The last few months of gaming releases have been anything less than spectacular. With the much maligned release of Fallout 76 (Bethesda) late last year, and the dumpster fire called Anthem (BioWare / EA) released less than a month ago, the gaming community has endured unpolished titles, broken game play, and products which don’t reflect the industry’s global revenue position. If you thought films or music grabbed the entertainment revenue crown, you could not be further from the truth. In 2016, the gaming industry pulled in over $101 billion in global sales, which outpaced the other two comparable markets combined.
But there is hope looming. On March 15, 2019, The Division 2 (Ubisoft) may provide an alternative from all the recent gaming trash which has been excreted into the market. Using the same formula from The Division, the Ubisoft sequel looks to continue the original premise but changes the venue and shifts the season on a much bigger map. I played the beta and discovered there is no doubt, it plays very close to the original (perhaps too close?) which is the challenge for sequel games — stray too far off the formula (vanilla Destiny 2) and people complain you’ve lost the magic. Stick too close the original and people complain it feels like a DLC — which may be the main concern for The Division 2.
Another issues of concern is the end game. The original Division had little to do beyond the level 30 cap. Missions became tedious, the Dark Zone was bloated with griefers, and the Guardian Down Squad left in short order when raids ended up being nothing but horde mode defense. Ubisoft clearly saw The Division player response because with The Division 2 open beta they flew the end game banner by allowing players to sample what awaits them after level 30. Criticized for bullet-sponge end game enemies in the original, The Division 2 sets an entirely different tone. Upon reaching cap, the entire map changes as the “Black Tusk” invasion begins. Enemies become crafty, new weapons are deployed in combination with aggressive tactics. In theory the entire journey for the player becomes much more convoluted, as does the the gear sets, missions, and broad range customization. It all sounds very tasty.
I write this about 24 hours away from release and have high hopes. If even half of the promises manifest, The Division 2 looks to be a game capable of scratching the RPG, looter-shooter itch and keeping us occupied with a quality release for a while.