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Tag Archives: The Division 2: Warlords of New York

The Division 2: The Manhunt for Faye Lau, Global Events and Opening Twenty Exotic Caches to Welcome The Year of the Ox

“All trust involves vulnerability and risk, and nothing would count as trust if there were no possibility of betrayal.” –Robert C. Solomon

After Warlords of New York revealed that Faye Lau had gone rogue, the question of what would happen next lingered on my mind: The Division had Aaron Keener escape before agents could take him down, and with this as the precedence, there was always the possibility that Lau might return in a future title. This was, however, not the case: the fourth manhunt season allows players to take on Lau. While Lau had been presented as a devoted Division agent in the first game, taking command of the New York City base of operations and supporting the second wave agents. However, the death of her sister weighed heavily on her mind, and after hearing out the other rogue agents, Lau disavowed the Division and took things into her own hands, joining the Black Tusk so that she could work her way through the organisation and reach a point where she could assassinate President Ellis for her own ends. After fighting through Camp White Oak, the agent finally confronts and defeats Lau, but this operation leaves more questions than it does answers. At this point in time, it does appear that most of the major players in The Division 2 are accounted for, and while the Black Tusk’s objectives and intentions remain a mystery, by this point in The Division 2, what is clear is that playing through well-treaded maps now have allowed me to refine my setup further; I’ve encountered no problems at all with everything up to and including the challenging difficulty. With everything in the books, the only goals left for me in The Division 2 will be to complete the assignments that will allow me to enter the Dark Zones, and subsequently, determine whether or not my current set up allows me to explore the two raid missions in any capacity. During the course of the fourth manhunt season, I also unlocked the technician specialisation and have since levelled everything up to completion, allowing me the full set of options for building and experimenting with different setups for solo play: more so than The Division, I’ve found that The Division 2 is even more solo-friendly than its predecessor.

The fourth manhunt season also saw me attempt the global events for the first time: previously, I’d not really paid attention to the global events, which are, compared to its predecessor, less intuitive. Whereas global events in The Division were always-on, The Division 2 requires that players manually activate them. However, once activated, players can complete challenges to unlock stars that go towards unlocking different rewards, and ultimately go towards purchasing crates. The global events of The Division 2 were unexpectedly enjoyable: “Golden Bullet” gave enemies the ability to use a buff that increased their damaged, but killing enemies who had this buff active or were readying it gave players the bonus damage. The prize for this was a gold-plated P08 Luger backpack charm, which looks amazing and was worth the effort to collect. The other event I participated in was “Reanimated”, where enemies are given an automated defibrillator that brings them back to life unless they were killed with a headshot. Headshot kills create a corrosive gas cloud that deals damage to nearby enemies. While the prizes for the second global event were less inspired, the mechanic itself was a tangible change to The Division 2‘s gameplay that proved quite entertaining. After both global events ended, I had enough stars accumulated to buy exotic caches, and coupled with the exotic caches I’ve earned from regular gameplay, I ended up filling up all of my available cache storage with exotic caches. Having now defeated Faye Lau, I’ve decided to open all of these crates to free up space. Because of how the loot pool works, the exotic crates only give what I’ve already picked up. However, unboxing twenty crates gave me enough exotic parts to recalibrate my existing gear: as a result of unpacking all of my exotic caches, I’ve now been able to build a near-perfect rolled Chatterbox and Nemesis, which are my mainstay exotic weapons.

  • Once the fourth manhunt season began, I played through it as I had the earlier seasons, but once the “Golden Bullet” challenge went live, I realised that it would be worth taking a look at how global events worked for The Division 2: the prize for completing all ten ranks was too tempting to pass up, and being a James Bond fan, I’ve always had a fondness for gold-plated weapons. The basic setup behind the “Golden Bullet” event was simple enough: enemies could construct golden bullet buffs, which made them immensely damaging to players.

  • However, if these enemies were ever killed, players would inherit the buff, making them more powerful, and consecutively chaining kills would keep the buff active for longer durations. As long as one were to be mindful of which enemies were equipping the buff next, one could maintain a near-constant advantage over them. Each global event comes with a set of challenges, and while I started a bit late, I caught on to the mechanics quickly enough, allowing me to reach the final reward tier before the event ended for that cool-looking golden P08 Luger.

  • While the Golden Bullet buff allows players to do massive damage to enemies, it isn’t quite like the original Golden Bullet from James Bond. My friend remarks that the Golden Gun is a true skill weapon: it is capable of killing an enemy in one bullet, and rewards players who have a sure aim and patience. The Golden Gun is balanced out by the fact that it is a single-shooter, and reload times are lengthy; missing a shot can be a death sentence. This is a high-risk, high-reward play style that really pushed players to improve their aim, although such mechanics do appear to be the hallmark of an older game, back when skill was worth something.

  • Here, I finished off the fourth field research level for the technician specialisation: the technician equips the P-017 missile launcher, a custom weapon that launches miniature missiles that lock on to multiple targets. This specialisation is focused around skill and hybrid builds, increasing one’s skill tier permanently by one level when the specialisation tree is properly kitted out and offering bonuses for destroying enemy skills. It’s not a specialisation I’ve gotten too much use out of, but after I unlocked it, it was fun to fully level it up and experiment with different setups. At the time of writing, I’ve now unlocked all of the three Year One specialisations and earned all of the point for their respective trees.

  • I have heard, however, that the demolitionist build with seeker mines and skill-oriented gear allows one to solo even legendary missions, so that could be something worth taking a look at in the future. The second global event I participated in was “Reanimated”, and here, I land a headshot on an enemy during the Tidal Basin mission. When I realised I had been quite close to filling my inventory with exotic caches, I decided to hold off on opening the caches and unbox them all at once, purely for fun. Completing assignments for the global events was a solid way of earning a few extra caches, and by the time the event drew to a close, I had nineteen exotic caches.

  • The idea behind “Reanimated” was that headshot kills would spawn a corrosive cloud that damaged nearby enemies, whereas enemies that were killed by anything other than headshots could get back up and keep fighting, in a zombie-like fashion. Having once-defeated enemies come back to life initially proved tricky, especially when I ran missions on tougher difficulties and directives to finish some of the assignments: after clearing an area and moving forwards, I could come under fire after dead enemies came back to life. As the event continued to run, I eventually wised up to this trick and killed enemies before they could fully reanimate.

  • Once I got used to the mechanics behind “Reanimated”, I was having a great deal of fun with The Division 2: the global events here are even more entertaining than those of the first game. Rewards from global events in both games made them worth participating in: The Division‘s global events were how I ended up completing my classified gear sets, and here in The Division 2, exotic caches can be purchased from the global event vendors: even if one is getting duplicates, exotic gear can be deconstructed for exotic parts, which are useful in reconfiguring exotic weapons.

  • Because some of the assignments for the “Reanimated” event required that I get headshots with a specialisation weapon, I did end up going back to my sniper loadout (Aces and Eights gear set, with the Nemesis as a primary weapon and the sharpshooter specialisation). It’s been a while since I’ve run with the TAC-50, and it is not lost on me that with the accumulated bonuses and stacks, a fully-charged round from the Nemesis can do more damage than even the TAC-50 can upon landing a headshot. The Nemesis has proven to be a fun weapon to use, although it is clear that this weapon is best suited for situations where one has a team drawing fire and keeping enemies busy.

  • One of the trickier assignments for the “Reanimated” event was to have every enemy come back to life while capturing a control point, all without leaving the control point’s boundaries. To achieve this, I could not kill enemies that were close to one another in rapid succession or be too aggressive, lest I land a headshot that permanently puts an enemy down. To this end, I wound up using a pistol and picked my shots slowly, so that I was assured body shots. I ended up successful at No Hope Hotel, and seeing the criteria for this challenge did lead me to wonder how The Division 2 was keeping track of this without negatively impacting performance. Since the game does know one’s position, I suppose it could always just record a user’s path and then compute whether or not any point on this path is outside the bounds of a control point while the control point was being taken. Once the points are recorded, a function could be used to check at the end of a successful capture and provide the rewards accordingly.

