I have to admit, I’m getting a little weary of the post-apocalyptic thing. I understand why the genre is popular and compelling: it’s a mix of optimism (We survive!) and bleak cynicism (…but everything really sucks!) that speaks to daily life for a lot of people. Still, it makes me long all the more for the optimism of things like Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek. Still, I know that the post-apocalyptic craze isn’t going anywhere, so if they’re going to keep returning to that well, they should at least make sure the water is clean and tasty. Whether Ubisoft Massive’s upcoming post-apocalyptic console MMO The Division will be a worthwhile trip through familiar territory remains to be seen, but the gameplay above is slick, polished, and suggests MMOs will be able to thrive on this new generation of consoles in a way they never did on the current gen.
With the Tom Clancy stamp name lending The Division a bit of name value, this third-person shooter MMO looks to be a mix of action gameplay, RPG elements, and the sort of persistent world that makes the best MMOs so appealing. The Division is set in New York City after a devastating plague demolished all the structures and systems that keep modern life civilized. Players take the role of covert agents tasked with keeping the situation from sliding any deeper into apocalypse.
While The Division looks promising enough in and of itself, what has me most impressed is it as an example of the sort of MMO that is possible on the next-gen consoles. The Division looks like a sleek, AAA action game, but has the hardware behind it to do all the things an MMO needs to do and support an engaging, evolving, persistent world. Assuming the final product doesn’t go pear-shaped, I’ll definitely be intrigued enough to give The Division a chance when it it comes out. But honestly? This footage mainly has me salivating over the notion of next-gen MMO versions of games like Mass Effect. That’s been something fans have speculated about for years, and the notion of exploring that universe as an MMO that looks as good as The Division does? That has me chomping at the bit, and if done well could go a long way toward earning back the loyalty of gamers who were pissed off by the ending of Mass Effect 3.
As for The Division, the footage hints at a few interesting gameplay features. The map that overlays the surrounding territory is cool, and if you’re paying attention, you can see the player’s map automatically updating with new locations and info as the character glances at a map/bulletin board inside the police station. We also get to see a bit of the game’s RPG elements in the form of selectable skills, providing things such as healing other players or deploying an automatic turret. If I’m interpreting it right, it also looks like players might be able to interact with the game in a limited way via their tablets — it looks like one player (labeled with the “tablet” tag) drops in to provide some air support to the players on the ground.
The Division is set to release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sometime in 2014. You can find out more at the official website.