The Division‘s level design director, Chadi El Zibaoui, guides players through a video that demonstrates how the game wants players to have choices to make in each mission.
The video, which follows Zibauoi as his Agent player character is tasked with quelling a riot that is taking place near a Joint Task Force base, shows off some of the unique abilities some of the skill trees that The Division offers. Zibauoi has the Agent make liberal use of both the pulse and sticky bomb skills in order to out-maneuver enemies as he navigates his way through the deserted streets of New York City. Ultimately, though, the video shows something that hasn’t gotten as much press in the wake of the beta that ran a few weeks ago – The Division‘s dynamic mission system.
Zibauoi explains how Massive Entertainment placed a high priority on having the player make a series of choices as each mission runs it course, breaking down each aspect of the mission into what he terms to be “lanes”. Whenever the player comes across a group of enemies, the map has been laid out in such a way that there are multiple lanes through which an enterprising gamer can choose to move through, with each offering different strategic benefits. If a player wants to play as a sniper, for instance, there will usually be an option that lets them take the high ground.
While The Division‘s closed beta phase was a success, it barely gave players a taste of what to expect when it came to lane-based dynamics within mission gameplay. Most of the closed beta centered around players either experiencing the Dark Zone or navigating a wide-open space in a desolate Madison Square Garden, and although both of these experiences were exciting, they evidently did not give away too much of the game too early. Now that The Division’s open beta phase is confirmed, it will be interesting to see if any of the new content shows off a little bit more of what Zibaoui demonstrates in the video.
Naturally, the gameplay that The Division offers players will be the most important factor in deciding its reception and success, but it seems that there is even more pressure on the game’s spin on a mixture of story and cover-based mechanics to deliver than one would normally expect. That might be the product of associate creative director Julian Gerighty’s earlier claim that The Division‘s world wide disaster narrative is not meant to be a political statement, but rather a story told to enhance the game’s entertainment value. Gamers will now be expecting a fun, politically-removed story to match equally enjoyable gameplay, and will critique the title as such.
Still, the questions surrounding the game’s appeal as a whole package will be answered later. For now, would-be Agents have gotten another glimpse at the game that will look to separate itself from other popular shooters and carve out a niche just for itself, and so far, things are looking good.
The Division will release for PS4, Xbox One and PC on March 8, 2016.