  • With the last target, I ended up returning to Lower Manhattan to finish the manhunt off. While the Warlords of New York missions were fun and refreshing when I first played them, returning to Lower Manhattan demonstrated to me that these missions were not like the Washington D.C. missions in that I couldn’t rush through them with superior firepower alone. In particular, I’d become powerful enough to completely remove Kajika’s armour and health before the climactic fight, but because of the way The Division 2 is implemented, the game didn’t count that as a kill, and I would have to wait for the final segment of his mission in order to defeat him.

  • I’ve not returned to Lower Manhattan since the last manhunt event, and the contrast between Washington D.C. is evident. Looking back, Warlords of New York proved to be a superb expansion to The Division 2, and considering that I picked it up at half price, I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth out of the purchase: as it turns out, having Warlords of New York‘s manhunts gave me reason to come back time and time again. At the time of writing, I have 193 hours in The Division 2, after a year and three months of play, compared to The Division‘s 204 hours over ten months. It is possible that, in the absence of Warlords of New York, my time in The Division 2 would’ve been much less, and it does feel like the expansion is necessary to have a full endgame experience.

  • On the first day of the Year of the Ox, my new year got off to a good start as I picked up my first exotic drop in while after melting an elite en route to a bounty; I managed to score another Bullet King with slightly better specs than the one I currently have. The Bullet King is probably one of the most noteworthy of the exotics in The Division 2 in that it never needs reloading, and I’ve found it a fantastic choice for situations that demand sustained damage – especially against the XB-31 Marauder drone and vehicles, the Bullet King has no equal.

  • The timing of this post was a deliberate one, to coincide with when I first wrote about the private beta two years earlier. As a result of trying to hit this milestone, it was a bit of a stressful run to finish the Manhunt off – of the games I’ve played of late, The Division 2 is probably one of the few that have successfully gotten under my skin. Most notably, the suicide Outcasts bum-rushing me at Manning National Zoo and the modified EMP jammers first encounter during the Jupiter manhunt stand as being the low points I had with The Division 2: losing progress because of unexpected mechanics is always frustrating.

  • While there are frustrating moments in The Division 2 that are quite unlike anything I’ve faced in other games, The Division 2 is an improvement to The Division in every way; since the private beta days, the movement system feels a little more polished, and the issues I’ve noted in the private and open betas have since been rectified. Overall, the game feels responsive and crisp: the only major performance issue I have with The Division 2 is that the game will (rarely) crash unexpectedly – The Division 2 doesn’t save mission progress, and being forced to restart a mission is unpleasant.

  • With this being said, across 193 hours, I’ve maybe encountered at most two to three hours of frustration, and the law of large numbers suggests that given that 98.5 percent of my time was otherwise positive, the game overall isn’t problematic. This is, strictly speaking, true: I simply happen to remember the worst moments more vividly than I do the positive moments. Fortunately, the list of positives about The Division 2 are too many to list – high on my list of things that I enjoy about The Division 2 is the fact that much of the game can be soloed, and thanks to Hunter’s Fury, my ability to challenge all foes is made much easier owing to the fact that this gear set is, for the lack of a better word, overpowered for the most part.

  • Whereas the initial fifteen percent bonuses to submachine gun and shotgun damage is fair, but equipping three pieces of the gear set confers twenty percent armour on kill on top of instantly healing the player, giving players a massive advantage. With all four pieces, enemies within fifteen metres of the player take an additional twenty percent damage, and killing these enemies stuns nearby enemies as well, as well as giving an additional five percent damage that stacks five more times. These traits make the Hunter’s Fury immensely powerful already, but I’ve got my own twist on the setup. Together with the Chatterbox’s talents, I have a submachine gun of prodigious power, and the Ninjabike knee pads allow me to continuously keep topped off even when out of combat, as well as giving me enough bonus armour when vaulting to escape difficult situations.

  • With this setup, missions on difficulties up to challenging are not a problem: even tougher enemies don’t really pose a threat, and as long as there are standard enemies to kill, I am able to continue fighting. The Hunter’s Fury set is not totally overpowered, however: it is weaker against individual opponents without an entourage of minions – whenever rogue agents show up, if I did not already buff the Chatterbox to increase its firing rate, I am left at a major disadvantage. For the most part, named elites always are accompanied by weaker minions, so I’m able to knock them out, stunning the elite long enough to deal major damage.

  • After blasting Circe, I picked up yet another Chameleon assault rifle. Despite being a fun weapon to use in some circumstances, it’s nowhere nearly as consistent as the Chatterbox. The Chameleon requires shots be landed before its bonuses kick in, but for the Chatterbox, its talents mean that reloading right before a firefight while close to enemies will allow the fire rate buff to take effect, and killing enemies refill half the magazine; so as long as one is getting kills, the weapon effectively has unlimited ammunition. I’ll still occasionally run the Chameleon for fun, but where I am looking for a quick run through a mission, the Chatterbox is my go-to choice.

  • I somehow managed to finish off everything yesterday, the second day into the Chinese New Year. The brutal winter cold still shows no sign of abating, rendering today as cold as it was the day I finished writing about the closed beta two years ago. With this being said, weather forecasts suggest that things could warm up for tomorrow, as the polar vortex begins moving away from our area. This will be much welcomed, although for now, there’s nothing like a hearty dinner to keep warm: to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Ox, we had a poon choi (盆菜) yesterday evening for dinner. These dishes are a Cantonese festival meal consisting of an impressive array of ingredients layered into a bowl, and because it consists of a wide range of ingredients, flavours from everyone flood into one another, creating a highly distinct and rich flavour. Poon choi is said to date back to the Song Dynasty, and today, it is enjoyed during times of celebration.

  • During the Camp White Oak hunt for Faye Lau, I was equipped with the Achilles Pulse, named after the Greek hero Achilles, who was invulnerable save for his heel. This pulse identifies weak areas on a single target, making it an excellent tool for one-on-one fights against exceptionally tough foes like other rogue agents. In more conventional use cases, however, I prefer running the standard pulse; ever since I began using the Hunter’s Fury gear set, I’ve been able to free up a skill slot, and have experimented with a range of skills. I’ve found that the pulse is a great tool, allowing me to swiftly locate enemies and get into range to engage them.

  • The biggest surprise about the Faye Lau hunt was the fact that she ultimately ends up killing President Ellis, which only serves to increase the mystery behind what Ellis had been involved in, and to what extent. An ECHO log I found mid-mission suggests that Ellis was only a pawn in a larger and more sinister political agenda. I imagine that Lau had become disillusioned with these games and sought to end things on her own terms, and her dialogue to players suggest that she’s still convinced that going rogue was the proper course of action. The reasons agents have for going rogue are numerous, and one of the things players have long wished for would be making these game-changing decisions themselves, such as allying themselves with Aaron Keener and disavowing the Division.

  • Such a mechanic would require an all-new story to be written and packaged with the game; while this would no doubt add a depth to The Division in an unparalleled manner, I imagine that the development and resources would be nontrivial. Players can continue to dream, of course, and there are some times where these dreams are realised. For instance, a few days ago, Ubisoft released the original soundtrack for Warlords of New York, and players have been looking to hear the soundtrack for some time, especially the song that played when the agent squares off against Aaron Keener himself. As it turns out, this track is called City Hall Siege, and being able to listen to a remix of Precinct Siege with Keener vibes was a blast: I’ve been longing to hear this song since beating Keener back in August.

