The Division is a third person shooter taking place in an empty New York city. Case closed, right? Not so fast. Some folks might claim that shooters don’t need a story because when you’re in the thick of things and putting bullets in faces, the last thing anyone wants to think about is “how does this tie in with the greater narrative?”
That might be true for most lobby shooters, but for the rest of us, the reason why we’re being asked to usher bad guys to their Final Rest is important, and more so if the reason is “ripped from the headlines”…like The Division.
There was an actual exercise called “Dark Winter” which simulated a biological attack on the U.S. and which thoughtfully showed everyone that we’d be majorly fucked should there be a serious biological threat. As a result, the government created Directive 51 which outlines steps that would be taken in the event of a massive catastrophe. So in The Division, the agents are part of the result of Directive 51.
If that’s not enough, you can order Tom Clancy’s The Division: New York Collapse before the infrastructure breaks down and you can’t get UPS to show up at your house any longer. This companion book has multiple layers that adds to the lore of The Division.
On one level, it’s a “prepper” guide to how to survive in the event of societal breakdown, specifically if you live in New York City. One another level, it’s presented as a multi-person journal. The book has changed hands several times after the “Dollar Bug” hit, and each owner has left his or her own thoughts and experiences in the margin, commenting on the text of the book as well as recounting the things that have happened to them in the city. The book also includes “slice of life” items like a map of the city, an official looking CERA flier urging people to “shelter in place”, and other elements that look frighteningly real.
Speaking of frightening, the notes added to the base book seem to either be really paranoid…or on to some kind of greater conspiracy. It’s not giving anything away to say that the “Dollar Bug” was a smallpox variant that spread through the exchange of money on Black Friday. Someone had to have engineered that biological weapon, and while you’re running around New York City in the game, you aren’t really thinking about that angle. New York Collapse is, however, and there are passages and oddities that the notes in the margins call attention to that seem to lead towards ideas on the disaster having been engineered on a much larger, longer term, more sinister scale…and that people might have known this would happen. Powerful and influential people. Seeing as how this is a Tom Clancy product, that makes a hell of a lot of sense.
I’m not sure if the book adds anything besides back-story to the game. It’s rife with narrative allusions to puzzles on an Illuminati-level, and some fairly obvious cryptographic ciphers. Did the author of this specific book have inside knowledge of the pending Dollar Bug epidemic? Is this book the author’s attempt to warn people before it was too late? And what does book owner April Kelleher’s husband Bill, a biotech researcher, have to do with it?