The Division 2 Beta Preview – More of the same

This title was previewed on PS4, but is also available on PC and Xbox One. 

The Shared World Shooter genre is one that has gained traction in recent years since it debuted with the original Destiny back in 2014, and since then we’ve seen a few more titles adapt the same type of gameplay. Not only do we have EA’s upcoming Anthem, but Ubisoft dipped their toes into the genre with The Division, which took the Shared World Shooter aspects and put them into a tactical cover shooter. It was a decent game, and now the sequel is on its way. I took a crack at the beta to see what’s up. How is the sequel shaping up?

Graphics:

Sharing the Snowdrop Engine with the original game, the visuals to me are a mixed bag. Admittedly they have seen some improvements, especially in regards to the lighting, but in terms of art direction I actually think it’s a step back. What made the original stand out was its isolated, winter wasteland look. The snow covered city of Washington looked like a true wasteland, but all of this is lost in this new entry, with brighter and more clear weather making the game look a bit more generic.

The game’s visuals have seen some improvements, especially in regards to the lighting, but the game loses the distinct, winter wasteland aesthetic of the original game

Gameplay:

Delving into the beta after putting a lot of hours into the original, I was ready to see some changes between the two games, but sadly, I didn’t find much. The game is basically the same as the original game, in that it is a cover-based Shared World Shooter. Gameplay takes place in Washington DC, and combat takes place over the shoulder, with cover mechanics reminiscent of Gears of War.

The actual combat and how it feels is exactly the same as the original game, but there has been some tweaking in terms of the health system. Rather than just having a segmented health bar that you replenish through health packs or equipment, players now have an armour bar that drains through damage. Players can repair armour as if they were healing like in the original game, but repairing armour takes longer than popping a medkit, which adds some tactical thinking to the game. When the armour bar empty, you have a proper health bar that will then take damage, and this auto regens. Other than that though, the gameplay is pretty much the same.

The similarities also apply to the rest of the game. A lot of the skills from the original return, such as sentry guns, although the returning skills do have some deeper customisation thanks to the inclusion of variants. Sentry guns for example can have the standard full auto variant, as well as other variants like a devastating sniper option. The missions also suffer from a case of déjà vu, the ones I was able to play in the beta didn’t differentiate from the basic ‘go here and shoot these bad guys’ formula of the original. Even the collectibles are the same, as the admittedly cool 3D echoes that dotted the original game’s DC are still here too.

Everything feels copied and pasted from the original game, whether it be the gunplay, the missions, or the world collectibles

Sound

In the audio department, everything is solid. The music we get is top notch and fits with the atmosphere of the game well, and voice acting is quite well done. Where the game shines though is in its sound effects, as the game’s gunshots have that trademark Tom Clancy authenticity.

Final Verdict

After playing the beta, I am sadly not looking forward to The Division 2. While some improvements have been made to the visuals, especially with the lighting, the game has lost the distinct visual style of the original thanks to its lack of snow. On top of that, everything that I was able to do in the beta feels copied and pasted from the original, whether it be the gunplay (with a tweaked health system), the skills (albeit with some more customisation) or the mission structure and the collectibles. Because of this, I don’t think The Division 2 will win over any new fans, although it may keep veterans of the original happy.

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