To kick off the second year of life for Tom Clancy's The Division 2, Ubisoft switched away from the episodic content drops from the first year and pushed out a full, proper expansion pack. Warlords of New York takes agents back to ground zero, where it all began in the first game on Manhattan Island.
This isn't a rehash of old content, though. The locations are all-new, familiar faces, both friendly and not-so-friendly, make a return, and there's a whole new level system to grind through.
At the center of it all, though, is the narrative campaign, picking up from the Episode 3 release to the base game which re-introduced rogue agent, Aaron Keener, the villain that never really went away.
A word on Title Update 8
At the same time Warlords of New York was released, Title Update 8 also arrived in the main game. This is the part responsible for features like the new calibration library and the gear 2.0 changes, among other things.
This review won't be heavily touching on these features, instead purely on what the expansion brings to the table. Title Update 8 additions are available for all players, but there are aspects of the game both now, and in the future, that are exclusive to players who buy Warlords of New York.
Guess who's back, back again
We saw Aaron Keener briefly in the latter stages of Episode 3, set on Coney Island, and through the course of the missions and collectibles, learned a little on what he's been up to. With virologist, Vitaly Tchernenko, in his custody, Keener has been developing his own special blend of the Green Poison.
As the campaign begins, agents are flown from the White House lawn to Lower Manhattan to respond to a new biological attack on City Hall. No prizes for guessing who's behind it. I won't spoil the narrative, but in brief, Keener has recruited four other rogue agents to help him deliver his fiendish plans, and through them also has control over the Cleaners and Rikers factions that we first encountered in the original game.
The objective is clear. Eliminate Keener, and find out what he's been doing all this time in New York.
When you begin the map is covered by the fog of war, so your GPS doesn't work, and you'll have to explore to reveal the full map. You're covering four rogue agents, each of which has taken over one of four districts in Lower Manhattan.
A shoutout is also deserved for the design of the locations. New York feels so much different to D.C. with its narrow streets, tall buildings, and the devastation left by a recent hurricane. There's much more to explore and some of the main mission locations are superb. Again, spoiler-free, but expect to find yourself on an oil tanker, deep underground, and even on the Staten Island Ferry.
Manhunts - new campaign structure
The campaign of Warlords of New York follows a different overall structure to the base game, but one that will be important going forward. It's still based on main missions, side missions, and the various activities you come across on the streets, but with a reworked structure.
For the campaign, Keener is the prime target, but to get to him you have to investigate four additional targets to gain the necessary intel to locate him. Each of the four additional rogue agents has their own unique skills and back story, and as you progress and take them down you'll get closer to the prime target.
Manhunts are also important because they're a key focus of the new seasonal model that The Division 2 will be implementing going forward. To take part in seasons you need to have the expansion, as it's level 40 content, and the first season is set to begin a week after launch.
The seasonal manhunts will follow a similar structure, but the targets will appear individually every few weeks, leading towards the prime target at the end of the season. Gameplay will follow a similar structure in that you'll investigate each target leading into a final battle where you'll have to beat them, collect the intel and move on closer to the prime target.
During the Keener manhunt, each of the four rogue agents you have to take down on the way has a unique skill that you'll acquire once you've defeated them. They'll use the skills against you, making for some new challenges during battle, and then they're yours to learn to use. Parnell's hologram is interesting because you have to figure out which is the real deal, and of course, who doesn't love a sticky bomb?
A new grind awaits
Warlords of New York does away with the gear score system that we've been working with in the endgame activities so far and replaces it with a whole new system. We've outlined this prior to the expansion releasing but the campaign is at least fairly straightforward.
You go back to being a level 30 agent and the new cap is level 40. You have to get to level 40 in order to finish the campaign, too, and you can't achieve it just from doing the main missions. The final mission requires you to be at level 40 to take it on, so you'll need to do a few additional activities. For me, I managed it with a handful of random activities, all main missions and the three side missions that appear as you progress. You also have to complete one of the side missions as a prerequisite for entering the final main mission.
It's only 10 levels and it doesn't take a massive amount of effort to get there, but along with this change, your gear also goes back to being level 30, regardless of its gear score. And as you progress you'll have to start picking up new gear as you did when you started the base game, and a lot of it is going to be pretty bad. But it does at least add a bit of challenge back into the game, given nobody will run through the campaign with an arsenal full of god-tier weapons.
Once you max out at level 40, complete the campaign and go into the SHD level system, the grind for the perfect build begins. But before then, you just have to get the best gear you can get your hands on and run with it. Your crafting bench levels up as you do, so assuming you have some good blueprints, this is probably the easiest way to get good gear, fast.
But the gear isn't the only variable adding to the new challenge this expansion brings. The enemies behave differently and often push you to keep moving. It's a lot of fun, and it does feel fresh after a year fighting the same bad guys every week. The only aspect I think needs toning down is the new Cleaners tank.
You come across quite a few of these nasties throughout the campaign and if you're playing solo, they're hard. Not only do I feel like they're too bullet spongy — destroying their fuel tanks, for example, takes way too long — but it's impossible at times to escape their overpowered flamethrower. They move fast, the flames shoot far and they take far too much ammo to defeat it seems. Hopefully, they'll get rebalanced.
Should you buy Warlords of New York? Definitely
Warlords of New York marks an impressive start to the second year of life in The Division 2. It's not perfect, there are things that will hopefully get tweaked, but overall it's well worth the asking price.
Not only does it reintroduce New York City, Aaron Keener and two of the factions from the first game, but it also expands the core story with some interesting background, coupled with fresh new twists. Best of all, it opens up the new seasonal model which will be the focus of endgame activities going forward.
I like that the base game is still there with regular activities for players that don't want to go into the expansion, but honestly, anyone that enjoys playing The Division 2 buy this. There's a new grind, plenty of lore for fans to get their teeth into, and now we have two great maps to explore.
As an expansion, it doesn't disappoint. And hopefully, it sets up a strong foundation for the next year of content.
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