E3 2013: The Division First Look Preview – Dark Days

Richard Walker

When one thinks of the Tom Clancy brand, certain expectations spring to mind. Everyone has to say stuff like 'Oscar Mike' and things like 'Tango down' or 'hoo-rah!' In Tom Clancy's The Division, there doesn't seem to be anything of the sort, and is a more low-key, muted affair. This is in part down to the incredibly bleak setting that takes place in the wake of a flu virus pandemic that leads to the complete deterioration of society and its infrastructure, leaving civilisation on its knees and fighting for survival. It's a new direction for the Tom Clancy franchise.

“In The Division you face a mid-level crisis,” Associate Producer Andre Tiwari notes. “ There's still hope for the world. Everything hasn't completely gone to hell yet. You're not past the point of no return.” You play as an operative for the eponymous highly classified government agency sent in to restore order to cities plunged into chaos, meaning you'll have to make use of whatever you can find, while dealing with hostile survivors.

At its heart, The Division is an online open-world RPG that has all the hallmarks of a third-person shooter. In fact, upon first seeing it The Division brought to mind Ghost Recon, and in a sense it is a lot like that with cover shooter mechanics and near-future technology and weapons at your disposal. We say disposal, but there's actually nothing disposable about your weapons and gadgets. You'll need every single resource you can lay your hands on, as our first look at the game shows.

Commencing on a snowy New York street, designed to feel “familiar yet somehow alien,” we pick up proceedings with one of The Division's agents alone en-route to a police station. Built using Massive Entertainment's Snowdrop Engine, The Division is another superlative example of next-gen graphics at work, rendering an immersive world in rich detail, from the abandoned yellow taxi cabs at the roadside, to a pack of scavenging dogs fighting over scraps down an alleyway.

You can play The Division solo if you like, but there's more to the game when played with allies, as we see when Megan and Bronson join the team. Each player in your squad can play differing roles whether it's providing additional offensive and defensive support, or healing the team by distributing medical aid. The Division stops short of giving you preset classes to choose from however, instead letting you choose what kind of a character you want to tailor, defining their abilities and strengths.

Every character can access their in-game menu via their high-tech wristwatch, including a world map we're shown projected onto the floor, presenting a detailed overview of New York City. Here the police station is highlighted as a place of interest, the sound of distant gunfire adding to the impetus to venture forth and scope out the place. Looking around, a constant situational readout projected by your HUD shows street names and the status of people, like when looking at a dead body the readout notes that the person died from head trauma.

You're able to muck about with your character's skills from the same wristwatch menu on the fly too, and access gadgets like mines to hurl at enemies. From the police station parking lot, our team entrenches itself behind parked cop cars as a firefight unfolds. Bullets have a realistic impact upon materials, leaving behind actual bullet holes and punctures procedurally created in glass, metal, wood, flesh or whatever else gets hit, making it all look rather visceral.

Players can also join in using a mobile tablet, offering tactical help via a drone, marking enemies or providing covering fire. It's a smart touch, and one in keeping with Ubisoft's ongoing strategy to introduce tablet integration into all of its games. The person playing via the tablet is involved with the game in real-time, seeing exactly what the console players see, albeit via an isometric top-down perspective. It's clever stuff.

With the drone's help, the squad progress into the police station having bagged some XP from the firefight, freeing the captive police officers and restoring the precinct to operational status once more. Like any RPG worth its salt, you're rewarded with a nice bit of loot in the shape of a spiffy new assault rifle from the police armoury, as well as some more XP for upgrades and whatnot. Megan calls in extraction for transport to the next hotspot in need of restoration in New York City, firing a flare to signal a helicopter. From the tablet, support choppers can drop in friendly Marine Corps to help keep the area safe from threats alerted by the flare, while you focus on getting out alive.

The Division has all the makings of a genuinely innovative and unique shooter fused with some deep and engaging RPG elements. Visual aspects like dynamic lighting and incidental detail make for an engaging world that'll pull you in, while playing co-operatively with friends or with strangers using the multiplayer matchmaking ought to make for a satisfying team experience. And if you'd rather play alone, you can do that too. The Division might just be the most interesting IP to come out of the Tom Clancy brand in some time, with a story grounded in terrifying reality and gameplay that looks like it'll be utterly absorbing and almost impossible to walk away from. That right there makes The Division a very tantalising prospect indeed.

Tom Clancy's The Division is scheduled to release on Xbox One in 2014.

