Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is one of the year’s most anticipated games, and the more we see of the upcoming action-packed RPG, the more excited I am to play through it. I recently had the chance to spend a good chunk of quality time with the new-and-improved Dark Zone offerings, and while they were a ton of fun, I had a hankering for a taste of the looter shooter’s main campaign. Thankfully, those desires were fulfilled when I spent the better part of a day at an event in San Francisco last week getting my hands on a bunch of the early game content that will be in this week’s Private Beta. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect when you dive in.
Wait, did you say that there’s beta?
I did! The Division 2 Private Beta will include both early game and endgame missions, and will run from February 7 at 1AM PT through February 11 at 1AM PT. The Private Beta preload will begins on February 6 at 1am PT. Xbox One, fans can guarantee their access to the Private Beta by pre-ordering The Division 2 online or at retailers, but you can also register for beta access now for a chance to play at http://thedivisiongame.com/beta if you don’t pre-order.
Where does the beta start?
The first mission I played, called “The Dawn’s Early Light”, takes place immediately after the prologue and tasked me with taking back The White House. Yes, THAT White House. Just as the New York City Post Office was your base of operations in the first game, The White House serves as your main hub in The Division 2. When you’re there, you can upgrade your character, mod and build weapons, check on the progress of your settlements, and generally make sure you’re ready to take on the game’s many factions.
There are settlements now? What’s the deal with those?
Indeed there are! In fact, the first story mission I was given after taking back the Oval Office found me heading to the Theater district to meet with Odessa Sawyer, the leader of the Theater Settlement. This is a brand-new addition to the series, and settlements look to add some really interesting mechanics to aid you in taking back the city. In addition to helping drive the story forward, in the settlements you can find side missions and meet new characters (for example, in the Theater settlement you’ll find Inaya, who moves to the White House to become your weapons crafter).
Once you’ve located a settlement, you’ll be given access to Goal Projects that can help you improve them and the lives of everyone inside. These projects include doing things like donating steel, donating armor, stopping public executions, and neutralizing hostile. In The Division 2, you’re a so-called “Agent of Change” that can truly make your mark on the denizens of Washington D.C. More than anything, settlements feel very alive: there are public markets, people playing guitar, and lots of dialogue to eavesdrop on, which goes a long way in fleshing out an already deep story.
So what’s up with the factions? Have those changed from the first game?
In The Division, different factions were tearing the city apart in separate quests for control. They were interesting, but felt largely interchangeable. That’s not the case here. Now, the game’s three factions (The Hyenas, The Outcasts, and The True Sons) are driven by goals more detailed than just killing everyone who gets in their way. If they manage to complete their goals and set up strongholds, whether it’s training recruits or gathering supplies, they will begin to undertake objectives that fundamentally change the city for the worse. This includes stuff like taking over radio towers to spread propaganda and setting up checkpoints to capture and execute civilians. I can’t wait to dive deeper into how both the faction and the settlement mechanics work when the final game releases next month.
Are there side missions or open-world activities in the beta?
Are there ever! In addition to the couple of main missions available in the beta, there will be five side missions available that will find you traipsing around Washington’s most famous locales, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Library and the Grand Hotel. You can even channel your inner Nic Cage and rescue the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives!
If you want to take a look at some of the open-world activities, you’ll be able to try your hand at taking back a Control Point, which tasks you and your squadmates (trust me, you’ll want to bring friends for this) with surviving multiple waves of increasingly tougher enemies in order to unlock a supply room. These rooms replenish with supplies every couple of hours and coming in very handy when it comes to improving the White House or any settlements you’ve found.
As was the case in the first game, there are also Safe Houses that you can find, which will help to unlock the local map, helping you find supply caches and Control Points that might be nearby. They also come in very handy when you want to fast travel.
How about that sweet, sweet gear that was in the first game?
It wouldn’t be a Tom Clancy game without some awesome high-tech gear, and The Division 2 delivers in a big way. In addition to lots of weapon and armor drops, you’ll unlock skills that can be used in combat to take down your enemies or support your squadmates. Turrets have returned, with Assault and Sniper variants available in the early part of the game. Seeker mines are back too, and you can choose between Explosives and Airbursts. There are also drones this time out, which will allow you to repair teammates’ armors, as well as act as a bombardier to drop bombs between two points you can set.
Best of all, there’s a much greater degree of control in The Division 2, as you can now tell your turrets or seeker mines which enemies to target. This allows you, for example, to suppress a dug-in enemy with your turret while you move to flank them from the side.
Did you say that there’s endgame content too?
There sure is! Beginning on February 8 at 8AM PT, The Division 2 Private Beta players will have the opportunity to have a first hands-on with endgame content with one Invaded mission (the ones we played were set in the Air & Space Museum and an abandoned Cold War-era bunker). Players will experience gameplay at the level cap of 30 and unlock the brand-new Survivalist, Sharpshooter or Demolitionist specializations.
In a bit of a narrative twist, a new faction called the Black Tusks are introduced in the endgame. These enemies will be much tougher and more technologically advanced than the other factions and will require a full fireteam to take down. This is all part of Ubisoft’s ambitious goals for the endgame content, which will also feature new 8 player raids (!!!), three new episodes, and three new specializations, in addition to everything that was added to the first game after launch. Best of all, every single bit of content will be completely free!
What else is in the Private Beta?
In case you haven’t figured it out already, you should know that there’s a ton of content here. In addition to the early game and endgame, single-player and cooperative content, you’ll have the chance to check out the unique PvPvE gameplay in one of the three new Dark Zones we took a look at a few weeks ago. There’s also a taste of the new organized PvP gameplay in one Conflict mode, Skirmish. There’s definitely lots of content to keep you busy throughout the beta period!
So, as I mentioned above, you can lock down a spot in the Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Private Beta that kicks off this week by pre-ordering the game, or register for a chance to play without pre-ordering by heading to http://thedivisiongame.com/beta. We’ll be bringing you more on Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 soon in anticipation of its March 15 release date on Xbox One.