Review Price to be confirmed
E3 2015 Preview
Available on PS4, Xbox One (tested) and PC
The Division release date: March 8, 2016
Oh Ubisoft, please don’t mess up The Division. When Tom Clancy’s The Division was first announced back in 2013, it was received with critical acclaim. But it’s been over two years since that date and we’ve seen very little of the post-apocalyptic duck-and-cover shooter.
Until now. For the first time at E3 2015, Ubisoft is giving out hands-on time with the multiplayer portion of The Division. Now, I'll admit that I headed into the demo room with some trepidation. Having been a huge Watch Dogs enthusiast pre-launch, I’d already seen my hopes and enthusiasm for a game crumble once before.
But, Ubisoft is clearly taking its time with The Division and thank goodness it is.
Heading into a darkened room, my colleague and I were paired with a developer from The Division, who was to be our guide in the game’s version of New York.
We each had a distinct character to use in our demo, which is a key feature of The Division. The game is a hybrid RPG adventure, which means you can customise your character to your unique play style and choices — gender included. There’s no classes, but you can equip your character with a certain skill set.
For this demo the characters had been ready made, with our dev guide opting to take control of the medic, while I had a more tactical combat soldier and my colleague the most gung-ho of the three.
Depending on which play style you like the most, you can equip yourself with various tools of the trade. My special tools were a sticky bomb, which can be thrown onto surfaces for remote detonation and a seeker bomb that’s essential a self-destructing puppy. When there’s a threat around, the seeker will go and blow them up, but when it’s safe, it’ll stick to your heels until danger comes your way.
Each of the special abilities has unlimited usage, you’ll just need to wait for the cooldown period to expire every time you use them.
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To access the Division’s multiplayer, there’s no need to ferret through menus or even quit your single-player mission. It’s as simple as climbing over a chain-link wall. The game’s multiplayer is known as the Dark Zone and you can access it whenever you feel like, as it’ll always be there.
In fact, our dev promised that anyone will be able to take a peak over the wall and observe the goings on whenever they please, even if they don’t make the trip over the wall at that time.
But this time, we were headed deep into the Dark Zone, tasked with retrieving some loot and delivering it to the evacuation zone.
To get to the loot we had to work together to take out a small group of AI-controlled enemies, using our various skills to get to the goal. Unlike other shooters, you won’t see enemies going down after a few shots. These guys are tough and will take teamwork to overcome.
Once they were downed though, I managed to retrieve the loot, which turned out to be a legendary ranked pistol. If you find any loot in the Dark Zone you can’t use it straight away, no matter how awesome your new find is. Everything you find in the Dark Zone is contaminated with the virus and needs to be cleansed before you can equip it.
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The player with loot can then be seen carrying a yellow contamination container on their back, which quickly makes them an easy target to other prowling groups of player-controlled groups.
Getting to the evacuation point wasn’t as easy though.The Division allows different teams to make a choice when it come to extraction. If you so wish, you can start attacking friendly teams in an attempt to take their loot for yourself.
This will cause you to go rogue though, and mark yourself (and your team) as a target for any other players in the immediate vicinity.
Seeing as these weren’t our painstakingly crafted characters with a whole storyline campaign under a belts, it made the decision to go rogue a lot easier. If you manage to take down the opposing team before they can get their bag on the helicopter in time, then you get the case to call your own extraction team and try to make the drop yourself.
See also: Xbox One vs Xbox 360
When you’ve got several player-controlled teams in one space, it quickly becomes apparent that team work is essential in The Division. Without constant communication and a combination of our character’s unique skills, we would have been first out of the fight for sure.
What I also loved about the game is the graphics. If you think you’ve seen realistic graphics, you’ve not seen anything until you see The Division in action.
Seamless multiplayer, tight teamwork and an attention to detail when it comes to character creation is making The Division my favourite game of E3 2015. Not to mention the stunning graphics that bring New York to life in a way that would make a zombie blush.
The Division has everything it needs to go down as one of the greats, as long as nothing happens before March 8.
E3 2013 PreviewTom Clancy’s The Division is an online, open world RPG heading to the Xbox One and PS4 in 2014 that proves Watch Dogs is not the only trick up Ubisoft's sleeve for next gen consoles.
Just when you think you’ve had enough of surviving a lethal virus outbreak in the Last of Us and every Resident Evil game ever released, The Division tackles the tried and tested narrative from a refreshingly new perspective.
Watch the Tom Clancy's The Division trailer from E3 2013
Read our in-depth Xbox One vs PS4 comparisonSet in a Tom Clancy universe and based on real-world events, New York has been hit by a pandemic passed on by bank notes on of all days, sale-grabbing Black Friday. Cue the Big Apple in chaos struggling to cope with the fallout and forcing the President decides to invoke Directive 51, unleashing a specialist group of tactical agents known as The Division.
It’s your job to try and restore order clearing out the scavengers preying the innocent and slowing down the spread of the deadly virus whether it’s in single-player, co-op or multiplayer mode.
Like Splinter Cell: Blacklist and previous Clancy games, the third-person action is still based around tactical, cover-based combat, but the new MMO elements means there’s a greater emphasis on building skills and making the best use of each squad member’s individual specialist skills.
You can play with up to four squad mates and one of those players can be involved using a companion app like SmartGlass. That means a tablet or smartphone user can take control of a drone that can launch missile strikes, mark enemies, heal players and assist the team in real-time from a birds eye view.
Ubisoft has not given away entirely how the story will play out and why the President was forced into such drastic action, but we do get to see The Division storming police stations and roaming the empty new York streets to complete challenges and missions.
While we fully expect most games on next gen consoles visually to be leaps and bounds ahead of the current gen, Ubisoft has introduced its own Snowdrop game engine to proceedings which delivers some of the most jaw-dropping visuals and fluid gameplay that were on show at E3 this year.
Ubisoft is clearly on a roll after Watch Dogs swept the awards boards at E3 last year and The Division has created the same kind of buzz that could make it one of the biggest games of 2014. Graphically, there’s no doubt it looks spectacular and the gameplay while running on PCs looks extremely smooth.
The companion app support shows the great potential of tablet and smartphone integration, but the most fascinating element will be whether The Division successfully manages to blend single and online multiplayer elements. If Ubisoft nails it, The Division could have another stunning game on its hands.
Next, read our PS4 hands-on from E3 2013
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