Fresh snippets from The Division showcased in Ubisoft’s jaw-dropping Snowdrop Engine trailer

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Ubisoft and developer Massive have been very careful about when and where to break the silence surrounding The Division, the pair’s shared-world shooter that is ostensibly due for release in 2014 on new generation consoles. The last time we heard anything concrete about the game was earlier this month with a set of new screenshots, but before that was back in January (with more screenshots). Even further back? Early December last year with a debut technology trailer.

Other than the action adventure game’s focus on bringing small factions of players together into one cohesive online world, the current chatter attached to The Division seems to be that it’s a ‘true next-gen game,’ being developed exclusively for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to take full advantage of the new hardware, so how is that working out for the development team?

Very, very well, by the looks of a brand new technology demonstration video, which features fresh looks at The Division as developers at Massive talk about the revolutionary Snowdrop Engine powering the game. It all looks jaw-droppingly good:

The Division – Snowdrop Engine Showcase Trailer

Ubisoft was also good enough to release a full interview with the tech team behind the Snowdrop engine to talk about why the technology is so special, while clarifying what won’t be in The Division based on the demo:

Q: Could you explain the philosophy behind Snowdrop?

A: Snowdrop was created in-house, at Massive, in response to a specific requirement: to do things better, not bigger.

AAA game development projects are growing in scope exponentially, so we wanted to be smart and not rely on brute force. We needed an engine that would support how we work in the studio, promote creativity, and allow the freedom to experiment and prototype.

The result of this thinking was the creation of an incredibly powerful engine that truly empowers the content creators, and gives them as much control and freedom as possible to innovate and create amazing games.


Q: What are the benefits of using Snowdrop as a tool, for a development team?

A: At its core, the Snowdrop engine is a node-based system, which is the beating heart of the engine. It affects all the systems of the engine, from rendering, to AI, to mission scripting and the UI.

Snowdrop is a dynamic, interconnected and flexible system where developers can create their assets quickly and interact with them in ways that have never been done before. The game and the editor are unified, and everything in the engine runs in real time, which means that the ongoing project is always playable. This is extremely useful and allows for the implementation of new ideas and creations instantly; providing the ability to check the consistency of the game world at any time.

The engine is extremely easy to set up and use, and gives the content creators the time and freedom to explore different directions. Working with the engine is like solving a puzzle, because it’s just a matter of how you combine different components together. It can also be compared to building blocks where you can quickly test an element and see what the impact is; allowing for innovation which may culminate into unexpected results that make the game stronger.


Q: How is Snowdrop helping your team day to day, what new things does it enable content creators to achieve?

A: Thanks to the tools provided by Snowdrop, we can create more with less. The engine enables procedural creation of environments: with a limited amount of blocks, we can create huge and detailed worlds. We are also able to reach an unprecedented level of lighting fidelity with real time global illumination.

Thanks to the power of our technology, we have empowered our artists and thus can reach levels of quality never before seen in video games. With the usability of the tools, people really excel in what they create. This has resulted in amazing graphics, as well as unexpected new features and unique innovations that really push the engine, the power of the consoles, and the games we work on, forward.


Q: Are there going to be forests, flies and turrets in Tom Clancy’s The Division, like we see in the Snowdrop video?

A: The forest shots, turrets and giant flies that you saw in the trailer are not part of The Division. This video is a technical demonstration, to display Snowdrop’s full capacities as a new generation engine. Snowdrop is capable of creating a large range of varied universes, procedurally, and in an unprecedented level of detail.

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