To much of a surprise, E3 2013 was ground zero for yet another shocking and intriguing title from the minds at Ubisoft. Massive Entertainment has brought us Tom Clancy’s The Division, an open-world online RPG that has left a lasting impression for some time to come. Within minutes of its E3 demo, we’re introduced to the lore of which powers the incoming struggle between players and the race to restore order. But what really stands out is the freedom The Division presents to its players.
With the typical RPG style gameplay, we’re usually thrown skill trees and classes that let us customize our characters to be what we make of them. What makes Tom Clancy’s The Division special is the mixing and matching of skills on the fly. You’ll level up, get skill points, and start building your character, but you’re not locked into those skills. Unlike the archetypes normally seen in an RPG (Healers, Tanks, etc.), you take on new experiences, mixing and matching skills as you go into a new situation. Games like Borderlands already have something similar to this, allowing you to respec at the drop of some cash, but in those cases you’re still locked into a class with specific trees available to that class. In The Division‘s case, you won’t be building your character from the start having to focus on just one build, but you can take your character in different directions depending on your surroundings. In the end, it’s about synergy, talking to your teammates and building off each other. Without having to be locked into a class, your team can make adjustments to skills as you go and enter a confrontation fully prepared.
I spoke before of the synergy with teammates and how the mixing and matching of skills plays an important role in your ventures. The E3 demo only presented a team of 3 players (with a 4th making a small appearance), but it’s already been rumored that your faction will not be limited to a certain number of players. What this means is bigger operations, bigger player on player matches, and more teamwork. Of course there’s a lot more to consider that has yet to be announced; one of which that keeps me interested is the PvP mode not quite detailed out yet. Faction on factions with no limit on players in a group can pan out to be something of a large scale war. Of course you wont just be fighting together for ammo or guns, but also for rations and water to keep moving.
For now all we know is that New York is “Mid-Crisis” and that the players acting as sleeper agents are there to bring back the balance. The game world of New York City that we know of so far has the potential to be somewhat of a massive map to explore, battle, and raid, if done correctly. The world hasn’t all gone downhill, yet. However, we’re looking at black markets offering ways to upgrade weapons for yourself, your teammates, or even for the market as a whole. With an open world comes a thriving community and economy and The Division is bringing players together whether or not they’re on your side. If all goes well, we may get lucky and see DLC in the future giving us more cities or even sections to the city. Overall, an open world is something new to the Tom Clancy universe where exists the potential to introduce units such as Ghosts, the Rainbow 6 team, or even Splinter Cells as a means of support.
Only on Next-Gen
We won’t be seeing Tom Clancy’s The Division on consoles anytime this year, but it is on track to be released in 2014. Right now it’s officially been confirmed for only PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms, which may not be a great thing for gamers still sticking with their consoles from the last gen, but means something much better for gamers looking to progress to the next-generation. Graphically, the game already looks amazing, but only next-gen can mean bigger worlds, broader missions, and more players. Because this game won’t be making it to current consoles (although it’s not completely out of the question just yet) we’re looking at experiences that won’t be watered down because the developer had to cater to the lowest common denominator.
Companion App Support
By far one of the coolest showcases during the E3 demo was the companion app making an appearance. What we saw was a player controlling a friendly drone marking targets for their buddies in the middle of a fight. It’s assumed for now that only a drone can be controlled by the companion app, but the drone isn’t just limited to marking targets. You can respec your drone to be a healer, or even an assault drone. That’s the extent of information given on the subject, but if we were given the option for mapping out objectives and planning out operations, players could be looking at a game that’ll just be too hard to escape even when you’re out of the house.
From what was shown at E3, and as a personal fan of Tom Clancy games, I’m a strong believer that Tom Clancy’s The Division is destined for greatness. We’ll be seeing more of the game in the months to come, but for now we’re left with a demo that provided such a lasting impression of possibilities. Tom Clancy’s The Division should be on your radar come 2014.