|Tom Clancy’s The Division 2|
|release date||March 2019|
|Genre||Shooter, MMO, RPG|
The first part of Tom Clancy’s The Division was a landmark game that combined a shooter, role-playing game and MMO elements. All this was organically woven together within the framework of one «sandbox» with a large open world. Having successfully tested the idea, Ubisoft released a series of paid add-ons, but in the end it was the turn of a full-fledged continuation. At the same time, the style has seriously changed in The Division 2 — instead of a gloomy cold New York, the scene has been moved to summer Washington, overgrown with stormy grass and vegetation. But has the game itself changed? Let’s talk about it in this review. At the same time, we will touch on the topic of performance and compare different video cards in DirectX 11 and DirectX 12.
Six months have passed since the events of the first game. A deadly disease pandemic is sweeping the United States, and Washington is under attack. As a result, the city was partially deserted, some areas were treated with dangerous chemicals, gangs and various armed groups were formed. The usual squabble and constant struggle for resources began. Against this background, secret agents of the Division special forces are trying to restore at least some semblance of order and restore signs of the work of the state apparatus.
The player is one of these agents, a fighter who will gradually clear the city of garbage. Our base is the White House bristling with barricades, from where we have to make sorties to other areas, gradually freeing them. All actions are inscribed in the general narrative, but the story itself is banal and simple, although there are major events in it, such as saving the president, finding a vaccine, etc. Narration is not the main stimulus for passing, but tries to fill the world with semantic content. Missions are tied to some characters and events, there are also many records from the past, which give more insight into the chaos and social collapse at the time of the epidemic. Not to say that it’s all very interesting, but it creates the right atmosphere.
The game attracts with game mechanics and a local «sandbox», which is reminiscent of a Diablo shooter in the open world. Shooting is implemented on the principle of role-playing games, when you gradually reduce the life bar of enemies. Some enemies require multiple bullets, and heavily armored opponents can take multiple machine gun magazines to the chest. And it all depends on the level of enemies and the characteristics of your weapon.
The game cannot be called a realistic shooter, but it encourages accurate hits. A headshot deals a critical hit, which is enough for weak fighters. Certain types of opponents have pouches with grenades or some kind of invigorating drug. Getting into such a container can cause an explosion or temporary confusion. Fuel canisters and exploding barrels are scattered around the locations, which can make it easier to confront enemy units.
Computer dummies act aggressively, do not sit still and take the initiative. They actively use shelters, change position and can go to the rear. They have a wide arsenal and fighters of different specializations. Someone fires from a long distance, and someone rushes into contact combat to deal physical damage or make the most of shotguns and guns. As you progress, the complexity increases not only due to the growth of the level of opponents, but also due to the wider technical equipment.
Armored juggernauts with machine guns or sledgehammers appear, more snipers, enemies actively use technical means and grenades, including drones and radio machines with explosives.
Battles take place in arenas with cunning architecture, where there are many passages and shelters, which plays both in our favor and in favor of the enemy. Lots of positions on different floors or some big objects that you can climb on and get the advantage of a high position. And in order to successfully resist the waves of attackers, you have to actively move, perform quick runs from cover to cover and constantly change position.
You can complete all missions and random tasks in single player mode or in the company of partners. A new element of the quick connect is a call for help after you die, which makes your session open to other players. And you yourself can respond to the calls of other players, who are constantly voiced by the game. On the other hand, there is no quick lobby at the mission entry point. You need to enter the menu and start searching for partners there, but this is implemented simply and conveniently.
Online elements are a great addition to the single player mode, allowing you to play the way you like. There are no annoying intrusions in the spirit of Watch Dogs. I like to walk around the city alone, feeling like an explorer of an abandoned Washington — please! I like to act in a team — a couple of clicks and you have a company. Simple, convenient and fits perfectly into the concept of an open world. There is a clan system for player interaction and ratings. There are other network modes, but we’ll talk about them later.
The main game is based on the struggle for control of regions, which is reminiscent of any Ubisoft sandbox. But here it is a guerrilla city war and a wide range of missions. First, you need to gain a foothold in the area by opening a stronghold and protecting the settlement of the townspeople. Then the fight for control points begins in order to stop the revival of bandits in your region. Of great importance are side missions that improve the status of the settlement and open access to useful upgrades. And throughout this war for territories, you gradually complete key missions that advance the main narrative.
