The Division 2 Has Solved the Bullet Sponge Problem
When I started playing Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 last week, I expected to be greeted the same way I was greeted in the first: with strong enemies that take way more bullets to kill than any human wearing a hoodie and jeans has any business taking. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this kind of difficulty scaling. In fact, I welcome it in these kinds of games. Unfortunately there was a vast contingency of gamers that felt deterred from one of Ubisoft’s most successful IPs because of this factor. I’m about 15 hours into the sequel and so far I can safely say that players can now officially relax. This problem feels almost completely removed The Division 2 with difficulty being introduced in new and very challenging ways.
More so than ever before, I feel like I’m playing against an enemy that is trying to find a way to kill me beyond just shooting at me from afar. In the opening hours of my time with this game, I have had enemies shoot, snipe, blind, shotgun, swing night sticks, use turrets, drive explosive RC cars, chuck grenades, lob tear gas and much more in order to try to take me down. All of these methods are employed by only the first two factions of enemies. See the difference here? Only about one enemy in every thirty feels a little extra tanky, but the mobs in TD2 are SO much more well equipped than they use to be.
Not only are enemies coming at me with a much greater arsenal than they used to, which in and of itself makes the game vastly more interesting, but also with intensely enhanced artificial intelligence. Gone are the days where you can pick a spot and camp snipe all of the enemies from a distance. Completely gone. Adversaries in TD2 actively try to get you out of cover. Not just with their gear, but also with their movement. Your agent is constantly being flanked in this game and having a global understanding of the battlefield and where enemies might come from is essential, because they will not just be coming from the front.
I am extremely happy with how gunplay and time-to-kill feel in The Division 2. Yes there are a select few enemies that take some extra time to take down, but they actually look like tanks covered in armor that needs to be chipped away. Once that armor is broken, even the heavier enemies come down relatively quickly. While the faster deaths for enemies may seem like it makes the game too easy, hold up. Your agent is no superhero. Without cover, the enemies in this game turn from Stormtroopers to Deadshot making you really pay for every moment you step out of safety. Every movement must be calculated and well timed. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this difficulty progresses in the end game, but until then, if you were worried about The Division 2 being more of the same bullet sponge rioters, I can assure you that is no longer the case.