Ubisoft’s lineup of games for 2016 and beyond is growing stronger by the day with this summer's E3 conference set to unveil even more titles. The publisher has an impressive list of triple-A releases on the way in Far Cry Primal, Tom Clancy’s The Division, For Honor, Ghost Recon Wildlands, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and the inevitable return of Assassin’s Creed (which by the way, may take a year off). Of the six titles, only Far Cry and The Division, which recently showed off a new gameplay trailer, have official release dates of February 23 and March 8 respectively.
While Far Cry Primal looks to be more of the same as a period-set spinoff of a recognizable formula, it is The Division that has had gamers clamoring for more details since its impressive reveal at E3 2013. It's an open world third-person shooter RPG that's frequently compared to Bungie’s Destiny. Both look to continue the trend of ‘shared-world’ shooters, a term Bungie coined, that have been cropping up this generation. As we near the launch, Ubisoft is finally sharing new information about what The Division really is and how it works, from the lack of a class system and the level cap, to the number of story missions and end game content.
In an interview with VG247, Ubisoft Massive’s creative director Magnus Jansen stressed on the importance of players being free of specific classes they would be forever locked into, and explained how this decision allows players to take on more flexible roles.
It’s important to understand that we definitely want people to play roles. In creating our skills and our systems with the stats that you have we definitely envision very clear roles – healer, damage dealer, support – as well as adopting the shooter, tactical reality that we’re in so becoming a sniper, or an upfront close-quarters fighter.
We want roles, but not class in the sense that it’s something you pick for your character that’s fixed and you can’t change it. Roles are very important when you get into a group. The better a group can specialize the more effective it will be. If you’re playing by yourself or random people and not communicating, we go to great lengths so that you can see what skills other players have when you team up. It’s easier for you to see so you can still adapt. And of course we do have VOIP. So there's very strong roles and synergies for use, but just not those pre-defined classes.
Speaking more about the single-player campaign, as well as confirming 10 main missions will make up the story, Jansen said, “It’s a great single-player game, period. We don’t use a stick, but rather a carrot, to get people on board with multiplayer, be it co-op or PvP in Dark Zones or the social spaces in the Safe Houses.” The Dark Zone is a PvP-centric area of the larger open-world map, as the creative director continued saying, “It’s one big rift that runs down the center of the map. But just like the other parts of the world, it’s not created equal in terms of difficulty. We don’t scale difficulty in the open world.” He also spoke about how the Dark Zone relates to end-game content after the player reaches the maximum level of 30 saying, “The whole Dark Zone re-populates with all-new content and challenges suitable to that level.”
Other details were shared like a Hard Mode option for missions that reap better rewards as well as a variety in how loot can be attained.
“When you want to really, really get the very best, there are some things you’re going to want to craft by finding some really, really hard to get components. Some thing’s you’re going to want to find in the Dark Zone on the hardest fights. Some thing’s you’ll want to purchase from safe rooms in the Dark Zone, where you have other agents that you purchase from and you use the currency that you acquire in the Dark Zone. It’s a special kind of market that only happens in the Dark Zone. So there’s not one way, not one thing, of getting the best gear."
After acknowledging the existence of free, regular updates, Jansen was not as forthcoming when talking about aspects of the game that would continuously bring players back like daily and weekly challenges.
“There’s so much game in the initial release that we want to focus on that. The short answer is we’ll be doing many things to keep you revisiting once it’s out for a long time.”
The creative director also confirmed there will be no microtransactions in The Division at launch, but like Destiny, we almost expect it to come later given Ubisoft's history and use of controversial microtransactions in Assassin's Creed Unity and Rainbow Six Siege.
For gamers who don't own a current-gen console but are looking to jump in to play the upcoming Tom Clancy epic, Microsoft also just unveiled a 1 TB Xbox One bundle with a digital copy of The Division that will cost $400. Xbox One players who pre-ordered the game can jump into The Division beta on January 28 as it becomes available for PS4 and PC players a day later, with the beta ending January 31. For the few days it's available, Ubisoft has announced, via an UbiBlog post, that players can try out the Dark Zone and also play through "early story-driven missions that establish your foothold in New York."
Tom Clancy’s The Division is set to release on March 8, 2016 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.