The Division: Breaking Down the Basics

We’re extremely excited by all of the prospects that come along with Ubisoft’s ambitious Tom Clancy’s The Division – and it’s a lot of amazing things rolled into one package. If you’ve been following The Division’s development for a while, plenty of possibilities are probably swirling around in your head: Is it a Destiny-like shared world shooter? Is it a post-apocalyptic action-role-playing game? Or is it something that completely defies categorization within any existing genre?

As The Division opens, you’ll be “activated” as a Strategic Homeland Division agent after a population-wiping plague cripples New York City on Black Friday. We recently sat down with creative director Magnus Jansen to get the inside scoop on what players can expect beyond that, once they’ve arrived at the front lines of The Division‘s mid-crisis Big Apple.

Xbox Wire: Gamers are definitely psyched for The Division to land. Would you mind breaking down what the game is all about?

Magnus Jansen: We have theses three pillars – online, open-world, and RPG – that I think summarize it fairly well. These are three important things. The online allows us to do this seamless drop-in and drop-out play in the Dark Zone, which is where you, without loading or without any visible matchmaking, step over a fence and are suddenly playing multiplayer.

Xbox Wire: And this ties into the second pillar?

Magnus Jansen: Yes, that seamlessness… it’s in an open-world. You are going around New York, doing the missions or the campaign in single-player mode or, of course, in co-op. But you are doing it all seamlessly in this open-world, and then you are stepping into this Dark Zone. The other part is classic open-world stuff; you can go anywhere you want, and craft your own adventures.

Xbox Wire: And the RPG elements complement all this?

Magnus Jansen: Yes, it’s a Tom Clancy game and a deep RPG, so you’re getting more powerful, and getting more toys and more tools at your disposal to combine with that classic Clancy approach to tactical combat. Thinking is rewarded – thinking about your loadout, how you position yourself, flanking using cover, and potentially working with a team and having that aspect if you’re playing co-op. That is the RPG part of it.

Xbox Wire: Is there anything in particular that makes The Division stand out from similar experiences?

Magnus Jansen: Sometimes in online games, when you’re playing and achieving things, the world doesn’t change – because it’s supposed to be a world shared by everyone. None of your actions has a lasting effect, because then it would be weird for people who are running around and seeing something that they didn’t achieve. That’s why The Division’s Base of Operations – which is basically your established base early on in the game – is sort of a representation of you. It is a personal space.

Xbox Wire: A customizable space?

Magnus Jansen: Well, when you step through the doors, it’s all yours and you invest in it with your resources; when you invest in it, you get upgrades, you get things that belong to you. But you also have this emotional aspect to it: It starts out dirty, unlit, nobody is there. People are sick, unhappy, and then when you do a mission, the lights come on; it’s cleaned up, and life comes back. And all of that is yours – a physical representation of you taking back New York.

Tom Clancy’s The Division’s closed beta kicks off exclusively, first on Xbox One beginning January 28 and the game hits stores for Xbox One and Windows PC on March 8.