Interview: Division 2 dev on new expansion, Warlords of New York, major game changes, and upcoming raid

For the Division 2’s upcoming update and expansion, Warlords of New York, due out on March 3, Ubisoft is going all out. The update reworks the game’s quality of life and RPG mechanics, while the expansion will finish a number of story threads as well as add new skills and a new area to explore.

After our play through some of the content, we spoke with Nick Scurr, producer at Ubisoft Leamington and Ubisoft Reflections, about the changes and additions coming to The Division 2.

For Episode 3: Warlords of New York, what would you guys say was the focus in developing this episode?

When we're thinking about episode three for us, you know, although it wasn't public knowledge we wanted to set up the narrative of Warlords of New York also kind of wrap up some of the story threads of The Division 2.

So the location immediately linked itself to be, you know close to Manhattan but without spoiling some of the stuff that we have reserved for the expansion.

Why did you guys choose to go back to New York instead of go somewhere in DC like maybe like Baltimore or something?

For us, it was about a New York City is really iconic to The Division brand and there a lot of story threads that we hadn't wrapped up from Division 1 and so when we're looking at where we're taking the story next for ourselves, you know, we wanted to go back to Aaron Keener, you know, but also a lot of our fans were wondering what's happened to him. And we placed audio logs throughout Division 2 hinting at what he’d been up to.

For us it was about going back home, going back and seeing what had been happening to New York in the eight months since we'd last been there and really wrapping up some of those amounted threads from Division 1.

How long he has been working on it I mean did you have like episode three planned in advance like since March of last year or did you kind of come up with the ideas in the summer?

We had some rough ideas but we've been working on this expansion for a long time.

I couldn't put a date on it but well over half a year so there's been a lot of time and effort put into this. The great thing is we have good relationships with a lot of studios that work with Ubisoft as I mentioned mine but others and so we've all been working on either some of the free episodes content or we've been working on Warlords of New York. We've had this plan in mind for a long time and we've put a lot of effort into this expansion and there's a lot of content there. Not just the new campaign but we work in the gear systems, the loot and new gear sets and we’ve given our players a brand new end game once they’ve completed that as well.

What was the most important aspect of the RPG element update that you guys are doing?

The main thing that we wanted to do was to make sure we retain the complexity and all the things that the hardcore players love. You know, when they're theory crafting and putting together YouTube videos about really good builds, we wanted to keep that.

But we also wanted to make sure it was more accessible for players to easily be able to see that their gear piece or a star or talent is useful to them and so they're not spending so much time in their inventory or keeping bits of gear because they don't know if it's going to be useful later down the line. So to help with the inventory management we're making sure that people can deconstruct those items at the recalibration station to keep their higher stats and talents that they want rather than keeping gear around just in case they need it in the future.

Were you seeing players kind of getting overwhelmed?

Yeah, some of the feedback that we had, we always look on reddit and Twitter and watch streams to see what people are saying and people's inventory was just staying full. So they’re saying “can you increase inventory space because I need to have all this stuff” but really, that's not the answer.

We don't want to give people more space because that would eventually fill up as well. So we were looking at the core issues and the core issue really was that people wanted these stats that's why they're keeping the item but there was no way to take those stats off and keep them. So we’re allowing them to store them in a library and then apply them to the gear that they want to.

You're also introducing four new skills?

Yep, through the course of the manhunt campaign, Warlords of New York, you'll be facing off against four rogue agents and they each have their own SHD tech skill that they're going to use against you during the boss fight. So it's going to feel very different than the boss fights from the game in the past because they're going to be using this tech against you.

And once you defeat them, you add that to your arsenal to deploy against Aaron Keener and his remaining agents. We have the decoy which puts a hologram image of yourself to confuse the enemy so you can flank them. You have the shock trap which you can deploy as shock mines on the floor that will shock and neutralize enemies. Then returning from The Division 1, we have the sticky bomb launcher with a flame version and an explosive version.

How do you guys come up with the ideas for some of these skills and weapons?

We're big fans of other games and media and looking at where technology itself is going. Sometimes we see how players are playing with our game. If they favor the use of shock ammo and things like that, then you know, maybe there's something around the shock that we can do. But then things like the sticky bomb launch, it was obviously a favorite from The Division 1 that we never brought to The Division 2, people have asked for it and it made sense just to bring it back for this.

Let's talk about the seasons. What can people expect? There’s going to be a new season every three months, right?

That's the plan, yeah at least for the first one. Once the players completed the campaign of Warlords of New York and have hit that new level 40 power cap, we'll be launching seasons around the week after Warlords of New York.

It’s a suite of activities that will hopefully focus players time, so if you log in that day, you say “I'm gonna play today but I really wanna know what's gonna be most rewarding for the time I'm putting in,” they can bring up the seasons menu and see the whole three month calendar of events are coming up and see what's live today. So it might be that you log in and there's a global event there and you can turn on and immediately start earning season XP.

You can play that in New York or in Washington DC. Really it's about giving players a focus and a way to get cool rewards in the game.

Are the rewards specific for each season? Like this piece of gear, skill, or weapon can only be earned in this first season and will vanish once the season concludes?

Some of them will be exclusive to the seasons. There may be some skill ones that are only available in that season and some of the cosmetic items but you'll also get weapon crates or other crates that will be exclusive. There'll be gear that you can find, you know, if you're out in the open world or playing missions, but it's just another way for players to get another roll of that kind.

And another raid! You guys didn't really give us too much on the new raid except that it’s called the Foundry. Can you add anything else?

Just that the setting is the Foundry and you're going to be fighting the True Sons and it's going to be our most challenging content yet. The key thing is it's available for players that have bought the expansion Warlords of New York at level 40 but for our regular Division 2 players that are still focused on Washington it's going to be available for them as well at level 30 and we'll be talking more about that close to launch this spring.

So to be clear, you can only get to level 40 if you purchase the DLC, Warlords of New York, right?

Yes, so the new level 30 to level 40 power increases for players of Warlords of New York. But the important thing is all of the quality of life changes such as a revitalization of the Dark Zones in Washington DC, our RPG overhaul, those will be available for all our players. There's really important quality of life changes that we want everyone to have.

Great, anything else you want to add?

I'm just really, you know, we've been working really hard on this. I'm just super happy to be here over these past few days, you know watching people play the game and I'm just really excited for people to join us on March 3 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. I'm looking forward to hunting down Aaron Keene with everyone.