28 the Divi­sion ii

NO POL­I­TICS PLEASE; THIS IS CLANCY

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Ubisoft takes us into the heart of Wash­ing­ton, D.C. in its lat­est shooter

42

There’s been some dis­cus­sion about The po­lit­i­cal stance of the Divi­sion 2. Less about what mes­sage it’s try­ing to con­vey, more just along the lines of ‘is it ac­tu­ally say­ing any­thing?’ As with the first game, The Divi­sion 2 is set in a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic Amer­ica, wiped out af­ter a virus (ini­tially spread via the han­dling of cash) has elim­i­nated much of the pop­u­la­tion. The se­quel takes things to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. Wash­ing­ton DC. And it’s based on the lit­er­ary world of one Tom Clancy, who was never a man to shy away from politi­cis­ing his work, re­gard­less of the mes­sage it in­her­ently car­ried.

It shouldn’t be a point any­one has to ar­gue, and it shouldn’t be some­thing Ubisoft feels the need to play down or deny – po­lit­i­cal state­ments in games are a sign of the medium ma­tur­ing and should be wel­comed with open arms. Frankly, this is all some­thing we want to get into in more de­tail and you can read our thoughts about it on page 42 of this very is­sue.

Still, let’s put that de­bate to one side for the mo­ment and sol­dier on into the world of The Divi­sion 2 – what is Mas­sive En­ter­tain­ment do­ing to make this se­quel a cut above the sur­pris­ingly long-tailed orig­i­nal? Largely, it seems, stick­ing to the script, but at the same time in­cor­po­rat­ing all the lessons it learned work­ing on the first game and how ut turned that into some­thing peo­ple played – and con­tin­ued to play – for years af­ter its re­lease. On first play it feels less like an out-and­out se­quel, and more like an up­date built on solid foun­da­tions, which given the se­ries con­nec­tion to be­ing a liv­ing game ex­pe­ri­ence, makes a lot of sense.

The Divi­sion 2 is set seven months af­ter the fall of earthly so­ci­eties, and we’re start­ing to see an el­e­ment of sta­bil­ity re­turn­ing to many re­gions. Small so­ci­eties have formed, liv­ing ar­range­ments are recog­nis­able, there are even farms be­ing built to pro­vide crops for the (lim­ited) masses. But civil­i­sa­tion as we know it no longer ex­ists, and the mo­ral, eth­i­cal, so­cial or le­gal codes most of us live by have been all but for­got­ten by a large sub­sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion. Ba­si­cally, there’s still trou­ble out there, and there’s still a fight go­ing on to re­store or­der and to fig­ure out just how we can all band to­gether and fix this gi­gan­tic mess.

Once again, while The Divi­sion 2 is heavy on its mul­ti­player as­pect, there is the chance to play alone – and once again, it’s not the best way to play the game. No, you’ll be look­ing to make your way through the story in a group, your small team tack­ling mis­sions to­gether and un­rav­el­ling the Clancy-in­spired story (in the broader Clancy-oeu­vre sense, since this is not based on any spe­cific writ­ing of his). And that’s where things – while feel­ing in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar – be­come far more in­ter­est­ing as a re­sult.

The orig­i­nal game stum­bled over its feet at the endgame. As play­ers lev­elled up and reached the crescendo they were re­warded with… not much aside from the abil­ity to keep on play­ing. In The Divi­sion 2, Mas­sive is mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort to make peo­ple want to play be­yond the ini­tial 30 char­ac­ter lev­els – there are a few meth­ods be­hind this push, but one of the big­gest is via the in­tro­duc­tion of spe­cial­i­sa­tions.

These three archetypes open up when the player hits level 30 and of­fer a bunch of new el­e­ments to keep you

The Divi­sion 2 doesn’t have a ‘char­ac­ter ca­su­ally clos­ing a car door as he walks past’ mo­ment yet, but it re­mains vis­ually very im­pres­sive. some of the ef­fects are re­ally quite out­stand­ing, such as the re­mote-con­trol mine skim­ming through wa­ter.

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