The Washington DC setting of The Division 2 marks a significant departure from the setting of the first game, which almost exclusively took place in the tight streets and laneways between New York’s skyscrapers and high-rise apartments. The varied environments of DC offer new gameplay beats to returning players, which the team at Massive Entertainment are very excited for us all to experience.
Other cities were considered. Seattle and New Orleans were put forward as potential contenders, but DC’s variety of environments – from suburbs to wide-open spaces – in addition to its obvious geopolitical significance, seemed best suited for the follow up to the 2016 action-RPG. It won’t be the city everyone knows, however, but Massive’s own vision of a city in chaos. Nature is reclaiming urbanised environments and rubbish litters the streets. The city will itself be a character in the story, and exploring it will be an emotional journey.
Massive has worked tirelessly to accurately recreate DC and capture what life might be like with the city in disarray seven months after the pandemic. Members of their team traveled to the U.S. capital countless times to photograph, record and map the city. Snowdrop – the engine that was in its infancy during the time of the Division’s production – is now much more refined and offers the developer’s great power in translating geo-data into virtual environments. Audio engineers also recorded sound within the city, eliminating the sounds of traffic and emphasising the wildlife and nature sounds to create the soundscape of a collapsed society.
The game will feature six key environments: suburban, natural, residential, commercial and governmental areas, and the historic section. Recognisable landmarks, such as the Washington Mall and the Lincoln Memorial are of course included, with the White House playing a big role in the game. In an effort to keep the game as authentic as possible, part of the team from Massive went hunting in DC’s surrounds, explored the forest with special forces operatives. ventured underground to view art installations reclaiming the city’s overlooked spaces, and even visited the Oval Office.
Unsurprisingly, the new environments demand new approaches to gameplay. In New York, the abandoned vehicles and buildings provided ample cover – or safety as the team at Massive consider it – but the open spaces of DC, where the cover is sparse, ask the player to be more creative and strategic in a fire-fight.
Players will be able to experience Washington DC for themselves in The Division 2 when it releases 8th March 2019.