Tom Clancy’s The Division Preview
Tom Clancy's The Division for Xbox One and PS4, from Ubisoft

Ubisoft surprised at E3 2012 with Watch Dogs. In a year with so many sequels the brand new IP was a breath of fresh year. Like last year, Ubisoft surprised once again at E3 2013 with Tom Clancy’s The Division. A brand new IP amongst a ton of sequels, Tom Clancy’s The Division swooped into E3 2013 and showed a true next-gen game for PS4 and Xbox One.

Ubisoft began the demo by showcasing the same exact demo and trailer that was showcased at Ubisoft’s E3 2013 Press Conference. This was extremely disappointing that they didn’t bother to showcase a brand new demo, but at least it was still impressive to look at.

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The one thing that will capture your eye immediately are the outstanding graphics.. Tom Clancy’s The Division is built specifically for the next-gen consoles and was shown running on the PS4. It isn’t just the textures and models that look fantastic, but also the little details that make the world feel so real. For example, a car door is open just an inch, but the character in cover closes it as he passes by. It is little things like that that make a game feel even more impressive than it already was.

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a third-person shooter at heart with RPG elements sprinkled in. Players are tasked with cleaning up New York City and restoring order. There are no classes like a traditional RPG. Players are free to create whatever character they want and fill whatever role they prefer. Like an RPG, players can still gain experience and level up to unlock new skills. Gameplay is typical of any third-person shooter. You’ll take cover behind objects and pop in and out to take a few shots. The AI looks pretty smart and was able to flank the players and lob a few molotovs before being put out of their misery.

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The interesting part of the game comes in the form of multiplayer. The police station mission saw the player and his friends collect supplies and call for an extraction. When an extraction is initiated, other players and their friends can attempt to kill you and take those supplies. Its a fascinating idea that I would like to see fully realized when the game releases. The demo ended right as the two different multiplayer teams began clashing, which was disappointing as I really would have liked to see how the competitive skirmishes played out.

Ubisoft did show a new demo featuring the Companion App. Like Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Tom Clancy’s The Division will launch with a Companion App for iOS and Android devices. Those using the Companion App will be able to play as a drone in the game in real-time. It was quite impressive to see the world rendered on the tablet screen from the sky, though the visuals obviously did not look as good as on the console. As a drone, the tablet player is tasked with aiding allies and taking out enemies from the air. As a drone, the player buff players, heal them and force enemies out of cover with explosives and gunfire.

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Multiplayer not your thing? Well Ubisoft has you covered. All multiplayer and Co-Op functionality can be turned off allowing the game to be played as a strict single player experience. Ubisoft, however, does not advise this. The game was designed to be a Co-Op and multiplayer experience so those who turn off the features may not have the best time in the world.

Ubisoft once again had the most surprising and one of the most beautiful games at E3 2013. I really enjoyed what I saw and this Companion App actually does a lot more than just act as a mini-map. There were still plenty of things that left me disappointed. I wish that Ubisoft had shown off a brand new demo rather than just showing a video of the demo from the press conference. I also wished that the competitive multiplayer match at the end was shown. These flaws aside, I’m very excited to see more of Tom Clancy’s The Division in the near future.

Tom Clancy’s The Division is out sometime in 2014 for PS4 and Xbox One.