  • This game looks REAL!
  • My excitement for this just...multiplied. *ba dum tsh*
  • Amazing graphics. I definitely want this game, along with most of the other Ubisoft titles. Oh, and I can't wait to start closing those car doors. It's vital to the mission.
  • I. Need. This. Game.
  • Definately a system seller, 2014 can't come sooner
  • this looks cool. the second photo with the map screen is awesome!
  • Definitely the best game at E3, looks mind blowing!
  • I love Ghost Recon, RPGs & survival games. Win!:)
  • Might take a little getting used to to the UI with the map on the ground but I'm really looking forward to this game.
  • I wonder if there's an option for split-screen co-op. With the introduction to Far Cry 3 and Borderlands/2, my wife has gotten increasingly better at being a co-op partner. Ah, marriage.
  • for me, Ubisoft is actual the best Publisher since 2012 with games like Assassins Creed 3, Far Cry 3, the Arcade games Blood Dragon, Gunslingers and the upcomming FC Classic and we will get AC4, Watch Dogs, The Crew, The Division and maybe more good job ubi
  • @10 I know that feeling lol
  • I honestly can't wait to get my hands on this beautiful game. Let alone my Xbox One Day One Console. That has to come first obviously. So pumped.
  • =D
  • wow this looks and sounds amazing.
  • @11 Ewww Assassin's Creed 3. But I agree with the other games. OT: I've never been a fan of Tom Clancy games, but this actually looks impressive. Kind of came out of nowhere at E3, and is definitely one of the best looking games shown (Although I still think MGS5 is the best looking game so far).
  • @12 Dude, we get it. You hate the X1. You don't need to keep posting it on every single article that you comment on. I really hope that enjoy your oh so great PS4.
  • this is the game im mopst anticipating for the next gen :D can't wait!!!!
  • @10 absolutely, with all of these games promoting multiplayer and co-op experiences, I hope split screen comes with it. My wife has been wanting to try playing games with me lately so I hope I'll be able to play next gen games with her.
  • @21 I don't get how I was being hostile...
  • @22 Sony fanboys always start trouble where it's not wanted. Why else would they constantly be flooding our website. It's almost like they're over compensating...
  • In every apocalyptic city, who is the guy that throws papers everywhere?
  • @24 Because you're jumping ship to the PS4. Gamerscore is not a measure of how much you like the Xbox.
  • This game blew my socks off at E3.
  • Dev has never made anything that wasn't bad. Not even mediocre. This is gonna suck. Pretty graphics are not the same as quality gameplay.
  • Ubisoft definitely knows how to blow people away at E3, Watch Dogs last year and now this. There's no denying Ubisoft are fantastic game designers.
  • This was my best of E3 game, hands down. @28 That was some of the worst attempts at trolling I have seen in some time.
  • @24 you should check out ps3trophies.org I'm sure you would be more accepted there. You are like Justin Beiber to us ot: this game is going to be amazing. cannot wait to play this on my Xbox one day one console
  • This game is gonna be the business! Love the tablet idea, best integration of tablets in a game so far! @viper - I'm getting a ps4, doesn't mean I have to repeat it in every fucking post on an Xbox website just be the most blatent troll known to man.. This console war is already tiresome and it hasn't really started yet!
  • I'm a huge fan of Tom Clancy games. This is the most excited I've been for a game in a long time!
  • Have to say this game does look awesome and was probably the best thing at E3 (with the exception of perhaps Titanfall). Huge Clancy fan and hopefully The Division makes up for Future Soldier.
  • Look awesome. Graphics look quite like The last of Us, Uncharted 2 and 3. Those almost near similar to The Division. Very interest to see how well game turn into when game release also it is Open World so lots of Open World games came with buggy so I bet this one will be another game come with some buggy. I believe. I will be surprise if no buggy for this new Open World game.
  • If all teams/players are part of a government agency, why do they shoot each other at the end? For teh lulz? Really excited for the game tho.
  • @37 You're not his friend, guy!
  • @39 You're not my buddy, friend!
  • Why don't we just the ignore this "The Viper"-moron, everyone?!
  • If this game were available at launch I would have pre-ordered XB1
  • This looks like Future Soldier in an open world with a different skin. Pretty graphics alone do not a game make. It bothers me how Ubisofts different IP's feel so much alike to and borrow from one another. Just once I'd like to see something made by them that feels new and alien again. Farcry 3 was the closest they've gotten for me in years, but even that borrowed alot from assassins creed, but when it didnt, it was amazing.
  • Def the best looking game i seen from the whole E3 line-up. Well okay Titan Fall looked impressing so did Quatum Break, but non of the games had me blow this much away then The Division! I digged abit deeper into this as they said its kinda a multiplayer co-op open world game, The enemies they battle at the police station are basicly IA guys, after you secured the police station and got your weapons you can call in an evac, thus securing your just gained weapons. After the red smoke has been deployed thats where other live players come in, anyone as an team nearby can rush in and secure those weapons from early on mentioned team. This is basicly where MP kickes in. Ubisoft not mention it yet but there will probly places on the map where regular MP matches can be held, something simular like in Defiance. Last but not least i don,t mind gamers display theirown favorite choices for what will be their next gen realy. I,m a huge xbox fan but do have a PS3 aswell for those exclusive titles like Last Of Us ect. Alot of stuff still isn,t clear yet but as some gamesites stated the new PS$ will be somewhat more powerfull then the Xbox One. But time will tell :)
  • best looking game i have ever seen! cannot wait for this.
  • Hopefully a game changer for ubisofts direction. the realism is scary in the top screen
  • This is why Tom Clancy is so good. Because they produce games like this.
  • Wow. I can't believe that first screenshot is in-game...So amazing looking.
  • This is the definition of a NEXT GEN TITLE
  • Was never that interested in the Tom Clancy games but this one has really caught my imagination. It's a pre-order along with Destiny.
  • You need to register before being able to post comments

Game navigation