“All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.” –Confucius
While on Javier Kajika’s trail, the agent investigates the site where a JTF convoy that was ambushed, discovering an ECHO beacon that confirm’s Kajika’s presence. Following the data into Pathway Park, the agent pursues Kajika through a former shopping mall, abandoned train station and a massive drilling project the Cleaners had planned on using against the Lower Manhattan base of operations, Haven. The agent finally corners Kajika in his lair, and while Kajika initially has the upper hand with shock traps and steam valves concealing his position during the fight, the agent methodically and gradually disables these traps, defeating Kajika. With three of Aaron Keener’s four warlords down, the Division turns its attention to James Dragov, who had been brazenly operating out of the Wall Street stock exchange. The agent smashes through Dragov’s army of Rikers and destroys their armoured personnel carrier. Dragov brings two of his best fighters out and sets off to engage the agent on the trading floor, but are utterly decimated. With Dragov dead, the agent returns Dragov’s watch for investigation and heads off for Pier 26 to secure the remainder of the supplies Dragov had been hoarding, discovering a stockpile of chemical and biohazardous compounds. All four of Keener’s lieutenants are now dealt with, and most of the fog of war covering Lower Manhattan has been rolled back, leaving only the Big Man himself as the final, remaining target for the Warlords of New York manhunt. Travelling through Lower Manhattan’s financial district has been a visual treat: this is where all of the imposing skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan lie, and familiar landmarks, including Wall Street and the One World Trade Centre, are quite prominent. This is the side of New York that has the same aesthetic as The Division, with its high rises and narrow streets that bring back memories of the original game and Aaron Keener’s twisted machinations for the world.
Besides an impressive skyline that sets the backdrop for the second half of the manhunt, The Division 2‘s done an excellent job of exploring the lore despite the fact that Aaron Keener has yet to make an actual appearance. Through recorded conversations and ECHO beacons, Keener’s cold, sadistic, no-nonsense personality becomes apparent. In conjunction with his military training, charisma and keen intellect, Keener is an expert at manipulating those around him, supremely confident in his own abilities and when the chips are down, proves himself ruthless, casting aside even allies to fulfil his objectives. Conversations Keener has with Dragov, for instance, shows that he expects those working under him to be utterly loyal and competent, refusing to understand their circumstances if any difficulties arise. Keener has little patience for those who do not abide to his personal ideology and boasts a large superiority complex, which, in conjunction with his decaying stability and exceptional skills, make him a formidable opponent. Warlords of New York has insofar kept all of the fights with Keener’s warlords exciting, so all of this comes together to create the expectation that fighting Keener is going to be the toughest fight in The Division 2. In order to square off against Aaron Keener, however, the agent does need to hit the new level cap, and so, the goal now becomes to finish off the remaining side missions in Lower Manhattan and acquire a decent set of gear before heading into the showdown I’ve longed to have with Keener since the events of The Division.
Screenshots and Commentary
- As the morning light breaks over Lower Manhattan, and sunbeams begin illuminating the skyscrapers, I set off to continue from where I’d left off last time. By day, Lower Manhattan holds a strange beauty over it, between the deserted, overgrown buildings and deserted streets. I deliberately chose to play my missions by day: unlike The Division, New York is far too dark for decent screenshots during the night.
- It’s been a while since I’ve headed into a vast excavation pit: The Division had several of these large scale settings that the Washington segments of The Division 2 lacked. When I think about it, the Washington D.C. side of The Division 2 generally feels a lot smaller than any of the locales in The Division, and so, it was a welcome return to form in Warlords of New York, which sends players to areas that have an aesthetic reminiscent of The Division.
- Large open excavation pits and cranes also brings back memories of the Cleaners: one of the campaign missions in The Division had been focused on disrupting a large Cleaners operation at a construction site, with the goal of disrupting their napalm supply. This culminated in a battle with Joe Ferro, a former New York sanitation engineer who went insane after Green Poison claimed his family. The Cleaners are an interesting faction to fight, and while to players, they’re merely exploding enemies, the lore shows that all of them began with good intentions.
- Amidst the deserted streets of Lower Manhattan, the effects of the hurricane are visibly seen. One of my favourite parts of The Division 2 was finding an audio log where Paul Rhodes is seen speaking with a peace keeper about hunkering down for the upcoming hurricane: these audio logs give characters more dimensionality, and listening to them does much for expanding the lore of The Division 2‘s world.
