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The Big Apple Bites Back: Hands-on with The Division 2 Warlords of New York

Summary

  • A new narrative-driven expansion for The Division 2 will bring Agents back to the setting of the first game in the series.
  • Warlords will feature new zones, gear, weapons, quality of life improvements, a new raid, and much more.
  • In addition, Episode 3 of The Division 2‘s Year One will launch this week and send players to Coney Island.

Launching a new gaming IP can be challenging, but the folks at Massive Entertainment knocked it out of the park with Tom Clancy’s The Division, which got a sequel in last year’s aptly named Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Both games were lauded for dropping players into authentic version of real-life locales New York City and Washington DC. Both areas were rich with detail and offered differing looks at the collapse of a civilization.

Soon, players of The Division 2 will be able to return to New York City in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Warlords of New York, which the development team at developer Massive is calling a “narrative-driven expansion.” I recently had the chance to take a closer look at the game at an event in San Francisco, and I can already tell that Warlords is going to pull me right back in to the series’ increasingly expansive universe.

But First… Episode 3

While New York City will be the centerpiece of the expansion launching on March 3, players will actually have a chance to head back to the Big Apple a bit early. When Episode 3 of Year One, titled Coney Island: The Hunt, launches on February 19 (or February 12 for early pass owners), players will be tasked with heading to Coney Island to win a prestigious hot dog eating conte… wait, I think I’ve got that wrong. You’ll actually need to save a virologist who might hold the key to unlocking a cure for the Green Poison that wiped out the majority of humanity.

There’s a New(ish) Villain in Town

In the previous The Division games, there wasn’t really a singular villain that players could direct their ire toward. Instead, it was largely the collapse of civilization that served as a de facto antagonist. That all changes in Warlords of New York, which reintroduces a rogue First Wave agent named Aaron Keener to the mix. Keener has a new bioweapon up his figurative sleeve and it’s up to you to stop him from unleashing it on what remains of the populace. While he was glimpsed in echoes in the first game, Keener plays a much more central role here.

See the Sights, then Put Holes in Them

Although you’ll be returning to New York City in Warlords, this isn’t the same New York you visited in the first game. There are four new zones to explore: Battery Park, Financial District, Civic Center, and Two Bridges. These areas contain five main missions, eight side missions, eight control points, and even a new HQ named Haven. What’s more, many of the factions from the first game will return, including The Cleaners and The Rikers.

Break the Chain of Command

While the first entry in The Division series and The Division 2 followed a fairly linear narrative path, Warlords of New York switches things up a bit. It’s actually a bit closer to Ubisoft’s own Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, in that you’ll need to take down four of Keener’s Rogue Agents before you can go after Keener. In my time with the game, my co-op partner and I went to the Civic Center to find Theo Parnell, a sketchy little weasel with a unique skill.

Skills to Pay the Bills

Yes, that’s right, enemy bosses now have deployable skills as well, similar to the Drone, Turret, or Seeker Mines you can deploy to gain a leg up in combat. There are four new skills you can obtain in Warlords. Well, “new” may not be totally accurate, as two of them are variants (fire and explosive) of a fan-favorite from the first game: the Sticky Bomb Launcher. The others are a Shock Trap that provides an area of effect to slow down groups of enemies, and a Decoy that was used to devastating effect in the boss battle against Parnell.

Like a Boss (Battle)

In many ways, our clash against Parnell felt more like an encounter from the game’s first raid than The Division 2’s usual combat scenarios. Using the Decoy skill, Parnell and his carbon copies would pop up in five different doors above us. The only way to tell which one was real was to shoot them, in an attempt to knock down the actual Parnell’s shields. Being successful meant combining quick timing and strong communication, as there was a limited window before the doors closed and we had to fight a wave of lesser enemies (some of which were also decoys). It was a really fun encounter overall and got me excited for the rest of the lieutenant battles.

Gimme the Loot

Upon his death, Parnell dropped The Darkness, a high-end named marksman rifle that does 25% extra damage to blinded enemies (and blinds enemies after three kills). This was just one of the new exotic and named weapons that will be making an appearance in Warlords, which will also be adding new gear sets for players to collect. I don’t know if The Darkness will be replacing my beloved Chatterbox, but it’s a cool and unique weapon nonetheless.

Always Be Improving

In addition to all of the new areas and weapons and gear and bosses, Warlords of New York will be bringing a bunch of quality of life improvements to the proverbial table. The team at Massive hasn’t fully detailed these yet, but they’ve alluded to streamlining the gear and stat process, adding god rolls for weapons, implementing skill power tiers, and taking steps to revitalize the Dark Zones. It sounds like The Division 2 will be a much different game than it was when it launched.

It’s the Time of the Season (for Hunting)

Since The Division 2 is a living, breathing experience that is always changing, the team has decided to take a page from some other titles that use a games-as-a-service model by adding seasons. In The Division 2, these will be 3-month-long mini campaigns, the centerpiece of which will be seasonal manhunts that will allow you and your friends to team up to find high value targets. There will also be a full calendar of activities and global events for fans to enjoy.

Onward and Upward

Finally, Warlords of New York will mark the first level cap jump for The Division 2. The level cap will be raised from 30 to 40, and we were informed that players who haven’t hit 30 yet (or those who haven’t started playing at all) will be able to jump straight to that level when Warlords launches so they can start fresh with everyone else. This has proven to be a great way to get lapsed players back (or new players) in the game, so we’re happy to see it implemented here.

All told, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Warlords of New York feels like much more than just an expansion. It offers players a chance to visit a locale that’s simultaneously familiar and fresh, while giving them lots of new missions to complete, weapons and gear to collect, and RPG mechanics to explore. I can’t wait to take a trip back to the Big Apple when Warlords of New York launches on March 3.

[This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire]

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