Rating : 8/10
When Tom Clancy’s The Division released back in 2016, players were introduced to a cold and ruined version of New York City. By the time the player character steps foot in this beloved location, it’s already too late and everything is beyond recognition, with the snow-covered streets filled with rubbish and debris creating a unique location for players to explore while running and gunning down countless enemies in the search for loot. Jump forward to 2019 and the release of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and players left behind the snow of New York for the warm, sunny weather of Washington D.C, which – though a fun location – left many longing for their old home. Now, with the release of the Warlords of New York expansion for The Division 2, players are heading home.
Welcome to Lower Manhattan, agents, the stage for the Warlords of New York expansion and the new chapter in The Division 2. This update brings not only a new campaign for players to complete, a new location, and a new level cap but also numerous improvements that lay the foundation for the future of The Division 2. This paid expansion follows a year of free updates that brought plenty of improvements and content to the base game, so the expectation to deliver is high. Thankfully, Warlords of New York is able to deliver on many fronts but doesn’t get everything right.
The main goal in Warlords of New York is to hunt down the rogue Division agent, Aaron Keener. To do this, players will need to first find intel on him by taking down his four warlords each with their own missions and region of the map. This system is similar to a number of other Ubisoft titles, where you must first clear the lower ranks before taking on the main target themself. Once you start your mission in Lower Manhattan you won’t be able to return to D.C however until you have completed the hunt for Keener. This might sound annoying but it actually works in the game’s favour. By the time you reach the end of the campaign you will be level 40 and have unlocked the new end-game content, all in time to return to the main game. That, and it should only take around six to eight hours to complete meaning you will be home in time for dinner.
As mentioned Warlords of New York takes place back in the famous city of New York but this time players will be in new areas located in Lower Manhattan. Following a hurricane that devastated the coast, each of these areas has been changed dynamically creating some interesting and unique environments to explore. There are Two Bridges, which were most hit by the hurricane; Battery Park, that has become a swamp complete with sinkholes; The Financial District, that has been hit by serious flooding while also being fortified by enemies; And the Civic Center, which is the most ‘normal’ of these four areas. Players will need to use all their skills and keep their wits about them as they navigate this unfamiliar battlefield.
To help mix things up further, Warlords of New York makes use of a new fog of war system that covers the whole map. Unlike in D.C, where key landmarks and basic map data was already available, Lower Manhattan is completely blacked out to the player. This makes navigating and completing missions more challenging, while also offering a greater sense of reward when discovering secrets. It’s a change that makes for a positive impact on the core gameplay loop that would be nice to see developed further in future updates, as it encourages you to explore the world more organically than simply following a waypoint.
Outside of the new campaign and countless new items to earn and unlock, the main draw of Warlords of New York is the new end game experience. After completing the campaign and reaching level 40, players will have access to a new form of leveling called SHD Levels, along with seasonal content. SHD Levels provide a new infinite progression system that replaces the Field Proficiency Caches and allow players to develop their agent to fit their play style. With every level up you will gain points that can be invested into affecting different attributes, each offering a unique perk. You could put all your points into weapon damage, or maybe the speed at which your skills recharge, improve your reload speed or a mixture of these and more. It’s a creative, effective, and rewarding way to give you a reason to keep playing
Elsewhere, Warlords of New York brings Seasons to The Division 2, proving a new stream of readily available content for players to enjoy. Players will be able to progress through a separate progression tree that offers plenty of rewards along with enjoying some new, time-limited content. The first Season tasks players with returning to D.C to hunt down a number of rogue agents with a new target being made available as the weeks progress. It’s not a new system by any means but to have an additional layer of content to chase down is nice for players. That said, given you need to purchase each Season separately – with the first included in the expansion – the cost will add up.
Of course, being an expansion most of the improvements and changes in Warlords of New York are content focused rather than visual. This isn’t to say that Lower Manhattan doesn’t look amazing, with the design and art direction of some locations being simply breathtaking. Just don’t expect a complete visual overhaul here, as it’s still The Division 2 at its core. Audio on the other hand does feel like it’s had a number of improvements, with voice acting for the campaign being a high standard throughout, helping to really sell the experience.
At the end of the day, Warlords of New York is a turning point for The Division 2 as it lays the foundations for the title and what will be at least another year of content, delivered in the form of seasons. Though the campaign does feel short the missions offer plenty of variety and challenge that there is a lot of fun to be had throughout. Players, both new and old, will be able to find enjoyment in the countless new features as well as the end game content, but those jumping in for the first time may be overwhelmed with the current amount of content, let alone the new additions Warlords of New York brings. If you want more of The Division 2, or a third person, loot and shoot, then you won’t go wrong with the Warlords of New York expansion.
The Warlords of New York expansion not only added plenty of enjoyable content to The Division 2, but also sets up the foundations for all updates to follow. Anyone looking for more third person, loot and shoot gameplay will find plenty to enjoy here, with players new and old able to jump in and explore Lower Manhattan.
Married a light cruiser. No, really