This article is part of our Personal Playthrough series.
Ubisoft recently announced Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 was in the works and will be debuted at E3 2018. The response on social media has been largely positive, which is not something I would have believed had you told me that back in 2016 when many declared the game and franchise dead. Against all odds, Ubisoft has reanimated the carcass of The Division and made fans happy again. When compared to the repeated mistakes and pitfalls of Bungie’s Destiny, it is clear that Ubisoft has been watching closely in order to avoid the same pitfalls.
The devil is in the details, as The Division has managed to stay a step ahead of Destiny despite suffering a few of the same stumbling blocks as its competition.
Upon release, these games were some of the most hyped we’ve seen in awhile. Fans were clamoring for an intriguing mix of first-person looter and role-playing. Moreover, The Division was widely touted as the game that could kill Destiny.
By the time The Division was released in March of 2016, Destiny was in the midst of one of its many content droughts. While many players had given the game a second chance with the release of The Taken King expansion, TTK was now six months old and players were looking for a change. In walked Ubisoft with The Division.
Many went into The Division with high expectations not just from the massive hype train that followed the game since its unveiling at E3 2013, but from the aforementioned Destiny addicts that wanted something new to sink their teeth into. Much like Destiny, fans were happy with what The Division brought to the table...for about a month. Once you got past the main story and reached the end-game, there simply wasn’t much to do. Despite seeing the early failures of Destiny, Ubisoft couldn’t prevent The Division from meeting a similar fate.
In December of 2017, Ubisoft released the 1.8 Update for The Division that flipped the game on its head and brought many fans back into the fold. Many of the problems that players had maligned for years were undone and fixed, giving hope towards the future of the title and the franchise as a whole.
While The Division’s “Taken King” moment came 21 months into the game’s life cycle (compared to TTK coming 12 months after Destiny’s initial release), it’s what Ubisoft did in the following months that has seemingly given Ubisoft a leg up on Bungie.
Despite releasing TTK in September of 2015, no word of Destiny 2 came until March of 2017. That was despite the many lapses in content that left fans in an almost constant cycle of disappointment. Instead of putting out a new game, Bungie continued to let fans wallow in discontent for far too long. This set Destiny 2 up to fail since it not only needed to be a substantial game in its own right, it had to be a magical unicorn that would make everyone forget about the mess that was Destiny.
Ubisoft instead has opted to strike while the iron is hot rather than waiting for the pot of angry fans to boil over and give your game lofty expectations it couldn’t meet. Just three months after the release of the 1.8 Update, Ubisoft has announced The Division 2. Since the community has been riding a high following the recent update, the sequel announcement has largely been met with excitement and optimism.
Furthermore, one singular statement in Ubisoft's press release rang loud and clear for the spurned fans of Destiny.
“The Division 2 will be powered by an updated version of the Snowdrop engine that enables us to realize our ambitions for the sequel, but more importantly, we're also taking everything we learned over the past two years and applying it towards the sequel to make sure we get it right.” (emphasis added)
Whereas Bungie threw out Destiny’s script and essentially started from scratch with Destiny 2, Ubisoft is being upfront about the fact that this game will be a step forward rather than a lateral sidestep. Rather than bucking all the good-will garnered through post-release content and updates, Ubisoft is looking to build on that foundation.
To be fair, we have no way of knowing whether Ubisoft will deliver on this promise. They very well could put out an inferior product and follow the same path of Bungie. The fact that they are acknowledging the shortcomings of Bungie, however, means that we have to at least give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they will follow a different course and give fans a polished product.
At the very least, it will be interesting to watch The Division 2 over the next year from E3 debut in June to release (probably in Spring 2019 barring a miracle) to post-release cycle and see whether they live up to the promise of a better future.