Upon my return to The Division 2 in the Warlords of New York Expansion, I was excited to see what new content Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment had produced. I hadn’t played in months and Warlords of New York is poised to reinvigorate the Division community within its second year. In a game with declining playerbase and dwindling interest, steadily supplying new content is essential for a title’s longevity. Players assist agent Alani Kelso in a return to the first games locale, New York (lower Manhattan), to wrestle back control from agents gone rogue. But does the latest expansion have what it takes to draw back veteran agents, and potentially hold our attention? Let’s review and find out, shall we?
Now, how one derives fun from a product tends to be highly subjective. Therefore ALL forms of review are opinionated, and should be taken with a grain of salt (this included). So let’s review Warlords of New York through the lens of more objective metrics such as; Graphical fidelity, characters/story, content/length, controls & gameplay, then finally, sound design and cinematics. This product was reviewed on a 1050Ti 4Gb, 8GB Ram, with a i5-7300HQ
While this expansion doesn’t visually overhaul Division 2, it does revisit New York. A large cityscape familiar to players of the first game; Manhattan is back – and just as dysfunctional as you remember. The city is full of tall skyscrapers in an overgrown, yet familiar landscape. This expansion also adds new character models, a few skills, and new weapons and armor. In regards to performance, there have been no noticeable changes. In player’s return to NYC, (if they played Division 1) the first thing they’ll notice is: No Snow. Manhattan this time around is overgrown with luscious greenery, in a world reminiscent of I Am Legend. At first it all looks quite new, but it doesn’t take long before it all melds together into one massive concrete jungle, much like in winter, and much like Washington.
Characters & Story
Warlords of New York contains some returning characters such as Alani Kelso, Faye Lau, Paul Rhodes, and Roy Benitez. Though it must be said, Massive Entertainment fails to capitalize on character intrigue in nearly every fashion. Especially in regards to the returning villain: Aaron Keener. The plot and characters presented are nowhere near as captivating as the trailer makes it seem, but that’s almost to be expected these days. If you’re looking for a complex, in-depth and fascinating story, you won’t be satisfied with what’s presented here. Sure – a conceptually interesting story’s framework is present, but aside from occasional audio logs and lightly sprinkled cinematics the plot feels barebones. Wrap it all up with a cliche and predictable plot twist, and that’s pretty much all it has to offer in regards to story.
Now in all fairness the most probable draw of a Division 2 expansion is NOT it’s story, but addictive looter-shooter gameplay. Though I don’t believe that excuses the genre from fleshing out their worlds with greater depth and intricacy. Upon their return to New York I was genuinely disappointed that players don’t get to learn more about topics not limited to, Vivian Conley and the Cleaners, or what’s happened in Manhattan since. Strong storytelling has never been The Division’s strong suit, which frankly, is disappointing considering the fascinating plot and setting.
Content & Length
Playing solo and taking my time to enjoy Manhattan, it took me little more than a weekend to dissect New York, with an average completion time of approximately 8-9 hours. A completionist run through Warlords of New York should take around 20 hours, collectibles and all. Now Division 2 may currently look wide as an ocean, but at times it feels as deep as a puddle. That’s not to say improvements to gameplay and quality of life haven’t been made. Rather, it’s simply more Division 2 and not even that much of it from a cost-content ratio. With the addition of two new/old factions, the Cleaners and Rikers and five main missions to partake in, it just feels a little underwhelming by the time the credits roll. There’s another seven side missions, but they aren’t overly memorable. It’s understandable that much of the content in looter-shooters are designed to be replayable however considering the asking price, it feels slim at times. That is not to say that the content provided isn’t of sufficient quality. However, it doesn’t feel as inspired as missions like the Federal Emergency Bunker.
What Warlords of New York does is bulk up the content and replayability of The Division 2. Initially, and throughout the story missions, players must (loosely) investigate and hunt down four rogue agent warlords, before Keenan himself. This structure proceeds into the new end game in the form of ‘Manhunts’. This additional end game content is extremely welcome for long term players, and gives them a reason to stick around for the duration of a season – a limited time term Ubisoft seems to be attracted to lately. While I’m not a fan of time-gating content, this does incentivize players. There’s new armor, guns, exotics, and three new skills – one with two variants. All in all it’s not a bad content, It just needed more.
Controls & Gameplay
In regards to controls, everything is identical to vanilla Division 2. However there have been minor mechanical changes. such as: the removal of players’ ability to “stop, drop, and roll” fire DOTs. Some changes are contentious among the community, but were implemented for multiplayer balancing reasons as the firewall class has become more commonplace. There have been tonnes of quality of life changes made, such as the removal of gear scores, now culminating in levels. Additionally loot management has been altered over time, and the introduction of named but not exotic loot has been introduced. By and large, the cover popping, looter-shooting-gallery gameplay remains the same, there’s just different people to shoot, in different places. Oh, and all the numbers are higher. More damage, more health, bigger numbers and more zeros.
There are a few cute ideas, however, such as rogue NPC agents occasionally invading a players mission, or the post-level-cap prestige system similar to Borderlands. Warlords of New York introduces SHD levels: essentially, experience gained earns players an endgame level that can contribute to different statistic bonuses, such as gun damage, armor, gadget repair etc. But In all honesty, I struggle to conceptualize my thoughts on somewhat recycled content. Players have fought both the Rikers and Cleaners before, and we’ve been to NYC previously. It’s always nice to have new factions and locations, but it would have been nice to see some more fresh ideas above and beyond wuality of life upgrades.
Sound Design & Cinematics
Much of the sound design in Division 2 remains the same. Unfortunately, that includes the audio glitches as well. But when sound does work, guns sound sharp and concise. Abilities have unique sounds, and enemies are as vulgar as ever. The voice work for the villains are well done, as are the Cleaners and Rikers.
There are a few welcome cutscenes. Most notably these are during the intro, the Aaron Keener Mission, and the outro. Quality is as to be expected from a AAA developer, hopefully you enjoy them because they are the bulk of the expansions story. Aside from the occasional audio glitches, everything is fairly normal here.
Overall I did have fun with The Division 2‘s Expansion Warlords of New York, it’s a decent addition to a flawed yet fun experience. I would, however, wait for it to go on sale as some players may be disappointed with the price-content ratio at $39.99CDN/£24.99. Hardcore fans will milk this expansion for every second of it’s gameplay and will easily find their money’s worth – especially if they never stopped playing. Some of the missions and enemies may feel generic, but it’s more to do in a game that needed more to do. As much as I’ve nitpicked my time with Warlords of New York, it is a fun chunk of content, I just wish there was more to it. It’s not bad, but thoroughly average. Warlords of New York is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
What did you think of The Division 2: Warlords of New York? Let us know in the comments.
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More of the Same, For Better or Worse
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10
+ “New” Locations and Enemies
+ More Loot
– Uninspired Story
+/- Simply More Division