I had to take a break from playing The Division to write this article while my thoughts, and game play experience where still fresh enough for me to convey the sense of entertainment, appreciation, and wonderment of UBISOFT latest open world title. This weekend for me started on Thursday with the open beta. Playing with a friend who was in the closed beta gave me a bit of a good presser as I was already knee deep in my levels before we linked up to play. The amount of work that Massive the developer house at Ubisoft that made the game is staggering. In scale it is similar to, but not quite as close to what Rockstar does with the Grand Theft Auto Series. From being able to run through train stations, climb up buildings, be a creep going through someone’s apartment. The amount of detail along with exploration is staggering. During my play session on Friday, it dawned on me while in a group in the Dark Zone; that Ubisoft The Division deserved a sequel. How would you build it was my first question. Mainly because you could see the limitations of the game even though it was just a beta. Then it hit me. Cloud…That’s right. The Division is the perfect game that could not only be great for the ambitions of what Cloud gaming is alluding to be. The premise of the title fits into a technical dynamic of what Cloud can be perfectly.
Crackdown 3 being built on Microsofts cloud is said to be the perfect example of what can be done. Aptly named Cloudgine the company, and technology are helping RealTime Worlds David Jones create Crackdown 3’s fun but absurd game play. It is a virtual play ground for pushing extreme game play in a world that is meant to be exaggerated. David Jones who is also the creator of Grand Theft Auto series is a perfect fit. I make no bones that this will be a wonderful title to witness using new technology. Sure, you can blow buildings up, have a tremendous amount of scenery, and interaction with other players in an expansive environment. The Division may perhaps be better candidate for such a showcase.
There is a sense of desperation in the face of destruction when you play The Division. You feel that getting from one area of the map to the next is a necessary thing. At the same time exploring, while making everything you do count is short lived. That mainly has to do with the ability or lack thereof to affect your environment. This is where using Cloud technology could be a huge technical benefit for Ubisoft’s new franchise. It’s a persistent online title, that demands community, constant access online, and dynamic elements, but there is very little novelty outside of some cosmetic elements in the game now. So imagine if every player could lockdown their own safe house? Creating booby traps of area with other players to create their own communities, and either work to keep them safe, and growing; or to topple them down. You could appoint NPC’s to position of power where they could negotiate for players, appoint them to positions of limited government meant to bring the city together as you and other players take back New York. This opens up the potential of the game to be a true RPG that is layered beyond just combat. Forcing the conversation about how do you re-establish a society after a massive catastrophe. This gives more purpose to The Division universe rather than what it currently is; which is just an aggressive military loot approach.
Cloud technology could really expand the global threat narrative The Division is offering up players to save. Allowing for more travel, dynamic environment changes that coincide with your positive or negative actions in the world combating the virus, politics, and finding the solutions to the threat. You could also expand the region from New York City to perhaps half of the east coast. Creating an experience that is persistent similar to an MMO experience. Cloud technology opens the door to a fully realized destructible world starting just with the events you are playing in New York City. Giving players better understanding of the power that the devastating upgrade-able weapons at your disposal your character looting really offer you. Grand Theft Auto V does this very well in scale. The Division’s sequel in the cloud could be made even more sensational. You could actually go up to the top of sky scrappers, run through them eliminate enemies lock them down by saving people establishing a building zone. Get parts of the city fully operational including much more dynamic weather where we see changes reflect the behavior of players. Making the gear you get that much more relevant to the experience.Since the point of The Division is about restoring society by any means necessary an environment interaction does not have to be about just blowing up buildings. It could be more of a chess game in terms of destruction versus protection. So among the the tasks of game play missions can be expanded in both single player, and multiplayer ultimately serving the story of the universe that The Division is developing in a way that gives players control of the destiny to the game. This is something, that again you see with Grand Theft Auto 5; where players are doing all kinds of stunts, and just creating experiences within the confines of the title. Rockstar gave gamers enough to play with to define the game world. A Division sequel built on the cloud would be phenomenal for a path that is similar to GTA 5.
See, Massive would in a sequel be able to push their “SnowEngine” platform to make a new Division title even more gorgeous. By the time a sequel hits gamer hands Cloud gaming technology will have made some strides that hopefully are beneficial in a way that expand it’s capabilities. From a technical stand point things such as AI, connectivity, asset allocation, player interaction accessibility, and performance will be more understood. Not to mention since Ubisoft and others are looking at their games as long term services. Development teams can really build out a trajectory for the title that is accessible to novice players, and experienced ones that highlights the experience of playing. Not so much focusing on how far gamers are into their characters, and progression. This would be a perfect way for all gamers across platforms to play the game in a way that is unlike anything we have seen before.
Ubisoft and Microsoft working in tandem to build a technology that gamers won’t have to worry works on their respective platform methodology. This opens the door for VR and AR to emerge at some point that don’t have to be tacked on or backed in, but rather built on expanding the way The Division gets played. The ability offer a fresh approach to the game with cloud technology can finally get over the MMO hump of a title growing long in the tooth with the same ole expansion cycle. At this point for either party to create some kind of exclusive is possible, but I doubt that either company would want to alienate sales. Especially Ubisoft. What could happen is that Microsoft could work on an aspect of the title that uses Cloud engine tech that the PS4 wouldn’t be able to use creating a significant non-exclusive incentive for gamers on the platform. At the same time VR could be a huge benefit for PS4 gamers because the title would allow gamers to play The Division they way they want without losing anything technical. I doubt that this would hurt sales because the technology is being leveraged on the Xbox One instead of excluding the sequel experience on the PS4. The fact of that matter would be to expand the game without restricting gamers in how they could play The Division. Cloud gaming would do so much more to the title that actually screams the need for expansion in all areas to fully make it the game it can be greatly.
Graphically the game could level up to a new place, and even surpass what was originally sold to gamers. Not to mention physics, collision, destruction, and A.I. capabilities would be expanded. The Division could be the first title that has all the elements that make Cloud gaming make sense in a way where what we are playing has some meaning in narrative. Massive in fact could take this opportunity to fine tune their ideas and gameplay with an eager audience that is ready to spend a ton of time playing The Division. Cloud tech use could be a reason for gamers to turn The Division into a game that can last more then ten years. Which would fit the ambition of a publisher like Activision who that had hopes along side Bungie for what Destiny should have become. Cloud technology could make The Division the most envious title from a publisher to emerge since Grand Theft Auto. Cloud technology may just hold the key to making The Division the most played and dynamic game we’ve ever seen.