The Division 2 in the test - How to win the loot shooter competition!
By nature, loot shooters don't have it easy, at least when it comes to varied gameplay. Because behind the colorful mix of role-playing games and shooters, there is actually a fairly mechanical process . You start a mission, fight and loot alone or together with friends on your way to the end, level and start the next mission.
Since the games are primarily designed for co-op, the story usually only serves as a means to an end: a rough framework that justifies your actions and acts as a motivational approach.
Please shoot in the exhibition!
The main missions of the campaign are pleasantly varied, thanks mainly to the locations. Instead of just fighting on rooftops or streets, The Division 2 sends you to museums, theaters, and attractions like the Lincoln Memorial.
The main weakness of the campaign, however, lies in the story. It is completely irrelevant and fails to produce even a single exciting figure. Division coordinator Manny Ortega only sends you from one mission to the next and even the leaders of the enemy factions remain so boring and lacking in profile that we quickly forget their names. The Division 2 wastes a lot of potential here.
If you want to experience exciting stories, you don't get them served on a silver platter, you have to actively look for them in the game world.
Washington sightseeing tour
In addition to well-known sights such as the Capitol, the Washington Monument and the White House, which we use as our base of operations, exactly the stories and aha moments that we miss in the main story await in the alleys, parks and offices of the city.
A truck has broken through a wall of a house, and a corpse is hanging on the hood. A lone plush bunny waits for its owner on the banks of Constitution Gardens. And graffiti testifies to the growing despair of the survivors, who are plagued by violence and hunger.
In addition, you will find the Audiologs and ECHOs already known from the first part, which tell you more about the background story and residents of DC. Here you immerse yourself again and again in personal moments and experience, for example, how one of the survivors sinks into drug use out of sheer grief.
I'm going to get some water
At the same time, the world in The Division 2 is much livelier than the New York of its predecessor. The survivors have withdrawn to settlements that you visit and expand - primarily by completing main and side missions.
Especially cool: the residents of a settlement go out independently to collect resources. If they come across opponents, they open fire. The opposing factions are also spider enemies among themselves and regularly fight each other on the street.
Once you have completed the campaign, the potential for conflict increases even further. Then gangs and residents even attack hostile areas and regularly swap properties on their own. In Washington there is a bitter struggle for survival that we can feel and experience first hand!
When we see on the map that some civilians are on their way to an occupied checkpoint, we go there too and fight side by side against the enemy gang. While the first shots and grenades fly through the air in a high arc, the fog clears up and makes way for the starry sky.
The dynamically simulated battle for Washington paired with the day-night and weather cycle ensures that the game world of The Division 2 feels much more lively than the genre competition !
Action on every corner
Although the survivors do well on their own, most of the tasks still fall to you. And they are so numerous that you cannot walk 200 meters without coming across a checkpoint, a propaganda broadcast, hostage rescue or public execution. Basically all activities follow the same "switch off all opponents" scheme, but there are a few tricks.
During the execution you actually have to protect and cover the prisoners, at checkpoints you call reinforcements with a flare gun, and during the propaganda broadcast you face a few waves of opponents.
Once you've found a quiet spot, resources or hidden weapon boxes are guaranteed to lie dormant there.
In short: The Division 2's open world impresses us not only with its backdrop and lovely details, but also with the regular arguments between the individual factions and the almost endless activities .
On cover, set, shot!
The remarkable AI opponent, which has been significantly improved compared to its predecessor, also ensures constant variety and excitement in the exchange of fire. Your enemies not only position themselves intelligently, but also surround you in a targeted manner. If you sit too long behind the same cover, you will be visited by a grenade or an aggressive pair of shotguns. Drone controllers, who send out small sawing robots, for example, sit as far away from you as possible and rarely stick their heads out of cover.
So you always keep moving and duck from a tree to a wrecked car and from a flower pot to a road barrier. The excellent coverage system of the predecessor still works perfectly.
Depending on the weapon used, you also have to adapt your combat strategy. With the LMG we have 120 rounds in the magazine, depending on the model, but we also don't shoot very precisely. We cause massive damage with the sniper rifle, but reload shortly after each shot. All weapons have noticeable advantages and disadvantages, feel different, but are all equally fun - the division 2's balancing is absolutely exemplary here.
A small but nice atmosphere detail in the battles: Strong opponents still swallow tons of bullets, which, unlike in The Division 1, seems at least halfway believable, because the thick chunks now also wear thick armor , the individual parts of which you can purposefully destroy. So if you first shoot a boss's helmet to pieces, you can then turn it off with just a few targeted head shots. That feels much more natural than the absurdly long life point bars of the predecessor.
Shield, acid or explosive mine?
Thanks to the generous loot system, you will find new guns and equipment after almost every fight. They always adapt to your current level, you won't find any garbage. The search for ever better loot is therefore extremely motivating. When you level up, the game also gives you an equipment box that contains two more items at your level.
You equip two of a total of eight skills to support the shooting irons. In addition to old acquaintances such as the turret and the search mine, there are now, for example, a chemical cannon that spits acid on opponents and a drone that fires at opponents.
Each skill comes in three to four versions that change its functions. As an alternative, the chemical launcher shoots armor spray for allies and the aerial drone releases a bombardment. The possibilities for experimentation are numerous, even in the endgame you will discover new, fun combinations.
