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Your most important The Division questions answered

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We had the honour of talking to Hamish Bode, Community Developer at Massive. He's currently working on The Division, Ubisoft's upcoming third-person cover shooter MMO. While it was tempting to keep the interview short we couldn't help but ask some in-depth questions on what was coming before the game's release.

We also managed to slip in a few questions about what SA gamers can expect from The Division - Mr Bode was as evasive as possible, but at least we have an idea of what to expect.

We've seen more of The Division's game mechanics than of the game itself. How much of the game is lore and story?

That's really important. The story's a huge part of the game. It's grounded in reality. A virus gets out on Black Friday. It's kind of like a crazy consumer day where everybody goes out and buys stuff. And the virus is on the backbones. At first people don't really understand we're getting sick. All of the systems that society exists in start to fall apart. Manhattan is the hub of where all of that is happening, which seems like a good idea because it's an island. You'd think that an island is easy to contain, but things haven't gone that well. As an agent of The Division, you start two weeks after the Black Friday outbreak. Your mandate is to try and stop this from getting any worse. I obviously don't want to tell you what happens because you've got to play the game. There's a lot of information out there, and the players will be incentivised to go and find out as much as they can because it goes very deep.

It fascinates me that this isn't a post-apocalypse setting, it's actually post-disaster

Yeah, we call it mid-crisis because there's still hope right. There are still out there working to make sure that the city doesn't completely fall apart.

Let's get into the teams, will there be A.I. filling in, like in say, Evolve?

There are some A.I. factions that are friendly to you, that you work with in the city, but not in the same sense that you're asking.

What is the Dark Zone?

The Dark Zone is the part of the world where a lot the great loot is. It's the place where they tried to contain everything before you got there. It didn't go well, so everyone had to evacuate The Dark Zone. In that vacuum there are factions who wanted to control the zone where all the amazing gear is. They've taken hold, and, to add to that there are players like you and me who want to do the same. That's where PvP comes in, and becomes very interesting. It's not a PvP lobby system. You seamlessly enter this zone and PvP is a threat.

It can happen before extraction or after extraction?

Or it could not happen.

That's very Dark Souls.

Yeah, yeah, I love Dark Souls.

Going back to The Division, how do you keep up the tension? Look at Evolve. There were moments where you faced the monster and then nothing happened for 15 minutes.

There's a lot to do. There's a lot of content and it ranges from things that might require a big investment and there might be things that are a little bit easier. There are tasks that allow you to take back New York in different levels of importance, right. So you can focus on certain things or you can go off and fix some other things.

Are you talking campaign content as well as PvP?

Sure. In the Dark Zone the tension's very obvious because it comes from the threat of players. The threat is always around every corner.

You can go rogue within a heartbeat. It's mildly frightening.

Yes, so you're with a bunch of people you can trust but there are penalties for going rogue and dying as a rogue agent. The players who take you out will be rewarded accordingly. The players who die as a rogue agent will be punished accordingly.

Tell me about some of these penalties.

We haven't communicated exactly what those are but it's a balancing issue. What we have communicated is the whole risk-reward mentality. This is only going to become stronger as people become invested in their character, then they have something to lose, right? It's really important. You really need to know that there's repercussions for your actions.

Can you go into more detail on those?

I can't talk about those repercussions right now. The interesting part is going to be when people are going to experience the beta in December. It's going to be our real large scale test. The Xbox One beta is in December. People will be able to experience part of the game, and we'll be able to balance a lot of what happens in the game. We'll see how the community plays the game on a larger scale, and on a larger time scale.

What's your community structure like at the moment?

The community structure is awesome. We have this core community of people who really engage with us. They're crazy about the game. There are things they are itching to find out about the game which is great. They're constantly turning out content like fan theories and all these things. We're always looking at what they're doing.

Some of the fan art is awesome, by the way.

The fan art's great. We have this guy, a czech guy Jacob. He's 19 and he's a genius. I should send you a link to some of his stuff. He came to visit us at Gamescom. It was so cool.

So the response to The Division has been quite positive?

Extremely positive. The community is hungry so it's really just a case of us getting the game out to the people to play. So, right now we're focused on make sure that that the quality of the beta going forward to the release is there. We're delivering everything that's going to excite them. It's really important for us that we deliver the game but we know it's going to be awesome but also take it for experiencing.

South Africa is known for its bandwidth problems. How is The Division going to work in a medium to low bandwidth situation?

That's the core focus of the game. I can't talk about the technical solutions we have for that but our server programmers are really making sure that everyone who gets to play it gets to play on the lowest ping possible.

We also want to make sure the experience is as smooth as possible. We know that it's important.

Will there be local servers?

The server structure is not really something I want to talk about. There'll be more information on that. I know it's important because people from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand don't always get the best internet connections.

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Will players gamertags show up when playing The Division?

People will have their own names in the game.

How many weapon choices can players have in The Division?

Since it's a RPG there's a lot of focus on that. Even in terms of weapons we've been working with Red Storm, the studio in North Carolina, the Clancy guys, right? They're the weapons masters. So there's a bunch of weapons the guys modeled.

Give us a rough number?

The rough number is A LOT, right. Beyond that, the weapons have mod slots. So it's not just the weapon that you get in different rarities but you'll also have the opportunity to equip different suppressors, there are different sounds, different muzzle flashes, different scopes and stocks.

So customisation will be a key part of the game?

Yeah, and they won't just be visual changes, they'll be changes to the way the guns work. So, when you start adding up the number of guns to the number of mod slots, it gets big.

Tell us about legendary loot in The Division.

It's important that legendary loot feels legendary, right? That's a question for the game designers and the people who are balancing the weapons. We want people to get excited if their drops are super rare. Like, "I know it's going to be good, I just need to know more about it". It's a core point of the whole RPG system.

Last question, can you say what the PC requirements will be?

I can't give the PC requirements, but the PC version is not going to be a port. The PC version has a whole bunch of people working on unique considerations for it, which is great because I am a PC gamer. It's going to be running smooth, which I'm excited about.

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"everyone who gets to play it gets to play on the lowest ping possible"

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