Tom Clancy's The Division, the open world third-person shooter from Swedish studio Ubisoft Massive, turned heads at E3 2013, due in part to its impressive visual fidelity. With the emphasis on cross-platform games from most multiformat outfits, the developer's impressive interpretation of a pandemic stricken New York stood out. Boasting visuals far beyond anything that the PlayStation 4 has played host to even a year into its lifespan, expectations are high for the apocalyptic game. However, it's the setting itself that caught our attention — and played a big part in our interrogation of senior brand art director Rodrigo Cortes.
Firstly, we wanted to know the draw of ol' New York, New York. "We have this question many times," he chuckled. "There are a lot of people saying that this is a cliche to use a city like New York; it's been in all of the disaster movies, whenever something goes bad it's always in New York — but there's a reason for that." Cortes explained that the famous American city can be identified with a single photograph, but you need to see landmarks to recognise others. It's this familiarity that provides the perfect backdrop for the developer's pandemic scenario. "When you see, for example, Time's Square, and you see all of those billboards shut down, you know directly that something is wrong," he continued. "So, the reason that we chose [New York]xs is because you can see the effects."
It's perfect that the virus should spread while people are swarming on things — almost like a virus themselves
Of course, the Christmas theme is also pivotal to the game's dreary tone, which was deliberately selected for the artistic contrast that it creates. "There are a lot of Christmas lights and they're [set against] contagion signs and quarantine zones next to all of those cool things [which is] perfect for showing our scenario." But we wanted to know if there's a wider commentary connected to the Black Friday setting, which is when the city is plunged into chaos. Fortunately for us, Cortes saved our blushes by confirming that we're not reading too deeply into the scenario at all.
"No, you're not," he affirmed. "The whole concept is that we build these societies that are completely connected. You are 100 per cent dependent on electricity, and the Internet; I can't do anything without my phone these days. And we're getting used to that. At the same time, we have the consumerism — you're happy when you have things. That's where also the choice of Black Friday comes in: the connection to the virus is that it's perfect [that it should spread] while people are swarming on things — almost acting as a virus themselves. That's when people are most vulnerable."
It's an interesting comment, and it suggests that there may be a little more to the Tom Clancy tie-in than immediately meets the eye. We'll have more on the release over the coming days, but do let us know what you think about this statement on consumerism in the comments section below.