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The Division 2 Gameplay Impressions - A Small But Impressive Step Forward

Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment's The Division 2 was officially unveiled during Microsoft's press conference at E3 2018, and Screen Rant had the opportunity to go hands-on with the game shortly thereafter. The 15-minute demo available at Microsoft's Xbox Showcase was playable on the Xbox One X, and it centered on capturing a Control Point (surrounding a downed airplane) with a 4-player squad. The objective was to liberate the local civilian population and "make the area a much safer place," according to the developer guiding Showcase attendees through the demo.

Every player started out with a different class - Demolition, Sharpshooter (the developer also played as a Sharpshooter), and Survivalist (all of which are pictured in the game's key art above) - each of which serves a different purpose in the game. While players can equip a variety of primary and secondary weapons, their special weapon (a third weapon) is tailored specifically for their class. The special weapons require special ammo, as is customary in these types of games, and they tend to come in handy whenever players need to take down a boss, such as the one that popped up towards the end of the demo. Unfortunately, it wasn't revealed what type of boss that was.

Related: The Division 2 Gameplay Trailer

In the demo, players spawn in a courtyard and are then required with infiltrating an abandoned building - either through the main entrance or a side entrance, though both paths eventually end up in the same place once inside - and taking out a group of standard (level 30) enemies on the inside. Afterward, players can resupply and head outside - via an exit on the other end of the building - into what appears to be an overgrown lot with a crashed airplane in the middle, which appears to have been carrying supplies for local civilians. In order to take the Control Point, players simply have to take out all the enemies, advance, and then defeat the boss. Since there are multiple waves of level 30 enemies, some of which are veterans and elites (each with their own set of tactical armor), players can call in reinforcements by using a flare gun. And when the tides turn against the enemy, the civilians join in on the fight as well. But that doesn't mean players can let their guard down; it's still quite easy to die if everyone is not doing their part in securing the Control Point.

Gameplay wise, The Division 2 already feels like a step-up from the first game, which unfortunately fell by the wayside with general players due to a lack of content from the outset, not necessarily gameplay. However, enemies that were essentially bullet sponges were a significant issue at the start, and it looks like that has been addressed in the sequel, at least based on the playable demo. Plus, Massive is promising that there will be enough content this time around to keep players coming back for more - and the variety of Control Points in-game is part of that general experience.

As expected with any sequel, the graphics, sounds, and various other aspects of the game have been upgraded, but there isn't such an upgrade that will excite consumers enough who are looking to purchase the game based primarily on those factors alone. However, Massive Entertainment's upgraded Snowdrop engine does improve the environment, making it feel more immersive in addition intensifying the sense of players being in a post-apocalyptic world. That can be anything ranging from loot boxes stuck on trees (from tangled parachutes), which need to be shot down in order to obtain, to a rundown Capitol Hill standing tall in the far distance.

Related: Battlefield V Gameplay Impressions

And since this is a first-person shooter, the weapons have also been upgraded along with the customization system made much more fluid and easier to navigate than it initially was in the first installment. What's particularly better about the sequel, though, is that the recoil system seems to employ somewhat real-life practicality, thus making the weapons moderately more difficult to use. Players have to take all sorts of factors into account when using a sniper rifle, a sub-machine gun, or a bow and arrow, for instance. While some enemies are still bullet sponges (to an extent), they can still be taken down relatively quickly based on where players shoot them and how they interact with the environment (such as players shooting a gas canister and making it explode).

Ubisoft and Massive are looking to elevate teamwork in The Division 2 by making strategy an important factor. Players can still charge into battle and merely hop between cover, but that's not an effective strategy that will work throughout the entire game. Staying alive and defeating waves of enemies is much more difficult in the sequel if players aren't working together and actively communicating (which is what happened in our second demo), especially with various types of enemies on the battlefield (including medics that continually heal veterans and elites). So, players will need to work together to take down medics, throwers, and various other types of enemies that each of their own specialty and effect.

While the E3 demo was only 15 minutes long, there weren't any major glitches, aside from area issues with leaping over certain boxes, but in general, it shows promise that the final product may not be bogged down by game-breaking bugs. Of course, things can change from now until release. In the end, the content and gameplay may not be what players are expecting. From the brief demo, The Division 2 looks like an upgraded and mastered version of the first game with a new setting, new content, and additional mechanics, but it's not exactly a major jump; it's not Battlefield 3, Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto V, etc. It's only been a few years since the first game released, after all.

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