Having gotten advance access to the full-fledged retail release of the sequel the world is dying to play, I couldn’t not go ahead and break the review embargo to provide you all with my thoughts on Ubisoft’s The Division 2. With online servers currently live for last-minute dev testing, I’ve gotten ample time to play through the experience in its entirety with a handful of other early access players. Here’s my review.
The game opens to the sight of Washington D.C. in ruins, and I can’t help but feel the developers worked hard to paint this desolate, destitute depiction of the United States Capitol as some sort of political allegory for the state they feel the U.S. is currently in. Though it’s artistically depicted and nuanced in its commentary of modern day politics, I’m still shocked that the publisher and developer have gone so far as to include in-game graffiti on dilapidated D.C. monuments that reads “Make America Good Again.” You might not catch what this is referencing at first, but really double back and think about it. If you’re looking for political commentary, The Division 2 won’t leave you starving.
Of course, a meticulously crafted setting is only part of the experience. How’s the gameplay itself? You’ll be happy to hear it’s exactly how you remember it from the original game. It replicates its predecessor perfectly, and for that reason, I’d like to link you to my original review of the first Division so you can read about the gameplay there. This isn’t me backhandedly mimicking the degree of effort Ubisoft has put into its sequel, so please don’t misconstrue my intentions—I prefer to look at it as a showcase of how smartly Ubisoft has conserved resources and streamlined its productions, much as I have my reviewing process. After all, this is a series about the post-apocalypse. Recycling has never been more important.
I’m also a fan of the way the game emphasizes the role of women in the post-apocalypse by making the majority of your outpost settlers, your default main character, and the game’s lead villains female. The Division 2’s inclusive nature feels like a healthy evolution of the medium, given that it’s 2019 and this growth is to be expected. Of course, I have no way of knowing what amount of resources were allocated to this equality effort, given Ubisoft’s questionable history, but whatever manpower they put behind showcasing womanpower was well worth it. The game shines most brightly when it remembers that society couldn’t have fallen without both men and women at the helm.
However, I’m a bit upset by the heteronormative narrative the game propagates, with its story’s emphasis on repopulating mankind (please use “humankind” in the comments), but I’m sure Ubisoft can issue a formal apology and pledge to do better in The Division 3. I believe in their desire to remain on the right side of history.
And that’s my review of The Division 2. If you want to know about co-op, ask your friends if they’re willing to download Uplay in order to experience it with you—unfortunately, I was not in such a privileged position, and my friends declined my spare review codes due to “useless DRM” concerns. Alas. The players I did encounter just “trolled” me and chatted crude things at me, so I ventured through the 12-hour campaign mostly solo. With that in mind, what’s important is that you know The Division 2’s gameplay is exactly as you remember it. So, as I said once and I’ll say again, if you trust Ubisoft to deliver a quality product, then you’ve had this masterpiece coming at you for a long time.
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