Whew. A bit dusty in here…
Yeah. Not like you’ve written anything for several months now.
Thanks. It’s not like chronic migraines are a thing. Anyway.
So, here we are after a pretty busy few months in the gaming world for me, such as the Anthem Alpha, the Division 2 Alpha, becoming a Super Tester for Wargaming’s World of Warships and a couple other games that I can’t really mention right now.
Yeah. Talk about NDA Central. I think thumbscrews were mentioned in one of them.
Anyway. Last week I received the much awaited email letting me know I could go play in Ubisoft’s toybox again for the Division 2. “And there was much rejoicing.”
Oh just shut it, you. The beta was set and pre-loaded and all was well with the world. Loaded it up with yet another publisher-centric game client (Which I get really bloody tired of having to deal with) and there I was in an extremely atrophied Washington D.C. with some equally beaten up arms and armor. Immediately I’m hit up by the White House saying, “Well, we’re getting shot at. A lot. We won’t even go into how much the explosions are depreciating this place’s resale value, let me tell you. Mind being a good chap and giving the people shooting at us a right good seeing to?”
Something like that. I was too busy running in the general direction of the naughty business going on to really pay much attention. Not to mention the profanity. Hoo boy – this is not a game for the kids. There be naughty words here.
One thing I noticed right away after engaging the people in question is that the AI was a lot more intelligent and were capable of hitting a gnat’s behind with automatic rifles at one hundred paces. I was dealing with a rather impressive array of firepower. And ye gods and little fishes; rains of grenades that unerringly came at me no matter where I was – even whilst running my heavily armored posterior off trying to get behind cover. However, justice prevailed, the White House occupants saved from a rather certain fate-
If you say, “And there was much rejoicing,” again…
“You make me sad.” Heh. And after all that, I get to see this:
Yeah, we can buff that right out, no problem!
Once inside I find myself with the same song and dance from the first Division; Gather, kill bad guys and save NPC’s. Build up the White House’s staff and resources, etc. The skill tree is pretty much the same, although not all of the skills available in the first game were available to use, sadly. But what really makes it different this time around, is that instead of having safe houses and JTF patrols, there’s control points that you have to capture, and civilian patrols. But the cool thing is that I can call in NPC’s to help!
And use as meat shields…
Hey, I only did that a couple of times! Or three. However, this does come with a bit of a caveat. You have to keep the control points supplied with food, water and components, which means a lot of wandering about pillaging highlighted containers and discarded luggage. Scattered throughout all of this are some rather nasty customers lugging about the contents of a National Guard Armory and maybe some things out of Skunkworks after endgame is reached. Sometimes events would appear on the minimap informing you of hostage situations, public executions of NPC’s by bad guys and so on. However, if you went after any of these and managed to get yourself inhumed with extreme prejudice – that’s it. They’re over. I’m no stranger to cover shooters, and I was having a hard time in some situations.
At this point, I was wishing the AI was a bit less intelligent. Doing combat with a group of Hyenas (A faction in D.C.) and having a couple sneak around to give me a lead injection in the caboose was enough to make me wish my character was wearing brown pants, if you take my meaning. When I wasn’t giggling at them running sideways at me, that is.
After clearing out the area (or so I thought) immediately surrounding the White House, I was told to head on to another settlement (Fallout 4 anyone) called the Theater in order to do more of the same, along with picking up a specific person so I can start crafting my own toys. Now, this was more like it. Urban combat is a specialty for this gun monkey! Let’s go get us some more people for the seat of Democracy and shoot bad guys on the way!
It was at this point that Division 2 diverges somewhat from the original’s mission setup. Instead of grinding out missions to get the Post Office up and running (referred to in game as the Base of Operations), I had to grind out missions not only for the White House, but also the Theater. The first one was easy enough, donate some gear I didn’t need, shuffle some unpleasant people off this mortal coil and find SHD (pronounced Shade) tech and turn in the mission. Now what really annoyed me was the second objective. It was like the first, save for one part: Stop a public execution. When looking at the world map, I could see story missions, side missions, control points and event missions. I only saw the execution icon once. Unfortunately, I had to attend to some real life things and had to log out.
When I logged back in, I never saw the icon again. I wandered around the area that I recalled seeing it in…not a single miscreant found. I don’t know if it was a bug, but not being able to finish this out was a bit of a let down.
Another bug that I encountered on the first story mission was experienced by jumping out of it early. When you finish a main objective, you’re supposed to follow the path out since there’s usually icing on the cake left. so to speak. I ignored it and fast traveled back to base – only to realize that I hadn’t actually finished the mission. Running back, I couldn’t get back into the mission to complete it. Thankfully, there’s a new feature that allows other players to call for backup. This send out a game wide alert to everyone playing (that has this feature turned on that is), so I just waited until I saw an alert that included the mission I was on. Bob’s your uncle, mission complete.
