Opinion: Why Tom Clancy’s The Division Might Just Be the Pre/Post-Pandemic Game We Need

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If you’ve talked to me about writers, games, and genres, you know I’m a glutton for RPGs, for MMO’s, and very much-the-same for online cooperative titles. I’ve taken up games like Borderlands, Destiny, Final Fantasy XIV: ARR/Heaven’s Ward (I know, an MMO). I have also taken on countless Tom Clancy games over the years. But what about militaristic games that portray a future worth fighting for when a world has collapsed? What about a game that shows us that the world can still have hope even as a virus continues to spread and militia’s continue to form?

The Trailers do this Justice

Many of you that have seen the Tom Clancy’s The Division E3 2014 Reveal Trailer were probably grasped instantly the moment the trailer portrayed a mother singing to her dying mother. A husband, a father, a simple man angry with someone for the death of his family before he ends his own life. We see the effects of the world as society begins to collapse in New York City before it does collapse and reveals to us for the first time the agents from The Division as the primary character steps out, gun aimed, and ready to protect a man who is being pursued by a few thugs. Within moments his squad steps out and the emotional impact of the trailer truly begins to stick together.

Within the moments of that E3 trailer, I caught myself, just as I have today, watching the trailer on repeat. Picking it apart piece by piece hoping I could learn more than what I’d already known about the game from the press release sheets we’d gotten. Why? This game had sucked me in, turned me into a little kid with the curiosity of a toddler and the hunger of a full grown being that just wanted to know more than what had already been displayed. Within a year? We got to know more as gameplay finally had begun to show up across E3, Gamescom, and many other places, even YouTube.

After having watched even what little gameplay footage was released back in 2013, the curiosity remained as I kept revisiting the E3 2013 trailer, which can be found below. The trailer simply describes what is happening, how it could happen, and when it could happen. The curiosity behind it all remained:

Many of us know now that Dark Winter has happened, the world has gone quiet due to the outbreak and Directive 51 went into effect. Agents, sleeper cells, and the likes have all come out of hiding while people fighting for survival take to the streets. Society collapsed, gas stopped flowing, food became scarce, power outages happened, and so did the entire social structure as well as government structure that kept the United States running. Scared survivors took to streets as quarantine zones failed them. Now they rely on agents to enter the Dark Zone where the virus still lives and breathes in order to find equipment and resources in order to survive. But what exactly has this as the one game that could break the post-apocalyptic scenario game?

The World Ended Because of a Virus that Didn’t Evolve Zombies

Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a die hard fan of zombie games. I can never get enough of them, but it’s getting to the point that it’s a trend that needs broke, and The Division is looking to do just that with the games story elements. Focusing on a post-pandemic and still rather alive virus; The Division breaks the narrative chain by focusing on the real-life consequences a “Dark Winter” like scenario would have when entire populations sudden go dark and the world becomes one seeming rather familiar (Escape from L.A. anyone?). With the world ending the way it did, we know that The Division aims to once more bring hope to New York City and the survivors within the city as they grow accustomed to their terrifying new setting.

As the virus spread Directive 51 (from what we know from the E3 2013 trailer) has activated. Over the span of three short weeks the world collapsed and over 8 million New York City residents passed away. Eventually the virus wrecked havoc across the world in locations like London. It’s known now that the virus has gone global, but the question is who, why, how, and what is their ultimate goal? We know the virus was Smallpox or rather a mutated strain of it thanks to the short that was released today, but before anyone knew? It was a Pandemic, and unfortunately one that could not be stopped. This is a major change from most recent end-of-world games unless you count Destiny’s end of humanity through “The Darkness”.

A RPG/TPS/MMO from the Tom Clancy Team(s)

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Sometimes it’s hard to not see where this is going. A part of me has been rather skeptical on why Ubisoft would take this approach, but it’s easy to see thanks to the ongoing trend of online only games that focus on both single player and coop. Tom Clancy’s The Division and the recently released Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six seem to be rather good evidence where this was going.