- Pursuit of Kajika leads the agent to Pathway Park, a massive underground shopping complex. Christmas decorations still remain here and other parts of New York, creating an unusual juxtaposition between the season and environment, as well as reminding players of how extensive the consequences of the Green Poison outbreak had been. For the curious, the large Christmas baubles that appear in The Division can be destroyed: it is a nice touch that shows attention to detail in the game, although it should also go without saying that wasting ammunition on the scenery, however amusing it may be, is generally not the best idea in the world.
- Pressing further into the overgrown complex, the descriptions from Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us come to mind. It’s been roughly seven months since the events of The Division, and abandoned, uninhabited structures have seen native and introduced vegetation take over. If memory serves, Manhattan was built on a forested swamp, where wildlife roamed and water flowed.
- When Henry Hudson found Manhattan, he would have seen an estuary, for shorebirds to rest and fish to swim. Black bears would have wandered the area freely, seeking out blueberries. An outpost was established here in 1624 as New Amsterdam under Dutch control. It would become a British colony in 1665 after the Second Anglo-Dutch War and was rechristened New York. Under British control, New York expanded until the American Revolution, which expelled the British from America.
- By 1783, George Washington returned to New York as the British departed, and from the nineteenth century onward, as New York grew to become America’s largest city, Manhattan would see the construction of the world’s first skyscrapers as land became increasingly scarce. Today, to keep the river from reclaiming what belongs to nature, New York employs three hundred pump rooms to push water out of the subway system. Without these pumps, water would flow back in, and nature would reclaim the concrete jungle that is Manhattan.
- In The Division 2, I’m guessing that at least some of these pumps are still operational; The Division had players go around Manhattan restoring critical services during various story and side missions, and even after the hurricane, inhabitants left on Manhattan, both the Peacekeepers and other factions, likely have continued to keep some services running to ensure the Hudson River doesn’t begin making its way underground.
- Experts estimate that under normal conditions, the entirety of the New York subway could fill with water within a week, and heavy rain conditions could cause flooding in under thirty-six hours, if the pumps were not working normally. In the space of a few years, the water-logged earth would cause the pavement to buckle completely. Signs of this are already seen in The Division 2, but having ventured in the deep areas on the hunt for Kajika, one can surmise that at least parts of the pump network are still operational.
- After clearing through the mall area, the agent enters a network of underground tunnels. The pursuit of Kajika leads players into a vast tunnel adjacent to the subway network, where Cleaners have been working on a massive drill with the intent of using it to breach Haven and destroy the Peacekeepers. This plot appears to have been undetected by Paul Rhodes and Roy Benitez, which leads to a sobering thought pertaining to how many other unknown plots that the Peacekeepers are unaware of.
- The fact that the Cleaners are so intent on destroying the Peacekeepers even after the Green Poison may seem irrational, but a glance at reality shows that even during times of crisis, there are those who are so gripped by their ideology that they would refuse to set aside their differences to handle the larger problems at hand. This is admittedly disappointing, and it is outside the scope of my ability to speculate on why people might cling so desperately to their beliefs even if it becomes clear that said beliefs will bring them to harm.
- It is fortuitous, then, that the agent stumbles upon the drill and destroys it en route to Kajika: sometimes, luck works in the good guys’ favour, and it brings to mind a curious way that I’ve heard about how luck works: with the bad guys, those who seek to cause harm and destroy, to subvert and undermine, they need to be lucky every time. For the good guys, who strive to maintain order, peace, security and safety, sometimes, all it takes is to be lucky once. For Kajika and the Cleaners, they needed to be lucky in evading the Peacekeepers until their operation could be put into play, but all it took was for the Agent to find the drill, thus putting an end to what must’ve been weeks, if not months, of planning and effort.
- The fight with Kajika is set in several stages: initially, steam traps and shock mines prevent the agent from closing the distance. As the fight wears on, players will be able to locate and disable the steam traps, allowing them to access valves that lower the water level. During this section, it’s best to deal with the Cleaners; Kajika himself will only deploy shock traps and fire sporadically at the player. While it is possible to damage him, Kajika’s loadout (an explosive crossbow and the MP-X) means he’s more of a threat at close range.
