If there’s one thing that’s always drawn me to a game, it’s being able to interact with the environment, and being able to leave a dent in the world around me. From leaving a bullethole right between the eyes of my target in Hitman: Codename 47 , to blowing up bridges to derail tanks in Red Faction, that non-linearity and freedom in what you can do is immensely rewarding.
If you feel the same way, then Ubisoft’s The Division is going to be top of your wishlist.
The game itself is inspired by the concept of the human race being vulnerable and constantly at risk. In The Division, you play as a member of the ‘Strategic Homeland Division’ (SHD) whose job it is to save and preserve whatever you can of the remnants of the human race. Following an outbreak of a disease on Black Friday, the United States (colloquially referred to as the ‘centre of the universe’) falls in 5 days – it is your duty to traverse it’s decaying remains in search of something worth saving.
Unfortunately, that’s more or less what we know about the game’s plot for now. The noise being made about the game revolves around the engine and the way it looks, and my goodness, it looks sensational.
When you hear the name ‘Snowdrop Engine’, you probably wouldn’t think it would be powering a post-apocalyptic masterpiece like this. Epic’s Unreal Engine has been a pioneer of realistic lighting techniques for years, but Ubisoft are certainly showing their prowess.
‘Volumetric Lighting’ might sound like the company that keep the Starship Enterprise illuminated, but in actual fact the concept is far simpler. As seen at 1:15 on the video above, the light shafts that come through the bulletholes are an example of this at work. Seemingly quite simple, but also incredibly effective at making the world feel even more real.
Better yet, under the guise of ‘Procedural Destruction’ is the ability to blow stuff to smithereens. Bullets and likely explosives will be at the behest of players who want to leave their own mark on the world, from blowing a hole in a wall to form a strategic base to spelling out your name on a wall with bulletholes. With such a dynamic environment, it may well be one of the best examples of a sandbox RPG that we’re likely to see.
Being online opens up even more cool features, with co-operative play allowing you to engage computer controlled enemies as well as some good old Player-vs-Player mayhem in the streets of New York. These incredible environmental machinations will almost certainly see top-tier players paying heed to the changing weather, as well as utilising the procedural destruction to open up new routes and strongholds to overpower their opponents.
There is no official release date yet, and there’s a flurry of information to be divulged from Ubisoft. If this ends up being as good as it looks, then The Division is going to be epic.