Understanding The Division Marketing
There was unsurprisingly, some disappointment voiced as regards The Division videos at E3 2014. I think it is the result of misunderstanding the intent of the developers, and also a lack of attention to what was actually revealed. First, in a video interview last autumn, one of the creators (directors?) made it very clear that Massive didn’t want reveal too much before the game launched. They want to keep as much a secret as possible so that gamers can experience the game “unspoiled”. Therefore, expect every reveal henceforth to be similarly disappointing as regards content and probably even gameplay. Second, for those who patiently watched with an inquisitive mindset, there was, in fact, a bunch of new information released in those videos.
Hit the jump for my impressions of the two videos (long).
From the gameplay video:
The world is not only above ground but below: subways and tunnels are navigable.
Past events are displayed holographically imposed on environments in the present.
These holographs provide possible mission starting points (1:34 11 days ago – train, little girl 2000XP)
They will be making extensive use of mise en scene a la the stuff on the walls in Bioshock and Left 4 Dead to tell background stories. Every environment is stuffed with litter (which we saw in the first game), full body bags, etc. etc. and also graffiti on the walls. (1:56)
Megan “invites” Bronson to join her while she is navigating the environment (is that a game invite or a mission invite within the game) – she never stops moving and he (and Chris) suddenly appear at the top of the stairs. People are playing on the same map/server but not in a squad (?). (2:15)
(2:16) Bronson: “Let’s go open up the area ahead” Megan: “We’re about to unlock my base” so this tells us that people have their own version/progression of the world. Bronson and Chris entered Megan’s world once they accepted her invite(?).
(2:33) The game appears to have a lot of similarity to BioShock in that the AI creates the illusion that it is autonomous, organic, and alive – in action even if not being observed (or triggered).
(2:46) At E3 2013, we were shown doors that could be closed, cover that could be taken, and tires that could be shot out. Here we are shown that much (all) of the environment can be mounted, vaulted, traversed, and there is literally sliding into cover (3:46). Surprisingly, that is not yet a given in this age of games. ::cough:: L4D ::cough::
(2:49) The pull-up weapon menu has changed. It is obviously a work in progress. Perhaps this is the “short” list culled from a longer inventory list.
(2:51 – 3:40)There is an “electrocution” ‘nade and a hover flash bang, flame thrower sentry (4:10) melee weapons wielded by the AI, different AI reactions – one runs away, the other charges.
(3:50) Containers have contents! Paint in cans splatters and bursts – That is a huge difference between this and anything else I have ever seen in game.
Finally, as shown in the screenshot – The menus indicate:
-Dark Zone Low
Security Level: 3.8?
Progression Level 10?
This is probably more meaningful to those who have have played MMOs, but I think there is probably some significant information in these categories and numbers.
As for the cinematic video, again, there were many things shown that were not explained but alluded to depth in story, possible factions (flame thrower garbage men), street hoods, and what are the footprints in the snow – 2:23-2:41?!
The videos don’t give us specific gameplay answers, but it is an iterative work in progress, and Massive is wise not to reinforce their promises from last year if there is even a slight chance that stuff will get cut. Zos is justified in having doubts and concerns because there are many devs that promised the world and gave the backyard. I don’t know what The Division is going to end up being. I do think, however, that they revealed quite a bit at E3. (Yet admittedly, without explanation, it almost raises more questions than it answers.)
As regards the beauty of the game, there comes a point when “beauty” becomes, or creates the gameplay. Just as so many movie and game directors often brag “the environment/the city is a character”. The attention to details, animations, interactions, interactivity, materials, particles, textures, AI, weather, and light is of such high quality, that it becomes “gameplay”. The world is so comprehensive that simply navigating around in it is “game”. Enough said. I have never played an MMO, so I have zero expectations in that regard, and nothing that Massive offers will be a compromise or imitation of something I have played before, so I am lucky in that regard.
OT Rainbow Six Siege looks awesome. I am not very good at timed games, nor can I be counted on to make multiple stealth headshots should that be needed. But if being a team player, and communicating well can make up for those shortcomings, then I am your huckleberry. Having said that, I will also be all over the “arcady” cops and robbers game of Hardline. The more I watch that video, the fresher and more enjoyable it looks. Again, like The Division, the beauty of the game, including the animations, and constant flood of “cinematic moments” isn’t just pleasing on the eyes, it IS the gameplay.