The Division has become one of the flagship franchises in Ubisoft since its genesis in 2016, having been consistently supported by the studio: we were entitled to expansions, DLC and even a sequel, The Division 2released in 2019. Now, it’s time for the saga to make its debut on the mobile market through The Division Resurgence, a free-to-play third-person shooter that takes you to the streets of Manhattan ravaged by an epidemic.
This jump to mobile is undoubtedly a simultaneously smart and risky by Ubisoft; on the one hand, we are talking about a hypothetical gigantic player base, since a smartphone has become an everyday device that we all carry with us at practically any time; on the other hand, we are talking about a very saturated market, with thousands of games available and many of them already well established in society, so diverting players’ attention will not be an easy task.
I’ve had the opportunity to experience The Division Resurgence over the last few days and, throughout this article, I’m going to share my impressions about the new game in the saga. However, it is worth noting two important points: despite knowing perfectly the previous games in the franchise, I never played them; and not just the biggest fan of mobile games, especially when I have to use touch controls (although the game is controller compatible).
The Division gameplay in condensed form
Well, The Division Resurgence puts Manhattan in the palm of your hand as you defend the city from the post-apocalyptic chaos that ensued after the “Dollar Flu”. The scale of the map is undoubtedly impressive, with the city faithfully recreated in Unreal Engine 4, and you can traverse it from one end to the other with virtually no hindrance. The main world can get a little boring – the streets are barely distinguishable from one another at times – but luckily the missions introduce a wider variety of settings that include rooftops, shops, underground facilities and even a visit to the Statue of Freedom. Of course, its graphics don’t reach the proportions of the other games in the franchise (they are reminiscent of the PS3 era, I would say) but I was frankly surprised with what the studio managed to create.
In fact, Ubisoft has completely condensed the The Division experience so that it can run on mobile devices. We continue to have frantic third-person action that you might remember from the main games, and on a truly mind-boggling scale. The game has its own story with cutscenes, day and night system, multiple modes, customization, crafting, bosses, various challenges, dynamic weather, among a number of other additions that distance it from a mere cashgrab. I admit that the gameplay became a little tedious over time (hide, shoot, run, repeat) but this is also the basis of the other games.
Lots to do, but best accompanied
The game’s first mission is introductory and serves as a tutorial; once you get to the open world, you can do main quests, side quests, participate in events or PvP. You have two weapons at your disposal and special abilities, with each mission bringing you experience and giving you more opportunities to improve your character. It’s imperative to stay on top of your character at all times, upgrading your weapons and equipment whenever possible. There are even countless tasks in the game, and sometimes, as you’re following the tracker to your next mission, you might come across another completely unexpectedly (like a rescue situation). These are small moments that make the game world more cohesive!
Of course, all this is more fun when you play with other people. Resurgence has online, of course, but I mostly played it solo as there weren’t enough players to create a team. Ubisoft provided a method to join other people using Discord, but it was too archaic. I really wish I had experienced The Division Resurgence’s multiplayer for longer, and I’m a firm believer that the game is not meant to be played solo.
Overall, Ubisoft has been successful
Being a free-to-play, it is obvious that there are microtransactions and all those things that we are already used to in games of this type: login bonus, battle pass, monthly card, cosmetics for sale, among others. Many may turn their noses at these words but I didn’t find the monetization to be very intrusive, there’s always something new to do or challenge to complete that didn’t force me to spend real money.
Taking into account all the weaknesses of smartphones, Ubisoft was essentially successful with The Division Resurgence. The game runs at a practically fixed 30fps and I only detected a few intrusive pop-ins here and there. The base has been built and everything now depends on public support. We’ll see if Ubisoft will be able to attract players in order to keep the game running for a long time, otherwise its future will be dismal.