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Division 2 Impressions

This morning I am going to take a break from Anthem and talk about The Division 2 which released for me on Friday…  but for other folks earlier in the week.  I still played a significant amount of Anthem including some running around with a large group of people on Saturday, but until the drop rates are fixed to reasonable levels I am probably going to be tapering off my time played to stave frustration.  At this point I am up to 192 hours played of Anthem… and by contrast I am sitting at roughly 6 hours of time played in Division 2 so far.  Largely I am approaching the game as a much more single player experience, and in the same manner I would one of the big Ubisoft open world titles like Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed.

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Probably the biggest praise that I can give to Division 2 is that it is a game that has learned from its past without forgetting it.  Division 2 feels like I am picking up where Division 1 left off, with all of the quality of life improvements that came towards the end of the patch cycle…  and then this game takes that position and builds upon it.  This was the problem with Destiny 2 in that it felt like we were losing more from Destiny 1 Year 3 than we were gaining in the process.  Sure Destiny 2 turned out eventually to be a really great product but it took some time to get there because it had felt like they forgot all of the lessons learned along the way.  Division 2 is cognizant of what came before and gives us effectively all of that product…  with more features heaped on top of that.

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One of the core problems I had with the original Division is that it was a game without hope.  The setting was bleak and it felt like as a Division Agent I was doing very little to actually help those around me.  Sure there were those occasional events where someone would run up on me and ask for food or water…  but if I moved even in the slightest they would go running off.  The citizens were scared of me… and for good reason…  because I while I was attempting to help make things better…  I was doing so by laying down a trail of dead bodies in my wake.  I think the core problem with the narrative is that I was helping to try and prop up what was ultimately a dying vestige of the government…  of control of the masses.  Division was a game more or less about trying to salvage the status quo at all costs.

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Division 2 on the other hand is something entirely different.  The status quo died long ago and from the ashes new communities sprung up of survivors trying to hold things together and carve out some piece of this new world.  The setting shifts from New York to the Washington D.C.  where our nations former capitol lies in ruins…  and what is left of the former government operates out of the husk of the White House.  As such the story shifts from rebuilding the nation…  to acting as a sheriff of the wild lands and helping these struggling communities gather resources that they need to survive and thrive.  Similar to the first game as you finish missions your bases evolve…  but this time around the results feel more tangible as new areas are added like this game room for the kids for example.

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The game map is similar to the first game, but once again has evolved to include a bunch of new options.  There is now the concept of a control point, and these take various forms…  but are more or less outposts that have been overrun by whatever enemy faction is in a region.  In the White House area and Downtown East this is controlled by the Hyenas…  which are part street gang and part borderlands bandit psychos.  In the above map everything that is a green flag is a control point that I have reclaimed and was previously held by the Hyenas, ans as a result there is a tangible feel to winning back an area because you start to see it improving.  As you hold more control points it seems as though there are more frequent NPC foragers going out into the wilds to scavenge for resources.  Additionally there is a whole mini game surrounding delivering food and water to these outposts for experience.  The markers in Red on my map are of course control points that I have yet to liberate…  and I am focusing on clearing 100% of this single map before I move on to other areas.

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As I mentioned earlier…  Division 1 was a game without hope…  and I think Division 2 more than anything is a game with a lot of hope in it.  You seem to no longer be as focused on fighting for the sake of a government, but instead roam around as a free entity helping everyone in your path.  I am not very far along in the game but I am assuming each region is going to have one major settlement that you will be helping to reclaim the wastes.  Ultimately I can see that they are trying to modify the tone of the game.  The first game had some really awkward feelings associating with it… as you spent much of your time gunning down people trying to survive.  Sure there were factions that felt good to take down…  like the Cleaners or the Last Man Battalion that were just fucked up ideologically.  You know I will even lump the Rikers into that group with their public executions of JTF agents…  but the Rioters…  they felt real bad to be taking out given that they were just doing exactly what you were doing and trying to survive.  So far the Hyenas do not feel like taking out Rioters, because they do feel like more of a twisted and cohesive threat given that they are taking on the role of bandits in Fallout and attacking settlements.

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While I am again only about six hours into the game, I am enjoying it far more than I did the first one.  I also feel like they have done a lot to fix some of the issues the original had with item drop stinginess.  I sat at level 26 for the better part of a year and a half because I felt like my weapons were ineffective…  and I didn’t have the cash or crafting resources to make anything better.  I came back towards the end of the game and found that drop rates were greatly improved and actually provided pieces of gear that were useful.  Once again this game seems to have learned that lesson because I am swimming in loot right now.  It really seems to be rewarding me for exploring every nook and cranny of a zone as I am constantly coming across abandoned gun cases and such.

Essentially where I am now…  is I will be poking my head into Anthem and keeping tabs on that community in hopes that we see a future patch where the loot is truly improved for everyone…  not just the folks doing GM2 and GM3.  I will also be hanging out with my friends whenever they are free to be playing Anthem as well.  In those solo periods though, I am going to ease back on the throttle and spend some more time exploring the DC area in Division 2.  I realize it is too soon to really give a proper review… but in every way I am seeing it is a worthy successor.

