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The private beta weekend for The Division 2 wrapped up today, and now it’s time to reflect on the Ubisoft loot shooter. Here at Daily Esports, we’ve become a bit more invested in the franchise as it seeks to expand its competitive branches within the popular loot shooter world. So, let’s talk about the devastation that has gripped Washington D.C. and what sort of adventures or misadventures Agents of the Division might be in for.

Let’s take a stroll through the park

As with anything, first impressions are lasting. And, I’d be doing the game a disservice by not commenting on the visual recreation and apocalyptic wear and tear of the United States capitol. Once again, Ubisoft employed the Snowdrop engine that debuted with the first Division entry, and it doesn’t cease to amaze here. The grey urban skyline of New York was haunting in the original, but also relentlessly repetitive.

In The Division 2, the developers seemingly attempted a bit more diversity in the city’s accessible areas. Open areas, parks, and architecture all pop in their own way whether through vibrant colors that HDR functionality only enhances or through stylistically creative choices within the structures, themselves. In a word, the game is beautiful.

It’s alive!

Character creation, on the other hand, seemed to lead me down some strange paths. Unfortunately, I was sad to see that we weren’t actually able to customize our own character for the beta. So I can’t really comment on the array of aesthetic choices that will be available. However, we were capable of hitting the “randomize” button just to scroll through an endless mishmash of various combinations. Now, I certainly don’t shame others for their looks, but some of the models’ faces were a bit rough. Hopefully, this had more to do with the randomization than anything. Character creation is one of my favorite parts of beginning big adventure titles like this. So, I am excited to see what I can do when the full game comes along.

At the start, players must help Division Agents fend off an assault from the Hyenas, or hostile militant-types looking to loot, maim, or kill for their own gain. This assault is a coordinated attack on the White House. Luckily for your comrades in the White House, you, the new guy, are coming into the area from the rear and are able to take the assaulting Hyenas by surprise. Once that’s resolved, you’ll learn about the base of operations established within the White House. If you played the first game, you’ll be familiar with how the setup of unlocking areas to advance special abilities, weaponry, and the like.

Everyone for themselves

From there, players have to do some work before being able to set foot into the Dark Zone. But, for the sake of focusing on the competitive elements of this game, I will jump forward to that discussion. The Dark Zone is, perhaps, one of the most volatile aspects I’ve ever played of any game. And, for that reason alone, I absolutely love it. In The Division 2, we are treated to three Dark Zones. The beta only included access to one of them. But, the promise has been made that each of these Dark Zones would be unique by design.

The Dark Zone within the beta already contains urban areas that morph into foliage-covered lots, parks, and greenery – something the first game lacked. While I know that the game is centered on urban environments, I applaud the effort of the development team for increasing their focus on diversifying the landscape where they can. As with the Dark Zone from the original game, players shouldn’t attempt to go it alone. Gear does count here, so you want to make sure you have the gear equipped that works best for you, and a few trustworthy friends by your side never hurts.

Itchy trigger fingers

As I stated, it’s important to be packing the right gear. Check your inventory from your time in D.C. to ensure you have upgraded your weapons to your liking with whatever loot you picked up along the way. The level of the gear is likely normalized in the Dark Zone so that there’s no real advantage in that regard. But you should certainly be packing what is most comfortable for you.

The dialogue intro to the Dark Zone emphasizes that everyone in this world can be influenced by greed, even the good Agents of the division. That’s why I used the word “trustworthy” because some of the weapons, rewards, and gear that you can extract is valuable stuff. There’s also a wider variety of scenarios that take place within the Dark Zone which breaks up the seemingly repetitive nature of the area. Rogue agents are identified differently as some players who have gone rogue may have performed illegal, but non-violent actions. But others who have murdered their fellow Agents will be marked to the degree that is deserved there. Basically, if you go into the Dark Zone, prepare to fight. I don’t think I’ve ever run into another player who passed me by without opening fire. Sometimes I try and recruit a friend if I don’t already have one – but it’s always ended in my bloody corpse.

Conflict? In D.C.? Pshh

The other PvP areas that are new to this game are organized matches called Conflict. This is my bread and butter right here. Sometimes, I don’t want to mess with the grind or the story. Sometimes… I just simply want to throw down with my fellow gamers. Thankfully, The Division 2 is now offering a no-frills PvP mode – something that can be likened to the crucible in Destiny. Ubisoft, I believe, has been realizing the benefit of these modes as they also added them to another previously non-PvP Tom Clancy shooter, Ghost Recon Wildlands.

In Conflict, two different game modes exist: Skirmish and Domination. These modes are exactly as they sound if you know any other multiplayer shooter with the same modes. Skirmish pits Agents against Hyenas to eliminate the other team until they run out of reinforcements (respawns). This was always a favorite of mine in the crucible of Destiny 2. Being in third-person, however, you must be careful before entering open space as the camera angle can make camping all the easier. At times, I saw the enemy players name highlight on the screen even if I couldn’t see them behind an object. It seemed to happen inconsistently, so I don’t know if that was a fluke or if Ubisoft was really attempting to remove the camping element.

Skirmish – Reinforcements left for each team are noted at the top.

Domination, as always, is a solid mode as well. Capture points and hold them to rack up points against the other team, the same tried-and-true formula you’ve seen in the likes of Call of Duty for years. While it’s good fun, I do prefer skirmish. It tends to bond teammates together if they see their reinforcement count is slipping and they need an edge. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Final thoughts

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Division 2 beta. When the first Division was released, I purchased it based on the hype surrounding the game. Rather quickly, I was disappointed in the rampant grinding focus of the game and its repetitive nature. While I finished the main story, I never returned. Though, I’ve heard that Ubisoft had brought The Division up to snuff over the years with numerous updates. I always meant to go back and give it a go, but that never happened. However, it was exciting to hear that the development team was listening to the player base and turning the game into something better. Jumping back into The Division 2 has me excited to continue off that improved version of the original and see what big things Ubisoft can do for the future of the game.