Imagining the collapse of civilization has led to some truly amazing games in the past few years, but almost all of them have one thing in common: they simply accept the apocalypse as the new reality, without actually trying to do anything about it. There’s no hope for the future beyond living to see another day, and “heroes” are, at most, concerned with prolonging the survival of someone they care about. The Division is different; instead of simply learning to live in the dark, you’re out to push it back.

The Division - Strategy, Skills and Synchronous Drones

As a civilian special agent activated after a Black Friday pandemic reduces New York to a smoldering ruin, it’s your job to restore order area by area, neighborhood by neighborhood. This doesn’t appear to be a quick process, but it is a clearly measurable one, and the demo shown at E3 2014 reveals how: when you pull up your holographic map, you’ll be able to see your area’s security level, contagion level, and citizen morale, all of which can improve as you complete nearby objectives.

One way to increase local security, for example, is to whittle away at roaming groups of armed bandits. During the demo, a handful of them were laying siege to a post office where some of the more law-abiding citizens were holed up; naturally, it was up to our heroes to interfere. While the bandits’ leader kept his men focused on a megaphone-assisted tirade directed at the defenders, the agents stayed low and crept around behind them, opening fire on a couple of stragglers near the back of the group. One died instantly, but the other went running to warn his buddies. In seconds, the scene devolved into a heavy firefight — which of course was a perfect excuse to show off things like the importance of cover, as the agents ducked behind bus shelters, cars and hot dog stands to avoid hails of destructive bullets.

The Division - Strategy, Skills and Synchronous Drones

It was also a great opportunity to showcase some of the secondary abilities players can earn, like a bandit-stunning strobe drone called the Firefly and a deployable, limited-use flamethrower turret that set enemies ablaze while its owner crouched behind cover, reviving a wounded teammate. Those are just the start, however; a look at a broader range of unlockable abilities (gadgets, really) later in the demo showed off treats like sticky bombs, optical cloaking, and a broad assortment of traps, lures, and automated defenses. Picking an array of these for specific purposes lets you essentially create your own class, and they can be customized further, as we saw when a “seeker mine” had its explosive payload removed and replaced with a crowd-control stun effect.

We got to see it in action in the second segment of the demo, during which a small group of players wandered into a contagion-heavy zone at night. You’ll need to wear a gas mask to survive in high-contagion areas, and so do your enemies – in this case, a faction of flamethrower-wielding creeps called the Cleaners. Tough and fire-resistant, the Cleaners are dedicated to wiping out the contamination of the Black Friday pandemic. That actually sounds kind of noble… until you consider that their methods include the immediate incineration of buildings, people and anything else that they perceive as being contaminated.

The Division - Strategy, Skills and Synchronous Drones

At this point in the demo, two agents were being assisted by a third support player, who was piloting a drone via The Division’s companion tablet app. Playing as a drone is synchronous with the “real” game; on a tablet, you’ll see the players and their surroundings in real time. More important, you’ll also see their enemies, and can tag them so your allies will spot them, even through walls.

With the Cleaners clearly visible from behind cover, the agents once again moved to outflank their enemies — and then toss a seeker mine toward the nearest one, which immediately homed in on its target and flushed the dazed Cleaner out from cover. As he stood there helplessly, the agents filled him with lead. Cue a short (and literal) firefight with the rest of the lumbering pyromaniacs, and the team was able enter a warehouse the Cleaners were trying to burn down — which, it turned out, housed a generator that could restore power to the entire neighborhood. Switching it on completed the mission, and more importantly, caused the area’s security score to climb… very, very slightly.

The Division - Strategy, Skills and Synchronous Drones

Come on, you didn’t expect it to be that easy, did you? The Division is a massive game, and its version of New York — while having clearly seen better days — boasts explorable areas that include high rooftops, deep subway tunnels and everything in between. You’re bound to discover plenty of opportunities to improve the world as you wander. Just be sure to bring a friend.

For more on The Division, check out these posts:

The Division – ECHOs, Factions and Bases

The Division – New Gameplay Revealed

The Division – Take Back New York

Tom Clancy's The Divison

Tom Clancy's The Division

Release date — TBA 2015
Developer — Massive Entertainment
A devastating pandemic sweeps through New York City, and one by one, basic services fail. In only days, without food or water, society collapses into chaos. The Division, a classified unit of self-supported tactical agents, is activated. Leading seemingly ordinary lives among us, Division agents are trained to operate independently in order to save society. When society falls, your mission begins.

ESRB Rating: RATING PENDING
the author

Mikel Reparaz has been an editor at GamesRadar, PlayStation: The Official Magazine, MacLife, and Official Xbox Magazine. He now works as a mercenary games journalist because that sounds cooler than "freelancer." Follow him on Twitter: @Wikiparaz

5 Readers Commented

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  1. Jimmy Fallon on June 16, 2014
    I'm okay.
  2. digital on June 16, 2014
    Will The Division Devs be made to run a hatchet job on the finished product, Ubisoft following the playbook of Gearbox and AC:M on E3 reveals and finished product, on PC like watchdogs or are they left to their own devices ?
  3. Tyler on June 16, 2014
    My question is can contamination levels in zones fluctuate? For example, let's say you secure a base of operations, with functioning medical facilities. Can the level of contamination increase based on the population in that surrounding neighborhood coming together at that particular facility? Or will it be level based such as high, medium, and low levels of contamination with the only fluctuation being that you've secured and fortified the area?
  4. karama on June 17, 2014
    It has come to me through the light of the media that Ubisoft has not been very honest, or caring about their consumer base lately. You were always considered to be the better brother among the big publishers, but recently, it seems that there has been a cruel paradigm shift that has happened internally, causing your company to distance itself from the rest of your customers, viewing them as ATM machines instead of rational humans. I would like to inform you that your recent behavior these past couple of years has been unacceptable, and now with WATCH_DOGS, you are pushing your boundaries too far. A high end game such as WATCH_DOGS being plagued by problems such as Crashes, Frame rate stuttering, bad optimization, smudged textures, unavailability to Linux users, as well as Refusing to allow AMD to fully optimize it goes beyond the reach of what should be tolerated. Recent events show beyond proof that you have willingly and actively sabotaged your own game just to lure consumers away from the PC and onto consoles. I find such behavior to be utterly disgusting, and as such I'm boycotting your products. This boycott will spread to family, friends, forums, and communities. I sincerely hope you think twice before committing to such decisions next time
  5. Colin Blaney on June 19, 2014
    They refer too a " second segment of the demo, during which a small group of players wandered into a contagion-heavy zone at night." Where is this footage they're describing, I didn't see it during e3, I only saw this 6 minute clip - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc944viXPvo

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