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Tom Clancy's The Division


 

 

Mollie L Patterson Going into E3 2018, one of the games Nick and I were both really looking forward to was Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Both of us had been fans of the original game, but we’d also liked it for at times very different reasons. So, in wanting a sequel, we both also had different hopes and expectations for what a follow-up game would be. Thus, to kick things off here Nick, what were you most hoping Ubisoft would do in The Division 2 based on what you’d liked (or disliked) in the original?
I am a big advocate of environment variety. The network of streets and buildings to explore in New York City was vast and dense, but no number of iconic landmarks can stop the map from getting a little stale after countless playthroughs. While the first game had only two environment types, residential and commercial, The Division 2 is confirmed to have six, including natural settings like forests and fields, giving us reason to explore beyond just the loot rewards. Nick Plessas
Mollie See, it’s funny, but the environment was my biggest concern going into The Division 2, because the original’s is the complete opposite for me. I love snowy environments, but so often they’re just like forests or mountains, so to have a proper city covered in snow was great. Also, New York itself was a fantastic setting, especially compared to the types of locales we often get in these kinds of games. Thus, my biggest hope was that I’d be pleasantly surprised by the choice of location and season for the second game.
 
That’s what I find promising about a wider array of environments, that it has the ability to cater to a larger number of people. If you like urban, it has that; if you like forests, it has that; if you like both, you’re covered. As for the season, snow is admittedly interesting, but I can get down with a change of scenery. The other shift I need to see in The Division 2 is in enemy behavior and mechanics. From the onstage presentation and your own time with the game, what were some evolutions you noticed about the hostiles in the sequel? Nick
Mollie I think what may have been hard for some is that, unless you start the appreciate the finer details of what was shown, it was easy to feel like you were just seeing the same gameplay over again. I’m sure we haven’t seen even close to everything, but one element that really stood out was how players were able to chip away the armor of a “heavy” enemy by concentrating fire on certain parts of their body. I remember when people were bitching about how the first Division felt more like an “RPG shooter,” but if we now get far more precision in what kinds of body shots do what, that gets really interesting.
I too took notice of that during the demo, and despite analyzing it in subsequent gameplay, it is still hard to confirm exactly how armor will work in the sequel. For most standard enemies, it seems to operate as it did in the first game, with white increments of armor covering their health, but for the heavier classes, they now feature a different “no entry”-type visual effect over their health bars until the armor is destroyed. At one point in the official demo, the player shotguns the knee of the heavy boss, which takes out his leg from underneath him before the rest of the team finishes him off. Even more interesting than his seemingly dynamic reaction is that armor is broken off of the leg when it is shot, even though the enemy doesn’t have any visible armor effects over his health bar. Do you think if the whole team focused in on one appendage, it would drop the enemy’s health faster than normal? Nick
Mollie It’s definitely an interesting idea. I think, given that we do have a shooting system where you’re knocking off HP versus doing direct damage, there’s a lot of interesting options for getting more technical with that stuff. But, at the same time, would that over-complicate things even further? And would it be the case where you’re just always concentrating on getting specific shots (like leg shots) so that combat just feels more like the same strategy over and over?
 
