Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Review – A Meticulously-Crafted, Open-World Delight

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2        
Ubisoft

As you probably already know, Ubisoft is back at it with their own version of the open-world, looter-shooter: Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Don’t get me wrong, their first iteration of the series, Tom Clancy’s The Division, was a fun game, but after a great debut it suffered from some curious content releases, and attempted balance fixes that stifled its progress in the eyes of many lovers of the burgeoning genre.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 seeks to correct the issues that plagued the first game, while adding more of what everyone seemed to like. It’s still a methodically-paced third-person shooter that has you zooming in over your character’s shoulder when you aim downrange, but what exactly sets it apart from its predecessor?

The Division 2 switches the cramped-in, claustrophobic streets of Manhattan, New York, for the sprawling avenues of our beautiful capital, Washington D.C. A massive smallpox virus has been released upon society and it’s up to you—as part of the Strategic Homeland Division—to restore the nation’s capital as well as the government, and keep things from sliding further into chaos.

But that won’t be an easy task. There are various factions composed of lawless bands of folks who want to seize power for themselves, and essentially take everything over. Sort of like real life.

One thing that I noticed right away is how alive Ubisoft’s highly-detailed replica of Washington D.C. seemed. Roaming the disarrayed streets of the capital with a few gaming buddies, was filled with many moments of blissful emergent gameplay. For instance, our first primary mission was to rescue a hostage from a group of bandits holed up in a grand hotel.

On our way to the hotel, we ran into several bands of friendly forces who were duking it out with one or more of the city’s enemy factions, and those encounters felt really organic. And it didn’t hurt that The Division 2 features seamless transitions from one area to the next—whether indoors or out on the streets. Everything blends together and heightens the sense of immersion that you just can’t get from other games that have you staring at loading screens half of the time.

When we weren’t engaged in some sort of high-tension shootout, we had time to simply gawk at all of the intricate detail that the “world-building” artists put into the game. Every trash-strewn street corner, every crumbling building edifice, and every dingy room has been meticulously created to draw you in and make you feel as if you’re really there.

In fact, I’d imagine that Washington D.C. natives, in particular, must get a special thrill checking out all of the landmarks that they must already know like the backs of their hands, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

While the bulk of The Division 2’s gameplay revolves around taking on both primary and secondary missions, there are plenty of opportunities to get all caught up in the aforementioned emergent encounters. Whatever the case, the game’s combat mechanics are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a shooter, let alone an open world one.

One of the things that I didn’t quite fancy about the first game is that the AI seemed to more or less move along on pre-determined tracks. You’d encounter some bad guys and watch as they’d hit familiar beats which mainly consisted of ducking for cover and taking potshots at you. In The Division 2, enemy AI has been noticeably bumped up a few notches.

When you begin engagements this time around, some foes might duck down and begin firing while others with heavy armor may rush you with melee weapons. Others might lob grenades at you from afar if you’re hiding behind cover, while their mates attempt to encircle you with flanking maneuvers. Therefore, co-op play is recommended since a simple party of four or five baddies can easily outmaneuver and overwhelm solo players.

The tactical nature of The Division 2’s combat highly emphasizes the use of cover, since running around out in the open is a sure-fire way to get mowed down quickly by enemy bullets. Luckily, there are usually many forms of cover available for you to utilize; everything from trashcans and barricades, to sandbags and partitions. However, material density has to be considered since the game sports a full-on bullet penetration system—meaning you won’t last long trying to hide behind such things as plywood walling.

Another thing I really appreciated about The Division 2’s combat system is that it is very fluid. While playing one of Ubisoft’s other open-world shooters, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, I couldn’t wrap my head around not being able to emerge from cover and fire over it, and then instantly duck back down. Not only can you do just that in The Division 2 but I was pleased to see that you can also blind fire from cover. I haven’t seen that system implemented since games such as the Rainbow Six Vegas titles.

The Division 2 is quite simply one of the best shooters I’ve played in a long time. It combines highly addictive looting features with sumptuous graphics and impressive sound design, as well as an engaging and fluid combat system, challenging enemy AI, and lots of emergent gameplay opportunities.

SCORE: 87%

The Division 2 features pretty great graphics that make its open-world, looter-shooter gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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