Before his untimely demise last month, author Tom Clancy worked on a number of stirring efforts, both in the literal world and video games. A few months ago, gamers got to experience the latest in his Splinter Cell line-up, the stirring and exciting Blacklist. Ubisoft's latest project under the Clancy name, The Division, promises to be even more provocative, combining massive multiplayer online (MMO) elements with tactical third person shooting under a startling new scenario. It's easily becoming one of 2014's most anticipated efforts.
In the game, you're a member of the Strategic Homeland Division, or the Division for short. You've got quite a job ahead of you, as some strange plague has spread over Black Friday, and, in a matter of just five days' time, has devastated the country as we've come to know it. It's your job to "save what's left," taking on a handful of missions to rescue survivors, fight resistance members who aren't too fond of your governing plans, and maybe even possibly finding out the source of this horrendous plague.
When the game first opens – showing a ravaged New York in the face of the Black Friday events – the player moves about with members of his team. With the help of a wristwatch, you're able to see parts of the city, including certain "hot spots" for resistance members, as well as any active missions you're assigned. You and your team are welcome to move about as you please, but missions are of dire importance – and the general focus of the Division to begin with.
Like other Ubisoft efforts as of late, The Division allows players to work as a four-man team. Three work on the ground to take on the action, while the fourth takes control of a tablet and controls tactical action overhead. It's an interesting dynamic, and with the connectivity between tablets and next-gen game consoles, it should work with ease.
Once a mission starts, the interaction between players is of utmost importance. The game works very similarly to Rainbow Six, where your team must spread out to take down objectives. In this case, the squad has to retake a police station that's become overrun by radicals, who have also taken the remaining officers as hostages.
One tactical advantage that your tech provides is the ability to scan items. This is very helpful, as you can learn a thing or two about the enemies you're up against. For example, looking over a dead body lets you know just how they were killed, giving you an idea of you're up against someone crazy or, worse yet, with military skills.
From there, your team must put together tactics in order to draw enemy fire. The person with the tablet can check on enemy positions, as well as any other tactical information that comes in handy for those on the ground. From there, the team can divide up, with one member breaking out into the open and finding cover to draw out the hostage takers. The other two, meanwhile, would find other cover spots and eventually shoot at these enemies.
When it comes to taking down enemies, the headshot is everything. Hitting a foe in the arm or leg does injure them, but they'll continue their relentless assault on you until they're dead. It's basic stuff, but in situations like this throughout The Division, it's important to take down enemies and move on.
After getting past the soldiers, you'll be introduced to another aspect of The Division – the ability to use found items and earnings to bulk up your team. Not only can you bulk up your team's strengths, but you'll also gain access to new weapons. The assault rifle you start out with isn't too shabby, but you can also visit the police station's armory and find some new weapons of the trade. Just don't leave them too empty-handed – these guys have to defend themselves from being overtaken again, after all.
By taking checkpoints like these and restoring order, you're able to take back parts of the city, restoring order as a result. Since this is a massive multiplayer online game, though, resistance is always likely to pop up, though Ubisoft hasn't quite explained how team battles will work just yet. We're sure to learn more in just a few months' time.
Finally, one more important thing to understand is that your team won't always win. There are situations where you'll need to fall back and re-plan your strategy. This introduces the flare situation, where you can call upon a helicopter for a quick evacuation. Unfortunately, there's a flip side to this, as enemies may find out where you are after lighting the flare. You'll need to prepare for a fight as a result.
There's still much more of The Division yet to be seen, but, judging by the demo we've checked out so far, it's definitely full of potential, especially if you like top-grade military action. It looks like some of Clancy's most inspired work to date, and should make for a captivating release in Ubisoft's line-up next year.
Look for Tom Clancy's The Division in mid-to-late 2014 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and possibly PC.