- Once all the traps are disabled, and players can take Kajika head on, his armour and health aren’t particularly impressive. Care must be taken to ensure Kajika doesn’t get too close: he’s equipped with an Okinawan machete that can hit quite hard. However, Kajika does not appear to have been programmed to duck for cover when rushing with a melee weapon, exposing him to fire. I dumped the remainder of my ammunition as he charged me with his machete, and in the aftermath, I collected his ability and smartwatch, as well as extracting remaining data from his quarters for investigation.
- With Kajika down, the only warlord left on my list is Dragov. Pushing through the fog of war in Lower Manhattan means discovering activities to complete, and after a certain number of activities are completed, agents will gain access to a bounty mission, where one has fifteen minutes to locate a named elite, En route to Dragov’s hideout at Wall Street, I ended up liberating a control point and ended up facing off against a tank called “Gamer”.
- I’ve only ever lost one bounty mission, and this was during the Warlords of New York expansion, when I had been chasing a target at Battery Park. For one reason or another, I was ambushed and died almost instantly. With that still fresh in my memories, I approached this hunt a little more cautiously and ended up chasing “Gamer” to the rooftops. After eliminating him and preparing to continue on my quest to Wall Stteet, I was met with this skyline of Lower Manhattan.
- The financial district has the most impressive scenery anywhere of Lower Manhattan, and it was here that I found the Warlords of New York expansion at its finest, differentiating itself from the Washington D.C. content. The Division had excellent atmospherics which set the expectations for what was to come, and when I’d beaten The Division, I had voiced the hope that future instalments would happen somewhere unique like London, Shanghai or Tokyo. Looking back, since The Division deals with an American stay-behind organisation, it was logical that the sequel would be set in the United States.
- To this end, if there ever is a The Division 3, I personally would love to see the sequel set in Chicago, which has the second largest number of skyscrapers of any American city or Seattle for striking a balance between a respectable skyline and impressive mountains. Here, I fight my way closer to Dragov, whose headquarters is inside the Wall Street Building. Besides having visited Wall Street during my trip to New York years ago, I remember Wall Street best as the filming location of the stock exchange sequence in The Dark Knight Rises, where Bane accesses the trading floor to make transactions that bankrupts Bruce Wayne.
- Inside Wall Street, it turns out that Dragov’s been stockpiling equipment and chemicals for Keener. Ever since Larae Barrett’s death at the hands of the Division, Dragov’s taken over as the Rikers’ de facto leader. Under his command, the Rikers have begun amassing supplies and provisions for survival, which catches Keener’s eye. He offered Dragov a deal, promising to make it worthwhile, and since then, Dragov’s been working to provide provisions for Keener.
- Because the supplies can be repurposed, the agent is tasked with securing the supplies that Dragov has stockpiled, rather than destroying them. The Rikers send out one Duchess to deal with the agent, and from the lore, Duchess was a Rikers who had nothing but respect for Dragov: as it turns out, during the prison riot, Dragov had shot the warden and personally unlocked Barrett’s cell. Having seen this for herself, Duchess felt that Dragov had the qualities of a leader and supported his leadership. For her troubles, she became Dragov’s second in command, but would die at the agent’s hands.
- The Rikers have acquired an armoured personnel carrier somewhere along the way, and while it is immobile, its mortars can decimate the agent. I ended up staying in cover and blasting at the panels on its siding. For one reason or another, the APC explodes when the panels are destroyed, allowing one to continue to operation. Faye Lau’s remarks here are hilarious, and one sympathises; there are a handful of times where live reactions to when people received what’s coming to them on various forums and social media would’ve been worthwhile.
- I imagine that Dragov’s feeling a combination of rage and panic simultaneously: unlike Parnell, however, Dragov is more composed, and when the agent draws near, he orders two of his remaining lieutenants to accompany him to confront the agent. With the objectives in this mission satisfied, there’s nothing left to do here but push forwards: Dragov is awaiting my challenge, and I was curious to see what his fight would entail.
- Agents are treated to a small rave, complete with music and laser show, upon entering the stock exchange itself. Amidst flashing strobe lights and rockin’ tunes, the agent will clear out the area before heading onward to the final segment of this mission. There’s a pair of fuse boxes one will need to shoot out, which unlocks the door leading into the trading rooms. There’s a large electrical cage in the middle of this room, and for now, there’s no way to unlock it.
