The Division 2: Warlords of New York review for PC, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Massive Entertainment
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-8
Online: Yes

New York! I absolutely love New York, and while Washington D.C. was a very well done, fully realized change of pace, the return to New York had me ecstatic. The change of locale brings you to Lower Manhattan, which is different enough from The Division 1 to be new and intriguing, but familiar enough (for a non-local) to bring out some nostalgia. Warlords of New York offers a bump to level 30 for a character, so even if this is your first foray into the world of The Division, you can jump right in and start off in Warlords.

Along with a level 30 boost, Warlords of New York bumps the level cap up to 40, which allows old players to strive toward something and new players to feel like they are making progress right away, even with the boost. After hitting level 40 however, you will start gaining SHD levels, which work exactly like Paragon levels in Diablo 3 if you are familiar with those. Each level you gain allows you to add a bit to your stats, so it brings much more incentive to push to higher and higher levels late game than the original reward of a simple cache.

This incentive, however, comes with its own downside. To push those higher levels you will need to start playing on Challenging and Heroic difficulty levels. In The Division 2 base game, this was relatively do-able with a good team, all sporting some Exotic gear and solid builds. With the rework that Warlords brought about, however, good luck. Every single enemy is a bullet-sponge, and the AI is much more aggressive. Hundreds of suicide bomb drones, flanking flamethrower enemies, grenades for days, all coupled with needing 3-5 full magazines to bring some of these enemies down, and players dying in one shot make those difficulties simply not fun anymore.

Luckily, that is just about the only downside in Warlords of New York. Although the story is a bit short, clocking in at about 8 hours for the completionists out there, it is jam-packed with content and the strongest story and villain in the series history. The hunt for the disavowed agent Aaron Keener will have you hunting through a virus torn and natural disaster-stricken Lower Manhattan. En route to the actual main villain, you will work your way through his Lieutenants, each of whom has their own unique skillsets and weapons you can loot. Each fight takes place in a different area that caters to whatever that Lieutenant?s particular fighting style is, which makes each fight unique and fresh.

I know a lot of players were concerned about their gear they had earned in the base game becoming irrelevant after Warlords released, and those are valid fears. Your gear DOES become irrelevant, aside from maybe hanging onto a few things for sentimental reasons. Warlords of New York does this in a really engaging way though. You don?t just ditch all of your old gear for equal or lesser loot, you immediately get new gear that feels substantially stronger.

You see the immediate improvement, which makes dropping your sweet older gear that much easier. Sure, you will not have some of the buffs and specific attributes that you might have farmed for before, but the new re-calibration station allows you to breakdown items and store their attributes for use on later pieces of gear. Again, not unlike Diablo 3 and the Kanai?s Cube. This allows for a much more focused endgame build, with a lot less farming frustration.

In addition to the adjustments to the re-calibration and the leveling system, the builds are a lot more straightforward now. No more breaking out a calculator to see exactly what your different percentages end up being. And the skill levels and the use of your skills are much easier to figure out as well. These all end up being dramatic quality of life improvements, addressing most of the concerns I have heard from The Division 2 community as a whole.

In addition to the quality content that Warlords of New York delivers upfront, there is an entire year of further additions planned. The Division 2 looks like it is going to be following the seasonal model that had become so popular recently, and players who purchase Warlords of New York will have access to Season 1 content for free, with later seasons requiring additional purchases. The knee-jerk reaction might be a bit negative, with the paid seasons splitting a lot of gamers 50/50, but if they continue to deliver quality content updates like they have with Warlords of New York, the paid seasons will probably end up being more than worth it.

Note: Ubisoft provided us with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 – Warlords of New York PC code for review purposes.

Grade: B+