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Tom Clancy's The Division: impressions from the PC build

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The Division - Alt 4K


Last week, Chris posted his impressions from the Xbox One build of The Division. I, meanwhile, got to spend around four hours tinkering with the PC build—some of that time on a nifty three monitor set-up that Ubisoft had constructed to show off The Division’s PC specific features.


In terms of the game itself, I share some of Chris’s concerns. Whenever anyone on the trip asked what I thought of the game, I’d make a sort of wavering noise and say, “it seems… interesting.” What Ubisoft Massive is doing does seem interesting, and The Division was certainly entertaining in the context of an open-world co-op shooter. But I have questions about the execution that likely won’t be answered until the game is released.


I’m far more confident about the state of the PC version—although that confidence comes with the caveat that what I saw was in a controlled environment using Ubisoft’s own machines. For Ubisoft Massive and co-PC developer Red Storm, a good PC release appears to be a matter of pride. “Massive and Red Storm have roots in PC development,” says Magnus Jansen, creative director of The Division. “Some of us are PC gamers, so it’s just very natural for us to give love to the PC version.”


I’ll run over some of the PC specific features later in the post. First, here are the official system requirements:


Minimum Requirements

  • Supported OS: Windows® 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only).
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2400 | AMD FX-6100, or better.
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 with 2 GB VRAM (current equivalent NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760) | AMD Radeon HD 7770 with 2 GB VRAM, or better.
  • Notebook support: Laptop models of these desktop cards may work as long as they are on-par in terms of performance with at least the minimum configuration.
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Hard Drive Space: 40 GB available space.
  • Optical Drive: DVD-ROM Dual Layer.
  • Peripherals Supported: Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, headset, optional controller.
  • Multiplayer: Broadband connection with 256 kbps upstream, or faster.


Recommended Requirements

  • Supported OS: Windows® 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 | AMD FX-8350, or better.
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 | AMD Radeon R9 290, or better.
  • Notebook support: Laptop models of these desktop cards may work as long as they are on-par in terms of performance with at least the minimum configuration.
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Hard Drive Space: 40 GB available space.
  • Optical Drive: DVD-ROM Dual Layer.
  • Peripherals Supported: Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, headset, optional controller.
  • Multiplayer: Broadband connection with 512 kbps upstream, or faster.

Today, Ubisoft has released a run-down of The Division’s PC-specific features. It’s an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink list, containing some genuinely nice, novel features alongside stuff that you’d expect from even the most basic of ports:

  • Flexible user interface: move, scale and adjust the opacity of the HUD.
  • Intuitive controls: navigate easily through the interface, inventory panels and map designed specifically to be used with a mouse or a controller.
  • Full mouse & keyboard support: opt for the high precision mouse and keyboard experience and switch to a controller in the middle of any encounter without interruption.
  • Text chat: team up with more agents of The Division by using the in-game text chat.
  • Optimized graphic settings & customised GPU effects: adjust a vast variety of technology treats, from realistic lighting, shading, snow particles, local reflection, fog volumetric scattering, depth of field and much more…
  • Multi-GPU support: unleash the graphic power of the best computer set ups for jaw-dropping graphics powered by Massive Entertainment’s game engine Snowdrop.
  • Multi-screen support: play with up to three screens for the most immersive and stunning experience of The Division.
  • Multi-resolutions: opt for 1080p or 4k and automatically adapt the resolution to fit multi-screen configurations with FOV correction.
  • Unlocked framerate: let the most powerful computer reach the highest framerate.
  • HBA0+: enjoy the most realistic shadowing, lighting algorithm and ambient occlusion.

The first thing to say is that yes, The Division is a good looking game. I’ve not seen the console version in action, but the PC build is crisp and rich with detail. More than that, though, what makes The Division an impressive PC release is the wealth of customisation. As hinted above, there’s a wealth of graphics options available to tweak and configure, from the usual texture and shadow settings to more specific tweaks. Don’t like chromatic aberration? You can turn it off.

The UI is also completely customisable, letting you resize and reposition every part of the on-screen HUD. “Not only can you do that,” says Jansen, “but, if you have multiple monitors, you can decide to have all of [the UI elements] on one monitor. Especially if you’re running a triple-monitor setup it’s nice. Even if you don’t—if you have a separate monitor where you put up all your stuff, and then [the primary monitor] is completely clean. Being able to change that and change the size is not something you see, and it’s very, very cool. It’s one of the things we’re extra proud of for the PC version.”

It also feels right. The default keyboard configuration is sensible and intuitive, and the menus properly support mouse—to the point that you can equip gear by dragging and dropping pieces from your inventory onto the character model. In all, it’s extremely promising. More and more, big publishers are letting development studios push the power available on the PC. The Division could well be that rarest of things: a proper PC version of a Ubisoft game. Now we just have to hope that the game is as worthy of attention as the options and settings underlying it.

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