Feels Good, Man

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is a sequel to the game I never played. That said, I enjoy me a good third-person shooter. In many circumstances, you can say I prefer them, so was more than happy to try my hand at the recent beta. Though I’m a noob, I imagine that a couple of years of development and feedback helped Ubisoft improve their online experience. So why not get a little excited?

My immediate reaction: it’s always good to see an online game that’s loner-friendly. Following a queue with modest load time, I landed somewhere in Washington D.C. without any hiccups. Though I can’t speak for anyone else, the server seemed relatively stable, but the verdict won’t be out until launch.

A minute into the game, I met a few enemy NPCs on standby. I tested my trigger finger then and there and got some quick satisfaction from the ballistic impact. Gunplay is fun, the cover system impressed me, and the AI’s not dumb. As far as I’m concerned, if the fundamentals of a game are flawed—be it MMO or online shooter—it may as well be broken. Fortunately for players, and Ubisoft, the controls were pretty smooth while the movement felt fluid. After a few tweaks to the aim sensitivity, I was cast in Olympus Has Fallen.

Weapons and D.C. in Summertime

The thing about D.C. in Summertime is that there are no jackets that make every agent look like they shop at the GAP. While I didn’t get a grand overview, some items made me hopeful for the array of customization options in the full game. Body armor and backpacks are the norms, but every player stood out. Outfits might not matter to some folks, but I’d say the loop of loot pick-ups can live or die on variation. A few hours into my playthrough, I felt more than adequately rewarded by the gear in enemy drops and containers.

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As such, there was a wide variety of weapons to test, running the gamut close-quarters to long range. The assault rifle may seem like your best bet in most situations, but the double-barrel was my best friend in tight areas. I happily tested just about every weapon type, and several models within each category. Ubisoft put a lot of work into weapon handling, plain to see. I can also tell that no gun is omnipotent because a semi-automatic rifle with stopping power doesn’t save you from a tight group of enemy NPCs, and a shotgun may as well be a nerf gun at mid-range. Weapons look, feel, and function differently, which might be a testament to the strategical layer of The Division 2.

Combat

And nothing will test a weapon’s reliability better than smart NPCs. Without a doubt, these Division 2 enemies are a threat whether you’re alone or with a friend. From what research I’ve done, they’re a step up from the first game and not afraid to charge your position. Their boldness also puts the cover system through its paces, making the mechanic as essential as any weapon in your arsenal. Hence, you shouldn’t expect to camp your way to the objective. My observations, however, only extend to the Hyenas faction. They are ravenous, which is a good lore explanation for why they’d happily charge a Division agent’s position. If every other faction is as deadly, then D.C.’s going to be one hell of a war zone.

Enemy and friendly territory are marked all over the map, and success almost literally hinges on the first shot (from what I’ve seen, anyway). I like that the world doesn’t feel empty for long stretches; that it was alive with enemies, allies, and even wildlife like deer and stray dogs. Interactions are well-paced and well-placed, while every firefight encourages a tactical approach. It’s easy to understand why this is Tom Clancy and not Rambo – the only way a lone wolf stands a chance is through cleverness and perks. With a shared world shooter set in the modern day, the creativity in regards to technology is outstanding. Abilities like the personnel-seeking mine and automated turret help even the odds when enemies turn into bullet sponges, and that might be one of the few nit-picks I have. Every game needs bullet sponges these days, but if it encourages coordination, it’s not all bad.

Like I mentioned, the fundamental gameplay kept me entertained. A moment of confusion came every now and then. The UI stumped me with menus in its menus, the game didn’t clarify how to answer a fellow agent’s call for help, and enemy spawns felt cheap at times. That said, the game felt fun alone and with randoms, so I imagine it will feel quite spectacular alongside friends. The loot system has me on the hook too, and the story shows promise. Nearly everything shows promise, which is why I’m looking forward to the full game.