Tom Clancy's The Division 2 is shaping up as a major improvement upon its predecessor, bringing a new open-world take on Washington D.C., improved progression systems, and deeper end-game experience. After its E3 2018 showcase, we have a clearer idea of what Ubisoft hopes to achieve through its immersive shared-world shooter. Here's how one of The Division 2's biggest additions is shaping up so far.

Why The Division 2 raids are so important

While the original The Division had strong foundations, the game was heavily scrutinized for its lack of end-game content. Ubisoft had established a rich platform for future updates, yet there simply wasn't much to do after the main story. These shortcomings were eventually alleviated through strong post-launch support but the game's following never truly recovered. Ubisoft is clearly aware of where The Division fell short and has already outlined several improvements to the end-game experience for the successor.

One of the biggest new additions in The Division 2 is raids, which traditionally offer cooperative high-stakes combat through long, challenging missions. Similar modes in rival games have sourced their best moments, requiring consistent teamwork to overcome these trials. In short, they're often a culmination of everything a game has to offer, merging the game's best mechanics into a single experience. Ubisoft is approaching raids in a similar way for The Division 2, with creative director, Julian Gerighty, framing them as the "the pinnacle" of the game in an interview with Gamertag Radio.

What we know about The Division 2 raids

Although we're yet to see gameplay of the new The Division 2 mode in action, Ubisoft has discussed its presence around the game's reveal. Raids first made a debut at Ubisoft's E3 2018 press conference, with the promise of more to come closer to launch.

Ubisoft firmly angles raids as an end-game activity, meaning access should be restricted to high-level players after completing other available content. While Gerighty has been keen to stress that most end-game experiences won't be gruelingly challenging, raids are very much a "super hardcore" part of the package. You'll need the best players equipped with top-tier gear to succeed.

The Division 2 raids will support up to eight players in a single session, offering two additional allies over main rival, Destiny 2. Players will need to assemble a large team of agents to tackle the content, finding a synergy between the new "specialization" roles and maintaining communication. With a high player count, it's unclear if Ubisoft plans to offer matchmaking for this mode.

The Division "Incursions" released shortly after the first game's launch, serving up some of the most challenging end-game content yet. Although many enjoyed the challenge it offered, lack of depth and low player counts left much to be desired. It's unclear how the raids will differentiate themselves from Incursions, aside from what we know so far. Replayability also appears to have a strong focus this time around, with Gerighty hoping content should keep players "invested for hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of hours."

We also know exclusive rewards lay ahead for those who beat raids, that "makes you stand out" to other players. Whether exclusive weapons, armor, or cosmetic drops, we hope to find out more soon.

The Division 2 raids release date

Ubisoft has discussed its plans to release a variety of post-launch downloadable content (DLC) over the months following The Division 2's launch. Three major expansions referred to as "Episodes" are planned in the first year, with title updates and world events spread throughout.

Although raids will be a major component of The Division 2, it doesn't appear that Ubisoft will ship one at launch. Speaking with Gamertag Radio, Gerigty claimed that although "maybe not on day one," the release has to be "in the first few weeks of launch." As seen in Destiny 2, Bungie allowed players to level up before releasing a raid a week after release. Multiple raids are planned, with releases scheduled throughout the following year.

The challenge lays ahead

Although details on raids are somewhat limited, expect more in the coming months, potentially at Gamescom in August.

In the meantime, The Division 2 is available for preorder at select retailers, ahead of its planned March 15, 2019 release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs. Although we're yet to see availability across major U.S. storefronts, expect listings to surface in the coming months.

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