If The Division was a McDonalds Big Mac, the Dark Zone would be its Special Sauce. The hybrid Player versus Environment versus Player (PvEvP) mode was the original’s crowning “jewel” and for those that dared enter, offered a world of intense high risk action and reward. The same rings true of its sequel, however, as I found out, it does so in a far more fair and enjoyable manner than ever before.
Set in Washington DC The Division 2 (TD2) takes place six months after the original during the peak of America’s summer. The city has been overrun by vegetation, its buildings are now derelict and survivors have been forced into settlements scattered amongst the game’s gigantic 1:1 DC recreation. It’s a stark contrast to its New York based predecessor. Colour leaps from the screen and while the city looks to be just as sparsely populated it somehow feels more alive as deer leap through open squares and Mother Nature appears well on her way to claiming it for her own.
Another advantage of TD2’s new sprawling setting means it has the room to offer not one but three distinctly unique Dark Zone areas to explore. These will be set to the East at DC’s Union Station, South at Fisherman’s Wharf and West amongst the now vacant homes of the iconic Georgetown. Each have their own unique narrative and feel that will be introduced one by one as you progress through the game’s campaign. Once open each of the Dark Zones remain accessible as you please and incorporate the same amazingly seamless experience of simply crossing a Dark Zone’s border and being automatically matched against similarly skilled opponents with no break in gameplay.
TD2’s Dark Zones remain the same grand social experiment we all loved from the original. A high stakes game mode with all the twists and turns of finding great loot, with a huge amount of risk and the constant fear of encountering and dealing with a team gone rogue. None of that has changed but has been improved upon by incorporating all their learnings from the past three years and catering to both new and hardcore players alike in this new release.To start with, weapon & item normalisation is now applied across the board in each of TD2’s three Dark Zone areas. Long requested, this squishing of stats is designed to make the game more fair and ensures your skills are the most important factor in your survival.
There’s also a wider Rogue system being implemented with one of it’s biggest changes being the now manual activation of “going rogue”. This replaces the automatic (and often argued) friendly fire system that disavowed you as an Agent in the original. It’s not only way to disavow yourself as an agent though. Stealing items from a DZ supply drop, picking locked chests and taking other’s dropped loot will also also have the same effect and once disavowed are now a marked target with a grey skull indicating your Rogue status.
Once Rogue killing other agents, be it in self defence or otherwise, marks you (and your group) as “red”, with an increased bounty on your head. The more kills, the longer the red status remains and the larger (and more attractive) the bounty becomes to entice others to attempt to bring you down.If your team continues to kill other Agents your status will elevate to “Manhunt”, at which point everyone will be able to see where you are on the map and a new gold skull will adorn your character’s crown. Of course with everyone hunting you down things are likely to get hairy fast but surviving reaps the biggest rewards.
You can reset your Rogue status by entering the DZ’s “Thieves Den” however finding that is no easy task and requires you to triangulate its position by accessing a series of SHD terminals spread about the DZ’s map. It’s a little different (and harder) for those that have reached Manhunt status however. For you, you’ll need to find a lonely, single terminal most likely the other side of the map and amidst a bunch of agents that are all doing their best to track you down and kill you. Good luck.
TD2 will also introduce a new “Occupied” Dark Zone event that has been designed to appeal to The Division’s most hardcore audience. The Occupied Dark Zone will take over one of the three DZ locations on a yet to be determined schedule and removes a lot of TD2’s changes offering a return to the most intense & pure experience the Dark Zone can provide. That means no normalisation of stats, no manual rogue activation and no friendly fire tolerance. It’s an experience for The Division purist whom also has the skills, balls and equipment to back it up.
Also launching day one in TD2 is the game’s “Conflict” PvP mode. With three exclusive maps, lifted from the three DC Dark Zone areas, Conflict will offer both Skirmish (Team Deathmatch) & Domination (Point Capture) modes and have its own progression track styled specifically to PvP players.The Division 2’s Dark Zone doesn’t stop there either. Ubisoft and developer Massive have committed to providing a year’s worth of free updates and content to the game post release. We have no idea what that content is at the moment and (rightly so) those cards are being played very close to the chest. We won’t have to wait long though with the game releasing in just under 2 months time on March 15th details on the expansions will undoubtedly begin to surface quickly.
The Division 2’s Dark Zone doesn’t stop there either. Already announced Ubisoft and developer Massive have committed to providing a year’s worth of free updates and content to the game post release. We have no idea what that content is at the moment and (rightly so) those cards are being played very close to the chest. We won’t have to wait long though with the game releasing in just under 2 months time on March 15th details on the expansions will undoubtedly begin to surface quickly.
RAJ TRAVELED TO SWEDEN AS A GUEST OF UBISOFT TO GET AN EARLY LOOK AT THE DIVISION 2.