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I’ve put my time into the various loot based shooters (looter-shooters? shlooters?) out there. I’ve given The Division, Destiny and even Destiny 2 all the time I thought they deserved and I’ve come to one conclusion: I don’t like loot based shooters. All of these games have their problems but The Division 2 doesn’t. It’s systems are well-oiled, it’s gun play has weight to it and it’s multiplayer are consistent and well-connected. After all that time invested it took a good game like The Division 2 to convince me that these kind of games aren’t for me.
The Division 2 takes place about seven months after the events of the first game. The Green Poison or Dollar Flu virus released in New York City on Black Friday was not an isolated incident. The virus devastated Washington DC and various societal collapses left the city in ruins. The Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) and the Joint Task Force (JTF) are struggling to fight off various criminal factions while maintaining their tenuous foothold in Washington. As a Division agent the player must work toward rescuing civilians, rebuilding the city and curing the virus. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it.
The enemies of The Division 2 are tough, mean and smart. The anarchic Hyenas lay down suppressive fire while baton wielding grunts charge you. The traitorous True Sons use tactics and heavy weapons to surround and eliminate their enemies. The Outcasts use suicide bombers and sledgehammer toting heavies to sow confusion and separate individual targets. Each group needs a different tactical approach and each approach needs to be assessed and broken down again as specialist troops and heavies enter the fray. The Division 2 kept me on my toes throughout demanding that I keep one step ahead of my intelligent foes. It’s that or die cowering in a corner.
All of this takes place in a stunningly realised Washington DC. From Capitol Hill to the White House and the National Archives to Georgetown University few other cities in video games have looked this good. Despite the body bags in the street and the constant threat of death by roving lynch mob Washington DC isn’t past saving. It’s not like Pittsburgh in The Last of Us or Lordran in Dark Souls III. Washington DC feels worth saving. Sure there’s no less than three heavily contaminated areas, neo-fascist soldiers in control of the Capitol building and Mad Max-esque suicide bombers chasing you but it’s still worth saving.
It’s rare games offer you the chance to rebuild after the apocalypse which is what makes The Division 2 unique. It’s a better, more clear-cut, more rounded look at how that would be done than Far Cry: New Dawn was. It still involves a whole lot of murder though. The Division 2 isn’t subtle. An early mission has you shut down a chemical weapons lab run by the Hyenas. The Hyenas were testing these weapons on dogs, not just any dogs either but on Golden Retrievers, the noblest of dogs. The Division 2 draws clear lines between who is good and who is evil. The True Sons launch biological warfare on civilians. If you’re not with the Division or the JTF you’re against them and if you’re against them you’re probably evil.
The core problem I have with The Division 2 is it’s missions which is the inverse of the problem I had with Destiny. Destiny’s combat feels far too light and floaty but its missions are often colourful and open-ended. The Division 2’s combat has real weight to it and each individual weapon has its own unique feeling but its missions never feel varied enough. They often take place in a nondescript government building and have you seek out important pieces of intel, necessary resources or rescue fellow Agents. Even more specialised areas such as the American History Museum and a planetarium don’t add much proving it’s a problem with set-up not setting. Even stealing the Declaration of Independence feels boring. The locations are all fine and functional, it’s the objectives that are the problem.
This problem is compounded by the fact that even if you take on these missions alone or in a squad of four it essentially feels the same. Sure the enemies are tougher and you’ve got some extra help when you roll up in a squad but it doesn’t add or take away enough from the general experience to make enough of a difference. With that said it would be nice if someone, anyone answered my back-up requests when I’m taking a control point or having a tough time with a mission. What’s the point of hop-in, hop-out gameplay if no one is doing any hopping at all? The same can be said for the Dark Zones where PvP is enabled and you can go rogue to take down your fellow Agents. Why bother when both the losses and wins are pretty minimal?
Further Reading | Game Review: Far Cry: New Dawn Shows A series In Need of Hard Reset.
The Division 2’s shoot ‘n’ loot gameplay is fair with its loot just as it is tough with its shoot. Though I often found myself using a mid-range rifle and a powerful shotgun for close encounters it’s not a bad idea to mix things up. A good sniper is well worth the addition to your arsenal especially if you’re in a dedicated clan or squad. Enemies drop loot pretty consistently across a wide variety of gear slots though it’s always worth going after control points as their supply rooms can offer invaluable guns or armour before you take on a big mission.
The Division 2 is probably the best of the loot based shooters out there at the moment but with that said it’s not for me. Lord knows I’ve tried to get into and, yes, even like these games but I think at this point the relationship has to end for both our sake’s. There are doubtlessly thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people that love The Division 2 for what it is but I don’t care enough about it’s story or it’s rote mission system to invest the kind of hours true fans will.