The new The Division 2 expansion, Warlords of New York, may seem great, but can it maintain an audience once it is out in the wild?
When The Division 2 launched last year, I did really enjoy it. I had some qualms with the third-person shooter, but it was such a complete experience in a landscape filled with empty live games. With some rather substantial post-release content scheduled for the low price of free (unless you paid to get it early), it was great to see Ubisoft take this approach with its DLC. But with the 3rd and final chapter just around the corner, where does the game go from here?
When I flew out to San Francisco to check out the new content that Ubisoft had in store for The Division 2, I legitimately thought I was just seeing Chapter 3 content. I was dumb; honestly, I felt quite dumb. It turns out Massive Entertainment has been busy making the game’s expansion, Warlords of New York, which brings you back to the Big Apple with a new narrative and added gameplay features.
To be frank, I haven’t really picked up The Division 2 since I reviewed the game. I did try to return to it every once in awhile, but every time I tried to jump in, it was overwhelming and lonely. I would get loads of messages telling me of items I’ve received or missions I’ve missed, and when I’d try to matchmake for those missions, it would take way too long and I would get impatient. The Warlords of New York expansion seems to be a solid place to start, even if you haven’t played since launch. At least, it seems that way.
I say that last bit because my time with the preview was pretty brief, and much of the qualms I have with the current state of The Division 2 won’t really be answered until the game is out. If this new expansion can bring in more people to matchmake with, that will be the deciding factor for my return to Ubisoft’s third-person shooter. I already really like how The Division 2 plays, so I would love an excuse to go back to it.
With that being said, I did really enjoy my brief time with Warlords of New York. Once I was dropped into the map, the New York setting felt very familiar, but still very new with a much more vibrant environment than its predecessor. With Christmas lights still scattered around the city since the Green Poison spread on Black Friday in the first game, you realize just how much that epidemic affected New York. I mean, not a single soul had the time to take these lights down!
The main slice of the demo pinned me and another player against one of the warlords who now control New York. The main mission took me to the Tombs where the warlord Theo Parnell has set up base. Much of the mission played like anything you may have played in The Division 2: waves of enemies come crashing in, and you have to eliminate them all in order to progress to another area. It is exactly what you would expect, which is something you may or may not be into depending on your feelings on the game’s loop.
However, my partner and I could not help but feel that the spawns were a bit too wild. There were moments where I felt like enemies just appeared right behind me, which is somewhat of a problem I had with the base portion of The Division 2. However, most of those problems seemed to be in bigger areas. For this demo, this was in more close-quarters indoor combat scenarios. It never was a big problem since I had someone who could pick me up if the enemy got the better of me, but it was slightly frustrating.
This mission culminated in taking down Parnell. The “boss fights” in base The Division 2 were essentially like any other fight, but featured a spongier version of any given enemy type. In Warlords of New York, each warlord has a gadget, similar to the ones you are armed with, that they’ll use to try to defeat you. When you defeat the warlord, you earn that skill.
In this case, it was a decoy which creates images of its user to fool their enemies. These images would be cast in a number of towers that are scattered around the designated boss fight area. You have to find which of the images is actually Parnell and start chipping away at that health bar. After a few moments, a wall would drop down from each tower, and Parnell would change locations. Eventually, waves of enemies and auto-aiming turrets would enter into the foray to add a bit of challenge to the fight.
Compared to almost every fight before it — and I mean throughout all of The Division 2 — it deviates from what you expect. Yes, the boss is still a bit too spongy. Yes, there are still waves of enemies appearing throughout the fight. But at least it actually feels like a boss encounter. I did think the boss fight did last a bit too long. Part of it was based on our skills as a team. I’m not ashamed to say we could have done better. But even if we were performing exceptionally, it felt incredibly monotonous.
From what I played of Warlords of New York, for how small that portion was, I am really excited to see how the expansion changes The Division 2. With significant changes to its RPG systems, a level increase, new skills, a season pass, and a new story, there is certainly a reason to go back. I just hope it can maintain a player base so someone like me, who may not play the game on a daily basis, can get in and enjoy all the content the expansion has to offer.