The March 8 launch of The Division will be accompanied by the simultaneous release of The Division: New York Collapse, a “meta-novel” survival guide written (in the game's fiction) before the fall of New York City. But it's not just a survival guide. The real juice lies in the “handwritten notes” added to the book by its previous owner, who was apparently in hot pursuit of the forces behind the collapse before she fell victim to misfortune. Now the book, and the mystery, have ended up in your hands.
New York Collapse author Alex Irvine described the book as a standalone story that's connected to the “larger narrative” behind The Division. “This is the best version of what’s sometimes called 'transmedia': separate stories that are told about the same world,” he said. “You can read the book and play the game, and both are separate experiences—but they mean even more when you do both.”
“As you flip through the book, you will notice handwritten notes in the margins and mysterious artifacts slipped between the pages: a metro card, a map of Manhattan, a missing person poster. A woman surviving in mid-crisis is using it as a diary and as an investigation tool to find out who the author of the guide really is, and how much he knew about what was going to happen,” he explained. “The readers will have many clues to find, and many puzzles to solve, in order to figure out the hidden answers inside this book. It’s quite a ride for the reader, and the book is a beautiful artifact, too.”
I'm down with hint books—I even own a few—but, beautiful though it may be, I was initially uncomfortable with the idea of locking game content and “secrets” within a completely separate, external purchase. But I suppose it's really no different (and, at $15, no more expensive) than a conventional DLC release: You get the base game for the base price, and if you want more, you pay more. And on top of everything else, Irvine said the book includes “proven and efficient survival techniques” which can “help you prepare for and survive through urban chaos.” Let's hope they amount to more than recommending you buy a kevlar-lined anorak and avoid making eye contact with strangers.