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Thursday, October 9, 2014

THE DIVISION

Ubisoft is finally pulling back the curtain on The Division. Slowly mind, at the rate the studio is trickling out information we’re beginning to wonder whether the ambiguous 2015 release date is little more than placeholder to keep the ravenous hardcore crowd at bay. Regardless,The Division has finally received its first gameplay demonstration running on Xbox One, and we are happy to report
that it’s looking as sharp and impressive as that E3 PC presentation.


But we aren't going to spend all our time here fawning over it's ridiculous technical fidelity, incredible environmental destruction or insane smoke and fire effects (although, for the record, yes, it looks bloody lovely).

Instead, we are beginning to paint a picture on how the moment to moment action will actually play out when we eventually get the damned thing in our hands.

For starters, it’s looking like New York City is even more dangerous than we ever imagined. The virus wiping out the population has left a dirty stain on the five boroughs. In fact, every area is governed by three important ratings: Contagion, Morale and Security. Each affects what you can do and where you can go, restricting your movement and actions ina similar fashion to Fallout 3’s escalating areas of danger.


Contagion is the rating you’ll need to keep a constant eye on. Much like in Metro 2033, districts of the city are so infected that you’ll need to equip a gas mask to move through its streets safely; one of your pressing goals will be to monitor and upgrade your mask. This is clearly Ubisoft’s way of pushing you through certain key zones, but it isn’t clear if air filters will bea precious resource to manage too. Either way, a hasty step towards one of these zones will kill you,though a deadly virus isn’t the only thing trying to kill you.

“It’s looking like New York City is even more dangerous than we ever imagined”

As we all know by now, Ubisoft has a habit of using established titles in its portfolio as testing grounds for new mechanics and systems before fleshing them out in new IPs, and we are seeing that again with The Division. Similar to the way in which you’d liberate an Outpost in Far Cry 3, New York will be full of shops, political buildings and houses that you’ll need to, well, liberate from enemy aggressors. This is essential to gain a foothold in new areas of the city and earn new items, such as upgraded gas masks, to assist you in your exploration of new areas.


This is tied in directly to the Morale and Security ratings. Morale determines how likely it is you’ll receive support from other NPC characters and factions such as local NYPD officers you rescued from near execution while Security indicates how much order you’ve restored. Once both ratings are high enough in a particular district you’ll be able to establish a base of operations, a safe house that later can be upgraded to increase your presence in the area. Of course, should you spend too long away or fail to properly set up its defences it can always fall back into enemy hands.

Who that enemy is likely to be is still a mystery. Ubisoft seems to have stepped away fromthe notion that you’ll be battling it out with a suave blend of NPC and humans over Xbox Live with that particular feature going un-mentioned for well over a year now so for now it’s safe to assume you’ll be battling against NPC factions. The only major force revealed so far are the Cleaners, a gang
of flamethrower-wielding crazies that seemintent of clearing up the streets and won’t let anything get in their way.


The Division continues to impress in all areas, and the more we see of it, the more we are convinced this isn’t a threat the Fourth Echelon, Rainbow Six or the Ghost Recon squads would have even the slightest chance of containing. This is a new threat for a new team that only the next-gen could possibly handle; we just hope we don’t have to wait another year to get our hands on it.






A NEW FLOW OF COMBAT

Modern action games have a tendency to fall into a laborious rut. Fight waves of enemies until a more powerful enemy appears, rinse and repeat to completion. The Division gives you the opportunity to plan before you leap into a firefight with drones or a companion app player, at which point it becomes a battle against crowds of enemies. Battles are about crowd management as much as they are precision headshots.

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