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By now, unless you’re new to this part of the galaxy, you’ve heard about this high concept third-person shooter from Ubisoft. Taking place in New York City after a pandemic strikes on Black Friday (the virus is spread through banknotes), it cripples the country and shuts down the government. But don’t expect zombies running around trying to chew your face off. Remember playing the The Last of Us (of course you do), and not only facing those dreadful ticking beastly things but the humans as well? That’s where this game is planting its flag. Man versus Man. As society starts to crumble, factions develop and it’s all for one and none for anyone else.
As a last resort to contain it, a classified unit of tactical special agents known as the Strategic Homeland Division (Hey! The game title!) emerge. Part of an operation started in 2001 called Dark Winter, these specially trained agents are meant to operate independently of a higher command when every other contingency fails, and they set about to restore order by any means necessary. The game puts you in the shoes, and holding the guns, of one of these agents. Or actually four of these agents. Yup, players can create and customize (from scratch) up to four different characters (though it is not mandatory). It’s just a matter of choosing one before each mission. But don’t think you are restricted by class and must make skill-specific choices by mission as to which character you need. Not with The Division. You can load up your character with swappable skills, even in the middle of a mission. That has “Yes!” written all over it. And “sweet”. And “about time” as well. So yeah. We’re happy with that.
As an agent on the street, players will be charged with combating uprisings and attempting to keep the city safe, which based on the footage, will be no easy task. There is also the disease that is spreading and causing chaos. But that’s still not all. There is the matter of tracking down who is behind this terrorist attack and putting a stop to them as well, though it gets laced with all kinds of worldwide intrigue and conspiracy as the story progresses about who and why it all began. We like a good mystery.
As mentioned, the game takes place in NYC. It is an open-word game with interactive and destructive environments that gives the players total freedom to explore at will (goodbye missions!). Missions (oh) are assigned and are encouraged to team up with other agents to pool resources and abilities. It is both a single-player and multi-player game, and like most traditional third-person shooters, allows the player to carry three weapons and an assortment of explosives, such as grenades and small bombs. There is a redesigned cover mechanic that shields players from damage but is also crucial for tactical advantage, employing specific methods and even gadgets that will make taking cover useful. And things to go boom.
Similar to other RPGs, players earn experience points that are used to customize their characters, including larger backpacks, better weapons and gear, and of course, upgrading skills and abilities. These abilities include combat and defensive skills such as radar pulses to locate and tag enemies, automated gun turrets, and a variety of grenades, of which some can even heal (and shoot around corners?). Many of the best weapons (and loot) though will be hidden in the environments, in special “Dark Zones”, where previous battles left combatants retreating or cut down. These Dark Zones are independent of the campaign and feature PvP or PvE missions. They are not obligatory for completing the main story. This whole thing is starting to have some Destiny vibe to it.
The game will also support a dynamic, time-based weather system that offers both positives and negatives for the player. Sudden storms and other weather-related phenomena can limit a players sight and of course, as with many current generation games, the day/night cycle alters the enemy, often changing their patterns and behaviors.
This current trailer is a shot of pure cane sugar to the shooter receptors in your brain, showing off a plethora of what lies ahead in the finished product, from combat and mission types, to level progression and upgradable skills, to integration with other players. What stands out is obviously the jaw-dropping graphics that appear like pre-rendered footage but aren’t. The best parts are out on the street and has us itching to get out into the fight and shut some police car doors.
The Division releases on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Windows March 8, 2016.
What do you think about the Division? Are you a Tom Clancy game fan? Let us know in the comments below.