Tom Clancy's The Division - Preview

Tom Clancy's The Division, for PS4, Xbox One and PC, is shaping up to be just want we want from the next generation of gaming.

Many people freak out after losing cell phone reception, which goes to show not only how dependent we are on technology, but also how fragile society is. All it would take is one or two services falling apart to create a dangerous and potentially deadly domino affect causing life as we know it tumbling into anarchy.

Ubisoft uses this premise as the basic foundation for Tom Clancy's The Division, an impressive-looking next-generation title for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Powered by the new Snowdrop game engine, this stunning title will not only attract players with attention-grabbing visuals, but also the concept of an open-world online role-playing experience, something we don't often see on consoles. The in-game world looks bleak, though from the comforts of home, it's anything but.

The Last Hope For Humanity

Set against the backdrop of New York City, the game casts you as a member of The Division, a classified unit of self-supported tactical agents charged with preserving what's left of society three weeks after a manmade virus ravaged the population; the pandemic began on Black Friday, the United States' most important shopping day. Your primary objective is to, alongside fellow Division agents, restore a semblance of order to Manhattan while preventing what's left from sliding into chaos.

The game pits you against both human and computer-controlled players, which makes working as a team of primary importance. You explore this decimated Big Apple with friends scavenging what you can find - be it supplies or weapons - and taking on missions in a world filled with unexpected events. One second you'll engage hostiles in a fire fight outside of a police station, and the next, you'll help A.I. officers escape while raiding the armoury, only to encounter rivals in a heated player versus-player encounter. To that end, there are no dedicated single and multiplayer modes. It's one seamless experience.

Playing With Wonderful Toys

This being a Tom Clancy game, Ubisoft put technology front and centre. Interestingly enough, you don't pause the game to access your character's inventory. Instead, you scroll through it in real-time via a high-tech wristwatch. From here, you're able to bring up a World Map that appears within the environment, view different Skills, Inventory and access Social features.

While on the subject of Skills, there appear to be a wide range of interesting toys to play with. The Pulse highlights targets within a 60-meter radius, even through walls. The portable gun turret, meanwhile, lets you lay down suppressing fire from just about anywhere, even atop a police car. A Distraction Device creates a diversion, while the Seeker Mine chases enemies for 10 seconds, whereupon which the resulting explosion can deal between 1,500-2,000 damage to the unlucky victim; this is a small sampling of equipment.

Ubisoft also did away with a traditional heads-up display in favour of one that sits to the right of the character at all times. Health is one of the most important things you should pay attention to, but the HUD also shows the number of rounds in the current weapon and which Skills your partners have in play, allowing you to better strategise as a team.

Visual Knockout

The features alone make us want to play The Division. Then we have the graphics, which are without question among the best we've seen. Ubisoft managed to create a wounded universe overflowing with detail. Sunlight pokes through blinds, bullets burst through glass without automatically shattering it and wrecked vehicles burn in the garbage-filled streets. We find ourselves staring at the grand set pieces like bridges and brick buildings, but then there are the smaller things that attract attention, whether it's junk sitting on a bunch of shelves, bullets chipping away stone or posted notes stuck onto a map.

Based on what we've seen, Tom Clancy's The Division is one of the more ambitious Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC titles, and we can't help but get excited. From the sharp-looking graphics to the intriguing co-op play, this is the type of game with the potential to sell millions of systems. Fine by us, as we'll need plenty of fellow Division agents to save New York.

SKU: Previews-238765
Release Date: 19/07/2013