The Division 1 was a rollercoaster of a ride for fans. The game had an interesting setting, the story was enjoyable to play through and its core, cooperative focused gameplay was fun; but that feeling didn’t last. After the honeymoon was over and the initial burst of excitement ended, fans that reached the end game hit a brick wall of dull HP sink enemies. The most interesting part was the Dark Zone, which – while imperfect at launch – was certainly more entertaining than emptying clip after clip into an unstoppable AI. After launch, the game improved on some of these issues, but The Division 2 is an opportunity to get it right from the start with a fresh player base willing to give it a second go.
The build of The Division 2 that we played at the Xbox One showcase attacked some of these problems that players will have remembered from the original game. We were playing a high level control point mission, a new type of cooperative experience where players, with the help of the local NPC population, can take back an area from an enemy faction and turn it friendly again. The most obvious thing that’s new that you’ll immediately notice is the new character specializations. While The Division 1 had specific skill trees, now players will be further specialized into classes such as Survivalist or Sharpshooter, complete with their own specific weapons and abilities that they have access to.
As you would assume, the idea is that rather than having a bunch of similar player-controller characters all using the same best weapons and abilities, that player teams are more diverse each with their own niche and play style.
Enemies are also following suit, though, and that’s one of the bigger changes in The Division 2. According to one of the team members onsite, their goal is to make enemy factions more challenging by making them more strategic instead of just having the same archetype of big bad dude with lots of HP and a gun, flamethrower, or sniper. Each faction will have their own classes as well, with some being medics, demolition experts, heavy gunners, and they will work together in the same way that Ubisoft hopes that players will: carefully and tactically.
In my hands-on, I played as a Sharpshooter, a sniper class. Moving around and shooting felt extremely similar to The Division 1, which is totally fine since that was never really ever a point of contention. Myself and three other teammates made our way over to one of the control points, a big open field that appeared to be some kind of old airplane hangar. We advanced together, as a group, and didn’t have a hard time clearing out the area. This was because we played smart compared to some of the other demo teams according to the developers, and we cleared out minutes faster than everyone else. They likely had more trouble because they didn’t play tactically and instead ran around on their own and that’s probably the point here. The Division 2 is moving towards an experience where if you play smart, the game will come easily to you, and it should. If you don’t work together, then it gets challenging. In other words, an actual challenge based on how well you play the game, not something artificial like more HP. Think of Destiny, for example, the raids are easy if you know what you’re doing, but if you don’t, it’s hard to complete.
We only played one mission, and I don’t want to go over the top and say all of the The Division 1’s problems at launch are solved now. But it was an encouraging experience, that’s for sure.