5 ways The Division 2 outdoes the original

In a fallen United States still reeling from the outbreak of a deadly pandemic, government-backed sleeper agents (that’s you) are once again given three essential tasks: rebuilding society, ‘discouraging’ looters, and most importantly, going on fun raids with mates.

Only this time you’re in a brand new open world, armed with powerful new gadgets, up against tough new foes. Developers Ubisoft have learned much since their 2016 effort, an action-MMO that changed dramatically from launch to now, and it’s putting everything into the sequel. Here are 5 things The Division 2 does better than its predecessor.

1. The world

If there’s one location packed with more iconic landmarks than New York, it’s America’s capital, Washington DC. Here the White House is barricaded with barbed wire, Air Force One lies in a smoking heap, Roosevelt Island is a quarantine zone, and the Washington Monument is a tattered wreck. Geographically it’s a lot more varied than the practically wall-to-wall apartments of The Division, with downtown areas featuring open concrete spaces and sleepy boroughs showcasing detailed domestic interiors. Where New York was tall, Washington is broad – and 20% bigger.

2. Larger firefights

Combat scenarios in The Division have the potential to be larger than ever thanks to the focus on recruiting civilians. You can fire a flare to call in friendly reinforcements you’ve saved from nearby settlements, and the addition of these guys, along with a full complement of human players and a whole load of computer-controlled gang members, make for absolute chaos on the streets of DC. That goes without mentioning the 8-player raids new to The Division 2. Those should spice up the endgame nicely.

3. Engine refinements

Snowdrop is the name of the engine powering The Division, and Ubisoft have refined it further for the sequel. You immediately notice the kick in colour, from the first game’s snow-strewn streets at the height of winter to a sunny sprawl six months on. The summer heat mixed with ample vegetation sometimes makes Washington look more like a jungle than a city, and that completely changes the ambience. And good news for animal lovers, because wild deer can now be seen prancing down the road, along with, we presume, those ever lovable but much less prancing dogs.

4. Creative new weapons

The glue gun is of course the highlight. It emits a jet of sticky foam that fixes enemies to the ground until a buddy shoots them lose. And let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to dowse someone in polyfilla? There are also new weapon archetypes, including specialised crossbows, grenade launchers, and sniper rifles. But there’s no slack to be found in the gadget department either, with a ‘wasp hive’ that launches a fleet of tiny robots towards enemies, an assault drone that’s piloted remotely, and a chem launcher that splashes enemies with explosive gas and acid.

5. Free DLC

Discussing DLC before the game’s even out can feel a bit premature, but in a game with an intended lifespan of several years like the Division 2, your investment rests on how good the support for it will be. That’s why it’s great to know the first three episodes of post-launch content are set to be entirely free. How substantial are they? That’s unclear for now, but you really can’t argue with free.