Recently, we were invited to San Francisco to preview the first full-blown expansion to The Division 2 – Warlords of New York. While there I was given the opportunity to interview Ubisoft Leamington/Reflections producer Nick Scurr, whose teams have been working in tandem with Massive on the game. Below we discuss the changes coming in the expansion, the reason for returning to New York, and go a little bit into the new seasonal format the game will be adopting in 2020 (to include the upcoming Battle Pass).
On Warlords of New York, and the decision to move to seasons.
AotF: What did your studios, Ubisoft Leamington and Ubisoft Reflections, handle in the Warlords of New York expansion?
Nick: So, on this update we’ve worked on some of the main missions within the new narrative campaign. We’ve worked on some of the side missions, and we’ve also played a big part in the new endgame seasons. So, we’ve been working on leagues, and global events, and a lot of things around that.
What would you say was the greatest challenge moving into this new content and getting this expansion ready?
So, obviously we’re going back to New York, which is where everything really kicked off for The Division, but we wanted to make the field fresh and not a repeat of what was in The Division 1. So, we’re set eight months after those events and a month after the events of Washington D.C., so a completely different time of year, and we’re exploring a brand new area within New York inside southern Manhattan. Something [the new play area] that use to be a Dark Zone, and would have been off limits to a player in The Division 1 is now being opened up and transformed. Not only by the time since the outbreak; a massive hurricane has come in and kind of destroyed large parts of the city, and opened up new areas for the player to explore. And then – obviously, you know – there’s famous landmarks, such as Wall Street and the Two Bridges, that players can explore if they’re familiar with the area. Or, players seeing them for the first time get to explore them in the game.
What led you and your team to bring the Rikers and Cleaners back, specifically?
Honestly, we’ve had those two factions. The Cleaners themselves are very iconic from The Division – as iconic as the setting of New York itself – with their flamethrowers, their axes, and their getup. And then we have the Rikers, who are – you know – former inmates from Rikers Island Prison. In The Division 1 there was The Last Man Battalion that was a part of the story in The Division 1. That faction was defeated. And you find throughout this [Warlords of New York] why these factions are still around. You have Keener and his rogue agents, and they’ve actually come in to fill the power void left by the former leaders of those factions, and those factions are going to be allied with some of these rogue agents that we’ve talked about
How difficult was it remixing these iconic factions, ensuring they felt familiar while bringing a new challenge to the game?
Yeah, so, it’s been eight months since The Division 1, and the factions that we have haven’t stayed still, and they’ve been picking up new weapons and gear, and fortifying their equipment. And that brings new challenges to the player. They’re not gonna behave the same as they did before. You’re bound to recognize them because they’re Cleaners – they’re quite iconic! They’re using flamethrowers, they’ve got giant gas tanks on their backs, so you know where to shoot! But, it’s still gonna feel very challenging to the player, and – ya know – you’re gonna have all these new skills and gear that we’ve mentioned as well to utilize against them, to kinda counteract all the new weapons and gear that they’ve got themselves.
Are the new Seasons and endgame game-wide, or will they be centered in New York?
So, after completing the Warlords of New York campaign and you got to level 40 and start hitting our new infinite progression system – the SHD Levels – we’re gonna be opening up our first Season around a week after launch. There’s gonna be lots of activities in there, like Global Events and Leagues, and they can be played in New York. But if you wanna get back to Washington after you finish the main campaign to use those events there as well that’s absolutely fine. There may be some things that ask you to play missions in New York or Washington, but it’s game wide. So, all of the content that came before is affected by our new endgame.
So, that means targeted loot will carry over to New York?
Yes, you can transfer to New York and have a look and see what the targeted loot there is, in the named zones and the missions. And if there is nothing there you are looking for you can transfer back to Washington and tackle those missions there as well.
Can we expect a new Dark Zone in New York, or are you focused on the existing three Dark Zones.
We are just talking about those three Dark Zones within Washington. We’re focused on revitalizing those, and putting a greater emphasis on player to player interaction, a bit like it was in The Division 1. But, we are trying to make sure those that maybe don’t wanna go rogue or start attacking other players, we are rewarding those people that may see a downed agent that’s been attacked either by a rogue or one of the factions – if you go and help them you’ll be rewarded for that as well. All of the loot within the Dark Zone now is all contaminated, so everything in there has to be extracted. You have that risk-reward element added back.
Now if you want to make progress in the Dark Zone you have to be committed to that Dark Zone loop.
Yeah! You have to – if you wanna get that cool gun you found in there, or that new exotic, you’re gonna have to risk extracting and someone coming in there and cutting the rope and taking it from you.
Man, that caused me to shout many a curse back in the Division 1. Good times.
Yeah, you can just camp out at the extraction point to see who’s coming in and take their stuff.
