E3 2013: THE DIVISION Hopes to Save the World After Black Friday Disaster

THE DIVISION Screenshot
Credit: Ubisoft

Ubisoft had a lot to show off at E3 2013, including a surprising new game linked slightly to those that have come before: Tom Clancy's the Division, what's described as an online open-world RPG.

The presentation began with the trailer that introduced the game at the Ubisoft press conference. After, a live demo of the same mission from the conference was given, with new context from the team behind the game, led by Andre Tiwari of Ubisoft.

For the uninitiated, The Division is about a pandemic that starts on Black Friday. A pathogen jumps from money to people, toys, and spreads intensely fast. After three days, says the trailer and its projections, international trade stops, after four days, power grids go down, and "by day 5, everyone will be a potential threat." "Directive 51" is a presidential order signed to create covert operations to stop such a pandemic, and to try to "save what remains."

THE DIVISION Screenshot
THE DIVISION Screenshot
Credit: Ubisoft

The Division is "an incredibly secret organization of highly-trained agents that is meant to deal with a dark winter scenario," like the one described in the trailer. The story begins three weeks after the virus is released on black friday. While the game can be played single-player, the online nature of the game encourages you to play with two other people as a squad (and you'll run into others).

The game is built on a new next-gen engine called "Snow Drop." The game's areas - we were shown a small section of Brooklyn, with Manhattan looming in the distance, is made to be familiar, but disturbing in how it has been destroyed.

The game is built to be customized, via skills, talents, and upgrades to player characters, as well as for weapons and items.

THE DIVISION Screenshot
THE DIVISION Screenshot
Credit: Ubisoft

A fourth player joined via tablet as a flying drone, part of the "companion gaming solution." What you see on the tablet is the real-time birdseye view of what your friends are doing. You actually see, on your high-resolution tablet, the moves of your friends, and lets you help them on their mission. The companion game can be played on any internet connection to play with your friends on PS4 or Xbox One, so you can be in a coffee shop and enjoying a match with them, and still be affecting the outcome. In the demo, the tablet gamer marks a gunner on the roof, then gives a damage buff to his friends, and finally heals one. An orange bar fills up along the bottom of the screen, unlocking new things for your drone, eventually giving you high-end attacks including a full rocket strike which is exactly as cool as it sounds.

THE DIVISION Screenshot
THE DIVISION Screenshot
Credit: Ubisoft

When leaving that are to move to the extraction point, Tiwari stressed that in this world, "things have gone downhill but we're not past the point of no return yet."

Once getting to a clear area, the team fires a flare into the air to start the extraction process. The problem is, that makes your team visible to other players, who will, as the trailer teased, see you as a threat. They can then engage you in combat, which you have to survive for a prescribed amount of time to meet the extraction unit.

The Divisionis coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2014. The demo was given (as all Ubisoft demos we watched behind-closed-doors were, interestingly) using a PS4 development unit tuned exactly to PS4 specs, and a Dualshock 4 controller.

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