Developed by Massive Entertainment
Published by Ubisoft
The primary mode of interaction in TD2 is firing weapons at an enemy. There are several classes of weapons for particular ranges and types of encounters; Division agents are also equipped with two SHD gadgets (from a choice of 8), including turrets, drones, chem launchers, and a shield. Multiple pieces of gear from the same manufacturer provide bonuses, in addition to giving stat increases and passive abilities. This gear is found randomly when killing humans and opening containers, which is essentially the main draw for many people. While eventually any character gets access to all SHD tech and perks, gear determines your combat potential, and a proper build is crucial to surviving a tweaked-out vigilante shooting you in the face from 200 yards away while one-handing a P90.
Story & Flow
You are an agent of the Strategic Homeland Division, a sleeper operative granted total autonomous authority in times of apocalyptic circumstances. After a bioweapon shut down the east coast, the US government has all but collapsed. As one of these independent contractors, you are tasked with restoring order to the lawless wasteland of Washington D.C. by getting a lot of guns and shooting many bullets at militant weirdos. It's admittedly one hell of plan.
When the SHD global network shuts down, agents travel to Washington D.C. to find out what happened. After the Green Flu obliterated New York, the government all but failed, and various hostile factions have come to power in the ruins of the capitol. While the disease has gone seemingly extinct, a chemical agent called DC-62 that was initially intended for decontamination has been repurposed for committing war crimes. Sinister organizations looking to sabotage The Division are operating in the area, and it's up to you to go do whatever a Hispanic guy with spikey hair tells you to do.
The plot is uncomplicated, sparse, and usually an excuse to go blow something up. An ironic part of the whole ordeal is the lack of agency for your agent; I feel the game would be better served by the player figuring out the situation alone with the autonomous ISAC artificial intelligence giving support, but instead we are surrounded by numerous characters with surface-level motivation and nothing very interesting to say.
After beating the main story, the challenge then comes from doing missions with tougher enemies and remixed objectives, taking bounties, and amassing loot to further optimize your build. Joining parties and exploring can also be quite fun, if unstructured; many neat things can be found if you go looking for them. PvP exists, though I really don't find it to ever really function in a satisfying, consistent manner. Either you die instantly or be outnumbered and die instantly, ignoring the rather laggy netcode.
The general structure of missions also involve blasting hundreds of dudes with guns (with guns). Story-based missions take place in real-world facilities, and contain significant amounts of shooting. Side activities include murdering enemy patrols, taking over control points, and securing civilians. Enemy factions also roam territories, getting into fights with civilians and other enemy factions as well as attack control points, giving otherwise unimportant streets and neighborhoods a sense of life and danger. There are also the Dark Zones, small instanced areas with high concentrations of tough enemies and open PvP, though I hate the PvP and rarely go there.
While there is futuristic tech, the world is contemporary and grounded. In spite of that, the nonchalant nature of people living in this nightmarish reality is strange, though it's better than everyone taking everything way too seriously. Some wacky and outlandish elements pop up, though it's better to see it firsthand than hear about it elsewhere.
Graphics & Sound
More advanced tech is being used with more fidelity and crispness, but the snowy streets of Manhattan added much to the feel of The Division. Regardless, the stanky hot climate of D.C. is a good choice to contrast between the two games, and while the overall surface area is much smaller, it has a higher concentration of unique places and things instead of the same Christmas decorations, unfinished construction sites, and piles of garbage/corpses that were reapeated across the boroughs of New York. Battle zones are a bit less blocky and cover-based-shootery, with more openness for flanking and such, though there will be lots of convenient metal barriers and trash cans.
Sound design is okay across the board. Sounds do what they need to do and not much else. Ambient noises are pretty fantastic, but there seems to not be a 'room tone', which leaves a noticeable and deafening silence when no other noises are heard. Everyone's line delivery tends to be flat, like the actors are just trying to do the best they can with the pretty basic dialogue they were given.
Music is almost completely subdued while roaming, with only a few stings for drama every so often; when the music does kick in, it is a perfect complement and is just generally well-made. The best sounds are made by the UI and whenever ISAC says stuff, as was in the previous game.