The Division: Restoring life to a dying city
A deadly virus is unleashed onto New York City on Black Friday, getting huge infection and casualty rates. The Division is a sort of sleeper cell designed to help society recover when a cataclysmic event occurs. Its goal is to help reclaim control of the city while figuring out who unleashed the virus.
The Division plays as a cooperative RPG, where teammates have to work together and coordinate throughout missions. Areas have a great deal of verticality, so players can travel along rooftops and climb up on objects to gain the firing advantage for an ambush. Enemies include survivors that have banned together into dangerous factions that prey on the weak and vulnerable. The faction introduced at E3 2014, with a guy covered from head to toe in a hazard suit carrying a flamethrower, are the Cleaners. They show up in areas of high Contamination to kill the infected.
As a Division agent, players will have access to a variety of gadgets. Chief among them is the ECHO system. ECHO works similarly the device from the end of The Dark Knight. It gathers up data from all available sources like cell phones and surveillance cameras to render a 3D image. With this, players can get a real-time map of the city along with more intimate scenes, like an abandoned subway station's ghostly images of people fighting to get out of the city before the quarantine went into full effect.
Skills take the form of different gadgets, which includes strobe bombs that stun enemies, turrets, and seeker mines. All of them can be tweaked and modified with different abilities to better suit a situation or the team's skill make-up. For example, a basic seeker mine will just explode, but players can modify it so that it stuns everyone in an area instead. The game makes a point of not locking players into a specific play stile or skill set. Gear upgrades can be picked up as loot, which includes mods that will increase the player's backpack size for turrets and other objects.
A teammate can also play using a tablet to control a flying Companion Drone. The Drone moves through the game as a real-time character, so players can see it fly about. It acts as a scout, and can tag enemies for allies on the ground. It can also heal wounded teammates and launch teargas grenades to flush enemies from cover.
There are three main statistics to keep in mind as Division agents set out onto the streets of New York. They are Security, Contagion Level, and Morale. Player actions will impact these statistics. Eliminating a gang of dangerous militants from an area will increase the security of an area, and pave the way for setting up a base of operations. A base of operations is a safe haven for the crew, which can be upgraded by teammates for additional benefits. But keep in mind that the world is dynamic, so there is the possibility that enemies will try to reclaim their territory before you have a chance to unlock a base location.
Players have to keep a few things in mind as they embark on missions. They'll have to pack gas masks if the Contagion level is high, otherwise they won't survive walking around the area. Time of day and weather will also have a significant impact on how a mission plays out. Nighttime, clearly, is the most difficult time to go out. However, the darkness also provides more stealth opportunities. When approaching the enemy, it's usually better to start by taking out the easier enemies. In the case of the heavily armored Cleaners, the presenters modified their equipment to stun foes, and they set up turrets as diversions, so that they could focus their gunfire.
The Snowdrop Engine truly brings the large open world of The Division to life with rich details. Holes gather in cover as bullets pass through glass. Shooting paint cans will cause colorful paint to splash onto the wall. Completing missions like firing up a power generator in an abandoned warehouse will light up old holiday decorations in the area, which is a visual indicator that you're slowing restoring order to New York.
We expect more details about the different skills players can equip and employ to surface as we march closer to the game's 2015 release for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
ECHO in action