  • My final confrontation with Faye Lau proved to be anti-climactic – the game’s dynamic weather system suddenly felt the need to drape a thick fog over the combat area, making it impossible to see anything, and by the time I got close enough to Fay Lau to see her, she was already on the ground. Because of my setup, Lau didn’t even put up much of a fight: despite using an armour kit mid-battle and possessing some impressive gear of her own, the fact that my DPS was so high made this irrelevant. I suppose this was only appropriate, but it does come across as suggesting that for all of her beliefs, her end was no different than the other rogues I’ve knocked out.

  • Once Faye Lau was defeated, I returned to the White House and turned my attention to the twenty exotic caches I’ve accumulated. I knew full well that I would not be getting anything new with these caches owing to how loot tables are calculated in The Division 2 (that means no Bighorn, Eagle Bearer or Ravenous until I squad up for the game’s toughest content), but even then, I had been looking to see if I could pick up a better Chatterbox or Lady Death. After opening all twenty exotic caches, I wound up with three more Lady Deaths and two more Chatterboxes. One of the Chatterboxes proved to have a stronger set of base stats than the one I currently ran with, and in conjunction to the host of exotic components I now had, I could begin improving some of my exotic weapons.

  • My first roll with the Chatterbox was a near-perfect weapon with maximum bonus submachine gun damage and critical hit damage. The critical hit chance on this weapon isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty close, and I imagine that this small difference could prove helpful when I do decide to check out The Division 2‘s raid content in exploration mode. The Chatterbox has become my favourite exotic in the whole of The Division 2 for the fact that it is unrivalled at close quarters: with the right application, one can essentially keep their finger on the trigger for as long as a firefight is running. The Chatterbox pairs well with an assault rifle or rifle, which allows one to pick off more distant foes. The only downside about the Chatterbox is that switching weapons will cause the firing rate buff to be reset, and the Chatterbox’s base RPM renders it less effectual.

  • The Chameleon might not be the most effective exotic in The Division 2, and while it’s got a great firing rate and magazine capacity, its buffs do require that one enter a firefight first. The base weapon is unremarkable, but once activated, the buffs turn the Chameleon into a powerhouse, making it easily one of the strongest burst damage weapons in the game. The weapon’s low accuracy means it handles more like a submachine gun than an assault rifle, but when everything lines up, the Chameleon is a remarkably fun weapon to use. It has has the coolest-looking appearance of any exotic in the game, being a highly customised Kriss Vector with a special high-tech scope and a unique polymer coating that allows it to change colours in response to the environment.

  • Before I picked up the Chatterbox and its practically bottomless magazine, I ran with the Lady Death, which is an excellent submachine gun whose damage increases as players move around, and upon every kill, increases the player’s movement speed. I found it an effective weapon, although during prolonged firefights in PvE missions, the smaller magazine capacity puts it at a disadvantage. Conversely, the Lady Death’s traits make it perfect for PvP in the Dark Zone and other modes: being able to escape from bad situations and build up the damage buff makes this an effective choice. Since PvP features smaller numbers of enemies, the Lady Death’s thirty-two round magazine isn’t a concern here, as one could reload while running.

  • Like the Chatterbox, the Nemesis is an exotic that can be acquired through patience rather than luck: collecting the requisite parts during Invaded stronghold missions will allow one to construct one of the most entertaining sniper rifles in The Division 2. I completed this back in September of last year after spending a month of waiting for the strongholds to go on rotation, but the results were worth it: the Nemesis can, with the right perks and attributes, hit even harder than the TAC-50 upon landing a successful headshot, and in situations where I am engaging a lone, distant target, this sniper rifle has no equal.

  • If and when I’m asked, my favourite exotic equipment piece is probably the Ninjabike Kneepads, with the Memento Backpack being a close second. The Ninjabike Kneepads offer an instant reload when vaulting or performing cover-to-cover moves, allowing me always keep my active weapon topped off. This is how I keep the boosted RPM on my Chatterbox for entire missions. I’ve since swapped out the extra Hunter’s Fury mask for a Sokolov Concern mask, which adds a ten percent submachine gun damage bonus to ensure I’m even more effective in CQC. This is by no means a perfect setup: a fully optimised CQC loadout would require that I improve my critical chance probability and damage to the greatest extent possible. With this being said, I think that what I do have isn’t bad at all.

I imagine that with my current setup, I should stand a much better chance of being able to explore the Dark Zone in peace and even consider exploring the raid missions now. I recall attempting the latter with my Striker loadout some months previously and ended up quite unsuccessful, but now, with a loadout that basically gives me a very high DPS and never needs reloading, coupled with what some might considered to be overpowered, armour repair and self-healing capabilities, I am much more self sufficient and should be able to hold out for much longer in firefights, provided I can position myself to be effective. Having grown proficient with my setup’s strengths and weaknesses, I have no trouble with getting myself into a situation that lets me to fully capitalise on what my loadout has to offer. As a result, I now have a shorter TTK than I did even during the height of my time in The Division: named elites fall in the space of seconds when everything is lined up (this was most noticeable when I revisited New York to fight Kajika as a part of the Manhunt assignment, where I dropped his health and armour to zero before the scripted event kicks in and triggers the next part of the mission to become active). All of this was done without a fully optimised Chatterbox, so I am now curious to see if I might stand a better chance than I had previously with the raid missions. For now, however, Ubisoft has announced that they do intend on supporting The Division 2, and while I concede that the manhunts have become a little tiresome, it would be interesting to hear what Ubisoft has planned for the game as it enters its third year. Until then, I’ll take a bit of a break from The Division 2 and spend that time to unwind a bit more: this month’s been incredibly busy on all fronts, and so, every respite is something I’ve come to look forwards to.

The Division 2: A New Exotic Collection, The Hunter’s Fury Gear Set and The Manhunt for Schaeffer

“There are some places in life where you can only go alone. Embrace the beauty of your solo journey.” –Mandy Hale

Since the events of the last manhunt, I primarily shifted my focus to on collecting exotic weapons and gear in The Division 2. In The Division, exotics were the rarest of the rare items, and for this, featured some of the must unique traits of any weapon in the game. The Division 2 took exotics a step further, allowing them to fundamentally change the way the game was played. Unlike The Division, exotics are now counted as being powerful enough such that players can only equip one exotic weapon and gear piece at a time, and moreover, there are some exotics that can be crafted following a quest chain, giving endgame players something meaningful to work towards: the Chatterbox requires that special parts be located in Hyena missions, while the Nemesis involves beating invaded missions. Between hunting for exotics and working on the different specialisation field research, The Division 2 has continued to remain highly engaging during the interim between the two manhunt seasons: the latest Manhunt entails hunting down Bardon Schaeffer, leader of the Black Tusk Specialist Unit who believes that eliminating the SHD is a necessary step to saving America. After a lengthy hunt in tracking down and neutralising his subordinates, it turns out that Schaeffer is hiding out at Coney Island. Despite his versatile loadout, the agent manages to bring him down, although even in his absence, the Black Tusk remain a formidable and dangerous force. The task was made easier by the collection of exotics I’d accumulated since the second manhunt, and for this third manhunt, I made a concerted effort to acquire all of the exotics in The Division 2 that do not involve pre-order bonuses, raids or legendary missions. At the time of writing, I believe that save the Dodge City Holster, I’ve got every exotic available in The Division 2 that can be acquired through solo play, bringing me back to where I had been towards the end of my time in The Division. In The Division, the Classified Striker’s Battlegear was the go-to option for anyone looking for a high damage build that vastly improved the performance of any automatic weapon. However, I found that The Division 2‘s iteration was far less effectual than it had been relative to my Classified Set, and after acquiring a Striker’s Battlegear set, I found myself distinctly worse off than I had with my previous gear.

