In a recent video from Youtuber Arrekz, we got to see more gameplay of the new addition to Ubisofts Tom Clancy’s franchise with The Division. This game apparently takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where survivors are all players and sort of play The Last of Us but in a multiplayer format. Whilst the game it self looks interesting the big topic of discussion today is the Map the open-world game takes place in.
The general consensus is that the map is quite small compared to other titles made by Ubisoft, for instance the Assassin’s creed series which in Black Flag you had the whole Mediterranean to explore as well as in Watch Dogs you had a giant city to mess around with. The Division has also been compared to GTA V for map size, seeing that they are roughly the same. However, does the size of the map actually matter that much? its the age old question of quality or quantity.
Lets go back a bit and see when really this craze of map size actually came about. The practical use of making the map bigger was used as a unique selling point for sequels of big titles, sort of matching with the though of ‘the bigger the better’, it can be dated all the way from Pacman with its sequels constantly trying to work on making it fresh. However, the need for a big map really came into play with the birth of open world RPG games because it expanded on the world that the player can immerse themselves in. Think about it, you are exploring the lands of a mythic place, connecting with your characters emotions then bam, you hit an invisible wall or a message saying to turn back. It doesn’t help the company.
On the other hand, when do you know to stop? sure, you can make it keep going and going with random generation but then that breaks the experience for players knowing that the game doesn’t even know that they will walk into and the user starts to break this immersion and realises its just walking around in a load of scripts and algorithms. You also have the case of being too big meaning you have to walk for hours to reach that sweet loot on the other side of the map. You could argue that’s part of the fun for games like Fallout and Skyrim but then after the walk, you find yourself just fast travelling there anyway so what’s the point?
The perfect recipe for a map? there isn’t one, because games have constant variations in environments means you can never be too sure how well you have done it and normally cant base it off another game. In addition, the only way you know when you have done a good job is when the community doesn’t bring it up and it sucks that you put so much thought into it to not be even considered. In a ideal world, its quality in a vast land but since we have to be realistic, I think The Division have it pretty spot on.
You see The Division is selling that its set in a devastated New York City, and that means they already have a boundary sorted out for them. Basing your game in a place people can recognise means that they cant really argue map size because it already being a thing! Sure, it might miss out a few provinces here and there (sorry Brooklyn) but in the end, you aren’t playing The Division to see how your apartment looks after a germ pandemic.
To wrap up, map size doesn’t matter, as much as the publishers want you to believe so you can buy another sequel, it doesn’t. What does matter is in the map to explore and find by yourself. A recent example of this is Just Cause 3 which brought a giant world for players to destroy stuff in, but if you go into a town and just watch you see the emptiness of personality through out the streets as well as glitchy AI where a old lady looks at you and immediately runs into a wall, take this video for example.
Hopefully The Division will now put extra effort in the map knowing that people will be paying close attention to the content. I hope its good anyway, they got siege right at least.
Clean your bank notes,