Twinfinite is at E3 2018 and we got a chance to check out The Division 2 at Ubisoft’s booth. We also got to have a chat with Julian Gerighty, the Creative Director of The Division 2, about various features like the new setting, the clan system, and the upcoming raid.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Twinfinite: So, first of all, we wanted to ask why the setting in DC? Setting the game in New York for the first game was really iconic, and we understand that the second game is set about seven months after the outbreak. Why DC specifically?
Gerighty: I think there are multiple reasons. If you look at the narrative from New York City to Washington DC, this raises some pretty interesting questions. This is one of the most protected, fortified cities in the world, so just how did we lose that city? And discovering that is going to be one of the narrative threads in the game. But what really excites me about DC is that fairly small area – it’s about 20 percent bigger than the Manhattan we created for The Division 1. It has so much more variety. It has a nature biome, it has wide open spaces, it has suburbs with Georgetown. So all of these different areas. Because when you think of New York, it’s a really gridded place with lots of tall buildings and gives a really different feel. So we’re getting a lot more variety in terms of environment, and also in terms of gameplay feel. Because when you’re shooting in a wide open space, that’s very different from shooting in a metro or another claustrophobic space.
TF: So we can expect to see even more variety in terms of level design this time around?
Gerighty: A hundred percent.
TF: Will there be a greater emphasis on story and lore in The Division 2? In 1, we got a lot of interesting tidbits from little side objectives we could pursue and notes and audio recordings we could pick up along the way, but we did feel that the story took a little dip as we approached the end game content. Will the story and lore drops persist all the way till the end of the game?
Gerighty: Absolutely. One thing for sure is that there’s a story campaign which, y’know, was fairly meaty in The Division 1. It took players around 40 hours to finish it, and it’s gonna be the same in The Division 2. But we’re saving one or two little surprises that are narrative and gameplay hooks that will drag people into end game and provide narrative, context, and meaning to a lot of those things. And you know, even the raid we announced yesterday will be narrative-driven too.
TF: One of the biggest questions that fans of The Division 1 had was, are you perhaps thinking of developing a companion app for The Division 2? Or something to help with storage and gear loadouts? Because while storage space was pretty expansive at the start of the game, it does tend to fill up pretty fast. Will it be easier to change gear in The Division 2, and are you planning on making a companion app similar to the one we get in Destiny?
Gerighty: So, companion app. No, it’s not in the plans. We really want to focus on the main game, the main experience, the post-launch content, and all of our resources need to be focused on that. We really want to stay very focused, so no companion app. In terms of inventory management, of course there are lots of improvements compared to the first game. But even if you look at the first game, we’ve improved it dramatically from launch to what you can see in the game today.
TF: Can you tell us anything about a potential Dark Zone or PvP area in The Division 2?
Gerighty: I can, but I won’t because I’m not allowed to. (laughs)
TF: Alright, so no talk at all about any PvP modes or balance around that?
Gerighty: Well, one thing’s for sure. It’s that when I think of The Division, when most people think of The Division, it’s a super hybrid game, right? You can play all of the content even by yourself – the story-based content, the more emerging content, either by yourself or cooperatively. But of course there’s PvP. Of course there’s competition. And I think that’s one of the aspects that we’ve embraced as a team in terms of our end game focus, and our first focus is that competition and leaderboards are a huge part of getting people really invested in long-term content. So I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more announcements down the line.
TF: Will you be making any adjustments to gear drops? For example, if I had good equipment for all of my gear slots except my backpack, will the game feature an intelligent loot system to give me a better chance of getting the item I need to increase my gear score?
Gerighty: I’m actually not the right person to talk about that. But for me, it’s more about the finer details of how we tune it later on. It sounds like a great idea, but I just can’t speak to it.
TF: No problem. Will any of our character progress from The Division 1 be carried over to The Division 2?
Gerighty: No, this is a brand new character. But, on June 14, we’re launching the Shield Initiative. So the Shield Initiative is 14 different collectibles that you can unlock in the first game, and they’re not only rewards for doing stuff in the first game – currency caches, patches, things like that. They’ll also reward you in The Division 2 with some exclusive items, so it’s really worth jumping back into the game. Some rewards are retroactive so you’ll get them automatically, and for others, you’ll have to invest a little bit of time.
TF: Okay. One big question from me is, will character creation be expanded upon in The Division 2?
Gerighty: Yes! Now that’s one thing I’m passionate about. Y’know, real choices for me is how my player looks, it’s not about the good and evil choices you make in games. So one of the things that was also a big advantage about having a summer season was that it allowed for a lot of different looks. So, personalization? We’re gonna push that much further.
TF: Could you tell us more about the raid that you just announced? How is it different from an Incursion in The Division 1?
Gerighty: So, first things: eight players. That’s a huge difference in terms of approach, in terms of balancing, in terms of level design – all of those things are gonna be very different. For me, it’s the most hardcore of hardcore experiences. So it’s something where you’re gonna have to communicate heavily, you’re gonna have different specializations, you’re gonna synergize with different players. If you look at Stolen Signal today, it’s indicative of the direction we’re going with the raid. So it’s much more complex, there are choices, there are three different wings, there’s a TV station that’s been taken over by the Rykers. And there are puzzles, that type of thing, so it requires a lot of investment and a lot of communication between players. Really high-level, difficult, hardcore experience in any game.
TF: So we can expect that on day one of the raid, lots of clans will be taking about six to eight hours to even clear a run? Or maybe even more?
Gerighty: I don’t know about the time, right? I’m always blown away by how fast things are actually beaten, but if I’m excited about one social feature, that’s clans. And the high-level brief is that it has to be the most accessible clan feature ever created on console or PC, because I want people to experience the pleasure of playing in multiplayer through the clan system.
TF: Will the raid have any matchmaking system?
Gerighty: Yes, I think so. I think we’re going to encourage people to matchmake through clans to encourage communications so the problems you can have with random pick-up groups are ironed out a little bit. But we’ll definitely have matchmaking for them.
TF: Okay, so we got a brief glimpse of the end game classes at the Ubisoft conference the other day. Could you go into a little bit more detail about those?
Gerighty: So, first thing. The end game specializations aren’t really classes because they’re not mutually exclusive, right? You can do one, then pick another, then do the next one. But they are symptomatic of a type of play style, and those are really characterized by their signature weapons. Those signature weapons – the ones we presented yesterday – were the sniper rifle, the grenade launcher, and the crossbow. Now, each one will have a whole list of other things that you can unlock, including exclusive skill modifications down the line. So once you finish progression with a character, there’s a whole new progression system with those play styles in mind.
TF: Final question from us: will existing players from The Division 1 get early access to the beta?
Gerighty: So we’re planning a beta for sure. You can sign up today. I encourage you to. Will we prioritize Division 1 players? Not necessarily, so sign up quick. It’s gonna be fun.