Tom Clancy’s The Division will not be featuring all of New York City when the game launches this coming March 8. The game will be set in Midtown Manhattan and Midtown Manhattan only, but do not worry, it won’t be a problem for The Division.
Now I completely understand those of you who are disappointed to hear the game won’t initially have boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn, but from the appearances of what I saw during the hands-on session I had with the game recently, there will be plenty of to do regardless.
What struck me most from my time with the game is how gameplay opportunities aren’t just created by streets, avenues and a few indoor areas, but how they are up and down and all around. When you walk a block down the road it is quickly easy to see how there’s a lot to be distracted by.
There are collectibles, side missions and interesting experiences to find block-by-block. Loot is scattered throughout the city and could be hidden in areas you don’t necessarily expect it to be found in. There is side content in the form of Roamers, Encounters and Intel, one of which I experienced when wandering by a civilian who needed aid.
When you choose to assist a civilian, it seems to involve finding some sort of resource or item for them, though I didn’t get too sidetracked with that. Another interesting piece of content are the memories called Echoes. These display, in the form of a digital projection, what happened in the area around you when the virus hit New York or during some previous chaos that came to pass.
These are fascinating ways to learn more about the lore of the game and I sort of wish Ubisoft would’ve scratched cutscenes altogether and just allowed these types of moments to provide the necessary context.
Getting back to things happening block-by-block, rooftops and alleys were also areas I found side distractions waiting. Usually enemies were loitering in these parts and each time I took them out, I found a new piece of gear, loot or resource. Do nothing but sprint around Manhattan and you will miss the richness that is in each block. Indoor gameplay was something I encountered immediately, and it appeared multiple times, as did rooftop gameplay.
With the main setting confirmed to be Midtown Manhattan at launch, I would almost be willing to bet money that some of the remaining boroughs (Upper Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx or Staten Island) will be added as part of post-launch expansion packs. The situation is tailor-made for that sort of DLC to happen, so don’t be surprised if that comes up later this year.
I do share feelings, however, with the people who are disappointed that areas we saw during the E3 2013 demo won’t even be in the launch version of the game. One of the downsides of games being revealed long before they should, I’m afraid. Tom Clancy’s The Division will feature a full length campaign and story for gamers to experience, so despite that, I remain confident it will deliver the experience Massive Entertainment has been aiming for.