The Division Resurgence Lets Agents Take The Fight Mobile
Monetization questions linger, but Resurgence looks like a proper Division game that happens to be on mobile devices.
Ubisoft is no stranger to mobile games. Its franchises like Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia, and more have spawned mobile spin-offs. Ubisoft is also the publisher behind the massively successful mobile game Hungry Shark Evolution. The Division Resurgence, at this admittedly early stage, however, feels different. It may not enjoy the graphical fidelity of its console counterparts, but everything else about the game makes it look like a proper entry into the franchise, as opposed to a spin-off with a mobile asterisk.
GameSpot recently got to see the game in action and to speak with executive producer Fabrice Navrez, and our look at the game suggested The Division Resurgence has the same mechanics and gameplay as its console and PC counterparts. Resurgence is a third-person loot-shooter that offers cooperative gameplay, as well as competitive gameplay, in an open-world New York City.
Resurgence is fully canonical to the world of The Division. It begins concurrently with The Division 1, which affords an opportunity to show some of the events of the beginning of that game from a new perspective, but Navrez says the bulk of the game takes place after the story events of The Division 1, so it also serves as a pseudo-sequel.
The main enemy in Resurgence is a faction new to The Division's universe. They are called The Freemen and are made up of scientists, craftsmen, and engineers who are trying to survive in New York City. What makes this group different from previous enemy Division factions is not yet clear, but you will be fighting them for the first time on mobile.
The third-person shooting gameplay looks a lot like what's on offer in the other Division games. You take cover behind anything you can on dilapidated streets and use various abilities to get an edge over the enemy, but with some compensations and adjustments made for the mobile platform. At the beginning of the game, you choose your specialization, or class, and over the course of the game, you unlock different specializations and can swap between them. For example, the Vanguard specialization can highlight enemies for your team to see and the Demolitionist can use seeker mines to take them down, among other explosive weapons. Six specializations will be available at launch, according to Navrez. In the gameplay showcased, we saw players throwing up cover to get into better shooting positions and dropping remote turrets to help against enemies. The Freeman are also well-equipped, and can use items like remote-controlled drones.
The New York City featured in Resurgence is open world according to Ubisoft; the missions you tackle within it are split between main missions, world events, and other activities. Navrez makes it clear that you can play the game for long sessions if you desire, but in general, completing various activities are geared toward shorter mobile play sessions. Resurgence also includes a version of the Dark Zone, The Division's player-vs.-player endgame area, built specifically for mobile, as well as the franchise's Skirmish and Domination modes for competitive players.
Resurgence also features customizable user interface and control options, allowing for multiple setups for using touch controls. Navrez made it clear the development team spent a lot of time focusing on touch controls to try and deliver an experience that feels comparable to the console and PC games, but Resurgence will also offer full controller support, limited only by your mobile device's options. You can use Bluetooth controllers, or controllers that plug directly into your phone.
Navrez said Ubisoft's goal for the game is for it to have basic parity with the first two Division games and to be welcoming to established fans or new players, but the three games are being treated as standalone experiences. Resurgence is a fully independent game, which means, at least initially, we shouldn't expect any overlap between them. Unlocks in one game won't apply to the other, but that's something Navrez said could be considered in the future.
The big question lingering about Resurgence, which will be a free-to-play title when it launches, is how its monetization works. Navrez was not able to specify how you will be able to spend money in Resurgence, but he did share Ubisoft's intentions.
"What matters the most for us is to make sure Resurgence is a game everybody can play, complete, and enjoy in a fair manner," he said. "And so that's really the cardinal rule we have there, is to make sure that everybody can enjoy the game at their own pace. And we know it's always a sensitive question for the community and that's why later, we will come back with more details. But we are very confident that we'll find the sweet spot and the right balance to make sure that everybody will enjoy the game."
Diablo Immortal, a free-to-play mobile game that similarly looks and plays like a proper entry in an established franchise, has come under fire following its release predominantly because what some complain is a "pay-to-win" approach. Players who are willing to spend money in the game are given access to the most advantageous materials, while those who don't invest are left at a disadvantage, which hurts Diablo Immortal's late-game PvP modes. When player concerns about pay-to-win monetization schemes were brought up to Navrez, he reiterated his previous point by focusing on the intention--to make the game as fair as possible.
One element of The Division Resurgence that neither The Division 1 nor its sequel had to contend with was the prospect of making a game about a pandemic during a pandemic. The Division 1 is about New York City responding to a smallpox-like virus called The Green Poison that rips through the city. That game released in 2016. The Division 2 continues the story of the first game and explores how The Green Poison affected other parts of the United States. That game released in March of 2019. The Division Resurgence began development in 2018 and will be entering a closed alpha (which you can sign up for here) soon, which means the bulk of its development happened and continues while the world still deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The universe of The Division is fiction, Navrez is quick to remind, and was created in a pre-pandmic era, but there is no denying the resonance of the story in the face of current world events. "I think that the key for us here is that we embrace what we've built," Navrez said, in regards to the world established by the first two games.
The gap between mobile games and console and PC games is getting smaller and smaller. The Division Resurgence is, optimistically, proof that third-person shooters can fit on a different type of platform. There are still questions lingering about Resurgence, primarily how the game will be monetized and if it will be in a way that negatively affects the experience, but our early look leaves us hopeful that it will be a worthwhile experience, especially for fans of The Division.
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