Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division isn’t arriving until early next year. But I got a chance to play the game hands-on at a press event ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the big gaming trade show in Los Angeles this week.
It was an interesting demo. The open world title has a unique take on single-player play and open-world freedom. The world has been hit by a plague spread through paper money. Bad guys emerge, including former prisoners on Riker’s Island in New York. These “Rikers” served as the enemy in the neighborhood that my team of three players was clearing in the The Division.
Our assignment was to hop over a wall into a place called The Dark Zone. The game set up a lot of drama, with tense music and radio chatter, as you prepare to meet your first enemies. Inside, the Dark Zone was a plague-contaminated world where we had to pick up bags of loot. It was contaminated, so we had to send it out via special helicopters. And we had to stay alive in the process.
That wasn’t easy, because we had to take on a couple of groups of Rikers. To do that, each member of our team had to play a role. I had the shotgun and a submachine gun as well as an automated turret. Another player wielded a heavy-duty machine gun, and our third player served as a medic. You have to trust no one, because you can all betray each other.
The enemies were tough to take out, and they fired back. So we had to hide behind cover the whole time we were fighting. We managed to take them out and steal the loot. We had the option of teaming up with or fighting against other human players we ran into.
But when we arrived at the helicopter drop zone, we found human players were there. They fired on us first. But we took out one of their soldiers first, so we were tagged as a “rogue faction.” That meant the two human groups opposing us could gang up on us, and our players took longer to respawn.
We kept getting wounded. When that happened, we had to crawl to safety and get healed. But eventually, we took down enough of the human players and managed to send our loot to the helicopter. Once we did that, we won the round.
The game is coming for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Beta testing will start early next year. It hits retail March 8, 2016.
Ubisoft originally showed The Division at E3 2013 and gained a huge amount of attention thanks to its “realistic” portrayal of a postapocalyptic U.S.
In seven years, Ubisoft has released nine open world games. It hopes that The Division will become another ongoing franchise in its collection of big game properties.