The Division 2 would remedy this not long after, by introducing Hunter’s Fury: this gear set is intended for close quarters combat, and the set bonuses facilitate an aggressive, high-risk-high-reward play-style. The initial bonuses for having two active gear pieces are a fifteen percent boost to submachine gun and shotgun damage. At three pieces, players will recover a fifth of their armour and all of their health on each kill. Finally, when at least four pieces are equipped, the Apex Predator talent is unlocked. All enemies within fifteen metres take an additional twenty percent damage, and killing an enemy will disorient all enemies within five metres, as well as granting an extra five percent damage on top of this for ten seconds. Having the chest piece increases the duration up to half a minute, and equipping the backpack increases the range of the Apex Predator bonus to ten metres. Purely driven by damage, the Hunter’s Fury is the ultimate gear set for solo players favouring CQC, turning individual agents into an unstoppable wrecking ball in close quarters, whose rampage is only constrained by a need to reload and the fact that one is rendered less effective for long range combat. The weaknesses in the Hunter’s Fury gear set’s range can be offset by careful use of cover, while the constraints imposed by reloading can be trivially solved by adding the Ninjabike Messenger Kneepads, which favours cover-to-cover and parkour movements. To further enhance the Hunter’s Fury, the Chatterbox makes for a powerful primary weapon: it’s a custom P90 with a powerful set of talents. The first is that every kill refills half the magazine (a maximum of thirty rounds per kill), and moreover, reloading will increase the rate of fire by twenty percent for every enemy within a range of fifteen metres, up to a maximum of five stacks. The synergy between the Hunter’s Fury, Chatterbox and Ninjabike kneepads results in a build that is downright unfair: the gear set boosts damage at close quarters and provides healing, so I can wade into a firefight, down an enemy to stun the group, reload to secure the increased firing rate, and then mow down enemies back-to-back with a super-charged P90 without needing to reload. Once a firefight ends, I can then use the Ninjabike kneepad’s talent to top off my magazine without losing the bonus firing rate. Careful reload management and positioning means I have an immensely powerful build that allows me to maximise damage and constantly repair and heal without needing to dedicate skills or gear attributes towards defense: having now spent upwards of 160 hours in The Division 2, I have a build that is tuned to my preferred play-style, and moreover, as of the next title update, the inclusion of an optimisation station will allow me to further refine my gear.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Besides a new season’s worth of content, The Division 2 also introduced “The Summit”, a new game mode in which players finish the floors of a building with the aim of progressing to the hundredth floor for a prize. The fact there’s a hundred floors brings to mind the likes of Sword Art Online and Aincrad, which similarly had a hundred floors. The Division had a similar concept dubbed “The Underground”, set in the subways of New York.

  • Conceptually, The Summit game mode sounds fun, but I’m unlikely to play it because it doesn’t fit in with why I play The Division 2. Granted, there are other players who do enjoy the mode, and I am getting this mode for free since I purchased Warlords of New York, so I do have something else to do if I’m feeling up to slaughtering NPCs: I’m certainly not complaining about this game mode in any way.

  • I only ended up playing The Summit so I could finish off one of the requirements for the earlier Manhunt missions. Manhunt has been surprisingly fun, and the progression system has provided plenty of incentive to play: awards range from gear set items, to cosmetics, blueprints and even exotics. Reaching certain ranks in the Manhunt progression guarantees the new exotics, and this has been a fantastic way to collect some of The Division 2‘s best weapons and equipment.

  • I’ve heard that properly geared players can solo even legendary difficulties in The Summit, since the mode does scale for solo players somewhat. This would probably be the only way to get the Bighorn exotic assault rifle on my own, since I don’t particularly have an inclination to join groups for legendary missions. While a large part of The Division 2‘s best content is behind group activities (specifically, raids and legendary missions), a reasonably determined (and lucky) player could still collect most of these items without too much difficulty.

  • The main appeal about The Summit is that no two playthroughs is exactly alike, since the floors and setups differ every time one starts anew. Earlier iterations of the game allowed players to choose which floors they’d start on, but now, all players are reset to level one, but then save points are more frequent, and leaving a match at a level will only result in the player starting one level back (so if one were to be on floor 25 and left before finishing, they’d start on level 24 the next time they returned). On top of this, determined players who reach level 100 in The Summit will receive an exotic cache for their troubles.

  • The closed-in environment in The Summit means that CQC-oriented weapons like submachine guns and shotguns become immensely powerful: the Hunter’s Fury gear set was specifically designed with The Summit in mind, and after breaking in the set here, I realised I was onto something big: up until now, I played with a much slower, methodical pacing, but with the Hunter’s Fury, I can return to my play-style from The Division, where I played with a much more aggressive style.

  • Because the Hunter’s Fury limits me to close quarters combat, I’ve begun experimenting with loadouts, allowing me to switch my specialisation, equipped gear pieces and skills on a moment’s notice. This enables me to adapt to a situation and capitalise on a range of perks and talents depending on what the mission calls for. The downside to changing loadouts mid-mission is that it will empty out one’s special ammunition for their signature weapon, so switches must be made in a strategic manner if one makes extensive use of their signature weapon.

  • I’ve found that the signature weapons are merely another tool in the player’s arsenal, rather than a game-changer that allows one to individually change the tide of battle. For the third Manhunt season, I had focused on levelling the survivalist specialisation, which proved to be surprisingly entertaining. The crossbow and its explosive bolts, while dealing less direct damage than the M32A1 and having less range than the TAC-50, are a fun option that can one-shot Black Tusk warhounds. The other bonuses the specialisation confers is increased resistance against elite enemies, as well as enhanced healing in a team. This is very much a group-oriented specialisation, and I’m sure that I would’ve gotten more use out of the survivalist specialisation were I to squad up with other players.

  • A part of the Manhunt had included taking on Aaron Keener again. This time around, he was trivially easy to beat: knowing that the Eclipse virus doesn’t immediately harm the player, I was able to close the distance to Keener and melted him on very short order before he could do any real damage. During the early parts of the season three Manhunt event, I primarily ran with the Lady Death exotic submachine gun, whose main bonuses are increased critical hit damage with player movement, and bonus melee damage. The weapon’s main limitation is its small magazine size, but the reload is very quick.

  • With the damage bonuses from the Hunter’s Fury, shotguns go from being modestly useful to monstrosities at close quarters: most enemies now fall in a single shot. The Sweet Dreams, an exotic SPAS-12 shotgun, thus becomes particularly entertaining: a few shells will destroy all but the most heavily armoured of enemies, and in a pinch, the Sweet Dreams’ unique talent allows one to knock out veteran enemies with one melee strike.

  • After finishing off the first Manhunt target, I found myself one step closer to Schaefer; during my first-ever Manhunt, I initially struggled to locate the bounty targets and assumed that they were for the ordinary bounties. The Division 2 is generally intuitive, but there are some aspects that do not make sense off the bat. Compared to its predecessor, The Division 2 has a lot more to do at the end-game, but the tradeoff for increased content variety is that some things are not explained quite as well. Once I figured out how the Manhunt bounties worked, however, it was simple enough to finish them off.

  • Since September, I’ve been completing the weekly SHD Acquisition missions for the guaranteed exotic caches that the assignment gives. Players must donate resources to the Projects Officer (one of food, water or components, together with any combination of polycarbonate, ceramics, titanium, steel, cloth or receiver parts), and in exchange, will receive an exotic cache, a named item, and a blueprint, plus specialisation points for the active specialisation. This has been a fantastic way of keeping busy in the game: by raiding resource convoys, one can top off fairly quickly, and then completing missions and lighting up bad guys will provide the other resources.

  • In this way, I’ve gotten several exotics that I found immensely useful, including the Ninjabike Messenger Kneepads, the Pestilence LMG, and even a Bullet King LMG. However, the exotic caches are a bit of a gamble: I remember going three weeks in a row where I got nothing but Sweet Dreams. The plus side about exotics are that, if one should receive duplicates, they can be broken down for exotic components, which can be used to reconfigure other exotics.