The missions themselves are built quite interestingly. This is not a simple cleaning of points on the map, they have an element of adventure when you get into some laboratories or museums, save someone, look for information. They often develop in several stages, which are completed by an encounter with a boss or a powerful group of enemies. The scenery plays a special role, since the shootouts inside the museums and research complexes look unusual. Even if we are talking about actions in the area of a construction site or residential complexes, all this is arranged in an interesting way. There is no feeling of uniformity and boring locations, which was depressing in Anthem.
In addition to missions, the game generates a plurality of random events. Somewhere the bandits are preparing to shoot the hostages, there are points where you need to turn off the broadcast of enemy propaganda, you can save boxes of supplies from the oncoming bandits. Yes, and the usual clashes between groups are quite common. There is so much of all this that attention can be scattered on trifles, but if you wish, ignore small situations and bypass opponents.
There is an element of searching and collecting collectibles. These are the usual echo beacons and telephones with information. The collection of boxes with special technologies is interestingly implemented. At first, it all comes down to the fact that you need to break open the door and get into some nook and cranny, but then it becomes more difficult to get the boxes. You have to overcome small labyrinths from rooms inside residential buildings or explore the nooks and crannies of the construction site, looking for secret passages. It’s basically a mini-adventure.
As for collecting loot, there is a lot of it. Collecting items dropped from enemies and various rubbish on the street, you quickly fill your inventory. All this has an application. In addition to finding a new gun or ammunition, the game requires different resources and components. As rewards, you receive blueprints. Developing settlements, complete projects and get access to new upgrades. All this is assembled on a workbench from assembled components. And any items can be disassembled into the same components or used as resources for a preliminary project. Well, let’s not forget about banal trading, because extra money will always come in handy, because traders sometimes come across interesting positions.
The weapons are varied. Each level drops a variety of rifles, shotguns, machine guns and other small arms. Since we have two slots for large weapons and one slot for a pistol, this limits the arsenal, forcing us to choose an effective combination. The layout of weapons affects tactics in battle. You can rely on accurate rifles with a low rate of fire or try to act in close combat, wielding a lethal shotgun.
All this is improved by additional body kits — new sights, modified magazines, grips, flame arresters. And all of them are also assembled according to the drawings. There are also modifiers for ammunition, in any armor you can put some kind of improvement or at least change the color. Skills are upgraded through a separate system, where new improvements are unlocked for special points, allowing you to add cells to your inventory, gain experience bonuses for hitting weak spots, and more.
Along with small arms, the hero has grenades and technical devices. These are a special scanner, an automatic turret, a flying drone, a spherical homing mine and other gadgets. You open them as you level up your character and can give them new properties. So, the drone can shoot, or it can throw mini-grenades. And each such device has its own cells for improvements, which allows you to upgrade their combat parameters. The whole system of development and pumping has become a little deeper due to new nuances. And it is perfectly inscribed in a world where you need to constantly collect resources and various rubbish. The Division 2 has a feeling of chasing weapons and useful upgrades, where the player is driven by the desire to find a new gun or upgrade.
If you want a more intense interaction with live players, you can go to the Dark Zone. This is a separate mode and three zones of the same name, separated by a wall from the rest of the game world. Here you will find not the usual cooperative missions, but a small arena for survival. Several players can operate in the zone at the same time, reacting to random gang activities, helping or opposing each other. Due to the contamination of these regions, evacuation of prey by helicopter is needed. And here the most interesting begins. Players can work together to defend the extraction point, but it is possible that someone will decide to become a traitor and shoot teammates in order to seize the cargo. But by receiving the status of a renegade, the player himself becomes a target for other participants.
As an additional entertainment, there is a competitive mode «Conflict». These are typical team skirmishes or fighting for points on small maps. Although it is difficult to call them typical because of the mechanics of The Division 2, where one bullet does not solve anything. To kill an enemy player, you need a long aimed fire, and this is perceived very unusual at first. But such a system makes partners act more harmoniously. When working as a team, you can easily suppress the enemy and stuff him with lead, and a lone hero’s sortie is dangerous because you yourself will fall under the crossfire.
