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E3 2013: Tom Clancy’s The Division

E3 2013Tom Clancy

Like Watch Dogs before it, The Division is arguably this year’s standout action game of E3. After seeing Ubisoft’s demo, you can’t help but be excited to find out more.

This is a game with many similarities to Watch Dogs, from the visual style to the way the story is presented, but they only go so far. This is a fully multiplayer experience, but not the kind that we’ve become accustomed to. Most MMORPGs have a single persistent world that looks the same to everyone, but in The Division, the boundaries between this style of game and singleplayer games is blurred to the point where you can’t really tell what type of game it is.

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In this open-world, third-person shooter, a pandemic has pushed society to the brink, but it’s not past the point of no return. Ubisoft call it a ’mid-crisis’ game, rather than ’post-apocalyptic’. Players work alone or together as part of a government agency to combat the virus and restore New York City to its former glory.

“The city looks stunning”This was the best looking game I saw at E3. The city looks stunning, filled with debris from its hasty evacuation. Steam bursts out of the Subway into the cold air, snow is blown around the streets by the wind and birds dot the empty skies.

The developer, Ubisoft Massive, are using their own engine called Snowdrop, which shows off the power of next-gen graphics. For example, bullet hole sizes and angles are accurately modelled on the distance, trajectory and force of shots. It sounds like a pointless improvement, but when these kind of details are combined, you can’t help but be impressed.

“To blend singleplayer and multiplayer elements”In the demo, the lead character pulls up a world map, which is projected onto the street in front of him. I’m not sure how practical this is, but it looked extremely cool and avoided jumping out of the environment into a separate menu. A waypoint marked, the team move out through the streets and quickly find themselves in a firefight.

It’s at this point which a new player joins via the tablet app, controlling a drone. Most of these second screen apps have rudimentary map or inventory functions, like the one in Dead Rising 3, but this shows a live view of the action from a different, third-person perspective.

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You could argue that The Division‘s cover-based gameplay isn’t anything new and you’d be right. But genres rarely take a revolutionary leap forward, but instead many evolutionary steps. From what little we’ve seen of The Division, it looks set to push its genre forward, using the new capabilities of the next-gen consoles to blend singleplayer and multiplayer elements, and look great doing it.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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