7 thoughts on “Division 2 Impressions

  1. I’m sort of fascinated by this post. To me, The Division 1 and The Divsion 2 feel the same in terms of what I’m doing thematically . I mean in TD1 I’d find a Riker pulverizing some innocent with a bat. I felt no qualms about taking that guy out; or at least, no more qualms than I do taking out Hyenas threatening an innocent with a gun. And in TD1 the missions were about water supplies and power and as you played your HQ got more and more facilities for the people who were sheltering there. To me in terms of “story” the two games feel very similar. I’m not saying you are wrong; just that we took different ‘feelings’ away from the first game.

    Anyway enough about that. What I find interesting in terms of community is how TD2 gets away with stuff that Anthem was slagged for. Like no text chat (unless I somehow missed it). Remember everyone going after EA because of no text chat on Athem PC? Or loading times. When an agent calls for backup and you opt to go help him in TD2, the loading times are so long that usually by the time you load into the other person’s session they no longer need help.

    I have maybe 10 hours combined in TD2 between Xbox and PC. I can’t play it for long sessions as it starts feeling really “samey” after a while. I actually miss NYC, I miss the snow and how there were moments where, even in all the death and disaster, the city could still look beautiful. Maybe I am biased some I’m familiar with NYC but not Washington DC.

    TD2 (and TD1) verge on the “too much loot” issue I have in some games like Borderlands. This is really personal but I don’t want to spend 25% of my time playing a game sorting through loot and deciding what to use, what to keep, what to sell and what to dismantle.

    Also not a huge fan of mandatory scaling. I’d like to be able to over-level and storm through missions solo like a bad-ass but that doesn’t seem possible in TD2.

    I went and wrote another blog post in your comment section again. Sorry!
    Pete S recently posted..Playing just because it is funMy Profile

    • I think the difference for me about the settings is… in NY there were constantly people on the streets and they were scared of me and that felt awful. That interaction sorta colored my interactions with a lot of the more normal enemy factions? I mean the looters didn’t look that different from the random people on the streets huddling to get away from me. Also in NY I didn’t feel like I was making a marked difference on the world around me. My actions didn’t seem to make anything better for anyone, just shifted things around… took some bad people out but didn’t actively make life better for anyone other than the handful of people huddled in the main base.

      Some of the things you say about Anthem vs Division are true… I actually ordered a 1 TB SSD last night so I had more room to move games to it… because running Division off a physical disk means painful load times just like it did in Anthem. I tend to play Division in general in short spurts so maybe that is what is helping it from feeling to samey yet?

      • Yeah that’s definitely true; now people know who The Division agents are and everyone cheers us on, which does feel good. In NYC you did have some folks yelling out to us to keep doing what we’re doing, or warn us about bad guys, but as you say, more often than not they saw a person with a gun and were frightened.

        I might try to make room on my puny SSD for TD2, maybe then I can help others when they need help rather than arrive in time to grab the rewards, which makes me feel terrible! LOL
        Pete S recently posted..Playing just because it is funMy Profile

        • Text chat exists in TCTD2. Just hit the Enter key. The box is invisible by default until an incoming message comes in, or you type something.

          I can’t comment on the load times for responding to an agent, since I didn’t do any of that, although I am sure its because you are transitioning over to their instance.
          Still WAYYYY less prevalent than Anthem, that’s for sure. I mean I get a load screen going into and out of the Forge every time. I mean, that’s our inventory….. really need a load screen to enter and exit inventory?????

          TCTD2 is bordering on too much loot. More so than the first. Wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we didn’t have tight(ish) caps on how many materials we can carry, or else you can just break everything down.

      • Be curious to hear your thoughts on this nearer the end of the story. By and large I agree with you though, that the balance between bleak despair and hope is far better rendered in Div 2.

        Honestly I think even just the colour tones used between the games helps in this respect.

        To your post, I’m also curious what you end up thinking about the Solo experience. Compared to playing as a group I find it an exercise in absolute frustration. The Hive with Reviver mod helps a lot (when it’s working), and there is without a doubt an element of ‘Git gud’ to it as well that I still need to go through.

        But it’s more too, even in just being able to turn enemies to expose their weakspots to a friend who has flanked their position while you grab aggro — completely absent while playing alone.

        I think Anthem handled both solo, and grouping (at different levels) better than Div 2 does — but Div 2 in a group of similarly-leveled people is offering a far superior experience with a way more complete launch product.

        I’m glad I had time to get Anthem out of my system first though, as I absolutely *know* I wouldn’t have been able to happy making the jump to Div 2 otherwise! Being able to play my fill of Anthem first as it were, allowed me to go in here with much fresher eyes and open perspective.
        Naithin recently posted..New Zealand’s Darkest DayMy Profile

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