You only get the coolest stuff in The Division 2 when it's finished... and we've tried it out

Usually you get to the end of the game, happy that you’ve maxed out your character, and then reluctantly let it slip into the distance as a new title grabs your attention. Who can blame you? All the missions have been completed, you’ve got the best gear, and you’ve played your character so much that there can’t be any more surprises waiting around the corner for you. The Division 2 (opens in new tab) is changing that, joining the likes of Destiny (opens in new tab) in keeping the game going until way after you’ve finished the campaign with what they’re calling an "endgame first" strategy. Basically, you won’t be waving goodbye to The Division 2 for a long, long time. In fact, the best bits only unlock once you’ve completed the main campaign. 

What that means is that when you reach level 30 a whole new aspect of The Division 2 opens up as you can access Specialisations: special classes that grant you unique abilities and one very powerful weapon that you won’t be able to get anywhere else. There are three in total: the Demolitionist, the Survivalist, and the Sharpshooter. The Survivalist has a nifty crossbow with exploding bolts, which I got to try out when I played The Division 2’s demo. Good god is it powerful. But to properly intimidate your enemies you’ll have to team up with others, like the Demolitionist with their grenade launcher or the Sharpshooter with a specialised .50 caliber sniper rifle. Working together is the only way you’re going to be able to beat the new 8-person raids and tackle Control Points, systemic and repeating events scattered throughout the world.

Control Points work like Destiny’s patrols - you’ll wander around the world with three buddies, and find an area occupied by the enemy. If you choose to engage them - they won’t start attacking until you fire the first shot - you’ll them have to subdue them, but they are a lot more tricksy than before. Now there are medics who run around healing your foes when they fall to the ground, heavies that are outfitted in thick bomb proof armour and fire out grenades, and enemies which’ll encase you in rapidly-solidifying foam, securing you in place. Taking out the entire enemy encampment requires teamwork, coordination, and a lot of specific tactics - only by using your powers combined will you be able to take them down. Civilian reinforcements can come and help you out, but don’t rely on them. Trust me, I’ve played it, and if you try and go all lone wolf you’ll be bleeding out into the dirt in no time. 

Once those violent guys are six feet under, civilians occupy the area, headed by an Officer. That Officer will ask you to go fetch them various resources that’ll strengthen the settlement. Although those baddies can take it back, meaning Control Points become a repeating activity that you can take on time and time again. There’s plenty to do once you reach level 30 besides tackle Control Points: with a map that’s 20% bigger than the first Division game and a 1:1 replication of Washington D.C. in real life, those winding streets and its distinct regions (which come with their own distinct environmental aesthetic, by the way) give you loads to explore even when the campaign is finished. 

Perhaps you feel like going paddling, in which case you should head to the flooded government district. Or you could go to the suburbs in Georgetown which have long since been overgrown and boast a new organic layout, and of course walk down the decrepit National Mall. Each area has its own enemies and factions, meaning you’ll have to alter your approach depending on which area you’re planning on trekking through. 

Getting to level 30 has its own perks: you’ll get access to new slots that let you peacock (their words, not mine), which can be filled with items that showcase your achievements so everyone can see just how many hours you’ve sunk into The Division 2. Modesty is overrated. And you won’t run out of things to boast about either - the game has a live service of sorts, and with the three, free scheduled updates there’s going to be plenty to keep you entertained. Massive Entertainment’s message is clear: The Division 2 only really gets going once you’ve finished the main campaign. And judging from what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Zoe Delahunty-Light

While here at GamesRadar, Zoe was a features writer and video presenter for us. She's since flown the coop and gone on to work at Eurogamer where she's a video producer, and also runs her own Twitch and YouTube channels. She specialises in huge open-world games, true crime, and lore deep-dives.