Impressions: The Division 2's D.C. Outskirts update is fun, but not enough to pull me back in
The Division 2 has been out for a few months now, and, like me, there are some players out there who have already sunk hundreds of hours into its vast and sprawling post-apocalyptic Washington. We've seen all the armor, all the control points, the raid, and the many, many skull-shattering, tank-busting guns the game has to offer.
If you're like me, after hitting the highest world tier possible and clocking in at a high gear score, you may have gotten bored after playing the end-game for a while. After so many hours loaded into the game at the highest difficulty and gear score you can get, there's only so much you can do, after all. That's why, when the D.C. Outskirts update hit live servers, I was hoping for fresh content and some sort of new spin or feature that could reinvigorate my love for the game. Well, D.C. Outskirts and its offered expeditions are certainly fun and offers about 10 hours of activities but it just isn't enough to do the trick for me. The Division 2 is fun, and it's just more of the same Division 2, but in a slightly new map.
An expedition into repetition
When I play a game-as-a-service, which The Division 2 most certainly is, there needs to be a certain level of grinding, progression, and ultimately rewards to keep me interested in coming back after hundreds of hours. The Division 2's end-game actually does have a system akin to this, but it isn't very different or evolving. It's repetitive, and after a while, you realize you're just doing the same thing without any different or refreshing reward to keep it fun. And therefore, it didn't do well to keep me interested after so much playtime. I love the game, don't get me wrong, but it had an expiration date, which isn't necessarily a good thing when you're talking about a game that's supposed to keep on giving.
D.C. Outskirts, then, was supposed to bring the heat. Like any update to a game-as-a-service, I wanted it to have a new progression system, new guns, new armor, a new specialization, a new exploration zone, a new story, new rewards, new unlockables, maybe a new settlement. We got a couple of those things—new guns, new armor, and about an eighth of a new exploration zone—but that's about it. A new spec came out ahead of the update, too, and that spec is actually pretty fun, and I recommend giving it a try. But none of those things are enough to make the game feel fresh or exciting.
The new expedition zones aren't full exploration areas, you just get carried away to a mission in a helicopter, and once you do that one mission, you're carried back to the normal D.C. you know and love. There are three expeditions like this, and they all operate the same way, rather than giving you a new zone to traipse around in or a new settlement to beef up. There are rewards, but nothing that feels new compared to the same old rewards you can get in the game, and the story just feels like an epilogue to the main story rather than a whole new experience to dive into. It's just a lot more of the same old, same old Division 2. That's not a bad thing, per se, but if you were hoping for something new like I was, similar to an expansion or update in another ongoing live game, you might be disappointed.
Tying up loose ends
If you're someone that was angry about the end of the story in The Division 2, you may actually be happy, because this update does well to tie up loose ends. Slight spoilers ahead, but I won't name any names or give any specifics.
I mentioned that D.C. Outskirts felt more like an epilogue for a good reason. If you paid attention to the primary story from the game, you'll know that a rather major traitor was revealed, only for you to fight his henchmen to end the story. And, the death of another villain is strongly implied, but you never see a body. Well, the fate of both of these characters is revealed and continues on into this update, and two of the major expeditions you go on heavily involve them both. That's cool, if you really wanted more of the same story.
But again, if you were hoping for the update to being you something new to reinvigorate how the game is played—not so much. Even after this update, and knowing that there are more coming throughout the year, this game doesn't feel like a game that can last multiple years with a solid playerbase. As a big fan of the game, I hope I'm wrong, and I hope something is revealed that may change my mind, but for now, it's still just The Division 2.