Gear up and head into a desolate and barren Washington, DC (which I'd actually prefer over the current version). Then, add some friends, multiply the fun, and divide and conquer!
Tom Clancy's The Division 2 marks the return of the acclaimed third-person shooter 3 years after the release of the original. In The Division 2, you play as a nameless agent who takes a quick jaunt down the east coast from Manhattan (the original game's setting) to my nation's capital; Washington, DC. It has been taken over by several rival factions that roam the streets and control the territories of downtown DC. As an agent of The Division, you're tasked with cleaning up the streets and putting an end to the mayhem. You'll meet up with several other agents who give you intel and instructions about the best ways to stop these factions yet the story is relatively barebones in the early going, instead placing a priority on gameplay and character progression.
Many famous DC landmarks can be found including the White House, National Mall, and Capitol Building. I've only spent a day or so there in real life so I'm not very familiar with the area but the overall layout feels very accurate and it's jam-packed with many of the museums that DC is known for. Territories in this version of DC all have suggested player levels so I haven't spent a ton of time exploring beyond where my level 11 agent can survive but I am looking forward to finding some additional landmarks.
The core gunplay of the original Division was one of its highlights and the same can be said here. Guns feel realistic, accurate, easy to aim, and are overall fantastic. There's a great variety of weapons, too, and you'll want to figure out which combo of assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and machine guns is the right fit for you. You also have the option to equip 2 of the 8 available skills including a traditional turret, a bullet-spewing drone, a chem launcher, and more. Anyway, you acquire weapons by crafting, buying, or looting them. The same can be said for several different pieces of armor that you can equip to improve your stats. Although there's plenty of loot, I've been a bit disappointed with it so far as I've ended up sticking with the same guns for several levels and I regularly come across the same type of gun that is at a higher level but doesn't actually improve its stats. I'm hoping the quality of loot improves as I progress further.
For a novice shooter like me, The Division 2 is a challenging game as the AI is intelligent and good at taking and maintaining cover. Plus, their bullets will do a ton of damage if you're not looking out for yourself. They're also the most intelligently aggressive AI that I've ever encountered and will use smart and strategic paths to charge and flank you whenever they get the chance. You have to stay on your toes and constantly be aware of where all the enemies are. So far, it appears that the enemy levels scale to the same level as you so even grinding levels outside of missions won't do much to ease the difficulty. I really appreciate a game that's not afraid to knock you down over and over while forcing you to improve if you want to succeed.
Playing cooperatively with others helps alleviate some of this difficulty to the point where I wouldn't recommend playing The Division 2 if you don't have friends to play with or the desire to play online with random players. Not only is it generally more fun to play with other people but many of the firefights are geared towards having a group of agents available and most shootout locations are built to have enemies attacking from multiple directions which doesn't lend itself well to solo play. There is currently a glitch with the cooperative multiplayer enemy scaling that makes enemies way too hard for their own good if you're the lower level partner of a higher level agent but Ubisoft has acknowledged the issue and they plan to address it in an upcoming patch.
Some of the best times I've had with The Division 2 are with the small side objectives that are scattered across the map. Overtaking and defending control points, shutting off propaganda messages, and rescuing hostages are all challenging and rewarding. I've been less enamored with the main missions and side missions, however. Their structure so far has been almost exactly the same: enter a building, clear out several waves of enemies, and then exit the building. This is another aspect that I hope improves and diversifies as I progress. Also, the map is very clearly laid out and easy to follow but several of the other menus feel a bit convoluted. I'm now used to most of the core menus but I was definitely spending an excessive amount of time fumbling through them at the start as the overabundance of things going on can make the menus that track everything feel overwhelming and intimidating for new players.
When compared to other online-focused shooters that recently released, The Division 2 should be commended for the amount of content and the overall level of polish that it has. Sure, there are still problems (the aforementioned co-op scaling issue and an already patched bug that had many of the skills disappear after just a few seconds) but aside from those and some distracting pop-in even though I'm playing it on a PS4 Pro, The Division 2 is a good looking and well-built game that will only improve with time.
I look forward to digging deeper into The Division 2 and exploring the expansive post-game content as well as its Dark Zones. For now, I'd definitely recommend it for gamers who enjoy looter shooters and have friends to play it with but I'm much more hesitant recommending it to those who simply want to play solo.