The Division 2's launch trailer is here! It has cinematic action, teasers of cool abilities, and possibly the most egregious example of song/trailer conflict I have ever witnessed. Don't get me wrong, it's a well-crafted video that makes me excited to play The Division 2 when it comes out on March 15, but picking Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" to play behind the whole thing sure was a choice.
On the game side, the trailer shows agents of The Division surveying the destruction of Washington, D.C. and talking about their mission to reclaim the nation's capital. Slow pans across wrecked city streets, slow-motion battle scenes against masked bad guys, you know what to expect. Then there's the music.
Masters of War may be Bob Dylan's angriest song. It's a '60s anti-war protest anthem, and though many other protest songs have been recontextualized over the years to just sound a bit rebellious to our modern ears (hello, Fortunate Son), the venom Dylan felt in his heart is just as strong today as when he wrote it. Check out the first verse, via Genius:
"Come, you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks"
This song is playing in the background of a trailer that shows off all the cool high-tech equipment that agents of The Division get. But at least they're using the big guns and (mini) death planes and (roller) bombs for good, right? Well. Player characters in The Division do have that "citizens rising up for the common good" thing on a surface level, but they have access to all this tech because they're sleeper agents from a secret pre-apocalyptic agency. In other words, they're a martial arm of the United States government.
Here's what Dylan thought about leaders who send their people off to fight wars for them.
"And I hope that you die
And your death will come soon
I will follow your casket
By the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
'Til I’m sure that you’re dead"
I'm not trying to be pedantic. I know The Division 2 is meant to be a fun action game with a crisp chocolatey shell of Clancyverse intrigue. But somebody at Ubisoft picked Masters of War on purpose! There are so many songs and they picked this one! Are they teasing some big subversion of everything we thought we knew about The Division or did they just not listen to the lyrics or what!?! I don't understand!
Uh, so the political subtext may be a little muddled so far, but you can't argue with how The Division 2 turns Washington into a breathtaking post-pandemic playground.