“You cannot change their mind even if you expose them to authentic information. Even if you prove that white is white, and black is black, you still cannot change the basic perception and the logic of behavior.” –Yuri Bezmenov
With Aaron Keener located on Liberty Island, the Agent and Kelso immediately head off to end him. However, the Black Tusk also have taken an interest in Keener and have deployed, as well. They sink the ferry that the Agent and Kelso are riding, but fortunately, both are able to escape. The Agent pushes further ahead and disables the Razorback, a mobile drone deployment platform, en route to Keener. As Black Tusk forces close in on Keener, he seizes control of one of their drones, buying himself time as the Agent is forced to destroy it. Upon entering his base of operations, the Agent finds a vast server and the technology needed to subvert the Division. After ISAC processes the information here, the Agent corners Keener, who has prepared a missile containing Tchnernenko’s upgraded virus. The Agent destroys the missile and forces Keener to come out, defeating him in a titanic battle. Keener activates his rogue agent network with his dying breath, and Faye Lau disavows the Division, joining the Black Tusk. When the Agent returns to headquarters, Rhodes expresses his thanks to the Agent, and Benitez gives the Agent the choice of returning to Washington D.C., noting they’ll always be welcome to help out in New York. However, in keeping with classic storytelling methods, Keener’s rogue network presents a new mystery to deal with, as does Faye Lau’s betrayal. The outcomes represent potential new material for either an additional season’s worth of materials, as the Division now must figure out just how extensive and serious Keener’s rogue network is, as well as what the implications of Lau’s true allegiance means for them. However, these are things that can be dealt with later; with Keener dead, the lingering mystery left behind by The Division is finally resolved, and the world rests a little easier knowing that Keener won’t be around to trouble them with his megalomaniac tendencies.
As predicted, the fight with Keener himself was absolutely gripping: with his unparalleled technical skill, the challenge in Keener’s fight lies purely in the fact that the Agent does not have access to their skills, meaning that at its core, fighting Keener is a matter of returning to the basics. Rather than any of the fancy technology the Division possesses, it’s ultimately a mastery of the essentials, simple things like staying focused, taking cover, smartly closing the distance and a sure aim, that make the difference between success and failure. In its final fight with Keener, The Division 2 seeks to tell players that at the end of the day, what one is worth, and what one is capable of, is determined not by what equipment they have access to, but how well they can use the equipment and how well they can adapt to adversity. Compared to traditional shooters, the Warlords of New York expansion to The Division 2 pushes players into a new realm, capitalising on novel mechanics to encourage increasingly flexible, creative thinking towards difficult problems, as well as reminding them that competence with the basics is a fail-safe, for when all other options fail. Aaron Keener was meant to be a challenging final fight owing to his diverse array of abilities, and the fact that his insults can be a considerable distraction on account of how amusing they are. At this point in The Division 2, players likely have become accustomed to relying on their skills to turn the odds in a difficult fight, so having that stripped away forces the player to go back to the basics. However, while Keener is tough, he isn’t invincible, and the tried-and-true technique of taking cover, evading Keener’s abilities and closing the distance enough to dump entire belts of LMG fire into him ultimately proved to be the winning combination. The ensuing victory was a thrilling experience, one that rewards persistence, ingenuity and clever thinking.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Before I took on Aaron Keener, I decided to wrap up the remaining side missions in Lower Manhattan. The last mission I did sent me to Chinatown, where I was tasked with investigating a missing person. The mission ends up unsuccessful – the Cleaners got there first, and there’s nothing more I can do besides finish off the named elite, collect my prize and head for the final mission to Warlords of New York.
- In The Division, I believe that it was possible to explore Koreatown in Midtown Manhattan if one ventured into the Dark Zone. Warlords of New York allows players to explore Chinatown, and with everything rendered in Traditional Chinese, it would feel like home. Chinatowns in a given area are typically home to Cantonese Chinese people, who came from Guangzhou province back in the late 1800s and early 1900s in pursuit of better lives overseas. These early settlers would congregate together, and the Chinatowns around the world are a testament to this era.
