degree of bullet-sponginess but this time around it makes more sense as the enemies have armour. Basic enemies go down in seconds (one shot with a well placed headshot) but heavily-armoured enemies require you chip their protection away before you can tear into them.

When you aren’t pumping bullets into armor pieces there are Echoes to collect which give you a better idea about how DC’s downfall happened. Collectables such as audio-logs are scattered throughout the world as well and ISAC (the disembodied AI that guides you through missions and the world) does a great job of alerting players to the fact that there is a collectable nearby.

The Division 2 also introduces Projects. These activities reward players with weapons, gear and blueprints. What we like about these Projects is that you end up completing them passively by collecting crafting materials and gear.

We’re yet to enter the Dark Zone because we’re currently trying to level up and get our hands on some decent gear. That having been said, the introductory mission we played in the area was fun and we’re keen to face off against other agents.

The bad bits

Make no mistake, we are thoroughly enjoying The Division 2 and whenever loadshedding concludes it’s the first game we load into but it’s not without its issues.

For one, cosmetic items are very few and far between in terms of open-world drops from exploration. We have picked up a total of five cosmetic items in our 15 hours of playtime thus far which is rather minimal considering how these were thrown at us in the first game.

You can of course purchase outfits for real money and grind for in-game currency to unlock cosmetic items as well. It’s a small gripe for us but one we feel needs mentioning.

By far our biggest problem with The Division 2 is the gymnastics we need to perform in order to exit the game.

On PC we first need to logout of the game to be taken to the main menu at which point you can then quit the game. Please Ubisoft, add a “Quit game” option to the in-game menu. In the meantime, while Ubisoft fixes that PC players can hit Enter to bring up the chat box and type /quit to immediately exit the game.

Load times have been fair on our SSD and they loading into missions is as simple as walking into an area and looking out for the mission marker.

Initial impressions

The Division 2 has been a much more enjoyable experience than the launch of the first game. This feels like less of a chore in the early stages of the game thanks to loot coming in quick and fast. Progression is helped along by numerous side missions, activities and Projects and you should be earning a new level every hour.

The story so far has been rather basic in that we’re just trying to fend off enemies to return stability to Washington DC. What is really awesome however is where these story missions take place.

One mission which took place in the Air and Space Museum had some of the best set-pieces we’ve seen in a game. Fighting through the Space Administration HQ was an incredible experience and the architecture throughout DC is gawk worthy.

Even entering the Dark Zone for the first time is an event.

So far then The Division 2 is scratching that itch we’ve had for a looter-shooter that’s not based in a science-fiction universe. While we’re not ready to make an out-right recommendation for the game just yet, if you played The Division and enjoyed it then you will absolutely enjoy the sequel.

For gamers that are looking for a slow-burn game that they can constantly progress in and don’t mind a bit of a grind for better gear then The Division 2 is worth a consideration. We highly recommend watching a few streams on Twitch or YouTube before parting ways with your money.