The Division 2 launched in March 2019 to rather positive reviews by gamers and critics alike, the shooter bringing more of the slick cover based action that arrived in the original game. Delivering bullet sponge bosses aplenty, everyone was happy. Then came the NERFS of powerful builds and the game’s best weapons and it all went a bit sideways in terms of player numbers and content. A year has now passed since launch, and the developers at Ubisoft are hoping to revitalize the game with a paid expansion – Warlords of New York. And nicely it comes with a free update that tweaks many of the game’s core systems such as loot drops and the ease in which you are able to discern what gear does for your character or build.
The Warlords of New York expansion is the latest offering from Ubisoft under The Division 2 banner, and continues the tale in Lower Manhattan in an almost jungle-like cityscape since the snow and ice of the first game melted away, exposing mountains of bin bags and medical waste as well. It’s all very ‘I Am Legend’.
And while this is an expansion, you’ll want to have played the base game first. Don’t have a character that’s high enough in level to undertake this new task in New York? Well that’s not a problem, as simply talking to the chopper pilot in Washington DC will get you a decent buff and send you on your way. On your arrival you’ll have been furnished with all the gear you need to start you off, while you seek out better loot for your character to equip.
From here I’m going to try and keep this piece as spoiler free as much as I can, but you should be aware that it’s not always going to be possible. Yes, there may be some spoilers ahead.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Unfortunately before we have been given the chance to leap into action there has initially been just the three hour long server outages on release day, and then another the following day, and then two smaller hour-long outages in the days following that. It’s been a massive disappointment to sit around twiddling thumbs, and is certainly one in the foot if you ask me, particularly considering the need to undertake a massive update to be able to be able to play the game in the first place. A less patient person may well have launched their controller in to the air, yet luckily I have the patience of a saint.
When you do get started with Warlords of New York you simply have to visit the chopper pilot who is parked up on the White House lawn. From there out the adventure begins, giving you a lengthy cutscene setting up the premise that numerous rogue agents have come together under the banner of original rogue and all-round bad guy Aaron Keener. Remember him? You are tasked with sorting him out after he has perfected another biological weapon for use against the already under pressure inhabitants of the settlement of Haven.
When you first leap off the helicopter in New York you’ll see Keener’s handy work as you battle your way through city hall, uncovering backstory as you go. It’s here where you first get wind of the four rogue agents, all as the 10-15 hour campaign really gets going. Some may well comment that this new campaign isn’t all that long but those people will have no doubt ignored the side missions and random encounters and gone straight in for the kill with the bosses. Much like the base game – and The Division 1, in fact – Warlords of New York is just as much about exploring as it is shooting holes in things.
Once you arrive in Haven you’ll realise that the populace are anti-Division, and Paul Rhodes makes a return in an outright hostile way. Not, I’ll add, to the point of gun-toting, but he will make comment on how he feels The Division have failed. Roy Benitez makes a comeback too, playing peacemaker amongst the chaos.
And when you find yourself getting in on the action, the four rogue agents and their factions make for some exciting scenarios, such as witnessing a running battle through the skeletal remains of a beached tanker against flamethrower-wielding enemies, while another sees you trying to out-snipe a rogue agent with a penchant for deploying decoys to flush you out of cover.
The difficulty of each of the rogues ranges from ‘can be done alone’ to ‘requiring a fire team that is in communication or at least have their head on a swivel’. Yep, the combat situations here are both punishing and rewarding in equal measure, with loot drops sometimes failing to live up to the effort expended. Especially when you consider that The Division is, at its heart, supposed to be a looter shooter.
In order to hunt down these rogues you have to investigate clues, working through areas scattered across the map and meeting varying levels of resistance. Doing so will uncover the Fog of War, and while this is a great idea, like the manhunt premise it could have been fleshed out more. See, although there is in fact a ‘fog of war’ in place, the in-game GPS points straight at the next objective, pretty much counteracting it. I for one would have liked to have seen a bit more exploration of the map, with it becoming more rewarding and somehow tying in to the whole manhunt/fog of war idea.
One thing this DLC does really well though is found in the verticality. It is quite easy to start exploring in a subterranean sewer, end up in a fight, and have it spill out onto the street and into a ruined building. It is moments like this which really add to the sense of scale, yet still bring me back to the aforementioned need to explore.
The missions themselves are well designed and all serve a purpose; whether that be to move the narrative along at a thunderous pace or to slow it down with a side mission that will contain small puzzles that lead to loot crates. But once the narrative is over and the smoke clears, what’s left to do? Well, as it happens, there are six more rogue agents to go after, then there’s the content included in the Season Pass, and this ties in with seasonal rewards and brings sets of gear to be earned by undertaking the above mentioned manhunts.
So in conclusion then and The Division 2: Warlords of New York expansion on Xbox One is a mid-sized expansion that delivers fun engaging gameplay and more of the brilliance of The Division, especially when you team up with others. When you take into account the price you’ll be found paying, it’s pretty fair considering just how much gameplay there is available.