- It’s been just a shade under a half-year since the global health crisis sent the world into a lockdown, and since then, I’ve not been back to Chinatown or my dōjō: on a typical Sunday morning, I wake up at seven and head in to train, as well as help provide instruction. With the pandemic, however, training at a dōjō could be a risk and we’ve suspended classes for now. I still train on my own, although it does feel that training with others is a more intense experience. From the sounds of it, the whole of Chinatown has suffered economically, and I do hope that things look up soon: our Chinatown is home to some of the best dim sum and bubble tea in the city.
- We’ve finally come to it at last: the titanic confrontation with Aaron Keener. Since the events of Coney Island, the Black Tusk are now determined to retrieve Aaron Keener for their own end, and upon their arrival in New York, they successfully convince the Last Man Battalion remnants to join them, replenishing their ranks with new reinforcements eager to deal out death and justice against the Division.
- Because the Black Tusk are back, I ran the final mission with a combination of weapons: the IWI Negev I picked up earlier proved to be a valuable asset. While it may not hit as hard as the other light machine guns on a per-bullet basis, it has a high firing rate and decently quick reload time, making it a major asset agains the equipment the Black Tusk deploy. By this point in time, I’ve become highly proficient with dealing with the Black Tusk’s war-hounds, and even if I don’t have an LMG equipped, I can still bring one down without wasting my ammunition.
- I alternated between the MDR and the Socimi Type 821 (Police T821 in-game) during the mission: while I’ve traditionally not been fond of the T821 owing its resemblance to the Uzi (and associations with criminal applications), the T821 proved unexpectedly reliable as a secondary weapon. The mission to reach Aaron Keener is very familiar to all those who’ve played The Division 2: the agent must cut their way through a swath of Black Tusk units and reach the ferry. Common knowledge of sure aim, tactical use of cover and deploying all the tools needed to overcome the Black Tusk are a must in this mission, and with this in mind, it was a tough, but still manageable fight to clear each area and move ahead.
- For the common Black Tusk, the MDR is enough to deal with them: a few good shots will put one away, and a sharp shot can down six or seven enemy before needing a reload. The Urban MDR is modelled after the Desert Tech Micro Dynamic Rifle, which is designed as a modular weapon that can be quickly modified on the fly with interchangeable parts to accommodate different calibres. Reciwers find that the MDR’s bullpup configuration makes it a compact weapon, but it still has strong accuracy at decent ranges, and it is an excellent firearm for ambidextrous users.
- Overall, I found the MDR-T821 combo to work reasonably well in situations where the warhounds and bots weren’t deployed. At this point in time, I was also carrying an IWI Negev and the MG5, both of which are comparatively weaker light machine guns that, while still usable for situations where I needed sustained fire, wouldn’t be my go-to LMGs if I had a choice. In general, the M249 or M60 are my preferred weapons, since they hit fairly hard and have larger belts.
The observant reader will note that today marks the sixth anniversary to when the culture war known as #Gamergate began. Six years earlier, gaming journalists simultaneously published opinion pieces that declared the age of gaming had ended in response to the negative reception that an indie title, Depression Quest, had received after one of its creators found themselves at the centre of a controversy surrounding a relationship gone bad, and the jilted individual published a lengthy manifesto outlining their grievances (I won’t be mentioning any names here). In the days following, Depression Quest was bombarded with negative reviews, and in response, gaming journalists sympathetic to the creator planned a counterattack by writing what would become known as the “gamers are over” articles.
- On the morning of August 28, Gamasutra fired the opening salvos by published the now-infamous “Gamers Don’t Have To Be Your Audience: Gamers Are Over” article. This was followed in rapid succession at other websites dealing with games, all of which claimed that the era of traditional games and their players were at an end, to be displaced by games like Depression Quest. There was an immediate backlash at the suggestion that those who partake in video games were hate-filled, vile individuals. However, in singularly praising Depression Quest and its creator, these articles held a much more sinister implication – instead of proper games that promote teamwork or encourage exploration, that the world needed more games like Depression Quest, and that Depression Quest deserved every bit of praise it received.
