Tom Clancy’s The Division: New Direction/Same Direction


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Update 06/21/13: This article was based on a viewing of an non-playable demo behind closed doors. As such, there are many questions that will be answered as the game gets closer to development. This article reflects my own opinions, based solely on what I saw and what we were told during this demo, and should not be taken as a final estimation of the game. I have edited slightly to make this clearer. Check out the demo shown off during Ubisoft’s press presentation to see most of this for yourself, and definitely keep letting us know what you think in comments – Ross Lincoln.

During the closed-doors demo of Tom Clancy’s The Division, Ubisoft Massive told the assembled viewers that “we wanted to take [the Tom Clancy Brand] in a direction it’s never gone before.” Like, you mean not a paranoid fantasy?

Zing! But seriously, yes, Clancy long ago ceased to be anything but a brand name, but whether looking at the works he actually penned or his licensed works, the trend has been an exponential increase in paranoid flights of fancy about the state of the world and the proper response to it. Perhaps it’s fitting then, given the visceral nature of gaming, but Ubisoft’s long-running series of Tom Clancy-branded games have, more than anything else, reflected the vision of their namesake handily.

Rainbow 6 suggested that the threat of terror justifies the employment of incredible military violence on US soil. Splinter Cell was, essentially, 24: The Game. Ghost Recon fantasizes about the possibility of belatedly turning the Cold War hot. These games are lots of fun – honestly, I’ve enjoyed many of them a lot – but these themes are extremely long in the tooth. So when I hear someone telling me they’re finally going to do something different with the Clancy brand, my ears pricked up.

Which is why it was all the more disappointing to find out that Ubisoft’s idea of taking a Tom Clancy game “in a direction it’s never gone before” – Tom Clancy’s The Division – means doing everything they’ve always done, only as an MMO, and post-apocalypse.

The Demo

In The Division, a horrifying outbreak of an unnamed disease on Black Friday cripples New York. In the aftermath, roving bands of what I can only call survivors have taken over the city. Under the auspices of the real life Executive Directive 51 (look it up), martial law has been declared and elite military units have been sent into New York to calm things down. From here, the game appears to be nothing more than an extended justification for the slaughter of civilians. But more on that shortly.

As described during the demo, The Division is designed to incorporate stronger RPG elements into a shooter. The majority of the demo was exactly as seen during Ubisoft’s E3 press conference, and if you’ve seen it, then you know that RPG elements seem to be more important than we’re used to in shooters, at least when it comes to squad composition.

To briefly recap, the demo focused on a battle which started in a parking lot outside a police station. Individual players in this segment showed off a variety of skills and weapons, including shooting, grenades, and healing; players coordinated with voice communication and at one point a new player dropped into the fight to control an aeriel drone.

Once the firefight ended, the team entered the police station, where they rescued several officers who’d been locked in their own jail. After leaving, they faced off against a new band of enemies, all of whom were controlled by living, breathing players.

Again, it was exactly as seen in the press conference. But at this point, we got a closer look at how the player-controlled drones actually work. As we’ve seen from our look at Assassin’s Creed 4, Ubisoft is going all-in on mobile functionality with its upcoming slate of games. The scene was a rooftop battle, the events almost not worth describing as they were essentially without context, but in short, a squad of players fought their way across rooftops and gangplanks to reach an objective which wasn’t entirely revealed. Taking heavy fire, the squad was joined by the director of Ubisoft Massive, who controlled a remote drone using an Ipad.

While we didn’t actually see how the interface works firsthand, we did see a projection off screen the operator saw on his tablet. If you’ve played a Call of Duty game, then you know the basic aesthetic: a top-down, God’s eye view of the battle; lobbing ordinance or missiles at enemies; experiencing some of the thrill of aiming death from a safe distance. The only thing missing is the revelation after the fact that the enemies you thought you were taking out were only a wedding party.

With smooth drop-in/drop-out play, riveting combat that at least appears to emphasize combined squad abilities rather than Everybody Shoot, and the promise of a big world to play around in, it’s entirely possible the final retail version of The Division will blow our minds. Unfortunately, from what we saw during the demo, The Division looks to be a by the numbers shooter distinguished from countless other, similar games by a Tom Clancy-inspired setting, that happens to be an MMO.

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8 Comments on Tom Clancy’s The Division: New Direction/Same Direction

RoriBeedm

On June 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Wow….Garbage article. Try stowing the personal bias before writing again. I was looking for new information, but after that first section I can’t take anything in this article seriously without checking it against other sources. Note to self, don’t read anything else from this writer.

