28 the Division ii
NO POLITICS PLEASE; THIS IS CLANCY
Ubisoft takes us into the heart of Washington, D.C. in its latest shooter
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.