Ubisoft isn't slowing down any of its flagship franchises any time soon. While fans gear up to learn what's next for Assassin's Creed and the company works to bring Rainbow Six to mobile, a team is also hard at work on The Division Resurgence, a new tactical RPG mobile experience set in the popular universe.
The Division Resurgence is set to deliver a new story that's canon within the timeline, giving players a new perspective on the events taking place in The Division 1 and 2. Though Resurgence begins with the first wave of Strategic Homeland Division agents descending on New York City, a bulk of the game will take place after the events of the first.
Ahead of its release on Android and iOS, I spoke with executive producer Fabrice Navrez about what players can expect when they jump into the game and how the studio went about developing its gameplay for mobile devices.
Though at first glance some would consider The Division to be primarily a third-person shooter, Ubisoft often likens it to a tactical action RPG with third-person shooter gameplay. That same type of gameplay is present in Resurgence, and Navrez says that the slower pace compared to your average first-person shooter helps the controls feel better on mobile devices.
"We really spent a lot of time to design proper touch controls on a mobile device, knowing that most of the players will use those touch control," he tells me. "The Division gameplay is kind of slow paced. And it's more like tactical choice, going from a cover to a cover trying to understand what's going on."
Thankfully for fans of the franchise who are accustomed to controllers, The Division Resurgence will also support controller input. Both touch controls and controller input will be completely customizable within the settings, and Navrez says that he thinks "everybody will find what works best for them," which is good news for anyone who already has an excellent Android controller.
Its controls are only the tip of the iceberg when it came to converting the experience players know to smaller screens. The Division is known for its complex open world set in the heart of New York City, something that mobile games often struggle with when presenting players with explorable locations. When I asked Navrez what the most challenging aspect of adapting The Division to mobile devices was, managing the open world was high on his list.
"Managing the open world and the navigation in the open world was really something complex," he says. "Both in terms of what do you display, how you manage your distance, making sure that we keep the massive feeling that you have in The Division to explore a vast, realistic open world. We did spend a lot of time to optimize that."
Something that Ubisoft stresses is that The Division can be enjoyed whether you're playing it by yourself or teaming up with friends in co-op. The team put great effort into ensuring the experience is balanced no matter how you decide to play it. It was also designed so that whether people want to play in quick bursts of 20 minutes or for a few hours at a time, the experience will be satisfying no matter what.
And for those who are more competitive, The Division Resurgence will also have Skirmish and Domination modes. The team expects to add more PvP content down the line after its release, though Navrez was unable to detail what these would be.
When it comes to joining up with friends, Navrez tells me that there will be drop-in/drop-out co-op along with matchmaking and parties that can be set up before diving into activities.
"So either you will create your party right from the beginning and here you can start to explore the city, go to the entrance of a specific main mission that you can then play and replay," Navrez says. "Or you can go in a specific place and start, as you say, kind of on-the-spot matchmaking, to get players joining you to beat the challenge, whatever the challenge is. So I guess the key word for us is flexibility."
In addition to teaming up with friends, Resurgence will also feature large-scale clans, emphasizing that "feeling of resistance of and trying to save the situation in a collapsing city." Players can assemble with several other people and perform activities in the open world to improve the world around them in-game.
As far as the story goes, Ubisoft seems to be keeping a lot of the details under wraps. Navrez says that they invested a lot in the "emotional aspect of the story with new villains that you will face, but also new factions that shape the world of The Division." The Freemen are one such faction, comprised of former scientists, engineers, and craftsmen that are trying to survive by scavenging materials and weapons across the city.
With much of the story taking place between the two main games, I asked Navrez why the team opted to make The Division Resurgence a standalone mobile game as opposed to DLC.
"What was super important for us is to make a canon game and to be fully consistent with the story that has been told in The Division 1 and 2," he tells me. "From there, we made the decision to make kind of a standalone story that can be discovered by itself.
"It's for people that are not familiar with The Division universe where they can start there actually, and it's fully understandable by itself. And if you're a Division fan, you're discovering new stuff. So that was really the philosophy, to make it linked to The Division universe, faithful to The Division universe, but independent as an experience."
When it comes to its endgame content, Navrez says that the nature of it being an RPG looter shooter means players can approach the game in multiple ways, min/maxing their builds, and testing the best loadouts and strategies. This complexity will prevent the experience from becoming stale. The studio will also add new weapons, specializations, and story to keep players coming back.
One aspect that Ubisoft is reticent to discuss at all is its monetization plans. With The Division Resurgence being free-to-play, it's fair to assume that it will have some microtransactions. Unfortunately, Navrez couldn't comment further than saying that details will be provided at a later date, but he did note that they want to offer an experience that everyone can enjoy at their own pace and in a fair environment.
The Division Resurgence doesn't have a release date at the moment, though Ubisoft says that it's coming soon. Players can sign up for a chance to participate in an upcoming closed alpha test on Android or iOS.
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Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.