It’s easy to forget that The Division isn’t just another open world game from Ubisoft, most of the publisher’s major franchises are – Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs. Instead, The Division is an MMO.
Ubisoft have dodged the tropes of the genre by setting their MMO in near-future New York instead of a generic fantasy world. But Ryan Barnard, the game’s director, makes clear “If you’ve played other MMOs or RPGs, the power curve, will be present in our game as well.”
“We’re a very loot heavy game,” he told GameTrailers. “You start the game, you’re going to start as level one, you’re going to have just the equipment in your bag, you’re going to have minimal weaponry.” You’ll be heading out into a New York wasteland in search of better weapons and equipment. Like many MMOs, everything is stat-based, but the stats are hidden within real world terms. So, you’ll be finding guns with tighter bullet spread, larger clips, and faster reload times. “Finding weapons, finding gear or loot will be important through till maximum level in the game,” he said.
Supplementing your gear are the skills you can choose. We’ve seen some of these in the in-game footage and trailers released: sentry guns, drones, and first aid, for instance. These aren’t just controlled by the gear you find, though. “Our skill system goes out like a pyramid, says Barnard. “ You’ll be able to acquire skills with experience points and then later in the game you’ll be able to modify them through what we call ‘mods’ and change the functionality of a skill, up to completely changing how it works.”
However, while The Division is an MMO, most your time will be spent with a small group of players. The game is “phased to a group”, when you join someone’s group you’re phased off into their universe, there are no other players present. This isn’t always the case. “There are areas in the game, like dark zones, which are public spaces.” In these public hubs “you’ll see players of different levels.”
Barnard also gave some details about the fancy hologram technology on show in the recent footage. “We live in a digital age,” he said. “Pretty much all the time we’re on camera or we’re being recorded. When you come into an area which has some information, something that would be important to the agent, you can reconstruct a scene from CCTV, cellphone conversations, anything digital, and create this frozen moment in time. You can find out things about the story, about factions in the area, entrances to places you didn’t know existed, or loot.”
He also said that, while “you can take back New York and technically win the game,” Ubisoft “want our players to always have content to do.” So expect lots of DLC expansions to The Division.
The Division is due out in 2015.