One of the major concerns fans of The Division have about The Division 2 is its choice of setting, forsaking snowy New York City for Washington DC. Reason being, it felt iconic and unique versus what appears to be, on the surface at least, a generic option in Washington DC. Nonetheless, the reasons for opting for Washington DC over other cities in The Division 2, according to Ubisoft Associate Creative Director Chadi El-Zibaoui, have to do with the sheer amount of variety its developers can conjure up in the given space while recreating the city as well as supporting the game's narrative and level design.
"There is the narrative on one side; it really supports our universe and the fantasy of The Division," says El-Ziaboui in conversation with Gadgets 360. "Purely on the level design side – I am a former level designer, so very attached to that – compared to New York City, which is very beautiful but built on a grid, Washington DC has much more variety."
And for those missing fearing that The Division 2 may be totally alien to fans of the first game, he mentions that certain parts of Washington DC will feel familiar.
"You have big open areas, you still have residential developmental areas that are ‘close to Manhattan', except for the height – those areas will feel familiar," he says. "Then you have the government areas with massive buildings. Each of those areas have different layouts, but the thing that is most interesting, and brings the most to the game, are the huge open areas."
El-Zibaoui believes the advantages to having wider, open play spaces ensures greater tactical agency on behalf of players as well as an expanded and diverse set of Dark Zones.
"There are many more ways to approach [a situation]; it's not just a case of turning a corner and facing enemies," he says. "This also benefits the three Dark Zones, which are very different in terms of level design. The biggest advantage of Washington DC is the variety we get just by recreating the city."
With The Division 2 open beta playable from March 1 to March 4 and the game's release date on March 15, it will be interesting to see how Ubisoft's intentions translate into the world of The Division 2.
If you're a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360's gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week's episode by hitting the play button below.