Hands-on: The Division 2’s gorgeous Washington D.C recreation doesn’t really show much yet

The problem with E3 demos is what the publisher’s prepared to show often doesn’t line up with what you want them to show. Never have I felt that conflict more than with The Division 2.

I’ve spent about 30 minutes cumulative hands-on time with The Division 2 so far, but that’s entailed running the same 10-minute mission three times. And it’s the same mission Ubisoft showed off during its press conference—not a story mission, nothing that really deals with the world of The Division 2. It’s a generic end-game mission where you and your three fellow Division agents take over the plot of land around Air Force One, which apparently crash-landed in the swamp near the Capitol.

Why? I have no idea. It’s literally just a wrecked plane and some swampland in Washington D.C., but apparently it’s vital we take it back.

So I’m just not sure what there is to say about The Division 2. It looks beautiful—that I can say for sure. We were playing on fully tricked-out PCs, running 4K at a steady 60 frames per second, and it was incredible. You can see direct gameplay capture footage from one of our sessions in the video running above, albeit at 1080p.

As always, Ubisoft’s art bullpen has knocked it out of the park and into the next county somewhere. They’ve done a great job capturing, for instance, the harsh brutalism of the Hayden W. Mills building in the beginning of the demo, or the soaring dome of the Capitol and how it shimmers under that East Coast sun. The scale of the world is as awe-inspiring as it was in The Division‘s Manhattan.

I also love the small details too, the crosses that dot every spot of open grass in D.C.’s small city parks, the leftover barricades and looted boxes of supplies that tell a quiet story about a city under quarantine.

It’s just phenomenal.

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But aside from admiring the scenery, there’s just not much to say yet. Character progression has been reworked, so at some point you’ll specialize into an «Archetype,» like the Sharpshooter or Demolitionist. These Archetypes come with class-specific skills—for instance, the Sharpshooter can throw out a drone that automatically targets enemies and flushes them out of cover, while the Demolitionist has a proximity mine of sorts.

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