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How The Division 2 Succeeds Where Anthem Fails

Due to personal budgeting, I had to choose between The Division 2 and Anthem and I ended up choosing the latter, which I undoubtedly regret now, especially after finally getting my hands on The Division 2.

I’ve tried basically all the ‘looter shooters’ available today such as Destiny 1 & 2­, Warframe, Defiance, but none of them clicked with me the way Borderlands 2 did, so I assumed that the genre wasn’t for me. Then I saw Anthem and I thought to myself “this will be the one”, unfortunately, I was wrong there as well.

I wouldn’t call myself an ‘Anthem Hater’, but after being rather hyped for this game since revealed back in 2017 at EA’s E3 press conference, I was very disappointed with how most of the game came out. The shared world/co-op features felt forced, the main campaign was subpar at best and the loot system was annoyingly grindy to the point I stopped playing the game. About a week ago, after the newest patch (at the time) was released, I tried to hop back in, see what has changed and grind for some loot, but what I found kind of shocked me.

Anthem was essentially dead, I tried to find a team to do one of the strongholds with me but the game would continuously put me in the stronghold by myself since it couldn’t find anyone to matchmake with me. Now if you haven’t played Anthem these ‘strongholds’ are essentially bigger, longer missions with multiple bosses and a chance for the best loot you can get, but they are much more difficult than regular missions. Trying to do regular missions alone is a challenge in and of itself, but trying to do these strongholds was nearly impossible, I couldn’t even get past the first area when I attempted to solo it. So, frustrated, I logged out and I don’t think I will be returning any time soon, especially after picking up The Division 2.

I was very skeptical going into The Division 2 since, for one it was another ‘looter shooter’, but I also tried the original Division at launch and it felt pretty bland overall. I’ve heard that the game has turned around for the better since it released, but that original impression left a bad taste in my mouth, which is why I went for Anthem over The Division 2 originally despite all the good I was hearing from previews for The Division 2. Now that I finally got a chance to play The Division 2, I’m blown away on how much it does right compared to Anthem, but also how much it has improved since the original Division.

The biggest compliment I can give The Division 2 is their loot system, and when you’re striving to be a ‘looter shooter’, that might be the best compliment you can get. There is so much loot in this game that it legitimately stresses me out sometimes because I have acquired so much good loot, I have to sit there and decide which is the best for me and how I play, which is a great problem to have. The best part about the loot system is that you can get ‘high-end’ loot just from a random encounter with enemies on the street along with all the other activities in the world, which gives me an incentive to actually go out of my way to do them. To compare, to get ‘Masterwork’ items in Anthem – the highest tier gear in the game – you have to either increase difficulty on missions, do legendary contracts or do continuous runs of strongholds for a chance – keyword ‘chance’ – to get them.

All those options also require people to play with since Anthem heavily relies on its co-op components – which isn’t very good to begin with – but luckily The Division 2 doesn’t. This is the first time since Borderlands 2 that I can confidently say you can play this game alone and your experience won’t be hindered. It obviously becomes more of a challenge than playing with a squad, but it is very doable if you play tactfully which is what The Division is all about. I managed to play the entire game alone without problems and I had a blast doing it, but once I got to the fantastic end game of The Division 2, I started to matchmake more since I began to require some assistance.

The Division 2’s end game system is basically a ‘new game plus’ mode for the game which it gives you a vast amount of redux content to complete with a promise of more in the coming months. After you’ve cleared the map, a new fraction named ‘Black Tusk’ takes over all the areas and everything becomes red again with a bunch of changes. These new enemies are stronger, smarter and have new abilities/tech resembling your own that will make you rethink the way you play the game. They have also taken over campaign missions and strongholds giving the layouts of these objectives a well-rounded reworks. The loot system also changes in a big way with the gear you get no longer being based on levels, but it’s now based on score and you have to get your gear score high enough – as well as finishing the respective invaded main missions – to take on each revamped stronghold.

To be clear, I only matchmake for the strongholds for The Division 2’s end game and it’s possible I could take on those alone, but I know it will take twice as long. Even in the end game, it is still feasible to play the game as a solo player and still enjoy your time, whereas Anthem there isn’t a chance in hell I could play a stronghold by myself. The main problem with Anthem’s end game is there isn’t enough content to keep players enticed to keep logging in. The main thing people do to grind for ‘Masterwork’ loot is continuous runs of the strongholds, but there are only three in the game as of right now and one of them was in both of the betas. So, you’re just constantly playing the same missions over and over with the same enemies, objectives, and layout until you get bored. There is promise of more – one has actually just released in the new update – but they have already announced their rollout plan is delayed due to them fixing other problems with the game.

The Division 2 has its problems as well with occasional connection issues and glitches, but nothing like Anthem, and they are so few and far between what makes this game one of the best of the year. It does everything I wished Anthem did and more, and I’m legitimately surprised by how much I’m enjoying it. Hopefully, Anthem can have a redemption story similar to the likes of No Man’s Sky, and I will be there if it does because the gameplay is great, but as of right now, The Division 2 is the place to be. If you are a fan of ‘looter shooters’ or felt ‘burned’ by Anthem, I hope you give this fantastic game a shot because it deserves your attention.

Richard Shivdarsan

Richard Shivdarsan

Staff Writer

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