The Division

Returning To The Decimated Streets Of The Division
by Matt Bertz on Jun 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Massive
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Last year Ubisoft freaked out its E3 audience by introducing The Division, a new online third-person shooter that takes place in New York City after a virus spreads through the streets of Manhattan, killing millions and decimating the infrastructure. This year we returned to the quarantine zone to get a deeper look at its evolving world and role-playing systems.

Showcasing the evolving nature of the world, Ubisoft walked us through two demos of the game. The first version you can see in the video below, in which a team of three players navigates through the 34th St. Station and up onto the streets of Midtown Manhattan to capture a new base of operation. The environments rendered by the Snowdrop engine are astonishing; we hope this is actual game footage and not doctored footage like we saw happen with Watch Dogs at previous E3s.

To eliminate the guards stationed in front of the base of operations, the players coordinate strikes using their gadgets and skills. A tactical read can highlight enemies in the area, a strobe drone can temporarily blind an enemy to expose him to fire, and an auto turret can keep some enemies occupied while a player rushes to heal a fallen comrade. 

The second demo takes place well before this base of operation is captured, and showcases a very different scenario for the players in the same setting. When the map is pulled up players get readings for an area's security level, contamination level, citizen morale, and whether or not the base of operations has been captured. In this instance, morale and security are low, and the contagion level is very high. To enter this region the team needs to equip gas masks. 

This mission takes place at night, which is a much more dangerous time to be roaming the streets. Aided by a person controlling a drone via a tablet device, the group decides to investigate a nearby warehouse, which is a good location to find the types of upgrades that will be critical to your progression. Moving toward the building, the drone spots and marks a virus cleaning crew, which is using flamethrowers to purge everything in the vicinity. 

Before engaging the enemies, the team stops to tweak their loadouts via their watches. The upgrade system in The Division looks versatile, with many gadgets and abilities that can be altered to fit the battle scenario. In this instance, the player set the seeker mine to stun so it would expose one of the elite enemies, which have much higher constitutions and absorb many more bullets than the typical enemies. Once the enemies are cleared out, the players grab the loot left on their corpses. The new backpack can hold more supplies and ammo than the one previously equipped.

After the team turns on the power generator in the warehouse, the player opens the map again, which now shows an improved security level for the region. New York City still has a long road to salvation, but if you rack up enough of these minor victories the city will slowly emerge from its decrepit state.