The Division Heartland: What we now know about Ubisoft’s free-to-play game

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Last week, Ubisoft revealed some ambitious plans to expand its hit franchise, Tom Clancy’s The Division. Included in these plans is a new free-to-play game called The Division Heartland, which is said to offer “a new perspective of the universe in a new setting.”

Not much else was revealed by Ubisoft other than the game will be free and is slated to release in 2021-22 on PC, consoles and cloud gaming services.

But based on Ubisoft’s vaguely cryptic description, I predicted The Division Heartland would be some sort of survival game, or possibly even a battle royale game. Turns out, I was somewhat right.

A developer briefing that was part of a closed test for The Division Heartland leaked online and offered a more descriptive explanation of what the game actually is.

According to the leak, The Division Heartland will take players from the big cities of New York and Washington D.C. to a small town in middle America called Silver Creek. We don’t know much about Silver Creek but apparently, we’ll learn about this small town throughout the game’s two modes.

That’s right, The Division Heartland will feature two game modes. Expedition is a co-op PvE mode that will teach players more about the mystery of Silver Creek while also preparing players for the other game mode, Storm.

Storm is a 45-player PvEvP mode that basically sounds like the Dark Zone mixed with battle royale.

It sounds like The Division Heartland will have more survival aspects to its gameplay than the standard games in the franchise. Both modes will have you “scavenging, exploring, looting, fighting and surviving all while avoiding the most aggressive and unpredictable virus contamination The Division has ever seen.”

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Leaked gameplay seemed to show that instead of a giant circle that slowly closes in on players, as seen in most battle royale games, Storm will have random pockets of contamination. I can only assume that these pockets will expand as the match progresses, slowly forcing players into smaller areas.

The fact that Storm is referred to as PvEvP and not PvPvE could suggest the emphasis could still be on fighting NPCs. The Division’s Dark Zone is a similar experience where you can hunt down NPC enemies and try to extract powerful loot. But unlike the Dark Zone, where the threat of other players is optional based on how aggressive other players want to be, it seems like PvP in The Division Heartland will be mandatory.