After this, I had to wander down to Downtown East and do more of the same, but this time I was running into another faction called the “True Sons.” The only thing that immediately springs to mind with this group that would compare to the original game are “Rikers with ‘Dueling Banjos’ playing continuously.” This faction seems to really enjoy screaming, “CHAAAAAARGE,” and actually running straight at you. Which makes it somewhat easy to bag a few, but if there’s enough of them? You’re toast. Another thing that was introduced to me at this point was that they were using bombs strapped to remote controlled toy vehicles to flush me out and/or rapid fire grenade launchers that (once again) seemed to rain down on me with uncanny accuracy. I’m no stranger to kiting enemies, but even this made me go, “Oh I say, steady on there,” and choose where I wanted to respawn.
I died. A lot. To the point of becoming rather irritable, and that’s a rarity for me.
Really? Now that is unusual.
Indeed so. Persistence and perseverance pays off eventually, and I was successful in my missions (stealing the Declaration of Independence was a rather sticky wicket), but only after actually making use of the backup request feature. After this, I found myself at the beta level cap of 7 and finished with the available story missions. With this, I was able to access the endgame content.
Which I would dearly love to tell you about. However, fighting the Black Tusk faction was so difficult as a solo player that I couldn’t make it past the first checkpoint.
You might ask, “Well Börken, why didn’t you just group up with other players?”
That’s a valid question. I could have, but I chose not to. One; it was late in the afternoon on Sunday and I’d done bugger all around the house the entire weekend. Two; not being able to handle a squad of NPC enemies on my own is incredibly frustrating. I could do these things in the first version of the game. It took some doing, but it could be done. And lastly; I don’t like PUG’s (Pick Up Groups). I prefer to play with people I know. I know what they bring to the table skillwise, and there’s no unpleasant surprises. As a result, I won’t get the completion vanity items, but I can live with that.
The Final Analysis
So, in a nutshell for those who will look at the above and say, “TL;DR.”
Is The Division 2 worth setting down the money for? This is a hard question to answer. Personally, I did pre-order it, simply because I enjoyed the first game a great deal. And while the premise of the first was certainly far fetched, I was willing to ignore it and enjoy it for what it was. Here’s the thing; The playstyle for the sequel is almost an exact copy of the original. Save for some cosmetic changes and UI adjustments (which are incredibly cluttered and rather non intuitive), there’s really nothing new here save for AI changes and some rather punishing end game content. The difficulty range for a solo player is frustrating, point blank. Situational awareness is a must. You can’t just set up camp and pop off rounds. Going Rambo will get you killed quickly.
Not to mention that with it being seven months after the time The Division is set in, your agent might as well be a fresh off the bus recruit. What were they doing for seven months? Sipping champagne at the Ambassador Hotel and playing canasta?!
Right? I get that level progression is necessary. It’s just that I wished that I could have been at least able to bring my character over from TD1 (The Division) somewhat like how it was possible to bring your character saves over to new installments like you could in Mass Effect. While this really wouldn’t achieve much, I spent a lot of time in that characters virtual shoes. Game and graphical issues aside, I did enjoy playing the beta. But not as much as I thought I would. Yes, I’m well aware that it’s a beta, and not all things under the sun are final as a result. But with the release date coming at a very rapid pace, there’s not a whole lot of time to play with settings.
Again, is it worth parting with your hard earned money for? For hardcore players who loved the first one, yes. For casual players (and I’m really not wanting to say this because I love the game), no. You will find yourself in a world of hurt and frustration and may just uninstall after a few hours. Not to mention the price. Base game is sixty dollars which is just the game. No season pass, but you get a shotgun. After that is the Gold edition for ninety-nine dollars, and the next step up is one hundred and nineteen dollars on the PC version. Granted, you get a whole lot of extras here, early access to the game and some cosmetics. I won’t even start about the “special editions.” This goes well into “You’re kidding” range and skulks around the back looking around guiltily.
I won’t even go into microtransations. I’m praying there won’t be any, but if time and gaming has taught me anything…
So that’s it, really. If you’re a fan, yes. Get it. If not, wait for the first sale and grab it then.
As for me, I’m going to fire up TD1 and enjoy a good crawl through the subway and dodge Hunters for awhile.
Riiiight. You mean you’re going to run like buggery if you run into them.
Next time around I’ll be talking about some ships coming down the down in World of Warships, now that the NDA around supertesting has been relaxed. I won’t be able to go into the gory details, but it’ll give you a peek into what’s to come.
As always, thanks for stopping by.
Isn’t it ironic? Don’cha think?
Ken (or "Börken" as his gaming friends refer to him) spends his time reading books at a speed several words over the posted speed limit, makes things explode virtually (and sometimes literally), and is always busy raising a 7 year old Princess who's quite capable of rescuing herself, thank you very much.