The Division: Developer Q&A – New York City, Gameplay Style and the Limits of Next-Gen

Some people at Ubisoft Massive were enough to answer a few questions about a snow-dusted, apocalyptic behemoth of a game The Division. Full words below, but be sure to check out my video on the subject.

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It’s been said your goal is to create “the most detailed NYC ever seen” – how are you working with source material, artists and the new technology to make this?

Having the most detailed NYC is definitely our goal; that’s what we’re working on achieving right now. We want to show the “real NYC”; as it has never been shown before in a game. New York City is so diverse and we want people to feel that when they explore the environment.

For example, to create this “true NYC”, we have been putting a lot of effort into gathering meaningful reference, data and any information that will help realize our vision. We film, take pictures, record sound; going so far as to create mathematical models of resonance data based on real locations. This way, when you’re in our game, you will really hear and feel what it’s like to actually be there.

Of course, we still have to take into consideration the experience of our gamers to make it as fun as possible; finding the right balance between realism and a compelling game experience. 

– Mathias Karlson, Lead Game Designer

Are there different approaches/gameplay styles players can take to missions?

We are giving a lot of freedom to the players so they can decide who they want to be and how they play. Players will decide what the best solution is; “should I charge the front door because I can take some hits? Or stay at range because that’s my strength?”. Players are free to adapt their skills and play-style to the situation. But more than that, our team is focused on creating a game where each player can have their own unique experience. 

– Axel Rydby, Design Director

Does the Division reward co-operation between players?

Co-operation between players is something that’s really important to us. Playing co-operatively will allow for a lot of synergy between team-mates where the “whole” becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Because it’s so easy for our players to change skills, there will be a vast range of tactical opportunities. 

– Axel Rydby, Design Director

What is the hardest challenge developing a game like the Division?

Obviously, the size and complexity of the city is a huge challenge in of itself – but it’s awesome to be part of the team that’s making this possible. That’s also the reason we created Snowdrop; so we can  build this vast, diverse and dynamic world in a very efficient way. We want to push ‘Next-Gen’ to new limits.

– Mathias Karlson, Lead Game Designer

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