The Division 2's Washington, D.C. setting is surprisingly close to the real city

The Division 2 is a third-person military shooter that takes place in Washington, D.C. After a series of biological attacks, the U.S. lacks the capacity to regain control of important cities. This is where you — an agent of The Division — come in. You have to take back the capitol from nefarious forces that thrive off of chaos and restore order.

In many interviews, the game's maker Ubisoft said that The Division 2 features a "1:1 representation of the real city, making the game world more authentic than ever. The game's map offers up-close-and-personal views of landmarks, natural landscapes, neighborhoods, and enemy hideouts." However, just how accurate is the game world? We ventured into Washington, D.C. to find out. Actual photographs of the city can be seen on the left and screenshots from the game can be seen on the right.

Lincoln Memorial

Washington Monument

Capitol Building

White House


National Air and Space Museum

National Museum of Natural History

Hirshhorn Museum

Many major landmarks like the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and others look exactly the same. Massive Entertainment did an incredible job of recreating them in The Division 2 because you'll be hard-pressed to find a difference. However, the insides of these buildings are completely different, and a lot of the game's action takes place in these structures.

Smithsonian Castle

However, The Division 2 isn't completely accurate, even with it comes to major landmarks. For example, the Smithsonian Castle's proportions are wrong, but considering the fact that it's a "Settlement" in the game, certain liberties had to be taken. The overall structure is quite similar.

In fact, most of the "liberties" taken with Washington, D.C. are the result of in-game content. While exploring the city with some of the game creators, there was a heavy focus on what D.C. would look like after six months of chaos from the events of the first game. Settlements popping up are an important detail in the way the story and objectives are presented, but physically the D.C. area has undergone decades of water management to make the area livable. Without those things in place and fairly constantly being maintained, significant chunks of the city return to being underwater. You actually see this in the game, especially around the Lincoln Memorial, where water has reclaimed a lot of the area.

Foggy Bottom

Snows Court

Gelman Library

The George Washington University

Whole Foods

The George Washington University Hospital

The George Washington University School of Medicine

Old Main

F Street House

The Griffin

The Plaza

We also walked around western Washington, D.C., to compare the new section of the map, which wasn't accessible during the beta tests. Surprisingly, a lot of the buildings in neighborhoods like Foggy Bottom are also identical. As you can see, even obscure apartment complexes like The Griffin or The Plaza have been recreated with slight modifications. Lastly, Whole Foods and other stores like 7-Eleven are called Most 24 in the game.

Claridge House

Some buildings are completely different and don't look anything like what they do in real life. However, we noticed that this mostly happens when you can enter them.

There is also an important element of fantasy at play. One of the missions late in the game leads you to an underground bunker full of secrets and weapons and more. This whole bunker isn't real, but it came to life in the game based on research the developers did while exploring the city. Washington, D.C. is full of stories about underground shelters and secret rooms, due in no small part to the city actually having real-life, Prohibition-era speakeasies converted to hidden clubs and what is basically an underground city worth of tunnels connecting the Capital and museums and more. Taking advantage of those rumors and myths is a clever way to blur the line between fact and fiction.

Overall, Massive did an amazing job of bringing Washington, D.C., to life in The Division 2. We genuinely believed the realism would be limited to major landmarks, but that's not the case, because even different neighborhoods have received great care.

Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.