Ubisoft has done it again. At last year's E3 videogames trade show, Watch Dogs was the game that everybody was talking about. And while there is still sufficient excitement on that title, which will continue up to its release, this year's E3 chatter has been dominated by another game from the publisher: Tom Clancy's The Division.
Not only is The Division a next-generation-only title, for both Xbox One and PS4, but it includes a second-screen experience that is bigger, better and far more enticing that we've ever seen before.
The plot is interesting, if a little clichéd. A lethal pandemic has hit New York City, with a mutated virus being spread rapidly throughout the area, transmitted on the surface of bank notes during the Black Friday sales. Three weeks after it started, civilisation in the region has collapsed, with lawlessness and chaos ruling the streets. The president, therefore, has sent in the Division, a covert, undercover unit which specialises in threat removal. And so it starts.
What makes the next-gen game initially intriguing is that it is open world (one of the underlying themes of E3 2013), with missions popping up throughout the region that can be tackled in any order, and that, while there is plenty of gunplay and multiple skirmishes, it is an RPG. Think Mass Effect 2 or 3 in a near future scenario. And with hoodies.
This adds important gameplay elements and a feeling of progression, although the live demo that Pocket-lint was treated to didn't really touch on that side of the game. Instead, we saw a lot of ducking and cover, shooting and freeing of policemen in a terrifyingly run-down station. We also saw the companion app. Oh yes.
It is perhaps this latter element that has got tongues wagging about The Division more than most other games at this year's E3. Yes, there are plenty of games with second-screen experiences out there - not least on Ubisoft's stand, as every one of its line-up seems to make use of dedicated Android and iOS applications for additional gameplay segments. However, few give such interaction that it allows a tablet user to be another player in a miltuiplayer set-up in such an intuitive way.
The tablet app syncs with the next-gen full game, and offers a separate player the chance to join in the fun as a drone. They can target enemies for the other players on the ground, fire missiles and generally command proceedings. But the best part is that the graphics are still amazing - shown isometrically, but rendered with the same design ethic as the main game.
And everything that happens in the main game, happens simultaneously on the app. You see gunfire, players running about below and everything. It is, even from a 20-minute demo, awesome.
Coming in 2014, Tom Clancy's The Division is our pick of the E3 2013 bunch. And it is in such acclaimed company this year, that's no mean feat.