- These articles painted Depression Quest as an innovative masterpiece, when in reality, Depression Quest resembled something that might be hastily thrown together for a middle school health class project. In a rudimentary and primitive hypercard-like setup, “players” grapple with depression, only to learn that certain options simply are unavailable to them. In spite of lacking the elements of a video game (a clearly-defined victory state and failure conditions), Depression Quest received undeserved positive reviews for something so slipshod and low-effort. Aside from the story, which is a marginal and meagre portrayal of depression, Depression Quest lacks any mechanics that properly immerse the player, and the incidental music winds up being an annoyance. Altogether, Depression Quest is an exceedingly poor, no-effort title that speaks nothing of depression and its management.
- The praise for Depression Quest feels artificial and forced, as though the journalists were forced to speak well of the game to please some shadowy benefactor. As it turned out, the various gaming websites who had simultaneously run these “gamers are over” pieces had known Depression Quest‘s creator to some capacity: these posts were written in response to the criticisms directed at Depression Quest in the hopes of defending it and its creator. However, the suggestion that Depression Quest‘s creator is anything approaching a software developer is nothing short of an insult: it belittles and trivialises those who have made the effort to learn how to write programs and engineer solutions. Taken together, this is why there was such extensive push-back against both Depression Quest and the positive reviews for it; the “gamers are over” articles exposed collusion between gaming outlets and some developers to push a certain agenda.
- With this revelation, there was an opportunity here to shut down the idea that a clumsy text-based “game” should be treated with the same reverence as industry-changers like Halo: folks opposed to gaming journalism’s methods could have analysed what made Depression Quest an atrocity, and perhaps even gain access to the project files to perform a code review that backs up their claims (in turn demonstrating decisively that Depression Quest‘s creator was no software developer by any stretch). However, instead of approaching the issue from a technical, fact-based method, some people instead chose to delve into the creator’s personal life, leading to the misconception that anyone advocating for journalistic integrity were immature, maladjusted individuals when in fact, they were ordinary, rational people.
- I don’t endorse harassment campaigns any more than I do heaping praise onto those who have not earned it – I believe that the proper way to deal with something like Depression Quest is to ignore it and allow it to be forgotten, as well as understanding that its creator is not meritorious of calling themselves a software developer. Thus, as #Gamergate raged on, I elected to simply focus on the start of a new semester instead: this wasn’t something worth getting caught up in, nor was it something worth mentioning here at the time. However, I do feel that it is important to be truthful, and this is why I’ve decide to make an aside about it, to make it known where I stand on things. Back in The Division 2, I finally arrive at Liberty Island, after the ferry the Agent and Kelso are riding is fired upon. I’d more or less single-handedly cleared the entire Black Tusk force on board, but Keener would seize control of weapon batteries and attempt to sink the ferry himself.
- Once the Agent lands on the island, the first task is to get through the Black Tusk and shut down their machinations such that they do not get to Keener. As I picked my way across Liberty Island, it suddenly strikes me that Liberty Island as seen in Warlords of New York feels much larger than its real-world counterpart. This could be a consequence of me spending a fair bit of time being in cover as I evade enemy fire. The combination of the MDR and T281 here proved its worth against the Black Tusk: generally speaking, the weapons I run in a given mission must always have me covered for short to intermediate range combat (so either a good assault rifle or submachine gun), and then depending on what the mission needs, a light machine gun, marksman rifle or battle rifle is my secondary weapon.
- If I find myself in a pinch, I always fall back on a good automatic weapon: The Division 2‘s enemies will occasionally rush the player, and it is the case that the accuracy of one’s shots is inversely proportional to one’s distance to an enemy. Automatic weapons are better suited for close-quarters frenzies, and upon arriving at the Razorback, I found myself staring down a foe that was as tricky as Keener himself. The DDP-52 Razorback is a mobile drone platform that manufactures and deploys assault drones. Individually, the drones are weak, but they will distract players and suppress them. As well, large numbers of drones can quickly break one’s armour.
- In the end, it was a combination of patience and spatial awareness that allowed me to destroy the Razorback. I ended up using my assault turret to keep the Black Tusk and enemy drones occupied while I struck at the fuse-boxes on the Razorback, fell back to repair my armour, and then continued pressing forwards. After a gruelling encounter, I finally destroyed the Razorback. As it turns out, the Razorback is not a new asset: in the Washington National Airport raid, the Black Tusk deploy a Razorback, as well. I would stop briefly to take a quick breather before continuing: the Razorback fight was intense, and admittedly, not being kitted out with a larger-capacity made the fight more challenging.
