Posted on 01 Apr 2019 by Jay Shaw

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

The Defence

Developer: Massive Entertainment
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action, Role Playing, Shooter
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: 15 Mar 2019

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K
AMD FX 6350
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 670
AMD Radeon R9 270
HDD: 50 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 4790 @3.6 GHz
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X @3.5 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 970
AMD Radeon RX 480
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 50 GB
DirectX: 12
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 8700X @4.6 GHz
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X @4.3 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 2080Ti
AMD Radeon VII
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 50 GB
DirectX: 12
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

The Division 2 is Ubisoft’s latest attempt at an open world sandbox, a genre they’ve grown increasingly comfortable with over the last several years. Set some time after the events of the first Division game, the sequel takes you to Washington DC, seat of the government and currently a battlefield between the agents, civilians, and several gangs. Do is The Division 2 an epic quality loot drop, or more trash?

The Trial

On the topic of trash; the story is at best a token attempt. There’s some tie-in to the original game but disinterested voice actors, poor dialogue and a large cast of characters whose names you won’t even bother learning all conspire to bury the story in the deep dark pit of broken dreams, along with ET cartridges and failed relationships. There’s no depth, no drama, and even though a lot of events actually happen in the missions none of it feels connected at all. Radio chats are just you being talked at by an NPC you’ve probably met once and may as well be white noise.

Good job then that The Division 2‘s gameplay is spot on. There’s an excellent sense of progression and reward with multiple collectibles ranging from weapons and apparel, to echos (holographic recreations of events in the past) and old phone calls, to famous pieces of art and valuable items. There’s rarely a significant stretch of time between discoveries. Loot is also excellently done, with quality going up as you level up so that early game rare drops feel rare and special, but by the end-game they’re mundane and go right into your junk items list.

Loot drops at just the right frequency and amount too. Enemies are neither stingy or loot pinatas. On average I’d say you get maybe one good drop and a few lesser items to sell or break down per encounter. Filling in the gaps in gear drops are pick-ups for ammunition, grenades, armour kits, and signature ammunition. After a big fight you might have half a dozen things to pick up but it never gets silly; there’s never several minutes of hoovering up crap you don’t care about.

The blocks in this tunnel change colour when someone goes near them, making for an interesting battle.

Gear really comes into its own in the end-game. Every piece of armour has a manufacturer/brand attached to it and these determine a set bonus that increases as you equip more of them. With six armour slots and brand sets being 3 pieces each, you can equip two full sets or mix and match to get the bonuses you want. All this is on top of weapon and armour perks, which may be between 1 and 3 per item, that provide things like extra health, faster reloads, or even more exotic bonuses like 10% temporary armour while reloading.

However, this is basically an action RPG wearing a third-person shooter disguise so stats do play a large part in weapon performance. The main statistics are accuracy and stability, which affect bullet spread and recoil respectively. There is also an effective range graph showing damage drop-off out to a hundred meters, and a range window for critical hits. While these stats are very important (you won’t be running around with a level 10 shotgun and be effective in the end-game for example) your choice of weapon will probably come down to personal taste.

Weapons are split into several categories along the usual lines; pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, light machine guns, marksman rifles, sniper rifles, assault rifles. Weapons don’t have multiple firing modes but are locked to one mode – this may be a little frustrating for anyone looking for an “authentic” experience but let’s be honest, you’re in the wrong place if that’s your desire – this helps to give each weapon distinct characteristics. The M4 for example has high stability and fire rate but only moderate power while an F2000 or AKM packs more of a punch at the cost of accuracy and recoil. Weapon mods can augment your weapon’s strengths or smooth out the flaws, allowing a surprising amount of tailoring that allows you to get a weapon’s handling in the sweet spot.

