Canceled Division game began as a battle royale mode for The Division 2 before Ubisoft had "other ideas" for the free-to-play spin-off

The Division 2
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The Division Heartland, the now-canceled free-to-play take on the looter shooter series, was originally set to be a battle royale mode.

Publisher Ubisoft scrapped The Division Heartland just yesterday to redeploy resources to "bigger opportunities," such as the company's fledgling FPS XDefiant, coming next month, and further Rainbow Six Siege projects, including a mobile rendition. But Heartland began life as a pretty big opportunity itself as a battle royale contender. 

Former Ubisoft level designer Ryan Smith took to social media to reveal that The Division Heartland "was originally meant to be a low risk [battle royale] mode for the Division 2," which came out in 2019, when the subgenre still welcomed new entrants. 

"It had a pretty clear plan and was going well but Ubi and Red Storm [an Ubisoft studio] had… other ideas and it changed drastically," Smith continued. "Sad it won't ever see the light of day.”

When it was revealed to the world, The Division Heartland appeared to have more in common with extraction shooters due to its focus on PvPvE, and pivoted the series to rural America, rather than the urban deserts of Washington and New York from the first two games. You could still see some battle Royale DNA in there, though, as the game was supposed to support up to 45 players at once.

Despite Heartland's demise, Ubisoft claimed the series still had a future. "As for The Division," CFO Frédérick Duguet said in yesterday's investor call, "we have an ambitious roadmap that relies on investing in The Division 2, The Division Resurgence which will come on mobile this year. And we have The Division 3 that is in development." We already knew that last part from when the company very casually announced Division 3 last year.

Elsewhere in the Ubisoft catalog, the company properly unveiled Assassin's Creed Shadows yesterday featuring dual protagonists, and it's due out later this year on November 15.

Check out every upcoming Ubisoft game to keep track of the company’s many, many projects.   

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.