  • On one particularly wild run, while I had been focused on other things, I wound up picking up not one, not two, but three exotics: the Acosta Go Bag, another Coyote Mask and my second Chameleon assault rifle. This run happened during the Thanksgiving Long Weekend: that Saturday, I had just finished writing about GochiUsa BLOOM‘s first episode and had gone for a nice walk in the afternoon, so as the evening set in, I decided to try and make some progress in The Division 2. I ended up finding three exotics over the space of an hour.  While there were two duplicates, the Chameleon was rolled better than my previous one, which I’d gotten randomly from clearing a hard control point.

  • For a time in September, I had my sights set on the Chameleon assault rifle: its unique talent gives a bonus based on which part of the body one hits with it, offsetting the fact that the weapon initially has a poor base damage. Headshots increase critical hit probability and damage, body shots increase base damage by up to 80 percent, and leg shots makes a reload speedier. The weapon handles more similarly to an SMG than an assault rifle, and is only really useful in some scenarios, but when all of the buffs align, the weapon can melt through named characters in the blink of an eye, and on top of that, looks downright awesome.

  • Since the Chameleon is an assault rifle despite having the handling of a submachine gun, I typically don’t run it for serious missions: the Hunter’s Fury is geared towards SMG and shotguns, so typically, I’ll run the Chatterbox with either an assault rifle, rifle or LMG depending on what the mission requires. One aspect about the Hunter’s Fury gear set I particularly liked, beyond its bonuses and attributes, was the fact that the backpack was stuffed with arrows, making it a solid choice when running the survivalist specialisation and its crossbow.

  • By the events of the third Manhunt, I’d also unlocked the gunner specialisation, which favours controlling enemy movement and suppressing them with sustained fire. The M134 mini-gun fires 7.62mm rounds at a blistering 1000 RPM, and holds up to 150 rounds in its drum. Reloading is quick, and equipping the M134 also temporarily boosts one’s armour, allowing agents to wade into a firefight and deal out an absurd amount of damage. The gunner specialisation proved much more fun than I’d expected, and it very quickly became a personal favourite, being suited for close-quarters engagements where I can mow down entire groups of enemies quickly.

  • Opinion on the Chameleon is generally mixed for most players, and in practise, I’ve found it to consume ammunition at incredibly high rates. With the perks from the gunner specialisation, however, I can regenerate ten percent of my ammunition capacity every minute, and with the right specialisation perks, I can even regenerate the 7.62 mm rounds for the M134. The requirement for obtaining M134 ammunition is to score multi-kills without letting go of the trigger, and I’ve found that this synergises very well with the Chatterbox: by wading into a group of enemies and overwhelming them with Hunter’s Fury, entire squads are decimated without once letting up on the fire.

  • While the M134 is powerful, it is less effective against named enemies, and I’ve found that on the whole, a Chatterbox fully buffed with the improved firing rate bonus, in conjunction with the stacked damage bonuses from the Hunter’s Fury gear set (and bonus damage from the specialisation) will tear enemies apart even more quickly than the M134. I’ve not really focused on dealing bonus armour damage this time around because the other perks mean that I’m dealing enough damage now to equal my old The Division build, where I had 60 percent bonus armour damage on my Striker set.

  • During one invaded mission at the Washington Grand Hotel, taking out a named enemy landed me a Pestilence LMG. As an exotic, the weapon’s special talent is to apply a debuff on enemies that deals damage over time, and when the afflicted enemy is downed, the debuff transfers over to the next nearest enemy. My Pestilence also had bonus armour damage, making it a decently powerful option for squaring off against tougher enemies, and I’ve found it to be a fun LMG to have around. While not shown in this post, I also found a Bullet King. This is probably the most distinctive LMG in the whole of The Division 2: sporting a golden finish, the Bullet King’s unique talent allows it to never require reloading, and so, its effective magazine size is one’s LMG capacity. This gives the Bullet King the greatest potential for sustained damage in all of The Division 2.

  • The Bullet King goes well with my Hunter’s Fury gear set, but during a handful of missions, I found that being restricted to close-quarters combat left me at a distinct disadvantage. During my quest to unlock the firewall specialisation, I ended up creating a long-range build centred around the Aces and Eights gear set, which emphasises sniping: one of the field research assignments had been to complete the DARPA Labs mission on hard, and Brenner was defeating me at every turn, since I couldn’t get close enough to damage him. With a sniper-oriented set, and the capacity to hit for up to seventeen million points of damage with the headshot bonuses, however, I shredded Brenner with a pair of well-placed headshots from my Nemesis exotic sniper, which took me the whole of September to gather the parts for.

  • Here, I square off against a named elite named “The Westie” – it is with some amusement that I remark that MrProWestie is one of my favourite YouTube channels, and his content on gaming, especially with Battlefield and Call of Duty: Warzone, is relatively well-known, so I wonder if this is a clever shout-out. I fonud MrProWestie’s channel while looking for Battlefield 1 content some years ago, and stuck with it because he’d been fond of adding Wilhelm Screams into some of his videos. At the time, I’d already been following LevelCap and JackFrags: LevelCap’s videos are generally the most cut-and-dried, offering a good range of opinions and perspectives, while JackFrags injects the most humour into his. MrProWestie is a happy balance between the two videos, and I’ve gotten most of my Battlefield news from these three YouTubers.

  • Because of their approaches, I respect each for being consistent, fair and bringing something noteworthy to the table. Back in The Division 2, I returned to Coney Island for the last few segments of the manhunt. At this point, I’ve played enough of the Year One maps to know them as well as any of the locations in Washington D.C., and I believe I’ve mentioned this last post: Coney Island looks amazing by day. On my first play-through, I had gotten the map at night, with all the carnival rides and midway alit. However, the small details in each area are at their best during the day.

  • As I reach the ball field, a bolt of lightning strikes the ground, creating a literal bolt from the blue. I imagine that the weather effects had been intended for when it rains during this segment of the mission, but since there’s dynamic weather in The Division 2, there can be some unusual occurrences. It was a stroke of luck that I captured the lightning when it struck: even in video games, lightning bolts occur quickly, and are therefore difficult to capture for screenshots. On an unrelated note, I have been closely following the sentencing trials for Chow Ting and Wong Chi-Fung: verdicts were delivered yesterday. I found the verdict to be very lenient, especially when considering the damage these two have dealt to Hong Kong (Chow Ting only received a 10 month sentence, while Chi-Fung was sentenced to 13 months’ imprisonment). However, knowing that those who have caused chaos and division to society will now face the repercussions for their actions brings me a sense of vindication. In particular, it was with great satisfaction to see Chow Ting dissolving into tears after the community service order her lawyers were seeking had been rejected in favour of a ten-month sentence.

  • Actions have consequences – just because someone has a pretty face and half a million Twitter followers does not render them above the law. Those on social media can complain vociferously now, but it will be little more than a pointless gesture: change in the real world is affected by those who possess a modicum of skill and a willingness to work hard, not those who believe a large follower count is the single determinant of success. With Chow Ting and Chi-Fung behind bars, I look forwards to a quiet, peaceful and serene winter break, one that I will kick off by knocking back a victory soda. Back in The Division 2, having now unlocked the firewall specialisation, I now only need to finish off the technician’s field research: my aim is to have most of the field research done so that come season four, I can focus on earning specialisation points to max out both the firewall and technician. The K8 Jetstream Flamethrower is a compact weapon capable of projecting a jet of flame out a short distance, dealing massive damage to those caught in the blast, and reminds me of Elon Musk’s Not A Flamethrower in terms of appearance. Unlike the Not A Flamethrower, the K8 deals serious damage, and the fuel for it is earned simply by killing enemies at close range.