- Facing off against Keener and recalling the various audio recordings of his interactions with his subordinates offered an interesting bit of insight into how he operated: those who worked with him did not always maintain a cordial relationship with him, and Keener appeared to view them as little more than disposable tools, using fear to and manipulation to keep them in check rather than earning their trust and respect as great leaders do. This does bring to mind how Depression Quest‘s creator treated their supporters: when convenient for them, these people would become scapegoats to be thrown under the bus – a year ago, we bore witness to the depravity this individual was capable of, when they made false accusations that ultimately resulted in a suicide. As such, I never did understand why people would go to the lengths of financially supporting Depression Quest‘s creator through crowdfunding or giving them the social media support that they did.
- Having seen how Keener persuaded reluctant agents to go rogue in The Division 2, I would imagine that Depression Quest‘s creator used a similar approach to convince others, typically insecure and isolated individuals, that their support was supposed to yield some sort of return or favour. Of course, these promises would never materialise, and by the time the truth was realised, it was too late. Much as how Depression Quest‘s creator made off with eighty-five thousand dollars from a phony kickstarter, Keener’s supporters similarly found this out the hard way when he abandoned them once the Agent was on their doorsteps. Once the Razorback is destroyed and the remaining Black Tusk are eliminated, the Agent will fight a Marauder Drone that Keener has hijacked. There is no particular strategy for beating the Marauder beyond evading its fire and hitting its propellers first, but the fight does become easier with a good LMG.
- With another Marauder drone destroyed, I’m one step closer to stopping Keener’s reign of tyranny. Keener is aware of this, and as the player nears, he’ll get into the communications line and begins to taunt the player. Keener’s very presence infuriates Kelso – she decides to go radio silent when it turns out he’s got access to the secure comms. In listening to Keener, both over the radio and in audio logs scattered throughout New York, one gets the sense that he is an egotistical, sarcastic individual whose true intentions were never to help anyone else out.
- Keener’s rocking quite an impressive setup, and it was from here that he orchestrated his grand plans for New York. As it turns out, he’d never left, and dedicated his time to setting up a rogue network rivalling the SHD network in sophistication. ISAC is able to intercept and download the signals, but doing so also sets off a trap – rogue equipment is deployed, and the agent must fend off this equipment while ISAC processes the data. Seeing his servers and computer systems really drove home the extent Keener was willing to go to realise his machinations, as well as just how talented of an individual he was. Keener was not above courting deception to amass followers, a common enough tactic in reality.
- I appreciate that The Division 2 is supposed to be serious business, but seeing Keener’s own system interfere with ISAC was hilarious: during the time that ISAC is interfacing with Keener’s severs, false objectives pop onto the screen. The overarching goal remains, and one must stay focused if they were to survive the waves of rogue equipment that is deployed against the agent. After what seems like an eternity, ISAC finishes its task, and it’s finally time to return to the surface and square off against the big man himself.
- I’m not sure which of Keener’s gear this is, but it left a brilliant particle trail that gave me every indicator to stay in cover until it passed. This reminds me of the Perseids that I saw a few weeks ago, during which I managed to catch a glimpse of five fireballs. A few nights ago, I saw a conjunction between the moon, Jupiter and Saturn. While perhaps not quite as visually impressive as a comet or meteor shower, even simple astronomical events can be fun to watch, reminding us of the scale of the universe.
- Unlike the Razorback, Keener’s cruise missile (tipped with a biological payload more lethal than the original Green Poison) is only defended by the various bits of equipment that are available to Division agents. These can be quickly destroyed, and sustained fire to fuse-boxes on the launcher will be enough to stop the missile from launching. Once the missile is stopped, Keener will finally step out onto the battlefield. Through all of the fighting, Keener will taunt the agent; I found his insults to be petty, juvenile and all the more hilarious for this.
- Seeing one of the most brilliant villains of The Division reduced to slinging verbal barbs that really shows how much damage the agent has done to his plans. Unlike the degeneracy seen at 4chan and in Fortnite chats, Keener was written to be is smart enough to recognise that using obscure insults won’t accomplish anything. I’ve found that particularly immature individuals will often use insults sourced from 4chan memes to express their displeasure with others, but the whole point of an insult is to make sure the recipient understood the displeasure being conveyed. As it stands, if I need to visit UrbanDictionary to get what someone was saying, that insult has failed, speaking to the arrogance and/or illiteracy of the individual using said insult.
