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Author Tom Clancy passed away more than five years ago, but long before that Ubisoft bought the rights to his name and techno-thriller brand of experience.
The latest foray into the Clancyverse is also one of the best. “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” is the ideal video game sequel: It takes a solid first game (“The Division” from 2016) and improves on it in multiple ways while making few if any new mistakes. It’s not perfect, I still think the bosses soak up too much damage when you fight them, but it’s a lot better than the original, and the original was pretty good.
The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States in the wake of a bioweapon plague released on the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday. Where the first game locked you into a frozen New York City full of heavily armed paramilitary rogues, the sequel moves to Washington, D.C., in the sweltering summer. There are more heavily armed enemy factions, but now you get to fight them in museums and national monuments. And you know what?
That’s very cool. A running gunbattle in a looted Air and Space Museum where the baddies are disassembling old exhibits to build a rocket to blow up the White House is just the kind of over-the-top but still deadly serious plot we come to a Clancy game for.
“The Division 2” is as massive as the city of D.C., and you will spend scores, probably hundreds of hours exploring it all. The game is a huge time commitment, and just getting to know all of its different systems, weapons and opportunities will easily take a dozen hours. The fact that the cover-based shooting is solid and those weapons (particularly the special ones) feel great to use mean that there’s always a fun new challenge. Sometimes that challenge is finding hidden objects and exploring the city. Mostly it’s shooting. If you like shooting, especially played co-op online with friends, then “The Division 2″ is a worthy investment of time and money (and more time).
The story missions in “The Division 2” are well-crafted and thrilling, and can be handled in solo play. The world outside those missions is even more dangerous, and there’s where it’s nice to have some friends to play with. If you don’t have any online shooter pals, you can match up with strangers in game, which works pretty well. Or, you can indulge in some high-risk, high-reward in the game’s Dark Zones, where the best cool weapons are found, but other players might turn out to be friend or foe (or one, then the other).
“The Division 2” is $59.99 and Rated M for Mature (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One). Ubisoft also offers a bunch of different higher-priced bundles with little extras, but honestly the core game is so full of stuff, I suggest trying the base model.