"Tom Clancy's The Division" will launch in 2014. Courtesy/Ubisoft Massive

Gamers don’t usually talk about game engines. But, here’s the thing: Without them, your favorite first- or third-person shooters or action-adventure games are pretty useless. It's like the USS Enterprise without Captain Kirk. Or Mulder without Scully, Serenity without Mal.

“Tom Clancy’s The Division,” an upcoming 2014 online multiplayer third-person shooter action RPG coming in 2014, will use the next-gen engine called "Snowdrop," developed by Massive Entertainment, a Ubisoft studio. “Snowdrop is a dynamic, interconnected and united system,” said Massive in a statement. “The artists, the designer and the animators have the power to achieve their ideas and vision, simply by accessing the game directly within the engine.”

The cutting-edge Snowdrop will also run in real-time. “Each thing the creators develop needs to be instant and in-game, so that they know exactly if it will work, with no baking time. That means lightning-quick iterations. The result is the ability to develop game features faster than ever,” Massive claimed. “We built Snowdrop in a way so that the game is always playable during development.”

A teaser trailer, which was launched during the SpikeTV VGX awards show, displayed a few shots of the engine’s innovative features. The most important is the destruction system, which will be an important part of the game’s tactical cover-based combat system. Massive stated that “the destruction effect is not pre-baked into the game; it reacts differently depending on the physical forces at play.” This means that each time an action takes place – a car explodes or a glass window shatters, it will look different – and will actually be a separate experience every time.

Another amazing result of the Snowdrop engine is the lighting system, which was created to mimic film production methods. If you move an object in the game, the surrounding light will immediately react in a cohesive manner. This also applies to the time of day, as well as indoor and outdoor lighting.

The next-gen engine also gives the developers incredible accuracy and speed when creating the game’s metropolitan setting. More importantly, the city will be unified, which means that any alteration or developed feature in one area will result in an automatic change throughout the entire game – which leads to a more harmonious experience for the player.

"Tom Clancy's The Division" will hit shelves sometime during the fourth quarter of 2014. Are you excited about Snowdrop? Leave a comment below.