  • This Manhunt marks the first time I’ve ever faced off against a Hunter. Hunters are the single most lethal individual enemy in The Division and in The Division 2, have been given superior armour and firepower over their earlier counterparts. These enemies carry a range of skills and moreover, are able to emit a jamming signal that renders one’s skills ineffectual. Furthermore, they are equipped with a combat axe and can kill players in one hit at close quarters. Beating this Hunter here is just a part of the mission, but elsewhere in The Division 2, Hunters can be summoned and drop special masks that can be collected.

  • I think that after season four ends, it might be worthwhile to go back and try collecting the masks: at that point, I imagine that I’ll have all of the items that are worth collecting, and in the next update, with the optimisation station, I can simply focus on making my current gear as powerful as possible. Back in the season three Manhunt, radio chatter indicates that there’s more to Schaeffer than meets the eye: he references a Natalya Sokolova, but not much more is known about her.

  • At long last, it’s time to face off against this season’s prime target: Schaeffer is armed with an SVD and an AUG-A3 rifle, along with airburst seeker mines, sticky bombs and jammer grenades. It was during this fight where I realised my Hunter’s Fury was probably not going to work well against Schaeffer: Hunter’s Fury is designed for dealing with multiple, weaker enemies, whereas against individually strong enemies, the healing and repair perks, plus the ability to stun nearby enemies, are largely irrelevant. In this fight, I came close to death on two occasions, and ended up beating Schaeffer using the Mk. 46, a modified M249 firing 7.62 mm rounds.

  • It turns out that defeating Schaeffer will drop another Momento exotic backpack for me, which was pretty neat. I still need to do the Jupiter Manhunt, which had ran before I picked up Warlords of New York, but fortunately, I was able to unlock access to it during the previous Manhunt, so that is something I can look at before the next set of events. According to the developers, the next major update for The Division 2 will become available in just a few days, and besides the optimisation station, I’m also excited about the game’s increasing inventory capacity from 100 items, to 150 items, and the increased number of loadouts from four to sixteen.

  • This image here indicates my current preferred loadout for PvE activities. It’s not exactly an optimised setup by most standards, but I’ve been having a great deal of success with it in all missions up to and including the challenging difficulties. Things have certainly come a long way in The Division 2, and at this point in time, I’m definitely feeling at home: I’m now as familiar with missions as I had been during The Division, and have the confidence to deal with almost anything in the game on my own. As such, next season’s Manhunt is an exciting one – I’m supposed to be fighting Faye Lau. This offers a bit of closure on the story set up in Warlords of New York, and with that to look forwards to, I’ll be turning my attention next to Halo 4, which I finished yesterday. The post is going to be a larger one and therefore require a bit of time to write out.

Altogether, I’ve now reached a point in The Division 2 where I’m completely comfortable with a loadout that I’ve had the chance to put through extensive gameplay. At this endgame, I am now confident in my ability to engage and survive fire-fights at higher difficulties: the current setup I have has allowed me to remain effective up to and including challenging, so completing different assignments, field specialisation and events has offered a refreshing experience that reminds me of my old build from The Division. With this build, I’m far more effective than I had been previously in The Division 2: Invaded missions that I barely could complete at level thirty on normal difficulty are now trivially easy to finish, and the Black Tusk’s Warhounds or mini-gun wielding tanks, which previously demanded I always carry an LMG at all times, could now be dealt with in a single magazine from the Chatterbox, leaving me free to equip a different secondary weapon for longer range fire-fights, or double my ability at close quarters. With the dramatic change in The Division 2‘s pacing as a result of the synergy in my loadout, I’ve turned my attention towards completing the field research for the different specialisations. In this post, I’ve brought the Survivalist up to maximum level, unlocked and maxed out the Gunner specialisation and recently acquired the Firewall, which is another excellent close-quarters specialisation. At the time of writing, the only specialisation I have left to unlock is the Technician. Altogether, it would look that I’ve made reasonable progress in The Division 2 as a solo player, and so, a little more than a year after I picked the game up on a Black Friday sale, I can say that The Division 2 has been a superb experience all around, featuring much more to do than its predecessor: I managed to hit The Division‘s endgame and had an all-exotic loadout within a half-year of picking that up, but here in The Division 2, the journey’s been a bit longer. However, it was by no means a grind, and at present, now that I’m rocking a setup I’m happy with, all eyes turn towards the next title update and the fourth manhunt assignment, which, unless I’m mistaken, will bring back a familiar face as the primary target.

The Division 2: The Megumin Specialisation, Kenly College Expedition and The Manhunt for Hornet

“My name is Megumin, an arch wizard who commands explosion magic!” –Megumin, Konosuba

After defeating Aaron Keener in single combat, I found myself thrust into the Warlords of New York’s Second Season of Keener’s Legacy. In the days following, I spent most of my time in the streets of Lower Manhattan, with the goal of hunting down the remaining SHD caches before heading back over to Washington D.C. to begin the quest for the remaining specialisations and exotics. By sheer coincidence, the Kenly College expedition had opened up shortly after I returned. Expeditions in The Division 2 are a timed event that provides a different gameplay experience and offers unique rewards upon completion. Kenly College sent players to a segment of the Kenly College campus, which had been abandoned after the Green Poison outbreak, only for the Outcasts to take over. When the Outcasts ambushed a JFT convoy and made off with their provisions, they returned vital supplies to the college, where they were manufacturing improvised explosive devices and also had plans to turn the high grade communications technology towards causing devastation in Washington D.C. at a hitherto unprecedented scale. Fortunately, with the agent on station, the Outcasts plot is foiled, and over the course of a Saturday afternoon, I soloed my way through the three wings of Kenly College, single-handedly shutting down the IED manufacturing operation, capturing several servers and securing the subway station. Owing to the disruptive equipment employed at Kenly College, ISAC was unable to provide spatial data, and so, I found the biggest challenge to be locating all of the objectives. I have heard that the unique set-up of Kenly College meant that it would be immensely difficult to complete the expedition as a solo player, but fortunately, this was not the case; with a bit of tenacity and spatial coordination, as well as a bit of forward thinking to complete the puzzles the expedition presents players with, For my troubles, I was rewarded with the Diamondback, an exotic lever-action rifle with a very distinct look.

With Kenly College in the books, I next turned my attention to Keener’s Legacy and its manhunt objective, which seeks to bring Carter “Hornet” Leroux to justice. Defeated in a confrontation with a Division agent in the events of The Division, Hornet was brought back from the brink of death by Lori “Termite” Baker; through the events of both games, Hornet was on solid terms with Keener: listening to audio logs suggest that Keener genuinely trusted and respected Hornet, and this was mutual. As I tore through Washington D.C. and New York alike to complete the manhunt objectives, which entailed capturing control points, completing old missions and special bounty assignments, I slowly began neutralising Hornet’s lieutenants: besides Termite, there was also Luna, Huntsman and Titan. Because I’d procrastinated, it was a race against the clock to finish this manhunt before the season ended. The task of more or less going through the old missions again was daunting one: I had been just adequately equipped to deal with missions before, requiring time to remain in cover and pick off enemies in favour of the highly aggressive close-quarters techniques I employed towards the end of my time in The Division. However, a few things happened that would allow me to begin what seemed a very time-consuming task: after a chance encounter in New York resulted in my acquiring the Lady Death submachine gun, a highly customised CMMG Banshee that favours CQC, I possessed a tool that would make the manhunt far more straightforward. Besides an immensely lucky drop that gave me a Lady Death, I also switched over to the demolitionist specialisation, which gives agents a M32A multiple grenade launcher capable of dealing an absurd amount of damage. Assured of being able to swiftly down my foes in pursuit of the manhunt objectives, I was able to deal with each of Termite, Titan, Luna and Huntsman, unlocking Hornet’s location at the Tidal Basin. Hot in pursuit, I ended up defeating Hornet to secure the prize: a repair trap that scatters armour-restoring kits in a small area surrounding the deployed trap.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Expeditions were a bit of a mixed bag for players, and for good reason: with ISAC’s spatial mapping capabilities unavailable, navigating the halls and facilities of an unknown post-secondary institute was tricky. The Kenly College expedition involves three different wings of the college, each with three sets of tasks that send players through areas on certain objectives to complete. Completing all three tasks completes the wing, and finishing all three wings yields the Diamondback as the prize.

