The Division has always been a strong series, focusing on a mix of looting and shooting with a large world to explore, ravaged by a pandemic and various factions taking over the streets. It’s a big, bold open-world game with lots to do; so colour us interested when The Division Resurgence was revealed, looking to take the series to mobile phones for the first time.
Mobile might not be the platform you’d expect to work with a game like this, and Ubisoft is banking on this delivering a “AAA” experience in the palm of your hand. We’ve spent some time playing The Division Resurgence over the past week, and from what we’ve seen so far, they actually might have managed to pull it off, which is impressive to say the least.
As a fan of the franchise, I was immediately on board when I first loaded in, with a quick recap of what’s been happening in this broken city. The Division Resurgence is set to fill some of the narrative blanks left by the first two games, with different characters and stories. The story itself still makes for an intriguing setup, even if “world destroyed by pandemic” might be a little too close to home nowadays.
Still, the cover-based shooting gameplay that fuels the hearts of Division fans is as solid here as ever; the touch screen controls aren’t too fiddly as you move from cover to cover, taking pot-shots at enemies and seeing that sweet loot hit the pavement, waiting for your collection. I tested out the game with the Backbone controller as well, which naturally felt better, but the touch controls were simple enough to make sense and translated the moment-to-moment action well onto my iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The left side of the screen is for movement, while the right side has button prompts for taking cover, aiming with a fun using a secondary joystick, and then firing with another button on the opposite side of the screen. There are some smart quality of life touches, for example, simply aiming at another piece of cover and tapping a button allows you to run to it quickly. While controller is my preferred choice, you won’t feel like you’re necessarily missing out without one.
In terms of graphics, The Division Resurgence really does look the business. It uses Unreal Engine 4, and is easily the best looking mobile game I’ve played. There’s a lot of detail in the environments, enemies and items have clarity, and it genuinely does feel like they’ve used wizardry to translate this beautiful console experience to mobile devices without losing the visual cues that make it tick.
The New York setting will be familiar to anybody who has played The Division before, and so far it is well represented in this version. There’s even the ability to take part in cooperative and competitive modes like the Dark Zone, a staple of the series. Resurgence feels like a good entry-point into the world of The Division; I think players who have a lot of experience in this universe may tire of hitting the same beats they’re very much used to after two fully-fledged campaigns, taking down enemies, acquiring loot and progressing the missions; but for newcomers, it’s a brilliant introduction to one of my favourite settings.
Of course, one of the largest barriers to entry with any game creating a mobile version is the fact that, for many, mobile gaming is not a high priority when it comes to playing “serious” video games. The Division Resurgence has a challenge here, in that the series is known for its console and PC versions, where they already have a strong fanbase. Will those same fans be willing to give the mobile version a shot? I hope they do; as a fan myself, I find myself drawn to the mobile version in my downtime or on my commute, familiar like a cozy blanket.
The Division Resurgence is entering into a Closed Alpha that you can be a part of by registering here, with the game expected to launch fully later this year for iOS and Android.