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The Division 2 adds raids and drops season passes

More united than divided

Tom Clancy's shooty MMO-lite The Division 2 has a lot of endgame planned for those who burn through its main story, Ubisoft announced at their E3 press conference. After completing the story, you'll get to choose a prestige class with its own dedicated special weapon, as well as unlocking a new set of "specialisations". You'll probably need a few of these extra ranks under your belt to tackle the new 8-player raids, which (if the high-level stuff in the first game was any indication) will put most squads through the wringer. It also looks like it'll have a more reasonable approach to expansions and updates for dedicated players, saying many episodic updates will be free.

The major episodic updates planned will add new world events, areas to explore, story missions, equipment and the like. Unlike the first game this will all be included in the box price up to at least Episode 3. While I wouldn't put it past Ubisoft to offer season passes that primarily deliver cosmetic items and maybe boost unlock speeds (as they have in the past), it sounds that for the foreseeable future, all the stuff that you'll need to play with friends will be delivered as free updates.

The Division themselves seem to be acting more as free agents now, protecting enclaves of civilians trying to rebuild after the viral apocalypse from raiders, bandits, warlords and apparently the remnants of the US central government who apparently run under the banner of the 'True Sons', which definitely sounds to me like a dangerous bunch of 'patriots' eager to catch a few bullets.

Ubisoft showed a good chunk of live gameplay footage at the end of the show. One thing I noticed is that 'grunt' class enemies seem to be more numerous than in the first game, but die faster. Higher-ranking baddies still require a more tactical approach, with players pinning, flanking and flushing baddies out of cover with grenades wherever possible so you can pile bullets into huge HP bars.

In general, combat environments seem more open - The Division was mostly narrow straight New York streets, but DC seems to offer a less constrained battleground, albeit still littered with cover, little of which seems destructible. It looks like more of The Division, all told, and as someone that's planning on returning to finish up the original game sometime, that's a welcome proposition.

Loot boxes and season passes have cast a long shadow over this year's E3, and many major studios are trying to salve old wounds by declaring their games no longer require players pony up £30 on top of the box price. The Division 2 seems to  count itself among them.

It's coming out on March 15, 2019. Some ways off, but at least I've got the time to finish the original. You can sign up for the early beta here.

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