Throughout this current generation of video games, we’ve experienced several different post-apocalyptic scenarios in games such as Fallout 3 and Gears of War. These scenarios involve the player navigating a world after a major event has taken its toll on civilization. In Fallout 3, Washington D.C. is a wasteland, the result of an atomic bomb, while in Gears of War the planet Sera is ravaged by the Locust who are attempting genocide on the human race to claim the planet. Players in The Division will find themselves on the streets of New York City, smack in the middle of its own major event as the comfort and safety of life degrades.
The events in the story of The Division are influenced by Operation Dark Winter, a biological attack simulation that shows how vulnerable the United States is, and Directive 51, an executive directive put in place by President George W. Bush to protect the government during a catastrophic event like a biological attack. In the game, we will find ourselves entering a world in the middle of a disease outbreak that occurred after Black Friday. The outbreak brings the United States to its knees in five short days. You, the player, are part of a task force that, I’m assuming, is called The Division. Your ultimate goal is to restore and keep order. To what end, I don’t yet know. What I have seen from E3 and read from Ubisoft’s blog (Ubiblog), your success in the game will affect the world – or in this case, New York City.
“A big part of the game will be restoring the infrastructure of New York,” says Game Director Ryan Barnard on Ubiblog. “So the players will actually see the impact of what they do in the game. They’ll fix New York, which is in this ‘mid-crisis situation’ where communication, law enforcement, power and water are all failing.”
While I haven’t seen The Division penned as an MMO (massively multiplayer online game), footage at the end of the E3 gameplay trailer shows a large world map with other player squads. This footage suggests a persistent online world, so I’m interested to see how this dynamic and the world around you will change as you complete missions and restore order. In the gameplay trailer, you see the player join up with two comrades whom I assume were already in the game on their own. So it looks like you can drop in and out of the game, which, again, points to an always online game world.
Also shown in the E3 gameplay trailer was cross-platform play via tablet. Tablet gameplay was not shown, but this image above was released on Ubiblog. The idea of having a companion app to The Division console game is just amazing. From Ubiblog Communication Manager Gary Steinman:
Like many next-gen games, The Division has a robust companion app. This one, however, promises to go far beyond what we’ve seen so far in a second-screen experience. “It’s something we’re really, really proud of,” Barnard beams. “It’s where we’re really setting the bar for next-gen games. Our companion gaming is real-time simultaneous gameplay on the tablet. You will be able to play as a drone and join a group, just as if you’re another player. You have your own persistence within the drone and have progression and skills and talents, a lot like the main game. So it’s not just a fluffy armory or an application. It’s a real game client that you can use to interact with the game itself.”
In a behind-closed-doors demo at E3, we saw the app in action. Not only did the drone serve as an eye in the sky – spotting and tagging hard-to-see foes – but it was able to buff allies (increasing their offensive damage) and debuff enemies (decreasing their shields). And heal, of course. Through its actions, the drone can also build up a resource meter, represented in this demo by an orange bar – and when the bar was full, the drone was able to launch a devastating missile strike from above.
I can already see myself losing a lot of time to this game. When I can’t be at home playing, I can hop onto the companion app via my tablet and support my friends as a flying drone.
The Division is effectively an RPG/cooperative online shooter. It’s being developed by Ubisoft Massive with the Tom Clancy name brand. So this is certainly breaking new ground and introducing next-gen gaming.
Throughout the game you will level up and accrue points to specialize your player to suit your own play style regardless of the character you choose. I imagine that the specializations will include your player-specific upgrades, such as weapon usage upgrades and team-based enhancements like team heal shown in the Gameplay trailer.
Mission variety and urgency was also revealed during the E3 gameplay trailer when the players came upon a mission into the sewers. This mission was passed up for a more urgent mission to secure a police station. After dispatching the enemies at the police station, the player and his team headed out to a clearing. One of the team members called in an extraction, which I’m assuming is the equivalent of turning in a mission. As the team member shot a flare off into the air, a player-controlled rival squad revealed itself. In this part of the video, it isn’t clear what the outcome might be, but I’m guessing that the rival squad has the opportunity to possibly steal a reward you receive for completing a mission. There will be PvP gameplay, but there’s little information as to what that entails.
I have to say that I am really excited about The Division and cannot wait to join my friends in this persistent online world. Besides that, I haven’t even mentioned how great the game looks.
Right now, The Division has only been announced for the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One, with a 2014 release date. With no PC version announced, I, and no doubt countless other PC gamers, are feeling the butthurt. I realize piracy is more than likely the biggest driving factor in this exclusion, but even then I’m sure someone will find a way to pirate the game on the next-gen consoles. Not so sure that will apply to the Xbox One or even the Playstation 4. That’s just speculation. There is a petition started for a PC version here. In the meantime, stay tuned to Fate of the Game for more info as it comes. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think about The Division in the comments.