Washington DC, the Big Apple! As far as cities go in video games, the isle of Manhattan may just be the most overused slice of American real estate around, a collection of tourist-trap icons that we’ve seen done over and over again in plenty of games already. That being said, the recreation of that city in The Division was still a fascinating one, a replica that made good use of its claustrophobic design and decorated it with an end of the world scenario that made for a stunning environment to explore.
For The Division 2, Ubisoft’s development team Massive is shifting states and taking its new American civil war to the political heart of that nation: Washington DC. There’s something infinitely more interesting about exploring the capitol, from its many landmarks to its more open design that makes for a fresher map. “We have a proper footprint to work with to begin with,” lead environmental artist Chad Chatterton said to GamesRadar.
There’s an amazing amount of publicly available information, right down to the placement and age and type of every tree in DC. The way we build up an environment is to first create DC as you see it today. On top of that, we start to think about the chronology of what’s happened in-game. Who’s been here? What have they done? Maybe the Joint Task Force has setup an evacuation route here, but they’ve abandoned it, so you see evidence of that. Perhaps you’d see looters come through, so you’d see evidence of that.
What’s really fascinating, is that The Division 2 doesn’t just use Washington DC as a change in environment clothes. It’s also an authentic look at what would happen to the city of a nation-wide pandemic actually reached it and the rule of law broke down as Washington has been recreated with a stunning level of accuracy in The Division 2. “With the buildings themselves we’ve done our best to emulate what’s actually there, but really what we want to do is get the same look and feel even if they aren’t identical,” Chatterton said.
It’s one thing leading to another, all logically building up stories. It’s all these little stories that connect together and make up the whole world, and the look and feel of this transformed DC.
Ubisoft has a reputation for being historically accurate within their Assassin’s Creed games, but I kind of like the idea of Massive putting in the effort with The Division 2 to create something that is an accurate simulation of what could be. It’s haunting stuff, with the recent beta for The Division 2 painting a bleak picture of shanty towns, lawlessness and dwindling supplies in the face of a breakdown of American society.
It’s something that I hope will stay in the realm of video games, because if The Division 2 is any indicator, there’s going to be a hell of a fight waiting for anyone looking to survive in that brave new frontier.
Last Updated: March 6, 2019