The Division 2 will have you saving the American capital with or without a team.
With The Division 2 setting the stage on fire at this year’s Ubisoft E3 conference, a load of information was dropped on us and our new mission: protect the capital of America: Washington DC. With a new story that can be played alone or to its full potential, with co-op friends, The Division 2 is looking like it wants to set a new bar for online and single player gaming with a story-driven narrative.
We had a chance to sit down with the Associate Creative Director Chadi El-Zibaoui and asked him a few questions we’ve been wondering ever since the reveal.
Lately, Ubisoft’s open world games (such as Assassin’s Creed Origins and Far Cry 5) have been changing things up from what one usually expects to see in Ubisoft titles, going for a less structured and a more free-form, emergent gameplay-focused approach. Is that something we can expect to see in The Division 2 as well?
The Division 2’s main campaign has a similar structure as the first game. But what we are introducing is the specialization feature that you can unlock. So, when you finish the campaign and reach the maximum level, you’ll be able to pick up the specialization that will open up a new progression for you past the campaign. So, it’s a very specific structure where we let you experiment during the campaign. Even though it’s flexible you can switch specializations.
One of the things The Division drew criticism for was its lack of variety in missions and mission structure. How and to what extent will The Division 2 be fixing these issues?
Today what we are showing off is a control point, which is a dynamic activity that can happen when you’re roaming the world when you start fighting. With Washington DC we’re getting much more variety in terms of compartments compared to Manhattan, and it will transpire in the content as well. When you’re going to engage in activities in wide-open areas as compared to smaller streets, or areas with slopes that are much more organic, it will change your approach.
"Actually, The Division 2 is very focused on the survivors, and how they’ve been changing, organizing themselves during these seven months. "
The Division is obviously the kind of game that is focused, first and foremost, on online play. However, for people who prefer single player gameplay, will The Division 2 be making any concessions? Is there any focus at all on solo gameplay?
The game is completely playable solo, even in-game activities. There will be certain activities, like the eight-man raids- of course, for this type of challenge players will be grouped with friends. But we have a very robust campaign, a deep narrative, lots of mysteries. So, if you’re solo player, you’ll have a lot to explore in the campaign. From day one we’ll really be delivering content for all kinds of gear. Not just for the hardcore fans, but even if you’re a solo player.
How important is it to have a strong narrative in a game that is mostly focused on online play? Is it something you are actively looking to strengthen in The Division 2?
Moving to Washington DC is the way to raise the stakes, the narrative stakes. Washington DC is one of the most defended cities on earth, and seeing that city on the brink of collapse is really opening new narratives for us that we will be exploring. We really feel that this is our fantasy, it is something we are developing on the narrative side. I think narrative and online can co-exist.
The Division‘s setting of a post-pandemic urban jungle was a fascinating one, but it’s fair to say that a lot of people felt that it didn’t really capitalize on it too well. Is leveraging the setting itself more of a focus in the sequel? For instance, will we learn more about the lives of the survivors?
Actually, The Division 2 is very focused on the survivors, and how they’ve been changing, organizing themselves during these seven months. So in the first game it was reacting to the virus outbreak, through the situation that caused the riot. Now civilians are banding together, organizing themselves, arming themselves, trying to rebuild what is left to rebuild and not just resigning themselves to the situation.
Will The Division 2 also make use of randomly generated levels, like what we saw in The Division’s Underground DLC?
We’ll have varied content. We have something that is going to add much more dynamic content within the campaign, within the world. So, this is what we call a ‘living world.’ In this context, the factions, civilians they all need resources; after seven months everyone wants food and water, medicine. So there will be resource control points spread with in the city that the factions will fight for dynamically. This is something that will add a lot of content to the world.
Are you going to continue supporting the first game even after The Division 2 launches?
We will keep on supporting the game as long as players love it. So there will be frequent updates to keep the game balanced and healthy.
"End-game is very important for us since the very beginning of the development. We’ve learned a lot from more than the two-years of life, looking at how the community was playing the game in their feedback."
Can you tell us about the end-game and how do you plan to approach it?
End-game is very important for us since the very beginning of the development. We’ve learned a lot from more than the two-years of life, looking at how the community was playing the game in their feedback. So we really have put end-game at the heart of the conception. Now there will be some twists that I can’t tell you about for now. But the specialization is already something that is really going to add depth when you engage in the end-game.
Will The Division 2 have lootboxes and microtransactions and will they limited to cosmetics only?
For now we’re keeping the same strategy as the first game: It’s all about vanity. We really want Division 2 to be a fair experience for everyone. Now regarding loot boxes I can’t comment about those at the moment.
The game will feature Xbox One X specific enhancements. What can players expect if they are playing the game on Xbox One X? Is 4K/60fps on the cards?
Whatever the platform, we’re really trying to deliver the best experience on each of those platforms. Now I can’t tell you about technical details specifically as it’s something we’ll be communicating later.