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Ubisoft's next Division game will be free to play

The Division Heartland
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft recently recommitted itself to The Division 2, but that's not the only iron it's got in that particular Tom Clancy fire. In a big update on the future of the franchise, it revealed that an all-new, free-to-play Division game called Heartland is also in development at its Red Storm studio.

"Having worked on Tom Clancy games since 1997, its extensive experience across numerous genres and games, most recently The Division and The Division 2, makes Red Storm a perfect fit for this project," Ubisoft said. "Heartland is a standalone game that doesn’t require previous experience with the series but will provide an all new perspective on the universe in a new setting."

There are no details beyond that, but the bit about an "all new perspective" makes me think that a Division-based battle royale is a good bet. Activision has had massive success with Call of Duty: Warzone and EA's own free-to-play battle royale Apex Legends is a major hit. But Ubisoft's entry into the BR genre, Hyper Scape, has been almost entirely forgotten—in fact, we included in our list of games you forgot released in 2020. A comeback for Hyper Scape doesn't seem likely, but a battle royale built around the familiar Tom Clancy brand might give Ubisoft fresh traction.

There is a remote possibility that it's something else entirely. The "Ubisoft Original" subtitle has echoes of Electronic Arts' EA Originals labels, which publishes more indie-styled fare like Unravel, Sea of Solitude, and It Takes Two, and this could be something like that: A narrative-focused exploration game, maybe, about a lone Division agent attempting to survive and restore order in the American heartland, far from the support systems (and gangs of homicidal maniacs) in New York City and Washington DC. That could actually be pretty cool.

(My money is still on a battle royale, though.)

Whatever the case, it seems likely that Heartland will move the series away from the big-city settings of the first two games: The title is kind of a giveaway, for one thing, and the one image Ubisoft shared, featuring a dilapidated water tower and a whole big bunch of trees, looks like something straight out of Far Cry 5—that is, very rural.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft also announced that the first-ever Division mobile game is in development, details of which will be revealed "at a later date," and it's still plugging away at the Netflix movie announced two years ago, starring Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal. A novel set after the events of The Division 2 that "explores how the Outbreak affects different regions of the United States as agents fight to secure supply routes" is also on the way.

The Division: Heartland is expected to be available sometime in 2021-22 on PC and consoles, and if you'd like to get in early you can sign up to take part in future beta testing here.

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.