The private beta for Ubisoft’s The Division 2 is here, and it shows that the developer has finally listened to its fans. Taking place in a large open world in Washington, D.C the sequel is shaping up to provide tough competition for other MMO-lite shooters this year.

When The Division launched all the way back in 2016, it was met with lukewarm reception. With a mostly hollow open world and lots of launch issues, that game did not fare well with gamers. However, Ubisoft chose to stick with it and provided frequent updates. That seems to have been the company’s motto, with them releasing games in a not-so-grand way and then providing updates to make them better. Just look at Rainbow Six Siege. But now, it seems like the company’s finally had its wake-up call. With last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Ubisoft has changed for the better.

Tom Clancy's The Division 2
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 has a great open world

The Division 2 is, like its predecessor, an open-world looter. What that means is the primary drive for players in the game is to keep upgrading their gear with loot. Games like Anthem and Warframe come under the same genre. You can play it solo or team up with your friends. Either way, with a game like this you’ll be ideally looking to play this for the long haul. To support a game design like those two things are very important:

  • a) Consistent content Updates
  • b) Open-world variation
  • c) Good gameplay loop

So let’s talk about those.

The Division 2’s Open World is Another Feat for Ubisoft

Tom Clancy's The Division 2
The Division 2’s Open World Washington is beautiful

For a game like this to exist in an open world, it really needs to reel players in. Gone are the snow-covered streets of New York City. The Division 2 presents players with a much more aesthetically pleasing Washington DC. The game uses an updated Snowdrop engine, and it shows. It just might be the most beautiful a Ubisoft game has looked in a long time, with great foliage and verticality.

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Most of all, the world feels lived-in, which is one of the most important aspects of any virtual open world. Each district feels distinct from the other one, and the city has been reconstructed on a 1:1 ratio, much like Paris from Assassin’s Creed: Unity. This adds a sense of realism, with tons of content everywhere to engage in.

Gameplay in The Division 2 is Very Hands-on

Gunplay in The Division 2
Gunplay in The Division 2

The Division, as well as other similar games, has often been criticized for its bullet-sponge combat design and exploration. Things seem to have been changed up here. Combat in The Division 2 involves active participation. Enemy AI has been upgraded, and the inventory/perks system also seems to have been expanded.

Exploration is also a big aspect of this game, with almost every mission taking you somewhere new. And with such variety present in the private beta itself, it’s kind of baffling to think just how better it will be in the final game. We just hope it Ubisoft won’t go the Rockstar road and put content too far and wide across the map. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey also had a big map, but that doesn’t mean that it had a consistently interetsting content in it.

Performance Patches? Content Updates?

The Division 2 Washington

After all, this is Ubisoft. Historically speaking, the developer has been known for buggy launches. Remember Watch Dogs? Rainbow Six Siege? Assassin’s Creed Unity? All of these games launched with frequent performance hiccups and missing content. Unity, in particular, is the company’s biggest dirt spot. However, Ubisoft didn’t let go of these games. They provided frequent patches and updates to make those games better. Siege, which at launch was considered a weak game, is now one of the most celebrated e-Sports titles out there. Considering all that, The Division 2 looks like it might be the company’s most polished game at launch.

I’ve played the demo for over 2 days now, and not once did I encounter any glitch or performance drop. I’m playing on PC with a humble GTX 1050Ti and the game has no problems in hitting the desired 60fps mark. It also helps that the game has a good selection of graphics settings, although we’d love to see some NVIDIA proprietary settings like HBAO+ or the newly introduced DLSS or raytracing features. If that sounded like some overly complicated technical jargon to you & you’re planning to buy it for your console, rest assured the performance is fine. While I personally haven’t played the demo on my console (a base PS4), other gamers across the community have only come across the occasional bug or two.

In the end though, this private beta is just that: a beta. It’s meant to start a discussion surrounding the game and its still in-development features. And from the looks of it, Ubisoft has done a great job. If a first impression is in deed the last impression, then Ubisoft is certainly in my good books as of now.

The Division 2 releases on March 15, 2019 for the PC, PS4 and XBox One Consoles. It will be available on Uplay as well as the Epic Games Store for the PC.

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