The Division 2 vs Expansion – Ubisoft talks about the future of its next big IP

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In our interview with Magnus Jansén, creative director of Tom Clancy’s The Division, we discuss his vision for the future of The Division after its release.

The Division unfolds in a near-future version of Manhattan, New York City in which a pandemic has caused the collapse of society and a quarantined zone inhabits the whole of Midtown. You can read our full hands-on here.

Outside of Midtown, however, the rest of New York is not playable in the current scope of the game. Unseen as it is, its existence is implied.

During a recent hands-on session with the game, we spoke in-depth with the development team and asked the game’s creative director, Magnus Jansén, about his plans to expand the game once players have had their fill of Midtown. Here is that snippet from a grander interview we’ll publish shortly. Don’t forget to also check out Jansén’s thoughts one why splitscreen is not available in The Division.

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Magnus Jansén

  • Magnus Jansén is the current Creative Director and former Lead Designer at Massive Studios, a Ubisoft owned development team.
  • Jansén says there will be no major expansions outside of the year of planned DLC.
  • Jansén is open to taking The Division out of midtown in future iterations.

Would you consider, in the future, opening up more of Manhattan?

“For the launch of this game we are focused on Midtown and we’re very happy with the amount of content we have both in and out of the Dark Zone. There is just so much space to explore. For the foreseeable future, we have about a year’s worth of content planned out in terms of free updates and free things we are going to give you, and then normal DLC later.”

“So we are committed to that year of content, all of which you will get in the Season Pass. But there will be no major expansions in the location as part of that because expanding would make us compromise on what we’re trying to do in terms of density. We already have so many awesome areas inside Midtown that we don’t even use for a mission, but which you are free to explore in the sandbox.”

“Yeah, so right now we’re not expanding too much - well there are exceptions to that actually in our plans right now for DLC, but I don’t want to spoil that. But they will not be major expansions into the other boroughs for the foreseeable future.”

The pandemic has definitely spilled over and out from New York, so there’s many places [around the globe] we can go and who knows what the future may hold

My main motivation for asking is that, prior to Destiny’s release, Bungie president Harold Ryan told me the plan (at the time at least) was to never make a Destiny 2 and instead just expand outwards into the galaxy. So it made me curious on how you are approaching The Division IP - it appears like there is so much more space for it to grow into before you ever have to start thinking about The Division 2…

“Well yes, there is plenty of space to grow. And the pandemic has definitely spilled over and out from New York, so there’s many places [around the globe] we can go and who knows what the future may hold. But there is also so much cool stuff to do right here at Midtown that we can just focus there in the immediate future. If people play the game and they are happy, then we will want to give them fresh experiences.

As soon as we cannot give them that fresh new experience in Midtown, we’ll immediately look somewhere else.”

Do you feel like you have a good idea of how people are going to react and thirst for the content in the Dark Zone, or do you feel like there is a big unknown there and you will have to wait to find out and then react?

“It’s a very good question because obviously the Dark Zone is a new beast. We have some idea from playing it internally, plus we had a secret alpha test and then a beta test - the latter being quite focused on Dark Zone. In the final game we will have a PvE endgame and a PvP endgame, and we really don’t know what the split in players will be. I think some people will definitely go straight to the Dark Zone and spend most of their time there, but others will not touch it, ever. And of course, players who don’t have Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus accounts can’t get into the Dark Zone regardless. It will be very individual, what role the Dark Zone has in your play time. There might be some trend globally, but I expect it will be very specific to the player.

So into the future, we have great plans for the Dark Zone and how we want to expand it in the future, and improve it, but we’re not just focusing on just that mode and also have PvE in our plans as well. As I said, we have a year’s worth of plans that we are committed to, but that is flexible. So if everyone runs straight to the Dark Zone, then we will be agile and prioritise that. But if nobody goes there, then we have plans for PvE. So we have the opportunity to be flexible to some degree, depending on what the community does after release.

And don’t forget, you can play the Dark Zone as a PvE environment. You can sneak in, kill some AI and try to extract this higher level loot without having a human encounter.”

Our Take

The Division 2: London’s Calling, coming in 2018. You heard it here first…

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