The Division 2 Hands On

The Division 2 is here, and while we haven't yet played enough to bring you a full review just yet, we can go ahead and say that we think the game's off to a great start. For this hands on article, we've got deputy editor Robert Ramsey and senior staff writer Liam Croft -- both of them well versed in the ways of looting and shooting -- to give us their thoughts on The Division 2 so far.

The Division 2 First Impressions

"I'm already hooked" - Robert Ramsey, Deputy Editor

I bounced off The Division pretty hard once I reached the end of the campaign. I liked the gameplay (once it had been overhauled) and I liked the setting, but the original title never quite grabbed me in the way that say, Destiny did. It was a simpler time back then, though -- a time when we weren't all so cynical about games as a service. The Division 2 finds itself launching in quite troubled waters as far as the newly coined looter shooter genre is concerned, but I've got to admit: I'm already hooked.

The launch period has proven to be a tricky obstacle for all of these games. ANTHEM is the latest example -- a title that simply can't catch a break -- but I think The Division 2 is quickly and comfortably cementing itself as the best of the bunch when it comes to releasing as a complete experience. Obviously I still have a lot left to play, but you can tell that developer Massive has thrown absolutely everything at this project.

The open world in particular -- an overgrown, desolate, and yet chaotic Washington, D.C. -- is the best that the genre has seen. You can't go five minutes without something catching your eye. Random events, battles, missions, and points of interest constantly vie for your attention, and it makes the setting feel so dynamic and engaging. Even better, The Division 2 actually rewards you for your exploration efforts, presenting you with loads of loot containers stashed down abandoned alleyways and such. It really is a fantastic setting, and it's used to full effect.

There's just so much to do. Where games like ANTHEM and Destiny -- at least, without its expansions -- feel anaemic, The Division 2 feels full blown and complete. Ubisoft is no stranger to open worlds that are fit to burst with activities, but here, we've got a new standard for the looter shooter genre. Whether you're playing solo or with a few pals, there's something around every corner, and that's exactly what you want when you're on a constant hunt for rare loot.

But The Division 2 is even more than that. For every non-specific gunfight and every dynamic event, there's an incredibly well designed story mission. Seriously, these main objectives are a delight to play through, featuring some brilliantly intricate backdrops like museums, apartment buildings, and one of my personal favourites, an old hotel that's on the verge of collapse. For a game with no alien environments or totally outlandish technology, the developer's done a tremendous job of making memorable missions.

The Division 2 is exceeding my expectations so far, and at this point, I can see myself playing it all weekend long.

The Division 2 Preview

"I can't wait to see what the game throws at me" - Liam Croft, Senior Staff Writer

It's been five years since the birth of the looter shooter genre, and to think that The Division 2 might be the first one to succeed at launch is really saying something. Nevertheless, Ubisoft's second attempt at the concept is one that comes packaged with significant meat on the bones and the potential of an endgame that'll keep me coming back for a long, long time. Of course I'm nowhere there yet, a puny level 13 amongst the swarm of factions looking to take over Washington, D.C., but I most definitely like what I see so far.

It didn't get off to that great a start though. The first couple of hours had me plowing through the content from the beta all over again, and while there's nothing wrong with those missions, it was content I had already seen. I wasn't being excited, until I hit the American History Museum. The first width of new content had me head over heels, because that mission might genuinely be one of the best I've ever experienced in a loot shooter. Myself and contributor Alex Stinton fought our way through waves of enemies with the backdrop of the Vietnam war around us, but before that I believe I found a reference to The Great Escape. It was exhilarating fun that really brought about what I feel was the real start of The Division 2 for me.

And from there, it was full steam ahead. You can't take two steps out into the open-world without finding a new activity to complete. Enemy bases to conquer, public executions to put a stop to, and hostage rescues pepper the map with further activities to engage with alongside the usual main missions and side quests, to the point where there's always something to do. It creates a real contrast with other games in the genre, where the most Destiny 2 has to offer in its vast stretches of playing space is a handful of rotating public events.

I'm constantly picking up new weapons and spare sets of kneepads, and every item feels useful. If it doesn't improve my current build, scrap it for crafting materials which will come in handy down the line. I donate my resources to outposts in order to net further XP, I take on projects to better the settlements I come across, and I eliminate mobs to better the chances of survival for my friends.

It hasn't been completely perfect - one or two minor bugs have reared their ugly heads from time to time - but they're not enough to effect my enjoyment with the title. The Division 2 is packed to the rafters with things to do and people to see, and I'm incredibly eager to see even more of it. There's a structure here that lends itself well to every mechanic going, and I can't wait to see what the game throws at me as I dig deeper. Endgame here I come.

Have you played The Division 2 yet? What are your thoughts? Take back control in the comments section below.