Here it is important to cover each other, heal and use gadgets in a timely manner, which can play a decisive role. And it all works with the usual cover system. And maps with small sizes have a complex structure, where there are different passages to key points and the ability to take positions on a hill.
As a result, skirmishes in the «Conflict» mode are also perceived very cheerfully. Only their low popularity is upsetting, at the moment it is problematic to recruit a group. But the game allows you to throw a request and, without waiting for a connection, play quietly in the open world. And when there are 8 players, the match will automatically start. The game adapts the level of participants in online modes so that they can somehow confront each other. And this gives chances to all participants of the Conflict and the Dark Zone.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 uses the engine of the first Snowdrop. But the change in style and the abundance of vegetation make the picture brighter and richer in detail. Instead of a gloomy metropolis covered with snow, we have a city shrouded in bright sun, which is overgrown with grass and other greenery. Therefore, the local post-apocalypse does not look gloomy, but pretty. But there is a special atmosphere of decadence in the way nature wins its living space by absorbing urban infrastructure.
In addition to the ubiquitous vegetation, the most obvious changes are the rich effects of volumetric lighting. There are dense beams of light that break through the crowns of trees. In the morning hours, the city literally dissolves into an illuminated haze, which seriously limits visibility.
The weather in the game is dynamic, but rain and fog are rare. However, the city is filled with puddles, it has many flooded rooms and cellars. In combination with a variety of light sources, this creates an abundance of glare and reflections on wet surfaces and shiny elements of the environment.
As a visual demonstration, take a look at a short video that shows Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 in 4K on a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card.
System requirements have grown. The game supports both DirectX 11 and the new DirectX 12. To determine the best graphics cards for the game, we tested different models at three resolutions with different versions of DirectX. This comparison uses data from the reviews of the GeForce GTX 1650 and ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080. Our standard test configuration for video cards is used.
Let’s start with the High settings.
The Radeon RX 580 outperforms the GeForce GTX 1060. The transition from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12 provides a serious boost to AMD video adapters. Among NVIDIA solutions, only the older GeForce GTX 1060 receives such an acceleration, its younger brother with 3 GB sharply loses performance twice. DirectX 12 turns into a similar disaster for the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. Therefore, for older video adapters and accelerators with a small amount of memory, it is better to use DirectX 11.
In Ultra mode, the ratio does not fundamentally change, although the difference between the Radeon RX 580 and the GeForce GTX 1060 is very small. Competitors give out less than 50 shots. Budget models were excluded from additional testing in DirectX 12, since it is already clear that they will show a slideshow in this mode.
The acceleration of the GeForce GTX 1060 in DirectX 12 is minimal, and the Radeon RX 580/480 improve performance by 10% or more. The younger Radeon RX 570/470 show a growth of a couple of percent, their capabilities are partially limited by the amount of memory. Memory load in this mode already exceeds 5 GB.
Powerful top-level models have been tested at high resolutions.
Even the Radeon RX Vega 64 can provide good results at 2560×1440, and more powerful video adapters will allow you to play with maximum comfort. In DirectX 11, the results of Radeon VII and GeForce RTX 2080 are on the same level, in DirectX 12, the AMD representative is faster. The acceleration from the transition to the new API is higher for AMD solutions.
The list of participants in 4K is updated with the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.
In fact, only the flagship NVIDIA pulls out Ultra-quality at maximum resolution. The results of all participants are higher in DirectX 12, but here the difference with DirectX 11 is already small. As an additional acceleration, you can lower the quality of anti-aliasing, which is not critical for 4K, but the performance gain is small. You can evaluate the performance of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in the video above.
The key change in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is the change in the city and the general atmosphere. The second part is based on old mechanics, supplementing them a little with small elements. There are no noticeable innovations, which is a minus of the game. The Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed formula works here, when the basis does not change, but a change in environment or era provides new experiences. And for all its secondary nature, the game is perceived perfectly, although this can be a problem for experienced players. It is played cheerfully, interest is maintained throughout, plus a large amount of content. And even after the completion of the plot, a new stage begins with the capture of areas and their re-liberation. Pleased with nice graphics and full Russian voice acting. A good action game in the open world, which is most likely to appeal to beginners.