The Division: tablet companion app, which enables one player to fly support as a drone with its own ability tree. - Games Weekly

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Division: tablet companion app, which enables one player to fly support as a drone with its own ability tree.

A gang of upstart microbes have taken New York City by storm, reducing it to a seasonally sparkly wasteland of clapboard and body bags. A problem for an army of UN medics armed with a billion dollars’ worth of Lemsip, surely? Ubisoft Massive begs to differ: what’s needed here are guns. Sick people simply can’t help going crazy with Molotov cocktails, you see, so it’s just as well there are state sponsored guerrillas on hand to keep the peace.


The Division is broadly speaking an MMO in the spirit of Destiny, built around spontaneous player meet-ups in a vast world and small squad battles against AI, with a PvP component tucked away in ‘Dark Zones’ where the plague is especially rampant. Fans of Ubi’s work may be more reassured by the parallels with Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, however.

Progress through the campaign is governed by the capturing of civil facilities such as town halls and libraries, much like seizing Borgia Towers in Brotherhood. Rolling over these hotspots also changes the mood of each district: Morale and Security ratings go up, while Contagion levels and insurgent activity fall, enabling you to coo over the Snowdrop Engine’s wartorn lustre without fear of being pegged by a wandering sniper.

If this sounds too dry and managerial, there are also story missions that lean on usage of your Echo module, which coughs up forensic, fizzy holograms of the recent past to assist you with objectives. Oh, and drive the ‘emotional storytelling’. Bearing in mind the achievements of prior Clancy games in this department, which range from ‘torture scene’ to ‘they took my baby!’, we're understandably a bit sceptical on that front.

The gunplay, on the other hand, seems unlikely to disappoint, though its Borderlands esque grounding in stats may unsettle in light of the realistic look and feel. Players must work in sync to overpower superior numbers and higher level opponents you might set up a flame turret on a car bonnet to protect a downed ally, or fit a rolling bomb with tear gas to debuff an especially obstinate goon.

Its apparent belief that medical emergencies can be resolved with napalm aside, the only dodgy thing about The Division is its fondness for delays it’s rumoured that next year’s launch window is optimistic. Then again, teething pains are inevitable for a game of this scope. Ubisoft’s on a roll with open world gaming right now, and Massive’s latest should be very infectious.

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