The Division – Getting Creative with Snowdrop

If you’re anything like us, the first thing you’ll notice are those trees. Stretching skyward in a lush forest, these barked behemoths are gorgeously detailed, with gentle moss clinging to the trunks, abundant pine needles draping downward, and fecund ferns dotting the ground. You can almost smell the rich green air, as you marvel at the varied lighting that gently nudges through the canopy above. Think we’re waxing a bit too poetic? Well, go ahead and watch the video featuring Snowdrop, the engine that’s powering the development of The Division.

So let’s get something clear from the start. These trees aren’t a hint of what’s to come in The Division. Instead, it’s a showcase for the new engine that developer Massive created to power its game, and a part of a talk given this week at the Game Developers Conference titled Empowering the Creators.

“The forest shots, turrets and giant flies that you saw in the trailer are not part of The Division,” says Rodrigo Cortes, Brand Art Director at Massive Entertainment. “This video is a technical demonstration, to display Snowdrop’s full capacities as a new generation engine. Snowdrop is capable of creating a large range of varied universes, procedurally, and in an unprecedented level of detail.”

The Division - Snowdrop engine

OK, so maybe those trees won’t make it in, but one thing that’s undeniable – both in the video and in our chat with Cortes – is how happy the development team is, in large part thanks to the flexibility and agility of Snowdrop. One team member calls the work style at Massive “hectic fun.” Others gush about how much they enjoy Snowdrop’s ease of use, or the freedom it offers.

“Snowdrop was created in-house, at Massive, in response to a specific requirement: to do things better, not bigger,” Cortes says. “Triple-A game development projects are growing in scope exponentially, so we wanted to be smart and not rely on brute force. We needed an engine that would support how we work in the studio, promote creativity, and allow the freedom to experiment and prototype.”

The Division - Snowdrop engine

We can go on about how Snowdrop is a node-based system. How it affects all the systems of the engine, from the rendering to the A.I. to the mission scripting and user interface. How the engine runs in real-time, meaning everything is playable. How the real-time global illumination lets the team achieve an unprecedented level of lighting. And, most of all, how everything can be checked at any time, allowing the content creators to focus on what matters most – crafting an amazing and immersive new-gen gaming experience. Or, as Cortes succinctly puts it: “Snowdrop is a dynamic, interconnected and flexible system where developers can create their assets quickly and interact with them in ways that have never been done before.”

But what’s most important for you and me? The big takeaway for us non-developer types? Snowdrop is helping Massive accomplish its ambitious goals for The Division. “Thanks to the power of our technology, we have empowered our artists and thus can reach levels of quality never before seen in videogames,” Cortes says. “With the usability of the tools, people really excel in what they create. This has resulted in amazing graphics, as well as unexpected new features and unique innovations that really push the engine, the power of the consoles, and the games we work on, forward.”

The Division - Snowdrop engine

All of which means that even though those trees might not be in the game, we can and should expect all kinds of mind-blowing surprises and shocking delights in The Division. Now excuse us, because we’re gonna watch the video again and marvel at what Massive is creating using Snowdrop – including a few tantalizing glimpses of The Division as its being developed right now.

Don’t miss these other UbiBlog features for more insights into The Division:

The Division – Classless Characters, Second Screens and a Mid-Crisis World

Tom Clancy’s The Division – First Look at the Genre Redefining Action RPG

The Division Confirmed for PC

Tom Clancy's The Divison

Tom Clancy's The Division

Release date — March 8, 2016
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: Mature
The Author

Gary Steinman has won numerous editorial awards, but you probably don’t care about that. He also ran multiple industry leading publications and websites including PlayStation: The Official Magazine,, PC Gamer and Newtype USA – but that’s all in the past. The real truth about Gary? He loves cats, he takes too many selfies on Facebook (according to one co-worker, at least), and he occasionally crochets. And now he’s helping share stories about Ubisoft’s amazing games and their incredible creators in his role overseeing the UbiBlog and other select Ubisoft social channels. Follow him on Twitter: @GarySteinman

Milan 5pts

If what I found on the internet is right then watchdogs used its own engine, the Disrupt engine. It was intended for a driving game it seems, but they found it more useful for a open world game during the process.

Source Wikipedia:

For Watch Dogs, Ubisoft Montreal built a new game engine called Disrupt. The engine was originally intended for a different game focused on driving. Ubisoft North American president Laurent Detoc explained that the team working on the project realized an open-world game was a better fit than their original vision.

So no WatchDogs didn't use Snowdrop and if I'm correct the Division will be the first game to use it so far.

Source Polygon:

While the engine was in development before work began on The Division, the Tom Clancy game is the showcase for the engine. You can't build an engine, Cortes said, without a game.

So I hope this answered your question.

Airwane 5pts

do Watch Dogs use SnowDrop as well?

Cee-jay Mackay
Cee-jay Mackay 5pts

Bring on the release date already so i can throw my money at you guys, i dont think ive ever been more pumped for a game in my life. It looks truely amazing.

Austin 5pts

Love the way you guys have promoted this game! So much excitement! Its a shame theres never any PR internships in the states.

ِAhmed Rayes
ِAhmed Rayes 5pts

Hi .....

Plz can I ask you guys somethin' ? Can the player play this game offline or only onlie ??

by the way I ask this q?? twis one in Youtube video and one in facebook page !!!

Alejandro Broche
Alejandro Broche 5pts

as a third year game design student i been working with UDK almost all the time ( still things to learn ) but i will give anything i have to just have 4 hour to play and create anything with that engine is just amazing

Leo 5pts

can we get bigger screenshot for the image....really curious to see al those detail :).

Amazing engine btw. will it be release publicly?? just curious

M.Danforth 5pts

So, will we have a release date soon? I've been champing at the bit to get my hands on the game.

Christopher 5pts

This is all well and good, but there can be denial about the latest reveal of Watch Dogs has created a great deal of suspicion. The game will probably show up at E3 and what many PS4/XBO gamers want to know is how much of a graphical cut we'll see in the console versions.

max 5pts

best game best snowdrop:-)

HH 5pts


DannyBoy2k 5pts

Hey, Central Park has trees, right? You saying there won't be things happening in the Park?

Sam 5pts

It looks beautiful, I am looking extremely forward to seeing more gameplay about this game

Tim Norris
Tim Norris 5pts

I am hopeing that there are some forests maybe outside of New York city or even in DLC!

Heitor 5pts

This is a MMORPG,MMORPG means massively multiplayer online role-playing game.So,the game is only playable if you have an online connection.Sorry if my english is bad.Hope that i have help you.

Gary Steinman | Communications Manager
Gary Steinman | Communications Manager 5pts

I LOVE that you used the phrase correctly (champing, instead of chomping). Big points for you, Danforth! We still haven't announced the specific release date yet, though.

DannyBoy2k 5pts

I dislike that you don't know that the two phrases are interchangeable. Both champing and chomping means to bite or chew noisily. Big points loss for you.

When will there be more info in general, the page and videos have remained more or less unchanged since the reveal of the game.