Assaulting Capitol Hill is a brilliant showcase of the smoke and lighting systems

Of course, it wouldn’t be The Division without gadgets. Some of the original ones like seeker mines and turrets make a return but there are many new ones like the firefly, drone, and hive. Gadgets come in multiple flavours too; your turret might be an automated machine gun, a manually targeted remote sniper rifle, an area denial flamethrower, or a manually designated miniature rocket artillery piece. Every single skill is useful and clever players can put them to work in almost any engagement to turn the odds in their favour. Gadgets can even be modded with different effects and stats via attachments.

The city feels a lot more interesting this time out. Washington has many easily recognisable monuments and buildings that even non-Americans can appreciate. Battling up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or assaulting the Capitol Building in a haze of smoke and mortar fire all feels unique and interesting. Liberal amounts of cover are scattered everywhere, along with set dressing like rubbish and items – little bits of a hidden narrative pop out at you from time to time; like a desk in a street or an abandoned greenhouse. Washington’s excellent map design goes a long way to carrying the game’s narrative when cutscenes and voice acting fail.

It’s not all misty mornings and overgrown parks though. Garbage and some objects provide ample collision detection issues and can result in you getting stuck or being unable to vault an obviously scaleable or box. Getting stuck on a tiny bit of rubble or at the bottom of an escalator is a common frustration, even if it rarely leads to your death. It’s such a minor flaw from a players perspective that the experience as a whole is hardly marred by it. Still, it also feels like the developers could’ve smoothed out these small hiccups. Another small complaint is the amount of dark areas in a game where you’re not provided with a light source. Your special forces agent who regularly goes into sewers, abandoned buildings, and deadly underground complexes doesn’t carry a torch. You feel like a fool fumbling about in the dark.


As always with these live service type games, the end-game is a huge part of the experience. The Division 2 doesn’t disappoint in this regard either. Once you finish the main campaign and take out the three major factions strongholds you’re greeted by a message that you’re advancing to world tier 1 and a fourth faction called Black Tusk turn up. These new enemies pack drones, robots, improved weapons and armour, and more aggression. The difficulty spike is daunting at first but does a good job of encouraging team play in the late game.

Black Tusk also seize territory, taking previously captured areas back away from you and invading missions. Invaded missions provide an alternate objective set in the same mission areas as the campaign but facing Black Tusk instead of whoever controlled it before. Sometimes the area will have had a Black Tusk makeover, but they’re always jam packed with elites and powerful robotic turrets just waiting to empty your health bar in record time.

As you proceed through this end-game, the world tier will increase as you take back each stronghold again. With each new world tier, enemies become more difficult but rewards also increase in value and quality. Named equipment begins to appear and legendary quality loot finally makes an appearance just as you’re starting to get your gear tuned to how you like it, getting you thinking and working out new builds to incorporate your shiny new toys.

President Ellis, looking like you've just sprung an intervention for his alcoholism.

Also a part of the end-game are specialisations. Once you enter world tier 1 you can choose one of three specialisations which grant a special outfit and signature weapon as well as a skill tree and a new form of upgrade currency unique to each specialisation. You can switch specs at any time outside of a mission, easily drastically changing your strengths and abilities.

Graphically The Division 2 is pretty, but not spectacular, in texture and models. Detailed weapons appear in your inventory but are too small to appreciate to any level beyond vague shape and colour in the third-person. Weather effects are absolutely stunning though – I literally had a “woah” moment the first time I stepped outside into a misty street that could’ve easily been Silent Hill. Rain lashes down heavily and you can just imagine being soaked to the bone after five minutes out in that. Early morning mist and fog hide routes and enemies and the sun casts some of the best god-rays I’ve ever seen in a game when shining through foliage.

Sound design falls a little flat. We’ve already mentioned the abysmal voice acting, both from main characters and random NPCs, but the weapon sounds don’t really pack much of a punch either. The Division 2 isn’t aiming to be “realistic” or “authentic” so we weren’t expecting weapon reports that would leave your ears ringing but weapon sounds lack punch in most cases. This works fine for some of the insanely high RPM weapons like the MP7, where the high fire rate makes it sound cool anyway but for slower firing weapons like an L86 LSW the repeating sound almost feels like the game itself is getting bored. Pew pew pew, sigh, pew pew pew. Conversely, bolt action sniper rifles pack a hearty boom with a nice sharp crack that lets you know you just unloaded a bullet the size of Pinnochio’s nose into some poor fool.