With the so-called SHD points, you unlock various talents in addition to the skills, such as a larger inventory for grenades and bonuses when you donate resources to NPCs. The SHD containers are scattered all over the game world and are a reward in some missions.
Co-op is convenient, but not a must
Matchmaking is wonderfully uncomplicated: You can join your friends in the middle of a mission or look for random players at the beginning of the mission. If your buddy is only at level 13, but you are already at 29, the game automatically raises him to level 28 so that he can easily get involved.
Each player also finds his own loot and can then share it with the players in his group. If you play solo, you have to forego the advantages mentioned above, but you can still complete the entire campaign on your own. Because The Division 2 automatically scales the opponent's strength in missions according to the number of players.
Your best enemy
Solo players should keep their distance from the Dark Zones . As in the first part, the players can open fire on each other in these cordoned-off areas and stab each other in the back at any time. Before attacking a player, you have to activate the renegade status, but there is no countdown. In other words: You can easily kill unsuspecting players, especially if you are in a group and your victim is walking around alone.
Why is a trip to the Dark Zones still worthwhile? Because it's teeming with loot there. And the hunt for it is a lot of fun in Division 2 as well - if you don't get ambushed. You run from landmark to landmark, turn off all enemies and collect their loot. Every now and then supplies fall from the sky, which also hold valuable items - but only for the first to reach them.
Contaminated items have to be extracted by a helicopter, as in the predecessor, which attracts AI and human vultures. If you bless the temporal, you also lose all your contaminated stuff.
Because it is quite frustrating when you throw your looted treasures on the ground in the blink of an eye, the developers have introduced a great solution: uncontaminated loot that you can put on immediately and keep in your pocket when you die.
We particularly like the size and architecture of the Dark Zones . Because, unlike in the previous version, there is no longer one large, but three small zones in the east, south and west of the map, the areas are much more varied. In the west, for example, you dive into the once rich and now run-down Georgetown, which with its small houses makes a nice contrast to the skyscrapers and huge streets in the eastern Dark Zone.
Agent against agent
In The Division 1 you had to wait around a year and a half for it, in The Division 2 it is already there at the release: a PvP mode . In teams of four you compete in either team deathmatch or domination, called battle and domination.
Nothing changes in the gameplay. You continue to dive from cover to cover and use grenades to chase enemies into your line of fire. The Division 2 "normalizes" your weapons and equipment values so that all participants are equally strong. As a result, all guns and armor are about the same strength, your skill decides on victory and defeat. Or rather: your team agreement.
Because if, similar to the Dark Zone, you walk around alone and are attacked by two opponents at the same time, you have no chance.
Both combat and domination do not revolutionize the shooter genre, but are definitely fun in the right group and fit nicely into the game with the focus on the cover system. So far, however, there have only been unrated matches that are rewarded with equipment boxes, but cannot be configured any further. Massive Entertainment should urgently deliver a custom mode here .
Things really start after the campaign
Although endgame is a vague term that everyone interprets a little differently (after the campaign has been completed? From the maximum level? When fine-tuning the equipment?), We can give a general all-clear: Even if the endgame is not more extensive than in the predecessor, depending on the definition , there is still a lot more content in The Division 2 than in The Division 1 when it was released.
Have you completed the campaign, stop by a fourth faction called Black Tusk and conquer Washington DC again. This will also result in six additional main invasion missions. However , the game only recycles already known missions and packs new opponents into them. It's better than nothing, but it's still not an optimal solution for more content.
There is still enough to do. In addition to the activities that are already known, there are also 52 bosses, special bounty missions and the world ranks known from its predecessor. The Black Tusk also fight with futuristic weapons such as robot dogs and mini tanks that freshen up the battles.
Upon completion of the campaign, you will also unlock the specialists with their own skill tree and a special signature weapon. You can choose from the survival expert with his crossbow shooting explosive bolts, the destruction expert with his grenade launcher and the precision shooter with a particularly powerful sniper rifle.
The hunt for ever better loot, the highest possible equipment value and the expansion of your specialists keeps motivation at a consistently high level after the campaign is over, so The Division 2 is also in a better release form in the endgame discipline than the competition from Anthem and Destiny.
Everything is possible, nothing is neccesary
The right endgame loot spiral only begins when you are specifically looking for individual pieces of equipment with certain attributes and talents. Although we haven't been able to dive into the last detail here (after all, an endgame extends over hundreds of hours), The Division 2 makes a good impression compared to its predecessor.
For one thing, useful loot appears more frequently. On the other hand, you can exchange talents and attributes of two items via the recalibration station , so you can even save or recycle a weapon with less than optimal values. You can also use blueprints to unlock new items, which you then craft at the workbench with random values. And with mods you strengthen certain values, often at the expense of someone else. If you use a vertical handle, for example, you gain precision and at the same time lose stability.
Correct set parts are still missing at the time of our test, but The Division 2 now has branded sets : These are mini-sets that activate their bonuses when you equip items from the same brand. These sets are geared towards specific play styles. Fenrir Group AB increases the damage done by assault rifles, Airaldi Holdings improves the accuracy of sniper rifles.
The nice thing: Even with all these optimization options, The Division 2 remains beginner-friendly. Because if you just want to keep up with the AI, you just have to put on the items with the highest equipment value. However, if you want to get the most out of your agent, you get various options.
The Division 2 shows what loot shooters should look like when they are released. Both the game world and gameplay are already working excellently and are a lot of fun, the amount of content is impressive. Future genre competitors will have to measure themselves against this standard.