I feel that is one of the hazards of making a non-fantasy/sci-fi game. Your enemies are basically limited to humans which, in turn, limits how creative you can be with their design and functions. In The Division 2‘s case, if I had to guess, I’d wager that the new visual effect over their health bar dictates whether or not their health can be damaged at all, and once enough armor is destroyed to deactivate that, any residual armor that is destroyed will increase the overall damage done to the character. This would incentivize regional focusing—more interesting than the single obvious weak points of the previous game—while also preventing players from taking advantage of it. Nick
Mollie Since you’re someone who delved way deeper into those kinds of aspects than I did in the first game, was there anything else that really stood out for you in what we played? Like, any other final details you think people may have missed, or that have you excited/worried?
The original game underwent a very systemic update to its core systems toward the latter half lifespan that I found noticeable in the sequel. For a while after its launch, the combat system of the first game was much more of a slugfest, with larger health pools and less impactful ballistics that bogged down the gunplay a bit. The update made the combat quicker and more lethal, and the evolution of this was something I felt in my recent demo. Shooting individual enemies feels more precise and gratifying than I remember. The new manually-activated armor regeneration also had me intrigued, although I’m not fully clear on how it differs from the health pack of the previous game. Beyond that, as a big fan of the first game’s DLC Survival mode, what are some activities you’d like to see aside from just blasting away at NPCs? And don’t you dare say battle royale. Nick
Mollie I mean, Survival gets interesting, because the first was so based around the idea of being out in a snowstorm and potentially freezing to death. Here, the cold won’t come into play, you won’t be worrying about crafting clothings, and so on. So what will they do instead? I’m really not sure, but I’m now curious to see what they will come up with. And, I mean, if you’re asking for my honest opinion: zombies. I know I’ll never get that, of course. I guess I’d just love to see more effort put into the survival aspect of the game. In the first, it was shortly after the outbreak, so society was still somewhat stable. Given things aren’t fixed, the obvious expectation is that life will have gotten even worse and more chaotic. Give me base building again, but make it more of a personal thing, were I can better customize my base and maybe have to make decisions on what kind of facilities to build in a limited amount of space. Maybe bring things like hunger/thirst into the main game—especially if it’s during a brutally hot summer—but I know some people wouldn’t like going that route. And you?
I think an asymmetric, instanced multiplayer component could be cool. We know we’re getting the Dark Zone back, and that will scratch our PvP itch, but I think there are opportunities for some less direct interactions between players in the campaign world. For example, we saw those capturable Control Points in the demo, but what if capturing certain zones reinforced them with harder enemies and defenses in other peoples’ games? Or attacking the same zone at the same time as another co-op team would turn it into a race, with the first team to capture the zone getting better loot? Another idea could be a bounty system, in which players put bounties on each other, which spawns an assortment of difficult NPCs to hunt the targeted player. If they survive, they get some of your resources, but if not, you get some of theirs. Nick
Mollie Along those kinds of lines, there has been a part of me that’s wished I’d run into other players in the main game, outside of the Dark Zone. I guess I think back to like my time with World of Warcraft, where I’d just be out in the world doing quests and minding my own business, and then randomly a friendly or enemy character would come across me and there’d be some kind of interaction, either good or bad. Add a bit of chaos to the PvE, you know? Of course, that’d be a large technical undertaking, and it would have to be something you could turn off.
 
Would that offer any gameplay benefit though, when that is essentially Dark Zone? I feel having that distinction between the competitive and single-player environments is important for players choosing their own experience Nick
Mollie I guess I like the sense of danger that I could be attacked at any time in the game, or that I could be saved by someone at any time. I like to live dangerously, Nick.
Then go into the Dark Zone! That’s what it’s for! Speaking of PvP, that’s another thing I’d like to see return and evolve: dedicated competitive modes. The first game’s competitive mode options were fairly limited and not added into the game until long after launch. I want to see a full suite of competitive modes in The Division 2 on launch day. Domination, Capture The Flag, Kill The Carrier, you name it, because why not? Nick
Mollie I mean, you say that The Division 2 will have no battle royale, and Ubisoft are saying that The Division 2 will have no battle royale—I think, right?—but stuff like that just makes too much sense. I think what’s interesting about the series is, like you just listed off, there’s a ton you can do with it. They really could do zombies if they wanted to! The potential for tons of mode choices is real. That’s part of why I think this game is coming too soon, because you could still add a lot to the first game. Do you feel that at all, or are you ready to move on?
For me, there is nothing they could really do in the first game that would bring be back, as evidenced by some particularly stellar expansions that I didn’t even look twice at. I’m simply over it, and I think an entirely new setting and complete systemic overhaul are necessary to bring me back. Whatever these ideas are that they could put in the first game, just put them in the second, right? I think you’re just mourning the loss of snowy New York. Nick
Mollie Playing The Division is one of the ways that I deal with living in a hellhole like Southern California, where the concept of weather is non-existent. But, The Division 2 is coming no matter if I like it or not, and I’m more excited than not. I’m really curious where they’ll take this series next both storyline-wise and gameplay-wise, and from what we’ve seen, I think they’re off to a good start. There’s a lot of familiar here, but also some new ideas to freshen those returning elements up, and I wouldn’t consider there to be a lot in the first game that really needs to be fixed. So, this is one of those sequels that is more about refining what we got before, and we’re still waiting to hear about those kinds of things (especially in terms of abilities, character builds, and whatnot). And you Nick? What are your final thoughts looking forward to The Division 2?
I don’t think there is a lot that needs to be fixed now, but developer Massive Entertainment needs to learn from where it started with the first game. It wasn’t fair to expect the first game to live up to its ridiculous hype, but that isn’t to say it didn’t have some notable missteps. The sequel needs to take those, and all the improvements the fist game has built from them since, and run with it. The developer can make new mistakes, that’s fine, but they better not repeat old ones. Nick
 

 

Can The Division 2 satisfy different kinds of fans of the first game?