With The Division focusing on third-person MMO elements, we can only suspect those playing the game will be able to customize not just weapons but armor, gadgets, weapons, attachments to weapons, even abilities that will make their characters all the more viable in combat situations. It almost seems like it would be safe to assume the same when playing alone while traversing the city. While this seems fancy we are also expecting this game to be hefty in content while also being rather hefty when it comes to the games install size. It’ll be a hope that this game is highly optimized and doesn’t eat up much hard drive for those who haven’t upgraded yet.

Will the Game Feature a Tactical Call Out System?

After talking with a reader who has a speech disability, it was interesting to see this idea arise. To be honest, I’d never personally thought of such a thing before until I talked to him, but the idea isn’t that far-fetched due to disabilities that do affect gamers.

Like many MMO’s we’ve seen systems that are put in place to allow disabled gamers in one form or another cooperate so that coordination through the squad isn’t thrown off. That doesn’t limit the game to the inability to provide players with full teams a way to make call outs, but also even a way to help each other understand what’s going on so that mission progressions go smoothly. We do hope this is something that happens soon if it isn’t there on launch.

Character Choices

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Many of us are familiar with character options. It seems that The Division is going to have us choose from a few characters; primarily John, Mia, and a few of the others from the trailer, but the biggest question at hand – will we be creating our own characters? This is something that will be extremely important for many as the game will be approaching itself as an MMO on consoles and something we really hope stays true to the game.

The Short film Sets it Up Perfectly

If you haven’t seen the prequel video that leads up to the game, it’s a good thirty minute watch and a solid one that will leave the fans reeling for more. With the main characters being in display we are first introduced to the collapse of New York while it is happening. We are introduced to the agents such as John who is a sleeper agent that has to explain to his family what is going on, and as he does so he leaves for his mission. The short film is based around John, Mia, Daryl,  the enemy factions, and the complete break down of the city as the bad guys begin to take over.

This short film, exclusive to Amazon Prime members, is called Tom Clancy’s The Division: Agent Origins. The short film takes place over what seems like a couple hour span as it all begins to go down. In the short we learn that each member has a reason behind doing what they are doing and how they are going about it. We already know that gas masks, Division tech, and weapons will play a huge supporting role in this game thanks to the short, but also the gameplay trailers we’ve seen.

Survival Matters

We already know working alone will be an option for players who decide to go through New York on their own in search for glory or simply to complete a few missions. The game as we know will not focus just on a small portion of New York such as “The Dark Zone”, but the game will focus on a much broader aspect of the game where players will be clearing out streets from enemies, undertaking missions in order to provide a safer and close to normal New York that’s post-pandemic.

While it’s nice to hear that gear will play a huge role, it’ll ultimately seem like it’s up to players when to acknowledge that they will need their gear in order to survive. Be it that they need a gas mask, gadgets to distract enemies, or simply their map – gear will be playing a huge role in this game whether it’s knives, pistols, rifles, and or shotguns. We know that players will have to work together, but also keep their wits about them as they attempt to free New York.

Closing Thoughts

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It’s hard to say that I want to put my faith in another MMO to hit consoles. I’ve already spent plenty of time with The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited with my friends, I’ve spent a lot of time in these past few days between a review title, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn/Heavensward. It’s hard to say that an MMO can or can’t get it right; that’s up to a players perspective on the matter. The biggest question will be in regards of how quickly content will be released. We know that content such as Rainbow Six Siege’s first expansion should be coming soon while The Division could potentially adapt the early-access season pass where players who own it will access content a week, month, or however-long before the rest of the players.

While Destiny has shown potential and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn/Heavensward has mastered this capability, we know that these games have both failed, and succeeded in multiple areas. We know The Division shows promise, we know where it’s going, the biggest thing to wait and see will be how the game is executed in the long run with its content. Afterall, it is an MMO at heart that will be on consoles and PC. We’ve seen this go numerous places with titles like Defiance that eventually killed over due to having released so close to Next Gen consoles, but also the fact its content was just not enough to keep it alive. We’ll just have to wait and see how Tom Clancy’s The Division does when it releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on March 8th, 2016.

Stay tuned for our review for Tom Clancy’s The Division: Agent Origins and our Hands-On Impressions of Tom Clancy’s The Division Beta.


 

About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

 

 

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