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The Division 2's beta weekend starts February 7th, signups open now

Star spangled war-banner

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 launches in March, but those confident enough to put money down on Ubisoft Massive's MMO-lite shoot n' looter get to play around in its post-apocalyptic Washington DC early. A beta weekend will be running from Thursday, February 7th to Monday, February 1th, it'll be open to all pre-ordering players, but those merely curious in the game can sign up for a chance to get in free here. Below, a predictably patriotic and bombastic story trailer, and a breakdown of some of the PC version's finer features.

While The Division 2 looks to be more of the same - tactical squad cover-shooting with beefy health bars and cooldown-based powers - the sequel looks to have sped things up a little. Grunt enemies will go down faster, while the obviously beefier enemy troops still need to be whittled down, pinned and outflanked before they explode into a cloud of colour-coded loot and experience points. Of course, the biggest payouts will come from the new 8-player raids, which should be a fun organisational challenge given how messy the first game's four-man instances could get.

I admit that I was faintly hopeful that The Division 2 would ease up a little bit on the 'we will restore America as sleeper agents of the true government' angle, but from the looks of that new trailer, that's just not to be. At least the villains this time round are a little less morally questionable than 'rioters' and escaped prisoners. The biggest bads this time round look to be the True Sons, a fascistic ex-military force with training, gear and relatively well thought-out plans to take over the country. The Hyenas are your usual bunch of Mad Max-ish bandits and raiders, while the Outcasts are a vengeful cult formed within the quarantine zone. So far, so Far Cry, then.

While I can't help but roll my eyes at some of the thematic elements of the game, I'm still eager to play. I enjoyed the first game, and made peace with its tonal wonkiness by leaning fully into it. My character - Steve Elvis America - had a stars and stripes tattoo across his face and neck, and would only wear red, white and blue. Hopefully the character creator in the sequel will allow me to indulge myself once more.

The beta weekend for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 runs through February 7th to February 11th, though the specific times are still unknown. The full game lands on March 15th via Uplay and the Epic Store, although no longer through Steam. Check out Dave Irwin's summary of all things  The Division 2 here, which includes recommended system specs, and breakdowns of the various versions available.

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