  • The library at Kenly College resembles the main library of the local polytechnic institute, which I’ve only visited before and during a winter Otafest event; in those days, I was collecting Otafest pins and decided to take advantage of the event to see if I could get one or two ultra-rare gold pins. To this end, I ended up exploring the polytechnic so I had a better idea of where everything was, and in the process, I found that the polytechnic institute has a better layout and architectural design compared to the university, featuring slick interiors and a modern construction.

  • By comparison, the university is much more drab, and even modern buildings feel quite uninspired. The university’s old library tower had been such an austere location that I avoided studying there, and I’d only ever used it once to check out Wayson Choy’s All That Matters during the summer, after reading The Jade Peony for my first year English course. This building was, as university lore goes, somehow not designed to handle the weight of books, and began sinking into its foundation once the bookshelves and books were loaded in.

  • In my first year, construction on a new library building had been under way, and finished in third year. I found the new building to be very vapid save for a brilliant space, the visualisation studio, on the fourth floor. This area, I would use for helping my lab demonstrate some of our absolute best, during open houses and the university’s fiftieth anniversary event. Here, I make my way through an eerily quiet study space that resembles the open study area in the library block of my university.

  • The expedition missions all have a similar setup: there are no enemies until one activates a terminal or begins dismantling explosives, after which the Outcasts will show up in force to stop the player. The numbers aren’t ever a problem: I had equipped the Lady Death, a superb submachine gun with enhanced critical hit chance and bonus armour damage that made it wonderful against all enemies, as well as the Stoner LAMG, whose 200-round belt allows for the longest uninterrupted firing of any gun in The Division 2.

  • The main challenge of the expeditions is the fact that it takes a little while to figure out where everything is, and there are a few places where process is deliberately obstructed by means of a puzzle where the agent will need to engage switches and fuse boxes in a certain order. Clues in the environment will help one to figure out this order (e.g. colour coded wires), but initially, it was a bit of a trial and error to figure everything out. The only consolation is that no enemies show up while one is figuring out the puzzles.

  • Once I’d finished the library block, I moved over into the student centre. Featuring restaurants, a coffee shop and lecture hall, the student centre brought back memories of my time as a university student: during my undergraduate years, I spent a great deal of spare time at the student centre, whether it be eating lunch in the hallways of the ground floor’s open areas, or else studying in a space on the top floor. As the years went by, I got my own space in the ICT building, and began spending more time here.

  • As I move through one of the restaurants at Kenly College’s student centre, it suddenly strikes me that my university’s student centre didn’t have too much in the way of dining options. There were only two restaurants, alongside a food court. With this being said, both restaurants were decent in terms of food quality. The food court’s Korean BBQ outlet stood as my favourite place on campus, offering generous portions of grilled chicken rice with honeyed potatoes for reasonable prices. We also had a poutine place, but this one only lasted a year before being replaced, to my disappointment.

  • For one reason or another, I had always imagined that the restaurant on the far side of the student centre, on the second floor, was reserved for graduate students only. However, as it turns out, this misunderstanding stems from the fact that I occasionally interpret things in a literal fashion and miss some nuance as a consequence. This restaurant had a special program for celebrating academic achievements: graduate students who’d successfully defended a thesis would be eligible for one complementary bottle of champagne. I ended up cashing mine in and celebrating with my old lab at this restaurant.

  • As I hunkered down beside a server terminal while ISAC worked its magic on it, I passed by a coffee shop. In my day, I never spent a penny on coffee, counting on a good night’s sleep and disciplined schedule to keep me awake. Conversely, my classmates and colleagues swore by coffee, counting on the stimulating effects of caffeine to give them a good boost in the morning, and each morning, the campus coffee shops would see long lineups as students awaited their cup of joe to kick-start their day. Overall, while I enjoy the taste of a properly-brewed coffee, I generally prefer tea.

  • Through snippets of audio logs and exchanges from Manny Ortega, it becomes clear that the Outcasts intend to use the Washington D.C. subway lines to deliver IEDs underneath the city. Even with Emeline Shaw’s death, the Outcasts continue to operate, having found new leadership under Carter Leroux (Hornet). They are my least favourite faction to fight, since their ideology of spreading anarchy, death and destruction as far and wide as possible means that despite lacking the discipline of the better trained factions, they possess a surprisingly diverse array of weapons and tools. Their disregard for life means they have no qualms sending in suicide bombers.

  • After Hornet assumes leadership of the Outcasts, they continue to follow a policy of laam chau, 攬炒 (jyutping laam2 caau2, literally “hug-fry”, similar to the Joker’s remark that “everything burns (together)”), the Cantonese slang for mutually assured destruction. Having seen this in practise, it’s something I’ve come to despise greatly, suggesting a complete lack of willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions and owning one’s decisions, as well as committing the effort to drive genuine, positive change. As infuriating as the Outcasts and their methods are, it gives me great satisfaction to fight them (especially the suicide bombers, who can often injure or kill their own if shot while rushing the player).

  • The fight with Spitfire and Kin proved to be even more challenging than the fight with Aaron Keener: both named elites have a special heat-based armour that melts physical bullets, rendering them impervious to conventional damage. Their ability is similar to the Scorch Titan’s thermal shield from Titanfall 2, and without knowing this ahead of time, one cannot just equip the incendiary turret or firewall specialisation to make an easy fight of the pair: only incendiary damage can cause any harm to them. Complicating things, both elites use incendiary rounds that ignite the player. Fortunately, for those caught unawares, there are boxes of incendiary rounds scattered throughout the student centre, as well as flammable containers: with these bullets and a little bit of patience, the two can be defeated.

  • The last of the assignments in the student centre involves freeing and keeping a remaining JTF engineer safe as she reroutes systems. Comparatively speaking, this is one of the easier missions, since the engineer will have a pre-programmed set of destinations to visit, and following her will allow one to wrap this one up fairly quickly. It took about three quarters of an hour to finish these two wings, and after ninety minutes, I had two of the three wings in the bag.

  • One of the aspects of Kenly College that I rather enjoyed were the various audio logs scattered around campus: it follows one of the students as she describes the return to classes, life on campus and some of the various day-to-day things she deals with, such as club activities, papers and the like. However, as the Green Poison spreads, her worries begin surrounding what the pandemic has done, and how she’s become concerned that a tickle in her throat might be the beginning of the end.

  • The last wing of Kenly College is set in their subway complex, which is a vast subterranean network of tunnels, pump rooms and HVAC machinery to rival the sewers of Enter The Matrix in size and scale. Here, the Outcasts have begun preparing their plans of exacting revenge against the world, and it’s up to the agent to stop them. Even more so than the Kenly College campus, the underground tunnels are a labyrinthine maze that is a nightmare to navigate.

  • From what I had heard online, I had been under the impression that Kenly College was impossible to do solo owing to the size of the map, and the fact that it was timed made it extremely difficult to complete. In reality, Kenly College is something that can be done solo: the challenge lies not in the strength of enemy forces, but rather, the lack of navigation ISAC typically provides, which makes it much harder to find objectives.

  • One particularly nice touch about the underground passages were the presence of various fungi that have begun growing on the floors and pillars. I’m no mycologist, and therefore, I cannot readily identify the species, but the presence of mushrooms indicates a damp environment and some sort of food source for the fungi. The presence of fungi indicates that there is excessive moisture, and left unchecked, fungi causes respiratory problems owing to the spores they produce.

  • Having an assault turret proved immensely valuable, and at this point in The Division 2, I’ve concluded that the assault turret’s ability to lock down choke points or serve as a distraction makes it my favourite skill to equip: during a difficult fight, it can be used to provide additional firepower against a tough individual, or in situations where I am out-numbered, the turret can be used to draw aggro while I flank my enemies.

