The Division 2 Preview: A glimpse at the private beta

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More endgame.

The Division was one of those games that I spent dozens of hours playing the first week it was released. But then when I got to the end it was like, ‘Okay, now what?’. Other than just replaying the same missions over again or running around in the Dark Zone there just wasn’t much else to do. Although over the past three years The Division has been updated with new content which has brought some much needed life to the endgame. It was great to jump in last year and see how much has changed, and just how much more there was to do now.

Ubisoft has taken that feedback and are applying it directly to The Division 2 when it releases next month. During this new hands-on preview opportunity we were given a glimpse of how much content we can expect. On a slideshow we saw a content comparison chart that showed basically what The Division looked like at launch and up until its most recent version, 1.8. This was put alongside a list of what will be available at launch for The Division 2. For the most part it looks like a lot of what has been added to The Division; if not everything – will be available at the start for The Division 2, plus more.

Already Hamish has recently had the chance to check out some of the PvP Dark Zone content – which sounds fun. This time however we had the opportunity to see what will be in the private beta that drops in just a few days, as well as an endgame Invaded mission that will be available two days later.

The Division 2 takes place in Washington D.C., around seven months after the events of the first game where a deadly virus broke out in New York city during the Black Friday shopping sales. This time, rather than a cold snowy backdrop, we’re placed in the middle of the summer during July. While the streets are still filled with piles of trash bags, wrecked cars, and busted up store fronts, the colour pallet has shifted away from the yellow that we previously saw a lot of, over to a variety of greens. There are trees on footpaths strangling cars, grass overgrowing out of cracks in the road, and green buckets of paint splashed across the side of a wall. The environmental style looks familiar enough while still being very different from what we saw out of the New York setting.

Gear will work relatively differently in The Division 2 with stat bonuses being redesigned. You no longer have the Firearms, Stamina and Electronic stats for each set of items. Instead its broken up into attributes and bonuses to skill powers. The DPS (Damage Per Second) number from weapons has also been removed as well, so you’ll have to figure what weapons feel the best for your situation. But the developers have also made a few things clearer, like the addition of a damage drop off graph, to help players better understand what range their weapon is best suited to.

Throughout the game you’ll earn experience and level up your character which will allow you to explore the different districts within Washington D.C. The mission structure is fairly similar to the previous game as main missions, side missions, and random encounters populate the world. There are collectables you can find throughout the environment, ECHOs (Evidence Correlation Holographic Overlay) to discover which reveal more about the story, and materials to loot that can be used to upgrade your settlements.

The combat continues to feel great in this sequel. One of the criticisms last time around was that the enemies were very bullet spongey – regular looking people wearing singlet tops would just run around soaking up damage. They’ve supposedly tone this down, and while there were indeed fights where opponents can take a lot of damage still, it feels a bit more justified. The higher tiered enemies are decked out in body armour, and once you’re able to shred away parts of that armour you can begin to see them take a huge amount of damage.

Our playthrough allowed us to join a multiplayer session in a group of four. Because of the different skills and weapons available, you can play a role suited to your playstyle. You can have some great combat encounters as you’re communicating with your other teammates, and they can come in handy if players start to get downed and need to be revived.

The final thing that we had the chance to check out was part of the endgame content called an Invaded mission. In those missions you’ll fight against a new faction of enemies known as the Black Tusks, who are exclusive to the Invaded mission. These beefed up juggernauts are caked on with armour and take a good beating before hitting the ground. Co-ordination with the rest of your team can be vital in surviving these fights because they can definitely be tough to complete.

This mission also let me check out some of the specialisations, which are unlocked after you hit the level 30. There are three in total and specialist comes with a signature weapon – which is separate to you gear loadout. The Demolitionist has a grenade launcher, the Sharpshooter wields a powerful sniper rifle, and the Survivor carries an explosive tipped crossbow. Each one has special ammo which you can find while making your way through missions, so you can’t just constantly spam them all of the time.

We’ve seen The Division 2 a lot over the last few months, and I think that is a good thing. It means they’ve got a bunch of different content that they want to show off, and it gives players some insight into what they can expect to come across in the endgame. I’ve had a blast with what I’ve played so far and I’m excited to see more – we still haven’t seen what 8 player raids look like yet. Ubisoft has learned a lot about the release of The Division, and they’ve continued to support it over the years, much like Rainbow Six: Siege and For Honor. They’ve fleshed out the most criticised aspects of the last game and in doing so The Division 2 looks fantastic. It’s easily one of my most anticipated games of this year.

The Division 2 will release on 15 March 2019, on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The private beta will be running from 8.00 pm AEDT on 7 February through until 8.00 pm AEDT on 11 February.