The Division 2 Hands-on Preview – Total Squad Goals

I had a great time playing The Division for the first week or so with a few of the Press Start guys, but once they started falling away to play other games, I really felt like the game lost something and wasn’t anywhere near as enjoyable to explore on my own.

After an hour or so with The Division 2, I’m still convinced that friends are almost necessary in order to get full enjoyment out of it, but Ubisoft have changed up the game quite a bit in an attempt to keep players drawn to it. Everything has changed with The Division 2, including the setting, enemy variety, and a new season that just lends itself so perfectly to the super lush look Ubisoft is going for.

In case you haven’t seen the reveal trailer, The Division 2 is set in Washington DC roughly seven months after the outbreak ended in Manhattan. Whilst New York and the Winter setting were interesting, The Division 2 feels like a step in the right direction. Not only does the location feel more interesting to explore, the game is set in Summer and the world is regrowing, meaning that there’s luscious green foliage all around, and a bigger variety of locations ranging from commercial areas, suburban areas and historical sites. Whilst I only got to explore a small snippet of the map in my time with the game, it’s said to be about 20% bigger than Manhattan.

The game is set around three key objectives; pushing back the different corrupted factions you’ll encounter, getting the civilians who are left out of crisis situations and restoring critical infrastructure. In this particular demo I tried, we were trying to take back a base that was situated inside of a downed airplane, and were overrun with a variety of enemies.

At first, me and my team of three other Aussie gaming journos ran in guns blazing and pretty much had our asses handed to us. On our second attempt, with a bit of teamwork, we were able to come up with a coordinated plan and take down the enemies surrounding the base that we had to secure. Whilst the enemies in the first Division were criticized for being bland bullet sponges, there seemed to be a better mix of enemies on display here. There’s some lightweights, which go down fairly quickly, but every now and then the game would throw a heavy enemy at you which you’ll need to coordinate with your team to take them down.

For the demo, our characters were scaled up to Level 30, which is where you’ll be able to choose to specialise in a certain area. I chose a Sharpshooter, which basically gave me access to a special sniper rifle as well as an attack drone. Other players in my squad had weapons like grenade launchers too, so we were all pretty geared up, but ammo was quite limited so there was a bit of reliance on scavenging and adjusting your loadout on the fly to accomodate the changing enemy types.

Once we secured the base, it was added to our faction as a safe house. While this was great, it also means that you’ll have to begin managing resources in order to maintain the safe house and keep it running, which in turn also operates as a pool of other resources for your squad. While not exhaustive, it was a nice touch to have a small degree of base management in the game.

I had forgotten how good The Division was to play and it felt really good to return to the world of The Division with the second game. So far, it’s actually the most fun I’ve had with a hands-on E3 demo. Ubisoft is committed to supporting the game with three content updates in the first year, and apparently there’s much more content here than what the first game launched with, so it’s all pretty positive so far. Given their support of the first game too, it’s certainly encouraging and believable to think they’ll support this as long as they can.

The Dark Zone will also return, as will raids which support up to eight players now. Unfortunately, whilst I had some time with the game, I wasn’t able to check out either of these, but they’re something I’d be keen to play when the full game hits.

The Division 2 releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on March 15th 2019. Ubisoft will be holding a beta, which you can sign up for here.


Press Start is attending E3 2018 as a guest of Ubisoft. This does not prevent us from covering titles exhibited by other publishers, nor does it hinder us from providing honest impressions about Ubisoft’s show line-up.