For the uninitiated, the Division is a 3rd person over the shoulder strategic shooter set in a near post-apocalyptic region after a biological attack. The map is an open free roam environment for you to explore with instanced missions and set pieces to load into. The first game saw the player take on the role of a Strategic Homeland Division agent, sent into a quarantined New York City after dollar bills were laced with a weaponised version of the smallpox virus just prior to the black Friday sales. New York fell and it was down to the sleeper agents of the SHD to answer the call, enter the city, combat the rioters and warring factions and potentially track down a cure to end the epidemic.
The game’s story is actually inspired by the 2001 real life event of operation Dark Winter, where the American government initiated a simulation to test the national emergency response to a bioterrorism attack. The findings of operation Dark Winter were that the U.S. healthcare system was unprepared with a limited surge capacity and hospitals would become overwhelmed quickly. Suggestions of quarantine zones around affected areas would not likely have garnered public support if the media was not informed on how these measures were in the society’s best interests. Draconian measures may slow the spread of disease, but interrupted supply lines for food, water and medicine would potentially create conflict over the scare rations that are available.
So, back to the game! It’s been a while since I played the Division. A friend and I had it as our go to game on release. When the rest of our friends would sign off of Destiny for the evening, we would stay up longer to play a bit of the Division before we passed out. I personally enjoy a lot of apocalyptic story settings in games and I felt the setting of a quarantined New York after a biological attack was an exciting premise. Fighting to save the innocent people still stranded within the city, exploring the abandoned Dark Zone (or DZ – the PvP area) for the potential cure to the “dollar flu” and restore order to chaos.
The Division 2 beta picks up months after the events of the first game. The Division agent finds them self in Washington and your first task to fight your way across the White House lawn and to the very White House itself. Battered and war-torn, the White house has now become the last bastion of the Strategic Homeland Division. As with the first game, you will need to go on missions and unlock new staff to man the various departments within the White house that will open new functions to you. An example is one of the first missions you will be sent to at the theatre settlement will reward you with a new member of staff for the white house who will unlock the crafting table for you. The new enemy factions in DC you will encounter are the True sons: a paramilitary group, the Hyenas: a gang of opportunistic raiders and the Outcasts: Bitter survivors of a forced quarantine zone bent on revenge.
The cover to cover system is back and feels fluid as ever. Being in cover and being able to target another piece of cover and “auto-run” to it makes for some great moments when playing with a squad, pushing forward and providing each other with covering fire to suppress the enemy and get yourself into more advantageous positions to win the fight. Only the turret, seeker mine and drone are available gear to use within the beta, but these were fun enough to play with for now.
My criticism so far is the bullet sponge effect. I’m not just talking the level scaling of when you are in a full group. We started the beta with a group of 3, but by the following night I had persuaded a 4th man to join us. For the sake of helping our friend unlock everything, we replayed the first mission. To get the mission to start we had to select replay from the map screen. This made everything scale up to level 7 (Max level for the demo) and pretty much took us the entire evening to finish. To say it was hard was an understatement: Don’t get me started on the boss near the end! Once we completed this and did the next mission that none of us had done yet was super easy in comparison. Everyone likes a challenge, but it takes the fun out of it when the average enemy can absorb more bullets than superman!
Despite this, we all enjoyed our limited time playing the private beta and all discussed playing again whether that is a public beta or the full game.
The Division 2 has an open beta available to play the weekend of the 1st of March with a full release on the 15th of March 2019.