The Division. This new sandbox MMORPG-third-person-shooter, (out today) developed by Ubisoft, the same studio that has developed many of the Tom Clancy titled games such as: Rainbow Six, and Ghost Recon. It is placed dead center within a lovingly crafted, replica of the iconic capital of the world: New York City. The lore of the game is this: A smallpox pandemic spreads on Black Friday (transmitted by a virus planted onto banknotes), and sweeps through cities across the U.S., The United States Government collapses in five days; basic services fail and without access to food or water, the country quickly is fragmented and is thrown into anarchy and chaos.
You, as the player, have been activated. You are the last defense against complete and utter annihilation of the City. There are remnants of civilization, it is your job to become the focal point of the new society that will arise from the ashes of the previous society. To this end, you are equipped with all the latest in weapons, ammo, and medical supplies, some even stretching into near future technology.
You are smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, and you build your base in the former Postal Office on 33rd and 8th Ave. Everything about this game is set to invoke a visceral response to the possibility of a viral outbreak that brought America to its knees.
As a native New Yorker, the images that I have seen in the beta, and the trailers, brought a sense of determination to liberate my city from the clutches of chaos and fear. However, what pulled at me even more immediate, was a longing for more.
The world of The Division seems truly sandbox and large. Manhattan comes alive (or maybe like a reanimated corpse?), in this game. From seeing the iconic Empire State building, to having the Madison Square Garden being overrun with thugs, we have New York City become a true post-apocalyptic war-zone. We have been promised a lot of things in this new game, and so far from the Beta, things are being delivered. The ease at which someone can go from PvE to PvP is seamless. The action is fast paced, well-balanced (from what I have seen) and most of all fun.
There are things, however, that I hope to see addressed in The Division.
1: Will I see more of New York?
Manhattan is a big place, and, is easily one of the most recognizable city in the world. Yet, NYC is made up of 5 Boroughs, and that is the point. If this is about New York, then we should be getting treated to more of New York as time goes by. It would be interesting to see the battle being taken to Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. This could happen in many ways, but, the most cost effective and most likely would be DLC packs. Not only would you be able to focus exclusively on making the Borough real to scale, but, you can focus on making DLC specific additions to the game.
You can even put something for each Borough, each one integral to the personality of each Borough, and something that would allow for a deeper game. Imagine a DLC mission pack where you take back Atlantic ave including the Mall and Barclay’s Center. Or, imagine a DLC titled: ‘Taking Back The Bridge Of Kings’; in this DLC you would fight your way through the entire Brooklyn Bridge, and this could allow for a run in with another faction in the war for New York, you could even pay homage to ‘The Warriors’ (movie from 70’s) by having a group of vigilantes from Coney Island help you fight back.
Imagine a water themed mission to take/defend/or blow up the port at the ferry docks in Staten Island. This could set up an entirely new expansion. Many times games that play in New York City only center in Manhattan, completely excluding the 4 other Boroughs, to the dismay of many people. I would love to see a PvP match up and down the Statue of Liberty, or an entire PvP map devoted to Randal’s Island. These things make the city come alive (at least to native New Yorkers). Give me a firefight in Red Hook, let me fight in the IKEA, let me run up and down Gowanus neighborhood.
There are many ideas that could be appealing, like having a PvP match take place in Yankee stadium. In this match you could have a quiet moment on the train, getting ready for the match to come. While you sit in the train, you cannot go rouge, and you cannot interact in any way that attacks other players until you reach Yankee stadium. When you get out of the train station you have 15 seconds to prepare, after that, the match starts.
I can only hope that as time goes on, and we are able to experience the full breadth and scope of The Division, that we are able to see more than just Manhattan.
2. Engaging story/Changing Landscape
In an MMORPG, story can suffer at times. To give the ability for many people to play the same game, certain things tend to suffer. My only hope is that this doesn’t happen here. The Division has a possibility to create dynamic and powerful moments in your story. The chief of these moments can be in the destruction of your home base.
It would be, not only, entertaining, but, exciting, to see the headquarters that you build from the ground up be destroyed at some point in the story in a massive firefight, and you are now forced to use many connecting smaller hideouts. The idea that, though you are building a powerful team and pooling resources, you are the last line between total chaos, and any hope of civilization.
This would be defining moment(s) in a genre that can feel formulaic and bogged down by tropes.
If there is one thing that bugs me about MMORPG’s and shooters in general is the lack of weight. Gravitas, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary is: Dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner. While there have been moments in FPS’s where the story stopped being a game and became all to real to the player, like Spec-Ops: The Line seen in this video here:
In Spec-Ops: The Line there is a point in your mission where, you (the player) as Captain Martin Walker, in your reconnaissance mission is up against a wall of people and must get through to complete another leg of the journey. Arriving at the Gate, the team uses a mortar loaded with white phosphorus to attack the 33rd, disregarding Lugo’s objection. The team later realized that the 33rd were only providing shelter for civilians and the mortar accidentally killed 47 civilians. Walker vows revenge on the 33rd, claiming that the 33rd had forced him to fire the phosphorus.
During the entire usage of white phosphorus, the player is in control. The horrors of war have never felt as real to many of us who have never seen the realness of it. There are many people in the world who understand the realness of war and the tragedy of it. In this, The Division, I can only hope that the solemnness of a worldwide biological purge be felt as powerfully as the scene in Spec-Ops.
Granted, these are all my opinions on the matter. What do you want to see in Tom Clancy’s: The Division? Comment below, leave a like, subscribe and share with your friends. As always, this is PattycNYC from consolecontrollus.com Peace, love, and happy gaming.