Mollie and Nick both want different things from The Division 2, so they discussed those hopes for the sequel

By EGM Staff | 06/15/2018 06:00 PM PT

Reviews

 

Mollie L Patterson Going into E3 2018, one of the games Nick and I were both really looking forward to was Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Both of us had been fans of the original game, but we’d also liked it for at times very different reasons. So, in wanting a sequel, we both also had different hopes and expectations for what a follow-up game would be. Thus, to kick things off here Nick, what were you most hoping Ubisoft would do in The Division 2 based on what you’d liked (or disliked) in the original?
I am a big advocate of environment variety. The network of streets and buildings to explore in New York City was vast and dense, but no number of iconic landmarks can stop the map from getting a little stale after countless playthroughs. While the first game had only two environment types, residential and commercial, The Division 2 is confirmed to have six, including natural settings like forests and fields, giving us reason to explore beyond just the loot rewards. Nick Plessas
Mollie See, it’s funny, but the environment was my biggest concern going into The Division 2, because the original’s is the complete opposite for me. I love snowy environments, but so often they’re just like forests or mountains, so to have a proper city covered in snow was great. Also, New York itself was a fantastic setting, especially compared to the types of locales we often get in these kinds of games. Thus, my biggest hope was that I’d be pleasantly surprised by the choice of location and season for the second game.
 
That’s what I find promising about a wider array of environments, that it has the ability to cater to a larger number of people. If you like urban, it has that; if you like forests, it has that; if you like both, you’re covered. As for the season, snow is admittedly interesting, but I can get down with a change of scenery. The other shift I need to see in The Division 2 is in enemy behavior and mechanics. From the onstage presentation and your own time with the game, what were some evolutions you noticed about the hostiles in the sequel? Nick
Mollie I think what may have been hard for some is that, unless you start the appreciate the finer details of what was shown, it was easy to feel like you were just seeing the same gameplay over again. I’m sure we haven’t seen even close to everything, but one element that really stood out was how players were able to chip away the armor of a “heavy” enemy by concentrating fire on certain parts of their body. I remember when people were bitching about how the first Division felt more like an “RPG shooter,” but if we now get far more precision in what kinds of body shots do what, that gets really interesting.
I too took notice of that during the demo, and despite analyzing it in subsequent gameplay, it is still hard to confirm exactly how armor will work in the sequel. For most standard enemies, it seems to operate as it did in the first game, with white increments of armor covering their health, but for the heavier classes, they now feature a different “no entry”-type visual effect over their health bars until the armor is destroyed. At one point in the official demo, the player shotguns the knee of the heavy boss, which takes out his leg from underneath him before the rest of the team finishes him off. Even more interesting than his seemingly dynamic reaction is that armor is broken off of the leg when it is shot, even though the enemy doesn’t have any visible armor effects over his health bar. Do you think if the whole team focused in on one appendage, it would drop the enemy’s health faster than normal? Nick
Mollie It’s definitely an interesting idea. I think, given that we do have a shooting system where you’re knocking off HP versus doing direct damage, there’s a lot of interesting options for getting more technical with that stuff. But, at the same time, would that over-complicate things even further? And would it be the case where you’re just always concentrating on getting specific shots (like leg shots) so that combat just feels more like the same strategy over and over?
 