I ran into plenty of people with meta-builds who ate my face in The Division 1, so yeah, looking forward to experiencing that again.
You bring up builds, and we’ve refactored that system as well, so it’s not just gonna be all about damage. You can run in with an amazing skill build, and just start chucking down turrets and seekers mines when someone is trying to extract.
Speaking of builds and gear, how long did it take you and the rest of the team to figure out what you wanted to do with the gear revamp?
Yeah, well, we’ve been working on this a long time. We keep up to date with what the players are saying on the subreddit, forums, and throughout our State of the Game streams, and – really – the focus for us was exposing the right information to the players, so that when a piece of loot drops in the world you can pick it up and immediately see, ‘oh, you know this is a God Roll, and this piece is awesome and I’m going to keep it,’ or, ‘I’m going to deconstruct this so I can store this stat in the Recalibration Library to use on a cool piece of armor that I’ve got.’ The complexity is still there, it’s just making sure that players have all the pertinent information, so they can say, ‘yes – I am keeping this,” or, “no – this isn’t the right piece of gear for me.’
I noticed you also went back and gave each Brand a distinct identity, so players looking to make an SMG build know which Brands to target, for example. You’re reeling in that RNG window – the range of randomness on gear – which is great to see. Though, on that note, how did you and the team settle on just having two talents available from gear?
Obviously you know that talents are not available on all of our gear anymore, but there’s twenty per item we do allow them on. Using the Recalibration Station is gonna allow people to create more diverse builds just using those [talents]. There’s also exotic weapons and gear pieces, and they have their own talents on them that can be coupled up with the two you have on the chest and backpack.
Coming back to PvP for a moment: can we expect any changes or alterations to Skirmish?
We’re not talking about anything there today, but we’re really keen to see how the new builds and the gear game we’ve spent a lot of time on impacts PvP, again because it’s not all gonna be about damage. As you know, that game-mode is a team mode, and you might play more of a support role.
You essentially want to play with the new gear in the updated Dark Zones first, and see how that pans out.
Mhmm, yeah. We’re always listening to what our players are saying.
So, I saw that raid two is still in the oven. What can players expect from that?
So, the second raid is coming Spring 2020. We want players to play through all the varied content we have added for Warlords of New York, and we spent a lot of time getting that build [of the game] ready for that challenge. We will talk more about raid two closer to the release of that, but the key thing there is that it will be available to players who beat the campaign in Warlords and reached level 40 and players who are level 30 in the base version of The Division 2 who are still at World Tier 5.
Just to quickly clarify this before I forget: Warlords is a paid expansion, correct?
Warlords of New York is a paid expansion to The Division 2.
What sort of pricing can we expect?
The paid expansion is gonna be $30, and if you wanna buy The Division 2 bundled with the expansion it will be $40. And we’ll have the Ultimate Edition, which is The Division 2, The Annual Pass – so the Classified Assignments and specialist unlocks – and Warlords of New York for $60.
Will you be bringing another Annual Pass out for future specializations?
So, the only pass system we are talking about today is coupled with seasons, so for the regular players of The Division 2: Warlords of New York there will be a track of rewards, and for those players that want a bit more out of that system we have a Battle Pass that will offer a premium track of rewards.
So, similar to other battle passes, where there is a free track and a paid track.
Can we discuss how many levels are in the pass?
Not at this time, but you know, a season itself runs for three months, so we wanna make sure there’s enough content for the players playing it from start to finish.
So, do we level the pass up by basically playing the game – like Destiny 2’s pass – or, do we have to complete weekly and daily challenges like the Battle Pass in Apex Legends?
So, the objectives themselves are things we’ve talked about, like Global Events and Leagues. All of those are included for all players of Warlords of New York. So, buying the Battle Pass is not gonna get you exclusive activities. It’s just gonna give you another rewards track, so if you’re happy just to play that season’s content and experience all the cool activities we have you got nothing to fear.
Of all the new systems coming – Global Events, SHD Levels, Leagues, etc. – what would you say you are most excited about?
For me, I’m most excited about the campaign itself having a manhunt structure, so it’s not gated behind levels. If you start the mission and you want to go and check out Battery Park and start that kinda thread with that rogue agent, but then decide to go to the Financial District and play that way; I think that’s the most exciting thing for me. As well as wrapping up the story of Aaron Keener from The Division 1 – I think it’s something our players have been asking about for a long time. Like, ‘where is he at,’ after all the events in Washington and what’s going on? This is their opportunity to go back home and finish that fight.
That about wraps up our time. Thank you for taking a moment out of your day, and talking with me about The Division 2: Warlords of New York.
Thank you for coming in, and I hope you enjoyed it!
The preview event was sponsored by Ubisoft, and airfare and accommodations were provided by the publisher.
- This article was updated on:February 11th, 2020