  • In the end, I completed all of the wings in a single afternoon – the experience was somewhat draining, although not quite to the same extent as Blackrock Depths and the Molten Core had been. The Diamondback is the prize for finishing all three wings, and in practise, while a fun lever-action rifle to use with a very distinct appearance, the Diamondback is not something I will be using for serious combat. With this, I’ve finished the expedition solo, and while I’m considering trying the raids solo, I have a feeling that, like Molten Core, I won’t be able to do this alone: the two raids in The Division 2 offer enticing rewards for completion, but I may have to swallow my pride and join a group to get to them.

  • Once I finished the Kenly College, I turned my attention over to the Hornet manhunt, which saw me return to familiar locations as I collected all of the requirements needed to locate each of Titan, Termite, Luna and Huntsman. Of Hornet’s lieutenants, Luna proved the most infuriating to fight owing to where she spawned: Pier 26’s final area was an open space where boats are docked, although this did nothing to diminish her range. Her investigation brings players back to Coney Island, and in this post, I opted to show off Coney Island in more detail because I was able to visit by day.

  • The Division 2 absolutely looks its best during the day, and Coney Island is no exception. By day, the area feels like a desert, giving the amusement park and its attractions a very desolate, Metro Exodus-like feeling. Observant readers will have noticed that here, I’ve changed my appearance somewhat to rock a more old-west style.

  • For most of The Division 2, I was rocking an armour piece with the “Unbreakable” talent, which instantly repairs one with around 85 percent of their armour should it break from damage. This proved to be such a powerful asset in firefights, since it would buy me time to escape a perilous situation. Properly played, having this talent meant that I technically no longer required armour kits: there’s a cooldown, but keeping out of trouble long enough means that one has more or less self-refilling armour kits. As I began collecting pieces of the Striker’s Battlegear set, I ended up accidentally selling this chest piece, so one of my short term goals will be to acquire a new chest piece with good base attributes, such that I can reapply the Unbroken talent to it.

  • We’re now nearly a week into September, and it’s the Labour Day long weekend. In years past, this was a chance to go visit the mountains ahead of winter, but present circumstances meant it was a wiser idea to stay in town. During this weekend, I finished mowing the lawn and backyard one final time: the weather yesterday was a pleasant 29°C but quite smoky, so I spent the remainder of the day pushing through The Division 2 to complete the manhunt. Today, a cold front and low pressure zone pushed grey, cool and rainy weather into the region. As has been the custom of long weekends, I enjoyed dinner from a nearby Chinese restaurant: honey-pepper beef short ribs on broccoli, clay-pot fired tofu, seafood and chicken, deep-fried prawns with Maggi sauce and stir-fried Chinese broccoli with seafood.

  • The weather today was not quite conducive for a walk, but last weekend, the skies were absolutely gorgeous: this will probably be the last walk of the year where the largest park in my region has a summer vibe to it (deep blue skies, green grass and warm air). With the last vestiges of summer on the doorstep, I imagine that the leaves will begin yellowing soon as autumn sweeps in. Here, I’ll remark that originally, I had been planning to watch and write about Fragtime for the long weekend, but since I ultimately spent far more time than I should have in THe Division 2, this weekend’s post will be a gaming one.

  • Owing to the various missions I finished en route to Hornet, I accumulated enough demolitionist points to fully spec out my specialisation tree: at full power, the demolitionist loadout is a blast (pun intended). I elected to increase the damage for light machine guns, submachine guns and assault rifles, knowing that I would primarily be fighting at close quarters to medium range. The signature weapon, the M32A MGL, is a highly effective weapon for crowd control and handling Warhounds: a single shot is enough to take one out, and having now gone through the entire demolitionist tree, I conclude that, while bonus headshot damage is nice, the M32A’s versatility makes it more useful than the TAC-50.

  • For the curious, the demolitionist’s upgrades also include a boost to explosion damage, which, combined with the M32A’s raw destructive power, means that this is the closest one can run to the Megumin loadout: unlike Megumin, I have six shots and grenades on top of my usual weapons, meaning that even though I’ve chosen to specialise in explosives, I have more than enough firepower to last in a firefight. With this being said, Megumin’s signature ex~PLOSION~! does come to mind every time I equip the M32A, and while I’ve only really been running this setup for the past two weeks, I’ve become very comfortable with the demolitionist now.

  • The Hornet manhunt concludes back at Tidal Basin, where the Outcasts’ carelessness means that entire areas are doused with the Eclipse virus, which Tchernenko had successfully developed using the Green Poison as a template. It is capable of cutting through one’s mask and kills in seconds, but the repair trap will confer temporary immunity from its effects. The end of the manhunt means destroying Hornet’s supply of Eclipse, and then squaring down against Hornet himself. Equipped with Blinder Fireflies, Stinger Hives and automatic weapons, Hornet himself isn’t a particularly tricky fight, but he has hordes of Outcasts that fill the air with hot lead, making it tougher to fight him.

  • I ended up focusing on the Outcasts first, since every Outcast killed represents one fewer gun firing on the agent. With most of the Outcasts on the hovercraft dead, I focused on Hornet. Having the Lady Death and its bonus armour damage allowed me to make short work of Hornet. Once Hornet is down for the count, the manhunt draws to a close, and I breathed a sigh of relief at having finished the manhunt with just days to spare. Next time around, I’ll do things in my usual style (i.e. incrementally and well ahead of the deadline) so things can be a little more relaxed.

  • At the end of my first manhunt event, I found myself in possession of a complete Striker’s Battlegear set. I ended up using kneepads with additional armour and the exotic BTSU Data Gloves for its skill bonuses to round things out. For weapons, the Lady Death and Stoner LAMG proved more than enough to handle anything thrown at me. This is by no means a fully-optimised loadout, but it does strike enough of a balance for me so that I can deal and absorb some damage in most fights. The Lady Death is a particularly fun weapon to run with, and as I am now, I am able to swiftly down even the elites with only one magazine, bringing back memories of my TTK from The Division.

The Division 2‘s endgame has proven itself to be leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor: besides the array of specialisations and exotics to work towards, Keener’s Legacy was a phenomenal addition to the game that provides incentive to return and complete assignments for noteworthy rewards means that there is no shortage of activity in this game well beyond the normal endgame activities of re-running old missions at high difficulties to earn improved gear. Participating in the second season of Keener’s Legacy also had one unexpected outcome: I was able to acquire a set of Striker’s Battlegear, which returns from The Division. In The Division, the Striker’s Battlegear was a damage-oriented set that conferred damage bonus per shot landed. The classified variant of the Striker’s Battlegear rendered a player a veritable one-man army, capable of dishing out and tanking an absurd amount of damage. In The Division 2, the bonuses from the Striker’s Battlegear, while toned down, remain quite potent: the complete gear set requires four pieces and allows for a 25 percent damage boost after 50 consecutive hits. With the chest piece, the stack increases to 100, doubling the damage output. Having now found a full Striker’s Battlegear set and several exotic items, The Division 2 is beginning to handle a lot like it did with The Division. One wonders if classified gear sets might make a return, although for the present, I am rather pleased to have finally put together a loadout that resembles what I’d previously found to be remarkably effectual. With a good Striker’s Battlegear set, the Lady Death submachine gun and a fully-levelled demolitionist specialisation, I am in a much better position to push forwards with both my existing goals, as well as to face off against the Summit, a 100-level event that allows players to advance up a tower in a manner reminiscent to that of Sword Art Online‘s Alucard.

The Division 2: Warlords of New York- Finding Closure in Aaron Keener’s Defeat

“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.

The Division 2: Warlords of New York- Continuing the Manhunt Amidst Manhattan’s Deserted Skyscrapers

“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.