- The last time I ventured into the Trading Floor of the New York Stock Exchange in a video game, I believe it was in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3‘s first mission. After the Rikers are excised from the Trading Floor, Dragov and two tanks will appear. Dragov is armed with the explosive sticky bomb and an RPK-74M, loadouts that agents from The Division will be familiar with. Facing three tanks at the same time is what constitutes this fight’s challenge, but it’s nothing new. I’ve heard that it’s possible to activate turrets in the room that make things easier, but I ended up hanging out behind a desk where racks of pork are hanging.
- Using my assault turret, I concentrated my fire on one tank at a time, and in this way, both lieutenants went down fairly quickly. Only Dragov himself was left, but since he’s the same as the tanks, concentrating fire on one spot in his armour will break it, after which his armour plating and health can be depleted as per usual. Finishing Dragov off allows players to pick up the sticky bomb skill, which some players will certainly enjoy: the sticky bomb was a fun skill in The Division that acted as a combination grenade launcher/remote detonator.
- While Dragov is down for the count, there is one final mission left: agents must investigate and see what Dragov had been supplying to Keener. Making their way to Pier 26, players will find an impromptu chemical weapons manufacturing lab. Keener had wanted Dragov’s considerable stockpile of stuff to manufacture a new chemical weapon of terrifying power, and the distress call that sent the Division to New York had resulted from Keener testing this new weapon.
- Once it becomes clear what Keener had been asking of Dragov, the goal of this mission is the clear out the Rikers and secure the area before destroying the compounds that Dragov had the Rikers concoct. Listening to the audio logs, it became clear that Dragov and the Rikers, being no chemical engineers, were having trouble creating the compounds to Keener’s specifications. Dragov himself does not exactly align with Keener’s ideology, and instead, only aids him for survival reasons.
- Before I wrap things up, there’s still the inspiration for the page quote: having seen countless agents go rogue, one would surmise that the fate each rogue agent falls to was one that came relatively easily, and that for the player, the good they try to achieve is a constant, uphill battle. The quote is sourced from the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, whose writings and way of life remained valuable. Confucius along with Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, left a lasting impact on the world for their clarity and emphasis on doing good.
- Insofar, it’s been about a five hour journey to finish off Keener’s warlords, and with the last of the missions done, all that’s left is Keener himself. With this post in the books, I expect that I’ll be writing about Houkago Teibou Nisshi next, since we’re going to be seeing the sixth episode air tomorrow. Beyond this, I’ve also begun my journey into YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. on the recommendation of fellow blogger Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime, and so far, I’m rather enjoying the story. My initial impressions of YU-NO are that there’s a very clean supernatural piece to it that fortunately, handles more or less the same way Rick and Morty handles alternate timelines. Coupled with the fact that Takuya Arima is a fairly likeable protagonist, and the fact that Mio Shimazu is hawt, I’ve begun making some headway into the anime.
It should be no surprise that I’ve been greatly enjoying Warlords of New York: the expansion has met expectations and given The Division 2 new life: while Lower Manhattan might be smaller, the variety that is available between New York and Washington gives players the options to explore different settings on their quest for better gear. It’s felt great to experience the levelling up process again, from thirty to forty, and while I was a little bemused that a standard piece of level 31 gear was superior to the Gear Score 515 pieces I had, this trepidation quickly became a non-issue as I equipped a range of weapons and items to build a loadout that would allow me to hold my own against Keener’s warlords. Kajika proved immensely fun to fight: his shock mines and steam traps required a bit of patience and awareness to overcome, but once players close the distance, Kajika melts away in the blink of an eye to sustained fire. By comparison, Dragov is a much more conventional fight: he uses a heavily armoured set up, and his two minions are similarly armoured. Sustained fire will bring all three down, but the challenge is keeping out of the way, since a few seconds of exposure to their guns will quickly send players back a ways. In this fight, I ended up using the turret to provide an extra bit of DPS against them, and the IWI Negev proved its worth here, allowing for a decent amount of damage to be done while providing a slightly shorter reload time compared to similar light machine guns in The Division 2. I will be returning once more to write about the titanic fight I have with Keener in the near future: I am expecting this to be a gripping mission and look forwards to finishing this fight in style.