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June 2020

Tom Clancy's The Division 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Massive Entertainment
Release Date: March 15, 2019


PS4 Review - 'Tom Clancy's The Division 2' Warlords of New York DLC

by Cody Medellin on March 24, 2020 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 is a shooter RPG with campaign, co-op, and PvP modes that offers more variety in missions and challenges, new progression systems with twists and surprises, and fresh innovations that offer new ways to play.

Buy Tom Clancy's The Division 2

A little less than a year ago, we took a look at The Division 2. At the time, it was a marked improvement over the original, and while other critics and some players agreed, the game's popularity still took a dive as months went by. The expansions were frequent enough compared to the first game, but the interest waned due to the constant patch nerfs, middling DLC drops, and the arrival of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint being essentially the same game in a more disappointing skin. To kick off the game's second year, the team at Massive Entertainment decided to go bigger by tying up a big thread from the first game in the form of Warlords of New York DLC.

The story starts off in a way that's similar to The Division 2. You get a distress call from agents in New York City. The passage of time should have brought some stability to the region, but the impact of a hurricane has kept things as unstable as when the Green Virus started to take hold of the city. Furthering the slew of bad news is the fact that Agent Keener, the Division agent who went rogue in the first game, has shown up again with four other rogue agents in tow. Not only do they now rule the city, but they've also developed a new virus that promises to be worse than the Green Virus. Your mission is to find the rogue agents and Keener before he can launch his deadlier attack.

Compared to the main game, the story is too cut-and-dry. The presence of echoes and audio recordings fleshes out the events between the first game and now, but there's nothing substantial that happens from the moment you arrive until you finally find Keener . It also doesn't help that other rogue agents aren't given any development beyond the fact that they have names. They may be acting leaders of different factions, but they're little more than bullet sponges that shout at your character.

From a gameplay perspective, you'll be miffed by the DLC restrictions. You're warned about it at the beginning, but once you choose to pursue Keener, you won't be able to return to Washington, D.C., until Keener is dead. Any matchmaking with friends who didn't take the trek to New York is locked, and anyone who wants to jump into NYC with you will have to endure the same fate. You're looking at roughly an eight-hour journey through the campaign, which may be short for this game but is the new normal for other titles, so that's a good chunk of time where you're prevented from doing what you want. Considering how that's a tenet of the game, it's disappointing if you don't want to commit yourself to the city until the main mission is done.

You'll also be a little disappointed that the game starts off in the same way as the main title, with a helicopter ride to New York and a march toward stopping an attack on a makeshift base. There's a sense of déjà vu that starts the expansion on the wrong foot for those who are still playing the game, but it's a decent refresher for those who haven't played the game in a while. Although these missions are meant for those who have grinded to hit the level-30 cap, the game gives you the option to automatically jump to that level so the grind to the new cap of 40 isn't so laborious.

Once you finally make it to your new headquarters, Warlords of New York changes gears from being linear to more open. That isn't a reference to the open world but the idea that you have four different missions at your disposal, so you have the chance to take on each boss and faction in whatever order you want. In a way, the game takes on a trait of Capcom's Mega Man titles; defeating these bosses gives you new technology, such as sticky fire bombs or the chance to produce holograms. It opens up the opportunity for you to get creative in your journey, which feels fresh even though the shooting might be familiar.

That isn't a knock on the combat, which is still robust. The return to New York features more narrow streets and taller buildings that can give you a sense of claustrophobia, despite having the same number of cover points. Another element that contributes to the solid combat system is the improvement on the original game's factions. There are new units to contend with in each group that require you to modify your strategies, like the Cleaners having sticky fire bombs. The new toys also extend to the bosses, so you're doing more than darting from cover to cover to take a few shots or get lucky by hitting their weak spots. It remains tough when playing solo, but it rarely feels boring.

The post-mission material is where Warlords of New York takes on a different but welcome path compared to its contemporaries. The journey to the level-515 gear cap is still a grind, but that's improved by the revamped gear system, which distills the multitude of stats into three main categories and any perks. That simplification makes it much easier to determine whether the gun should be equipped and used right away or whether you're better off dumping it or dismantling it for parts. Guns and gear with perks can also be stripped of the perks and used somewhere else later on, so that reduces the need to return to base and hoard every little thing. As for hitting the level-40 cap, that's been augmented with attribute points that can be used to permanently level up specific stats, similar to a typical RPG. Considering how the game gave you trash items before, this is a more meaningful change that can get people to continue playing.

Just like the base game, the unknown factor is how the game will mature after this DLC. We know that the game is going to be split into seasons, and passes will be needed to level up and get more gear. The seasons will also feature new rogue agents to take down, but it remains to be seen if these agents will have more personality than the first four agents. We also don't know how frequently the agents will arrive and what other missions will arise. Based on the trajectory of this game and other live service titles, there's both caution and a little hope for what's to come.

If you were expecting some fixes to the presentation, forget about it. The return to NYC still produces great amounts of texture pop-in that aren't cured by the long initial load times. Some animations in a few of the real-time cut scenes are also missing or done poorly. Having vocal cues play late or not at all is more common than before, giving the feeling that this was rushed out with no time for some polish.

Warlords of New York won't change your mind about The Division 2. If you weren't a fan of the open-world cover shooter with loot mechanics, the expansion does nothing to convert you, even if the simpler changes to loot stat readouts is appreciated. The return to New York is nice, as is the more open-ended approach to how you get to the final boss, since it gives you some strategy about when you want to get your new toys. The plans for the endgame future are the most intriguing, since we'll get to see whether it'll be enough to get people to stick around. In short, there's enough content in the Warlords of New York DLC to keep fans happy for a little while longer.

Score: 7.0/10

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