I feel that is one of the hazards of making a non-fantasy/sci-fi game. Your enemies are basically limited to humans which, in turn, limits how creative you can be with their design and functions. In The Division 2‘s case, if I had to guess, I’d wager that the new visual effect over their health bar dictates whether or not their health can be damaged at all, and once enough armor is destroyed to deactivate that, any residual armor that is destroyed will increase the overall damage done to the character. This would incentivize regional focusing—more interesting than the single obvious weak points of the previous game—while also preventing players from taking advantage of it. Nick
Mollie Since you’re someone who delved way deeper into those kinds of aspects than I did in the first game, was there anything else that really stood out for you in what we played? Like, any other final details you think people may have missed, or that have you excited/worried?
The original game underwent a very systemic update to its core systems toward the latter half lifespan that I found noticeable in the sequel. For a while after its launch, the combat system of the first game was much more of a slugfest, with larger health pools and less impactful ballistics that bogged down the gunplay a bit. The update made the combat quicker and more lethal, and the evolution of this was something I felt in my recent demo. Shooting individual enemies feels more precise and gratifying than I remember. The new manually-activated armor regeneration also had me intrigued, although I’m not fully clear on how it differs from the health pack of the previous game. Beyond that, as a big fan of the first game’s DLC Survival mode, what are some activities you’d like to see aside from just blasting away at NPCs? And don’t you dare say battle royale. Nick
Mollie I mean, Survival gets interesting, because the first was so based around the idea of being out in a snowstorm and potentially freezing to death. Here, the cold won’t come into play, you won’t be worrying about crafting clothings, and so on. So what will they do instead? I’m really not sure, but I’m now curious to see what they will come up with. And, I mean, if you’re asking for my honest opinion: zombies. I know I’ll never get that, of course. I guess I’d just love to see more effort put into the survival aspect of the game. In the first, it was shortly after the outbreak, so society was still somewhat stable. Given things aren’t fixed, the obvious expectation is that life will have gotten even worse and more chaotic. Give me base building again, but make it more of a personal thing, were I can better customize my base and maybe have to make decisions on what kind of facilities to build in a limited amount of space. Maybe bring things like hunger/thirst into the main game—especially if it’s during a brutally hot summer—but I know some people wouldn’t like going that route. And you?
I think an asymmetric, instanced multiplayer component could be cool. We know we’re getting the Dark Zone back, and that will scratch our PvP itch, but I think there are opportunities for some less direct interactions between players in the campaign world. For example, we saw those capturable Control Points in the demo, but what if capturing certain zones reinforced them with harder enemies and defenses in other peoples’ games? Or attacking the same zone at the same time as another co-op team would turn it into a race, with the first team to capture the zone getting better loot? Another idea could be a bounty system, in which players put bounties on each other, which spawns an assortment of difficult NPCs to hunt the targeted player. If they survive, they get some of your resources, but if not, you get some of theirs. Nick
Mollie Along those kinds of lines, there has been a part of me that’s wished I’d run into other players in the main game, outside of the Dark Zone. I guess I think back to like my time with World of Warcraft, where I’d just be out in the world doing quests and minding my own business, and then randomly a friendly or enemy character would come across me and there’d be some kind of interaction, either good or bad. Add a bit of chaos to the PvE, you know? Of course, that’d be a large technical undertaking, and it would have to be something you could turn off.
 
Would that offer any gameplay benefit though, when that is essentially Dark Zone? I feel having that distinction between the competitive and single-player environments is important for players choosing their own experience Nick
Mollie I guess I like the sense of danger that I could be attacked at any time in the game, or that I could be saved by someone at any time. I like to live dangerously, Nick.
Then go into the Dark Zone! That’s what it’s for! Speaking of PvP, that’s another thing I’d like to see return and evolve: dedicated competitive modes. The first game’s competitive mode options were fairly limited and not added into the game until long after launch. I want to see a full suite of competitive modes in The Division 2 on launch day. Domination, Capture The Flag, Kill The Carrier, you name it, because why not? Nick
Mollie I mean, you say that The Division 2 will have no battle royale, and Ubisoft are saying that The Division 2 will have no battle royale—I think, right?—but stuff like that just makes too much sense. I think what’s interesting about the series is, like you just listed off, there’s a ton you can do with it. They really could do zombies if they wanted to! The potential for tons of mode choices is real. That’s part of why I think this game is coming too soon, because you could still add a lot to the first game. Do you feel that at all, or are you ready to move on?
For me, there is nothing they could really do in the first game that would bring be back, as evidenced by some particularly stellar expansions that I didn’t even look twice at. I’m simply over it, and I think an entirely new setting and complete systemic overhaul are necessary to bring me back. Whatever these ideas are that they could put in the first game, just put them in the second, right? I think you’re just mourning the loss of snowy New York. Nick
Mollie Playing The Division is one of the ways that I deal with living in a hellhole like Southern California, where the concept of weather is non-existent. But, The Division 2 is coming no matter if I like it or not, and I’m more excited than not. I’m really curious where they’ll take this series next both storyline-wise and gameplay-wise, and from what we’ve seen, I think they’re off to a good start. There’s a lot of familiar here, but also some new ideas to freshen those returning elements up, and I wouldn’t consider there to be a lot in the first game that really needs to be fixed. So, this is one of those sequels that is more about refining what we got before, and we’re still waiting to hear about those kinds of things (especially in terms of abilities, character builds, and whatnot). And you Nick? What are your final thoughts looking forward to The Division 2?
I don’t think there is a lot that needs to be fixed now, but developer Massive Entertainment needs to learn from where it started with the first game. It wasn’t fair to expect the first game to live up to its ridiculous hype, but that isn’t to say it didn’t have some notable missteps. The sequel needs to take those, and all the improvements the fist game has built from them since, and run with it. The developer can make new mistakes, that’s fine, but they better not repeat old ones. Nick
 

 

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