Tom Clancy’s The Division is set in Post-Apocalyptic New York and is set to release on March 8, 2016, just a few hours from now (unless you’re on PC, then you already have it). The game takes place after a new variant of the Smallpox disease has infected most major cities across the United States and the rest of the world, including Asia and Europe. After five days of the disease sweeping the country, the US Government declared Martial Law before collapsing into Chaos due to the lack of food and water.
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The Division is a group of self-supported tactical agents, classified as being a part of the Strategic Homeland Division (seen as SHD in-game). Their goal is to use their training to operate independently and combat the chaos that now exists within the city. The Beta from the start is non-linear, throwing you immediately into the open world of New York City, allowing you to start exploring and fighting your way through the available missions. Looting in-game follows the same RPG style color-system (green, blue, purple and orange) as other games and offers an abundance of opportunities to find gear, either it be by looting fallen enemies or finding hidden stashes. Crafting was not in the beta, but the full game will feature crafting, with items acquired by looting. The character stats tie directly into the gear as expected in an RPG, consisting of three major stat categories; DPS, Health, and Skill. DPS is relatively self-explanatory, but it isn’t always the stat to consider when choosing a new weapon. For instance, I’ve found a M44 Carbine in game which lowered my DPS stat, but offers %150 headshot bonus, and paired with a scope/sight it can be rather deadly. The health stat category covers defense and vitality, directly influenced by the armor rating of the gear equipped. The third and final stat is the skill stat, which covers the power of the abilities unlocked by doing campaign missions; abilities such as quick heal, or a collapsible riot shield.
The engine used, called SnowDrop, was designed specifically for next-generation gaming, and was created by Massive Studios, specifically for The Division, and possibly future titles. The developers at Massive decided that they wanted to create a game with a focus on graphical fidelity since it’s a corridor like shooter in an open-world setting. Current engines have trouble balancing graphical fidelity and overall world size, but the developers at Massive decided they didn’t want to compromise. The SnowDrop engine implements many features to bring the detail to life including a dynamically changing weather system that coincides with the day/night cycle. The rendering engine also utilizes volumetric lighting to add atmosphere throughout the environment. As in film production, SnowDrop uses a light probe system that captures lighting realistically both in outdoor and indoor scenes. To enhance immersion they’ve integrated what they’re calling procedural destruction, where surfaces react with unprecedented physical accuracy. SnowDrop’s advanced particle system adapts dynamically to a vast range of environmental factors, including light. Between the philosophy of Massive Studios and the power of the SnowDrop engine, The Division should achieve levels of quality never seen before.
With higher graphical fidelity and intricately detailed environments,Tom Clancy’s The Division is bringing next-generation open-world gaming into the new era. Between the intensely realistic remake of New York and the multiplayer RPG style to the Division, it should prove to be one of the most anticipated titles of 2016.
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