With the release of Warlords of New York last month, The Division 2 added a big new playable area to the game. But this large update also added seasons, complete with special events and battle passes. We are now a few weeks into the first season and so far, so good. For the most part.
The idea behind adding Seasons to The Division 2 was to give players more structured content and goals. When the cover-based shooter game launched in March 2019, it was already filled with a ton of missions and endgame activities spread across its map of a ravaged Washington, DC. But players had to figure out what to prioritise on their own. This new season takes all that content and reconnects it into guided events or challenges. The end result is that The Division 2 endgame feels less aimless.
Season 1 started last month, a week after Warlords launched, giving players time to finish the new DLC and hit level 40. Since starting, we’ve received two manhunt targets, a global event, and a league event.
The manhunt is the narrative backbone of this season. At the end of Warlords it is made clear that a new group of five rogue agents are out there and are up to no good. So players need to take down a group of targets before confronting each of the first four, after which we’ll presumably take on their leader. This is similar to the manhunt found in Warlords. But unlike Warlords, this new manhunt is spread out over the next few months, with new targets popping up every few weeks. To take out these targets players have to clear out different areas of the map, completing existing missions, control points, and bounties.
On the one hand, this is stuff that players were already doing before the season started. But now there is a better sense of progression as you check off the various missions and activities, earning rewards as you do so, like XP and guns. With this new manhunt, the game is really just rewarding players for doing what they were already doing, which isn’t incredibly exciting to read about, but I do appreciate it as a player. A nice touch is that as you make progress, you get a few small bits of story. This is nothing more than a few voice lines over the radio, but it at least helps make it feel like I’m actually hunting down a group of rogue agents. Fighting these new manhunt targets isn’t anything new. They work like bounty targets in the current game. They are a bit trickier to fight, and when you kill them you get some more story via a radio message. The experience is nothing like killing the secretive hunters or taking on end-of-mission bosses from the main story.
The most interesting thing this season was the global event, which just ended a few days ago. Global Events were offered late in the lifecycle of the first Division, changing the overall rules of the game for a short period of time. The first Global Event for the new game was called “Polarity Switch,” and it was weird. It marked all enemies in the game as either positive or negative via an icon above their head. Players would also be marked as either positive or negative, displayed as a colourful hologram on their arm. To effectively kill enemies during this event, players had to shoot bad guys who had the same polarity. If you shot someone with a different polarity than you currently sported you would be shocked for a few seconds. To change your polarity you could reload or switch weapons.
Does this make any sense in the context of The Division 2 and its world? Nope. But it was a fun idea, and it made every firefight in the game more interesting. Even basic little combat encounters I randomly stumbled across while walking around the city became a bit trickier and more exciting while dealing with switching polarities. And for folks who didn’t want to deal with this stuff, Ubisoft allowed players to opt-out of the event, which is a smart choice According to the in-game roadmap, the next global event will involve enemies who come back to life unless you shoot them in the head, which sounds wild. I’m excited.
Leagues are my least favourite part of the new season. They have players run missions over and over, trying to earn faster times while completing various challenges. This isn’t a bad idea, but compared to the other events and content in this season, it doesn’t feel as fresh or intriguing. However, for players who love a good challenge or who prefer a more grounded experience free of polarity switches, Leagues is a nice addition.
All of this content feeds into the battle pass and your season rank. But also, all of this content has its own unlockables and mini-battle passes, essentially. It might sound a tad overwhelming, but the menus do a decent job of keeping it all sorted. Rewards are things like more XP, new weapon skins, clothing items, and item caches.
All of this seasonal stuff is spread across the game’s DC map and the expansion’s New York City map. The expansion is required to experience the season.
The Division 2 is currently in a weird place, as is the nature of these kinds of endless games. Players are understandably upset about some bugs, some builds, and some punishing difficulty settings. The season has been a bright spot in the current mess. I feel excited to log on each week and see what new stuff is happening and what I can unlock next. If the rest of the season is this good, I can see myself and other players coming back a lot more for future seasons. And for new players who are just finishing up Warlords, this current season is perfect for them as it gives them more things to work towards and unlock.