Just about every game these days features some form of role-playing game mechanics being integrated into the core product. Most of the time, this is a game of numbers where you try to outnumber your opponents with bigger numbers while maintaining your own set of numbers in the process. Or something like that. But the upcoming The Division game from Ubisoft. That’s more than just numbers. It’s an old-school return to the RPG fold, but with better tech.
“It’s a proper RPG. We don’t have dragons or weird spell effects, we have technology and we have weaponry,” The Division’s senior brand art director Rodrigo Cortes explained to VG247.
The biggest thing is it’s a Tom Clancy RPG. It’s mixing realistic, tactical, possible scenarios with online play and RPG mechanics.
According to Cortes, The Division was built from the ground up to be an RPG. “You’re starting to see similar mixing of genres in other games. Before a game was either a shooter, or a third-person game, or a driving game,” Cortes elaborated.
But now more and more there’s a blend of genres into a bigger game. It can make the game hard to define – it has shooter elements, RPG mechanics, it’s cover-based, online and a seamless open-world. It has all of that, yes. But we took it to heart. It’s a proper RPG.
RPGs themselves usually settle for either swords and sorcery fantasy or far-future sci-fi. RPGs set in more contemporary times however, are few and far between. But setting The Division in the nearby future was a choice that made sense, Cortes said:
It was our biggest challenge from the very beginning. We weren’t sure if it was even possible but after a couple of years to get things running it became the game’s strength. Tom Clancy is what keeps us sane. We wanted a new relatable hero and it’s hard to relate to super-soldiers.
There’s nothing like it out there so we can do things surprisingly well that nobody has done before. We don’t have dragons or weird spell effects, we have technology and we have weaponry.
First revealed during E3 2013, The Division casts the player as an ordinary Joe, forced to take back New York after the U.S. is devastated by the release of a deadly virus. Society collapses in five days, and those left alive must team up to combat the disease, those that unleashed it, and a country turned hostile by its own need to survive.
As an MMORPG, gameplay will be split between PvE story missions for 1-4 player groups and your more traditional skop, skiet en donner online matches. But according to Cortes, you can solo your way through the entire game if you wish. Or if you prefer sticking with friends, four is the limit, as The Division was crafted with that number in mind:
You are never forced to do any grouping or any PvP. You can complete the whole game yourself. You will see other players in the social areas but you don’t have to engage with any of them. You can play almost as a single-player game but it’s always online.
In many online RPG games there are people disturbing your experience. We took the decision early on to create the experience to compliment 1-4 players. We don’t want an emotional experience ruined by a guy with a weird name dancing in front of you.
Sounds kind of sweet. We’ve had several high budget let downs in 2014. Hopefully, The Division will be the one game that actually lives up to its own hype next year.