R-man

On June 21, 2013 at 5:44 am

Yeah, I actually do agree with RoriBeedm. I normally enjoy your articles, but all I was looking for was new info on The Division. I actually enjoy Tom Clancy games, and I think The Division looks like a great new game, and an interesting way to push for the next gen consoles, regardless of whether it’s a Tom Clancy game or not. I’m pretty sure Ubisoft will be getting a lot of my money in the next couple years with Watch Dogs and this, not including whatever else I can afford.

R-man

On June 21, 2013 at 5:45 am

Although, I guess the title does sound like an opinion article, in hindsight…

Ricardo

On June 21, 2013 at 6:00 am

Unfortunately, Ross can’t seem to work out that there’s a place for letting your personal views tinge what you’re writing and a time when it really isn’t appropriate. Some of his features – and, for that matter, quite a lot of his news articles – seem far more interested in letting everyone know what he thinks than on actually imparting information to them. There’s only so many times I can get through his sensationalist tangents and repeated attacks on anyone to the right of extreme-liberalism before I start to wonder why this site is held in a higher regard than other mainstream games sites. The irony is that the article he’s built his reputation on – and the success of which has clearly gone to his head – was the Mass Effect 3 ending analysis which was good for the very reason that it WASN’T heavily or obviously biased. It was mostly objective and impartial, which is what led me and many others to keep coming back to this site believing that they were a balanced voice in a section of journalism that’s notoriously imbalanced. And yet almost everything I’ve read from Ross since then has thrown some snide remark in or been overly keen to preach his safe middle-class western guilt agenda onto everyone regardless of what relevance it has to the subject being discussed or whether the evidence and sources being used actually support his views. Some of the other writers are no less condescending when it comes to issues they think are politically and socially fashionable even if they’re completely exaggerated and bordering on untrue – e.g. Ian Miles Chong and his “women are discriminated against for being attractive” BS that ignores the fact that many women CHOOSE to use their looks to their advantage and should be completely respected in empowering themselves to do as such – but the difference is that the other writers mostly seem able to discriminate the difference between editorial writing, feature writing and news reporting. They don’t just blend them all together and expect to be taken seriously.

Sad to say after the excellent ME3 articles but I honestly think Lincoln is becoming a liability to GameFront and thinks he’s the star of the show. He isn’t – he’s bordering on being a laughing stock.

a-brooding-mage

On June 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I don’t see why there is so much hate for this article. Ross was hoping that The Division would actually take the military shooter genre in a new direction, but was disappointed that it wasn’t the case. All he is doing is sharing his disappointment after playing the demo. Maybe if one of you played the game you would actually enjoy it and write about what was so great about the demo. But, for Ross it was more of the same and that is what he wrote about.

How can someone write about playing a game without the subjective bias of how it “felt?”

Ross Lincoln

On June 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Hey guys, thanks for the feedback. To be clear, I actually have enjoyed Clancy brand games in the past. My issue here is that the whole shooter thing is really getting stale. The themes which may have made so much more sense a decade ago don’t seem to be getting any real update, just escalation. Moreover, the promise of something new via this game hasn’t, so far, been demonstrated. Because the demo was so scripted and so little of the final content was revealed, all I had to go on is what was shown, and it’s basically the same old same old. As I said at the end of this piece, Ubisoft has, post-E3, revealed a little bit more about the game that suggests there will be more to it; I linked to that, but for this article I went solely on what I saw on the floor at E3.

That said, I don’t want to be misunderstood. I want to stir up conversation, not troll you guys, so I’ve made a couple of small edits that will hopefully clarify things without sacrificing my point. Refresh and see for yourself.

Of course, you may feel free to lay into me as you see fit. In all sincerity, I do appreciate the feedback. Cheers.

Bond

On June 22, 2013 at 9:36 am

Wow. I totally agree with this article. So far it’s just a standard 3rd person shooter haha. There’s nothing special here other than empty promises. When they show something that actually demonstrates the things they’re promising, then I’ll care. Until then, I can live without another game where you just shoot meaningless targets in the shape of humans.

Juzo

On June 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I can’t wait for this game. It looks immersive. Looking forward to finding a decent article that tells me more about the game – not like the tripe in this article.

You obviously took no notice of the gameplay. It’s not just a shooter for a start and the tablet gameplay looks similar to a dronecam in COD because you’re controlling a drone – go figure…

The game looks ace.

This article was crap.

I hope they do well with this game, they deserve to.