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Letters from the Front

A storm is brewing in the nation’s capital. Seven months after the downfall of American society at the hands of a deadly virus that began on Black Friday, the task to rebuild America begins. Once New York City is secured and the factions that vied for control over the city is wiped out, The SHD moves south to begin rebuilding what is left of the American Government which has by collapsed but what they find isn’t what they expected. Washington D.C is in a state of civil war and is on the brink of total collapse with multiple factions vying for control, one of them being the True Sons which aim to take back the American Government for themselves. These are incredibly dark times as Division agents are executed and the nation’s capital is on the brink of collapsing.

The world of The Division 2 is one of intrigue and ripe for potential and it’s a shame that the game doesn’t have anything to say important or use the world to its advantage. As the game progresses towards the end game, I have no clue why I’m in the nation’s capital outside of stemming a brutal civil war and to take back the capital, I’m not sure of anyone’s motivations, and I wish there was a very strong sense of narrative to fuel a sense of purpose. The world of The Division 2 is one of great intrigue and it’s a shame that Massive didn’t choose to dive head first in, the world is so large that it can house a political thriller story or a full-on political story about the downfall of American society and the effort to rebuild it or there’s a ton of stories to pull from but it doesn’t. It only tells one story and the opportunity to tell a convincing story and to create a meaningful fiction about a scenerio that could be very real is wasted.

Instead, The Division 2 spreads its lore across the city in the form of Echos and audio diaries that can be found strewn about and various mysteries adding to the lore and world building can be uncovered across the city. The worldbuilding of the Division 2 is absolutely insane, its this strength that propels The Division 2 as a videogame to new heights and lays a very strong foundation, it creates a very real and believable world. One that can happen one day if things in the real world go sour. Moving from your position to a safehouse or vice versa to tackle a mission is seamless and exploring the world is filled with unique encounters, one turn at the fork in the road can lead to a firefight or one road may lead to a secret bunker underneath the streets of D.C and you might trigger a mystery that belongs to the secret history of the American government. An obscured shortcut can send you through a townhouse or an abandoned apartment, this was true of the original game but it has been expanded here and its one of the most rewarding things to do in The Division 2, this level of exploration is something I haven’t seen since Fallout 3 or BioShock.

The gameplay of The Division 2 is basically that of the original game. You spend a lot of time behind cover, popping out once in a while to pop enemies’ heads off and with the large amount of weaponry at your disposal, the combat feels fresh and the gameplay is rewarding. Add to that the several abilities you can add to your arsenal like a drone and small little robots that can drive around and explode on impact, the combat gets very interesting and the gameplay feels fresh. The glue that holds the Division 2’s gameplay isn’t that of the combat but of the enemies you encounter.

The enemies find dozen ways to get you out of cover and move towards a better firing position. You won’t and can’t stay in one spot unless its a heavily fortified position, aggressive melee units, remote control cars strapped with explosives, regular assault units, and much more will draw you out into the open by flanking you and finding your weakspot. Those special abilities are key to your survival and create a zone of denial.

The effort that is needed to take out a priority target in a sea of enemies is reasonable. These priority targets will force you out of cover by launching grenades or flushing you out via a flamethrower and these enemies have weak spots if you can find them. The Division 2 throws hurdles in front of you but gives you counters and solutions to solving boss fights or problems that are hindering your advance. It all comes down to how many balls you can juggle at once before dying or forcing a retreat to get more space between you and the enemy forces.

The Washington locations are rebranded into combat arenas and stand out like doing battle inside the NASA headquarters or the Space Museum early on. You receive new gear along the way and the next batch of gear is always close by and the weapon variety offers you a chance to experiment and play around with what works and what doesn’t. On top of these choices, The Division 2 offers lootboxes that give out certain cosmetics and certain emotes if you’re into that, these cosmetics can be found around the world if you feel like exploring.

Like combat, gear remains intriguing throughout the game after all it is a looter shooter and its the whole point. Gear is crucial to your surivial as you will need to dismantle or sell outdated gear to wear your new gear which will up your gear score and make you more powerful against the enemies you’re fighting against. Alongside new gear, you have access to gear sets and talents that are unique perks that compliment certain play styles while gear sets from individual manufactures provide advantages.

The world of The Division 2 has three different Dark Zones which can be accessed separately throughout the campaign. Exploring the Dark Zone is quite fascinating as you can take your time and explore and learn more of the history behind each Dark Zone. For example, Dark Zone South was Washington D.C’s pier and waterfront along the Potomac which turned into a military outpost after the Capital Station was contaminated. The military outpost was abandoned after a massive flood where the storage rooms of DC-62 littered around the area were breached and contaminated the area, officially turning the waterfront into a Dark Zone. On top of the fascinating history that blends the actual history of Washington D.C and the ingame lore, the Dark Zones adds facets of tension, distrust, and dishonesty to a game where the stakes are already high.

The Division 2 is a cycle of mistrust, tension, and relief and reward that is difficult to stay away from. At the end of the day, The Division 2 is not only a sequel but its a sequel that is done right. Stay tuned for my review coming soon.

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