Ubisoft has announced the next installment in The Division franchise, this time a free-to-play title named The Division Heartland. According to Ubisoft's news blog, the game is set for release in 2021-2022.
The news blog, published by Ubisoft, did not go into too much detail about the game’s setting or gameplay. It called Heartland a “standalone game that doesn’t require previous experience with the series,” but mentioned that the game “will provide an all new perspective on the universe in a new setting.”
The game is being developed by Red Storm Studios and will come out for PC, console and cloud. They have also provided a link for interested players who would like to be involved in testing the game.
The Division Heartland will have lots of survival elements fusing it with the mechanics of prior Division titles
According to a report by VG247, the now-removed footage leaked by a test participant pans out some details about the game.
Although Heartland’s gameplay uses the mechanics of the prior Division titles as foundation, it puts much more emphasis on the survival elements. In the leaked slice of footage, the player can be seen shooting enemies from behind covers and collecting loot after the encounter.
The footage also alludes to something called "filters," which likely help players survive the post-viral apocalypse environment set in the American Midwest. It shows players having to navigate a place called Silver Lake, along with a hub. The hub is quite akin to the social hubs of the prior Division titles where players can meet with other players, talk with NPCs, shop, and do various other things.
Twitter user SkyLeaks also brought forth a leak about Heartland’s game modes. The now-suspended Twitter account uploaded an introductory video by lead game designer Taylor Epperly. The two game modes are a purely PvE co-op mode called Expedition, and 45-player PvEvP mode named Storm.
The Division community were already anticipating a revival of the Survival DLC of The Division 1 in Heartland. Having been released in 2016, the Survival DLC of the first Division game was one of the forerunners in the battle royale genre.
It remains to be seen which direction Red Storm Studio will finally push The Division Heartland into. From leaks and rumors, it seems Heartland will fuse some battle royale mechanics with some survival elements, while retaining the quintessential Division’s third-person gameplay.
Ubisoft is likely to showcase The Division Heartland in its Ubisoft Forward presentation as part of the E3 2021 digital event.