Following a stellar debut at E3 2013, Tom Clancy’s The Division garnered plenty of early praise. Keen to keep that hype train rolling, publisher Ubisoft today unveiled a detailed Q & A session with the game’s in-house development team Massive Entertainment.
According to the games creators, The Division marks a unique opportunity to explore a seldom seen type of catastrophe, the so-called “mid-crisis.” Rather than task players with preventing a global emergency or rebuilding in its immediate aftermath, The Division will instead place gamers at the very epicenter of anarchy.
As a civilian sleeper agent, trained to reemerge and reestablish order in the event of disaster, gamers will find their experiences informed by a number of real-life reaction protocols. Working alongside a crop of ex-CIA agents, military strategists and top survivalists, Ubisoft hopes to create an authentic window into chaos, as well as its inevitable clean up.
With an emphasis on open-world team-based exploration, players won’t get too far into The Division before encountering a rival band or three. This, Ubisoft explains, provides the secondary meaning behind the games title, as normal people turn hostile in order to survive. Friends too, can turn nasty, it seems, opening up the possibility of late-game betrayals, paid informants and inside men and women.
Ubisoft also confirms that the game’s deadly contagion is man-made, with players working together to unearth information on its distributors. Whether this reveal will occur linearly, i.e through special story-based missions or more organically, with a breadcrumb trail of randomized information, is as yet unknown, though the latter would allow for players to pool their info and crack the case as a unit.
Of all the games unveiled at last month’s E3, The Division did more than most to showcase the sheer power of the 8th generation. Running on Ubisoft’s patented ‘Snowdrop’ engine, the game will feature ‘reactive living-world A.I,’ ‘procedural destruction,’ ‘dynamic global illumination,’ and ‘state-of-the-art online matchmaking technology.’ The latter even promises to eliminate instances of widespread ‘griefing’, by weeding out gamers who fail to adhere to a player’s described style and preferences.
Unlike The Getaway’s attempts at recreating 21st Century London, Ubisoft Massive’s New York City setting prizes gameplay over achieving a perfect 1:1 likeness. Despite the dynamic nature of the game’s ‘instances’, or randomly occurring missions, players will still be able to replay their favorite encounters again and again. Interestingly, the game features no form of ‘paragon’ or ‘renegade’ points; instead positive actions are reflected in the general well-being of the city around you, with acts of destruction only serving to further its decline.
For all of its many successes, the Tom Clancy franchise has never appeared in RPG form before, something that The Division will look to correct with a deep and unique leveling system. Customization is also key here, allowing agents to appear different from one another, whilst also retaining the rough-and-ready appearance of a crisis environment operative.
Scavenged items from one of the game’s myriad in-door locales can also be crafted and sold within the game’s black market environment, allowing players to specialize in and gear up for particular combat roles. Fancy scouting ahead for your friends and you can pour points into improving your ‘smart watch’ feature. Feel like playing the hulking bullet-sponge and you can do that too.
All told, The Division appears to offer up near-limitless possibilities for play. With a strong social aspect embedded into the game, Massive is hoping to draw players in for days, weeks and months at a time. Integrated tablet play is also confirmed to be free, allowing AFK gamers to keep up with their friends and objectives on the fly, whilst region-free dedicated servers work to integrate worldwide gamers as never before.
Will Tom Clancy’s The Division deliver on all of its vast promise? Are you excited to explore this vision of NY on the brink? Let us know in the comments below.
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