The Division Resurgence preview: On-the-go technical marvel

The Division Resurgence preview: On-the-go technical marvel
Images courtesy of Ubisoft

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

12th Jun 2023 19:00

When you think of AAA franchises making the jump to mobile platforms, The Division is unlikely to be near the top of your list - making The Division Resurgence a surprising release.

That's not a knock against to loot-driven RPG that also happens to be a tactical shooter. In fact, it's the franchise's scope and complexity that feels like it'd be a challenge to port to a device you carry in your pocket.

And yet, after a hands-on opportunity to play The Division Resurgence myself, I'm impressed.

Pure, Undiluted Division

The Division Resurgence screenshot showing the character creator
Click to enlarge

First, it's important to set expectations - this is no watered-down version of the mainline series' cover shooting and RPG setup. The Division Resurgence is an Unreal Engine 4-powered tour de force through an impressively realised New York City.

That's right, we're back in the Big Apple, which feels par for the course for the franchise. Resurgence takes place closer to the initial outbreak of the "Dollar Flu" epidemic than its frighteningly foreshadowing predecessors were, and that means the city is as chaotic as it gets in the game's bombastic opening.

Once you've created your character and got to grips with taking cover and mantling over it, you're thrown into combat with small pockets of enemies as you work toward the New York Stock Exchange.

As a longtime fan of The Division's gameplay, but someone not particularly clued in on the story (at least into the second mainline entry's seasonal updates), I was impressed with Resurgence's commitment to its location.

Whether it's the lanterns hanging in the Chinese restaurant in the opening minutes, or the glint of sniper rifles aiming at you from a distance, much of the detail from the mainline franchise is carried over impressively - even on my iPhone 13 Pro Max which is approaching two years old.

Run and Gun

The Division Resurgence screenshot showing exploration of NYC
Click to enlarge

Of course, just because it looks the part doesn't mean it plays well, but Ubisoft has clearly worked hard to transfer as many of the series's signature elements over to your touchscreen as possible.

Naturally, sliding your digits around a piece of glass will never quite match the feeling of using thumbsticks, but The Division Resurgence feels finely tuned to the point where it's closer than even the impressive Apex Legends Mobile (RIP).

Combat feels lethal, a far cry from the spongy enemies we battled back when the first game launched in 2015, and loot feels distinctive.

Sniping took a few tries to get used to, with your weapon firing as you de-scope, but after a few seconds, I was headshotting enemies almost another postcode away. Water will even run down your scope if you stand too clear to a buster fire hydrant, as below.

The Division Resurgence screenshot showing sniping
Click to enlarge

Grenades return, utilising the same orange outline of the mainline series to assist with placement, and the game features character classes, too. I spent my time with The Division Resurgence running and gunning with a riot shield in the Bulwark class, and had a great time of things, tanking encounters and occasionally popping a medkit.

If you blew it up on a big screen, I'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the core Division series, albeit with a slightly more cluttered UI. This can lead to some awkwardness, like accidentally firing when you want to look around, but these instances were more a personal issue than anything the game's UI didn't signpost clearly.

I was also pleased to see that cover is just the right amount of "sticky" - I didn't feel as though I was battling through 

Long Division

The Division Resurgence screenshot showing combat on a bridge
Click to enlarge

The challenge for The Division Resurgence, then, will be finding an audience that wants an AAA-level experience such as this on the go. I wasn't able to test co-op, but if you have a buddy or two to liberate NYC with, it's likely to capture your attention longer.

With The Division Heartland offering a free-to-play entry point for console and PC players, will enough players flock to Resurgence? It'll certainly be interesting to see, as will the game's monetisation practices.

Final Thoughts

The Division Resurgence is an impressive outing for a franchise that feels the furthest thing from needing a mobile port.

It feels like a true technical feat, and I'm excited to play more. I just hope it has legs.

Previewed on iOS.

Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.