The New York City setting of The Division is eerily resembling what is happening to the city in real life in the wake of coronavirus.
In 2016, Tom Clancy’s: The Division had players running through a haunting recreation of a pandemic ridden New York City. Fast forward to March 2020, and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a very real pandemic that is spreading throughout the US and creating a hot bed of sickness in New York City. The situation has gotten so dire that President Trump had even considered quarantining off the tri-state area, creating a situation similar to the plot found in the first game where the government closed off access to large cities.
I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE of developing “hot spots”, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2020
As a native New Yorker, I always appreciate seeing my city digitally recreated in video games. Seeing Manhattan under siege in a fictional scenario and making my way through the various landmarks that I’m lucky enough to have grown up around just hits different. Like most pandemic or post-apocalyptic video games, The Division leans on firefights to provide the necessary gameplay loop that makes the game fun. However, it also successfully utilizes familiar and (scarily) empty New York City environments as a backdrop to paint a grim picture and develop a sense of desperation and panic.
The real life hustle and bustle of the streets of New York City has now become an eerie silence. The city has hit the pause button as government officials have instituted a “shelter-in-place” initiative that has lead to the closure of non-essential businesses. Limiting unnecessary travel for the majority of the population is also in place. A city of almost 9 million people is – for the first time in my 35 years living here – quiet. Now more than ever the city – with its emptiness – is resembling the spooky visuals from The Division.
Also known as the “crossroads of the world,” Times Square is almost always alive with an ocean of humanity taking in all of its sights and sounds. It’s easy to understand why seeing it empty in a video game can create a sense of dread. Seeing it empty in real life is just something else altogether.
Radio City Music Hall (“Midtown Music” In-Game):
Home to the world famous Radio City Rockettes, this historic 6,000 seat entertainment venue has hosted performances of some of the most famous musicians, artists, and films of the last century. Sitting prominently on the corner of Avenue of the Americas and 50th Street, its marquee typically shines bright upon the thousands of faces walking by. Now only empty sidewalks surround it.
Home to the NBC Studios Rainbow Room where shows like Today, Saturday Night Live, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon are filmed, Rockefeller Center is usually buzzing with people. Nintendo NY is also located in this dense pedestrian shopping and entertainment plaza.
Wartime in Brooklyn:
Perhaps even more ominous than the deafening silence of NYC is the addition of things that were previously not there. Take a look at this triage tent found outside of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Like in The Division, it brings an uncomfortable feeling of wartime to the city that never sleeps.