The Division 2 release date is March 15 and in the run up to this, we've been playing the final build of the game on PC. Following the release of Anthem that was beset with issues aplenty and Destiny 2's yet to be realised resurgence following developer Bungie splitting up with Activision, The Division 2 comes at a trying time for fans of the shared world shooter genre. However with Ubisoft claiming record pre-order numbers for The Division 2 on PC and the company's recent track record of solid PC ports, could The Division 2 be the shooter you should be playing this month? Here's what you should know.
Developer Massive Entertainment has outlined four specifications for the game. These include 1440p and 4K requirements at 60fps as well as the usual minimum and recommended requirements.
The Division 2 PC has a host of options to tweak and customise. These include being able to adjust the density of vegetation, sharpening the overall image quality, and even setting particle density. There are multiple sliders for several shadow options such as their quality, resolution, and quantity in a given scene. You'll also be able to set a custom FPS limit ranging from 30 to 200. Needless to say, if you're unable to get The Division 2 to run as you want, its robust graphic options will make it easy to achieve decent visuals at a playable frame rate.
Furthermore, there's a benchmarking tool as well, which runs the game through four distinct scenarios loaded with different effects and gunfights aplenty, ensuring you get an idea of what performance you can expect without having to get into the game proper. Given the game's somewhat long load times, we'd say it was a good move to include this.
Disappointingly, there's no resolution multiplier to allow you to play the game in 4K without a 4K display as it would allow you to force the game to render at a higher resolution and scale it down it to your screen resolution, neither does it have an option for dynamic resolution, which was present in previous Ubisoft games like Assassin's Creed Origins. This method allows games to be as close to its maximum targeted frame rate. Its absence is perplexing as it would make sense given the focus on snappy gunplay.
In their place however, is what's known as a Resolution Scale. This renders the game at a lower resolution internally and scales it up to your output resolution while keeping the UI the same as your output resolution. With this you could render the game at 1920x1080 and output it at 3840x2160, resulting in a slightly different look with a bit better performance.
For this game our primary test rig consisted of an Alienware 17 R5 laptop sporting an Intel Core i9-8950HK (4.8GHz), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 32GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD on Windows 10. Using the latest drivers and every preset set to the Ultra option, we saw the game hit an average of around 40fps at 4K. Which is to be expected considering that the GPU of our rig falls in between Ubisoft's 1440p 60fps and 4K 60fps configurations.
In areas with a lot of firefights or scenes with a ton of weather effects such as heavy rain, the frame rate dropped to around 35fps. However, by setting options like vegetation, water, particles, and fog to their normal preset as opposed to high or ultra, we were able to get a stable 60fps without any major loss in visual fidelity.
Dropping to 1440p with all options set to Ultra showed off a game that was at a consistent 60fps. Be it in combat or traversing through dense foliage and fog, The Division 2 looked great and played well. In terms of how it looks, The Division 2 at 1440p Ultra or 4K with some effects like set to normal as we mentioned above looks really good if you're gunning for 60fps gameplay at highest possible resolution.
Dropping the resolution further to 1080p saw us hit an average of around 85fps with minor dips to 78fps in busy scenes. It didn't look as sharp, but shows that the game's Snowdrop engine has a lot of headroom and flexibility for lower specced machines too. These numbers are in line with the in-game benchmarks as well, averaging around 58fps at 1440p, 84fps at 1080p, and 40fps at 4K, all at Ultra settings.
Like every shared world shooter, The Division 2 is an always online game. You'll need a persistent and fast Internet connection to play it. We played it on a 50Mbps connection via LAN cable with no other devices connected, a 25Mbps connection through WiFi with multiple laptops and smartphones connected, and even tried it tethered via 4G and 3G. The only instances of lag we noticed on all of these connections was when other players joined our game or we did theirs.
There were rare occasions when we'd see a slowdown in gameplay with shots not registering on opponents, they didn't occur often or last long enough to be a game breaking issue, but it's something to be mindful of. Hopefully an update fixes this. We faced similar issues with the game on PS4 Pro too. Speaking of which...
Aside from the PC version have a whole lot more flexibility in terms of customisation versus the PS4 Pro version of the game, there are some rather interesting differences. The Division 2 on a PS4 Pro looks great with effects and details comparable to the PC version though it does suffer from instances where objects like grass and bricks simply pop onto the screen which takes away from the immersion.
Plus, getting into the game itself takes around a minute and a half on the PS4 Pro versus the nearly 45 seconds it takes on the PC. This is down to the fact that we installed the game on a solid state drive on our PC. Testing it on a mechanical drive saw load times in line with the PS4 Pro version of the game.
In addition to this, Massive has perplexingly decided to make The Division 2 a 90GB download on PS4 even if you buy the game on disc, while PC users will have to deal with a 40GB day one update. While there's no excuse for either, if you had to play The Division 2 and you can choose between PC and PS4, you're better off with the former due to it being less taxing on your data cap. Its faster load times (if installed on an SSD) and slew of settings further sweeten the deal.
The Division 2 PC — should you buy it?
Thanks to a wealth of customisation options, smaller update size, and The Division 2 is well worth checking out on PC even if you don't have the latest and greatest in gaming hardware. Hopefully an update addresses its minor lag issues, though this aside there's little else to stop us from recommending The Division 2 on PC.
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