‘No more compromises’ – Ubisoft Massive on making The Division for next gen hardware

We venture to Sweden’s Ubisoft Massive to get the inside story on the making of Tom Clancy’s The Division in the latest issue of Edge magazine, available now in printon iPadAndroid and Zinio. You can also subscribe in print and on iPad.

Here’s an excerpt from our exclusive cover feature, in which we sit down to quiz the game’s director Ryan Barnard about the game – there’s much more detail in the issue available now.

Is the whole world open from the start?

Yes, and I think that’s important in an open-world game. But it’s also an RPG, so there’s a level progression. If you go somewhere right at the start of the game, you’ll most likely die horribly. There will be a progression that you want to follow in some way. I think it’s far more interesting, especially for a group-focused multiplayer game, to have relatively fixed enemy strength. If everything scales with you, it’s all somewhat the same.

The game is class-based but you can switch your character’s skills on the fly. How does that work?

The word we use internally is ‘playstyles’ – we don’t really talk about classes. Really what it comes down to is a role. All we want is for you to feel like you serve a purpose in the group. There are definite skill and talent directions that fit together but none of them are locked in trees. You will be limited by how many you can actually purchase, and how many you can have loaded at any one time, but you can swap them out at any time [out of combat]. Having that trinity of someone who’s doing a lot of damage, someone who can take a lot of damage and someone who can support the group is a very good trinity for RPGs in general, and we want to keep that going. But by not forcing you to pick a class at the start, you get to figure out how you like to play and you don’t have to re-roll.

You’re keeping a lot of things secret. Why?

I think it’s better to give people a premise of the game and then have them discover what it’s actually about when they play. I think that’ll help create community; I think community has gone in online games, it’s dead. All I have to do is use Google or YouTube – there’s no interaction from the players. I personally will want to say as little as possible before the game comes out so people can just play and have a good time and discover it.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of working on a next-gen game like this?

When you start to picture games in your head, you always end up having to make sacrifices when it comes to the end of the project. You have to settle at some point. With what we can do for this coming generation, it just means you have to do less of that. You don’t have to compromise as much on what you do in your head versus what you can actually build.

There’s much more in the new issue, which can be read in printon iPadAndroid and Zinio. Subscribers save money and get their issues before they hit newsstands – you can sign up here.

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