With The Division 2’s Title Update 15, the game’s storyline – which many fans wanted more of – finally continued. Above it hangs the specter of Faye Lau, one of the game’s most iconic characters. We checked in with Narrative Director Lauren Stone to learn more about the character, and how her relationship with Faye has changed over time.
Please note that this article contains spoilers for The Division 2 and Warlords of New York. You have been warned.
In Season 4, released in 2020, the players were forced to kill Faye Lau, a character that had been a part of the story since the very beginning of the franchise. As they stood over her still body – the once leader of the Division’s efforts who had betrayed all her friends and allies – many players asked the question – why?
And though Faye was gone, her story was not over. And in Title Update 15, the reasons behind Faye’s actions finally started to become clear. While two years have passed for us in the real world, only minutes have gone by in the game world. And for the writing team, it has hardly been any time at all.
“Faye has been with me all this time,” Lauren Stone, Narrative Director for The Division 2, says. “Since I was working with the whole Tom Clancy brand for the last two years, I was always looking at her story within the wider context of all our transmedia properties.”
When Lauren started on The Division back in 2016, Faye was the first character she wrote for. She loved writing for her, and Lauren instantly had a ton of ideas for directions Faye could go in.
“I actually proposed this whole love story between Faye and Nathan, Doctor Kandel’s assistant, in 2016. I wrote up a bunch of collectibles that would show the evolution of their relationship, like The English Patient, with him taking care of her after she lost her eye.”
“Sadly, we couldn’t do it because Melissa O’Neil, who voices Faye, was doing a show and was unavailable to record that particular story.”
FINDING FAYE’S VOICE
The actress Melissa O’Neil was instrumental in turning Faye into the iconic character she became, and when the team started to work on the Warlords of New York expansion for The Division 2, they knew they needed her back.
“We didn’t want to get a soundalike,” Lauren says. “Melissa was irreplaceable. If she was not available, we had to think of something else. Thankfully, she wanted to support us and The Rookie, the show she is working on, helped us so she could come back and voice Faye again in Warlords of New York.”
After working with Melissa in the recording booth, and seeing the impact she had on the character, Lauren felt it was necessary to give Faye the send-off she deserved. “The story of her and Nathan’s love did not fit within the plot of Warlords of New York and so, like many ideas and potential story threads, it was abandoned for a better idea that better served the story we were trying to tell in 2019.”
“We are so happy and honored that we got to work with Melissa for such a long time, and that she helped us bring a character that is so important for the Division franchise and story to life.”
LIVING ON THE SAME STREET
For Lauren, writing characters comes with a variety of emotions and connections. As a writer, you sometimes must write characters that are very different from yourself – which according to Lauren can be fun. “I think Aaron Keener and I are probably the most different, other than President Ellis,” she says. “Ellis is a [REDACTED], he is fun to write but we are very different people.”
But with Faye, something was different. There was a connection there. “There are characters that live on the same street as you” as she calls it. “Faye and I are very similar women,” she says. “We are both justice monsters, who will sacrifice ourselves to serve our community, we are both disabled – she lost an eye, I have three autoimmune diseases – and we are both Asian American women who are elder-millennials and grew up within that cultural context.”
“I am white passing, Japanese, Latina and indigenous woman from California and Faye is a Chinese American woman from New York. We are not the same, but we have a lot of common touchstones.”
We are both justice monsters, who will sacrifice ourselves to serve our community.
Lauren sees Faye as the kind of person that would do the right thing, regardless of how wrong it might seem. Faye looks at the bigger picture and is not afraid to adapt as she gains new information. “She gets fixated on solving a problem,” Lauren says of Faye, “but she does not get obsessive about the results. She follows where the evidence leads her, and adapts, instead of trying to only find evidence that supports her original hypothesis. Denying new information, and the inability to change our minds, is dangerous. Faye is willing to admit when she is wrong and change her course of action.”
CRAFTING A LIVING STORY
According to Lauren, when crafting a new story in the Division universe – be it in the games, for an audio drama or a novel – you must make sure to honor the stories that have already been told and build upon them. Lauren and the team work hard to make sure to create a foundation and pockets in the world where others can have the freedom to tell their stories, while still having everything grounded and tied together.
“My goal is for everything to be additive and stand on its own merit,” she says. “You do not have to read the book to understand the audio drama or play the game, but if you want to see how more people interact with this world you can do so by engaging in other mediums.”
“The Division is a deep and meaningful exploration of the best and worst of what humanity has to offer in a time of crisis. I want to create a catharsis – not a trauma generator. At the core of any Division property is community and teamwork.”
At the core of any Division property is community and teamwork.
Of course, The Division 2 is an online game in continuous development. The game changes and evolves over time, which is a challenge when telling a story, since it becomes a marathon, not a sprint. “You have to pace yourself and keep looking ahead,” Lauren says. “You have to move forward with intention and make better choices each time”.
“If we learn from our mistakes we can grow and build something meaningful together. That does not mean we ignore the mistakes or pretend they do not exist, but we cannot hold onto a minor failure or a battle we lost if we want to win the next one tomorrow.”
That sounds like something Faye might say.