Alongside Battleborn, Tom Clancy’s The Division was one of the games I was most keen to finally get my hands on at this year’s EB Expo. Announced in 2013 and tentatively-listed for release next year, The Division is a multiplayer cover-based shooter set in a post-apocalyptic New York. The setup here is that a particularly awful Black Friday triggers the downfall of modern society – a process accelerated somewhat by the outbreak of a deadly virus that quickly grows into a pandemic. Jokes aside, it’s a cool premise. However, there isn’t a exactly an abundance of details out there about the game at the moment.
I had the chance to go hands-on with the game at EB Expo and while I definitely still have questions, I can definitely see the potential here.
The core gameplay loop here is pretty stock-standard cover shooter fare but there’s a lot of cool details in the urban environments you’re exploring. The section of the game we loaded into was an encounter that saw three teams navigate a quarantine zone searching for supplies before securing an extraction point. Each member of the team had a different kit and we had to work together to take on a group of AI controlled enemies before crossing paths with the other player-controlled characters.
This is where some of The Division’s more interesting ideas come into play. Each team begins the game in a fragile truce with one another – but it’s entirely in the hands of players how long that truce lasts. Deception is a really interesting game mechanic – as recent board game successes like The Resistance and Coup have shown – and it felt like the demo only scratched the surface of the possibilities here.
I also really liked how the relatively low-player count made it feel like each of my actions and tactical maneuvers mattered. There were never really more than five or six combatants in any firefight – and it made for a much more tense experience than a lot of other multiplayer shooters. It felt almost-methodical in a way, which reminded me a bit of older Tom Clancy games. However, I do hope the final game includes some sort of limited-respawn or a mode that takes this intensity further.
While this demo gave me the chance to get a good idea of what the experience of playing The Division is actually like – I still have a lot of questions I want to see answered. The time I spent with the demo made it clear that the team behind the game are looking to experiment and explore more dynamic ways of structuring a multiplayer game, but it wasn’t entirely clear where the encounter I played fits into the rest of the game. Is The Division constructed around instanced encounters like Destiny or Guild Wars, or is it a truly explorable open world? Hopefully all becomes clear in the leadup to the game’s release. Until then, Tom Clancy’s The Division definitely seems like a game worth keeping an eye on.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is out on PS4, Xbox One and PC on March 6th 2015.