- Fighting Keener is a tricky process; initially, I was unprepared for Keener’s style and saw myself defeated. Because he has access to all of the tools and gadgets available to the player, and will liberally use them during the fight, Keener is far more durable than previous elites. In addition, he will periodically repair his armour using his own repair kits. This therefore becomes a battle of attrition, and so, the way to prevent this from dragging out is to be forceful. The strategy I used was to first deal with the offensive gadgets Keener deploys, as well destroying the deflector drone that negates incoming damage. Fighting him at longer ranges is actually not so effective, since Keener will use the chem launcher and seeker mines on the agent in conjunction with blinder Fireflies.
- Conversely, at close ranges, Keener becomes like any other named elite: sustained fire from an LMG will burn through his armour. As the fight wears on, Keener will hack the agent’s equipment, turning it against the user or disabling its usage. Once this happens, I switched over to a more aggressive, close-quarters attack: the key is to not let up with sustained fire. Initially, I started with a long-range strategy, since I figured the dispersed biological compounds would be dangerous, but it only prevents health regeneration. Once I realised this, I devised a new approach that proved more effective: it was possible to close the distance and damage Keener with weapon fire, taking cover to repair even in the contaminated area, and then retreat to a clean area if one needed to regenerate their health.
- This fight thus became exhilarating once I had Keener figured out, and I note that my most effective weapons against him ended up being superior level 38 items: at this point in time, I did not have a level-appropriate LMG or assault rifle, so I fell back to weapons that had served me well in earlier missions. Altogether, the Keener mission took me an hour to complete, and once Keener is nearly down, he’ll begin to flee. Since players can’t kill him directly, I am reminded of the Flash game Commando 2, where the “Kongfu Warrior” would commit seppuku rather than let players take the kill.
- With his dying breath, Keener activates a Rogue Agent network, stating that the Division have no idea what’s coming. In the mission’s aftermath, there still remains quite a bit to do and Faye Lau has gone rogue, as well, but with Keener eliminated, the threat he poses is no longer a threat for the present. Thus, the question I’ve had since that cold Februrary day some two-and-a-half years ago has been resolved, and for now, I can turn my attention towards properly exploring Washington D.C. and Lower Manhattan with the aim of getting more exotic gear, work towards collecting the Striker’s Battlegear and unlocking more specialisations.
- This post on The Division 2 is very nearly done, and I do have one more post planned out for this month: I finished The Quintessential Quintuplets earlier this month and found the show to be quite enjoyable, so that’ll be getting a post soon. We are rapidly rolling towards the final few days of August, contrary to the belief that “August never ends”. The end of August is accompanied by cooling weather and golden foliage, a perfect time to enjoy the late summer air and watch the leaves turn yellow once September begins rolling around.
With the toughest boss fight in The Division 2 now in the books, I’m fully caught up with the story, and the true endgame begins as I strive to get the best possible gear items for my character. With The Division, this aspect of the game gave me untold hours of enjoyment as I explored every corner of Midtown Manhattan in pursuit of every single exotic weapon in the game and the coveted classified gear sets. For my troubles, I ended up succeeding in my quest for exotics, as well as assembling a complete classified Striker’s Battlegear collection. At present, I’m not sure if I will be taking a similar route for The Division 2, but I do know that there remain parts of the game I’ve yet to explore, including the Dark Zone, and further to this, there are some exotics that I can work towards. As well, it is high time I turned my attention towards getting used to the other specialisations and unlocking the ones that accompanied the Year One content: The Division 2 far outstrips its predecessor in terms of endgame content, and even if I do not have any present intentions to join groups and tackle the toughest of The Division 2‘s content as I did with The Division, there is still quite a bit left to do. Looking back, it would turn out that picking up The Division 2 and Warlords of New York was a good decision; the game has offered a considerable amount of value and enjoyment, and for the present, as much fun as I’ve had in Lower Manhattan, I am admittedly looking forwards going back to Washington D.C. and working towards some of the exotic blueprints, as well as exploring the specialisations that I’ve previously not run extensively with.