The Verdict

Decocted to its core essence, shooting and looting, The Division 2 hits all the right notes. The enemies are less bullet sponges than the previous game, the loot distribution is generous but not overwhelming, encounters can be tense and escalate into serious battles, and rarely for the launch period of a live service game there have been no server issues or serious bugs ruining the experience. This isn’t a live service that’ll be worth it a year from now after a dozen patches, it’s one that’s worth it right now. The Division 2 is the yardstick we’ll be measuring future live service looter-shooters by for quite some time.

Case Review

  • Capitol: The Washington area is quite varied and missions take you into some interesting landmarks.

  • Variety: There’s so many guns and so many variants that you’re bound to find one that works for you.

  • Skinner Box: Just the right amount of reward keeps you in that sweet spot of wanting more.

  • Report: While they don’t sound bad, the weapon effects don’t sound good either.

  • Talky Toaster: Do yourself a favour and skip the dialogue, it’s asinine and badly executed.

4.5 Score: 4.5/5
The new benchmark for the genre.


  • Audio: Music, SFX, and dialogue volume sliders. Mix type selector. Mute audio when focus lost, and VOIP toggle. Game language selectors for dialogue, menus, and subtitles. Subtitle size, contrast, and mode options.
  • Controls: Mouse sensitivity, mouse aim sensitivity, acceleration and smoothing, swap mouse buttons. Same for gamepad plus vibration toggle, button layout selection, dead zone size, and disable gamepad toggle.
  • Graphics: Quality presets, brightness, contrast, vsync, frame rate limiter. Full customization including windowed mode selection, DX11/12 switch, monitor selection, and reduced latency selection. Benchmark function also available.
  • Key Mapping: Fully customizable gameplay controls but some map and menu abilities are hard-bound and can cause conflicts.
  • Gameplay: Imperial/Metric units toggle, various HUD customization options including colour blind features, profanity filter. Accessibility options include eye tracking, large fonts, high contrast UI, speech to text and vice-versa, and menu narration.
4 Score: 4/5

Well now, The Division 2. Where do we begin? The first game had a rather rocky launch, introducing some massive balance changes that disenfranchised a lot of players that got their hands on it during conventions and the like. As well as coming at the time when Ubi were radically scaling back the graphical fidelity of their games. But, credit where credit is due, they stuck with and made some huge improvements as it went along. Turning it into quite the fun little looter shooter. Then the second started making waves, receiving a fair whack of negative feedback during beta testing. Not to mention the ill will garnered by a move to being an Epic Store Exclusive. Except, well, it isn’t really. Because like all Ubi games, it launches in Uplay anyway.

Then things started to change, and people were really getting on board with it. But we were still a tad concerned that they’d screw the pooch at the final hurdle. They didn’t. The Division 2 launched in nigh perfect condition. It looks great, it plays well and the in game version of America’s capital is masterfully designed. There’s always something to see, and exploring side paths are something you find yourself wanting to do, no matter how much it may distract you from what you were originally planning. That’s not just because of the loot either. There are all sorts of little details in the world, like the street that just had a broken desk sitting in the road, or the stuffed toy sitting on a pile of trash in pristine condition. It has you genuinely curious what went on in these areas. What were the people who lived there doing when the viral attack happened?

The story is a bit meh, without any real sense of closure. But it’s interesting enough that you will find yourself wanting to explore the coming DLC. As well as finding all the logs around the place that flesh things out. Yes, there are a great many collectables, but they don’t tell the story, they expand on it. What little there is. Leaving you with an overall impression of a damned fine game. Honestly, it’s the new benchmark for looter shooters. Just about everything is done right, or at least competently. Nothing can really be pointed to as letting things down. It’s just an all round, fun game to play. Well worth your money. The lack of being on Steam still sucks though.

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