The Division looks set to eat up a lot of our time over the coming months, and if you’re in the same boat as us, you’ll want to get off to a smooth start.
After investing a decent chunk of time into the game, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you make the most of your skills early on, ensuring you’ll be sawing through bad guys and owning firefights against other players in no time.
1. Pack smart
The safety offered by your base makes it the best place to spend time selecting your ideal loadout. Weapons-wise, you’re going to want a selection that will put opponents down at all ranges.
A shotgun is a must for close combat, while you ideally want a scoped assault rifle for mid to long range fights. A pistol is also handy for finishing people off once your main weapon runs dry.
You can also opt for single-shot rifles with high-zoom scopes if you prefer picking people off from a distance, but make sure someone is watching your back when you’re scoped in for longer periods of time.
2. Tinker away
While we’re on the subject of guns, make sure each and every firearm you’ve got is kitted out to the best of its ability.
In your travels you’ll come across additional gun parts such as barrels, scopes and grips, which can improve the performance of various different firearms, such as increasing their damage or lowering their recoil.
Certain mods will only work with certain guns, but each time you pick up a new part, have a quick look to see if it’ll benefit any of your weapons.
3. Improve yourself
Guns aren’t the only thing that you can play around with. You yourself have access to three different skill trees – Medical, Tech and Security – and you can choose to pour as many or as little upgrade points into the three different skills as you like.
You can unlock the skills in each category by upgrading the relevant tech, medical and security wings in your base of operations. Complete medical side missions for example, and you’ll earn enough points to upgrade the medical wing.
The medical skill tree provides access to perks that will let you heal yourself and other teammates, as well as detect hidden enemies.
The tech skill tree is the most offensive, providing sticky bombs, mobile turrets and mines, making for a formidable offensive arsenal.
Lastly, we have the security skill tree which provides defensive options in the form of a bulletproof shield and a boost to cover durability.
Depending on your playstyle, you might opt for a mix of all three skill sets, or focus heavily on one. If you’re playing with a regular group of people it may also be worth checking to see what other people go for, as a varied mix of skills will give you the best chance against other players in the multiplayer Dark Zone.
Speaking of other players…
4. Make friends
Like Destiny, The Division is best served with friends, or at the very least, other players in your squad. If you’re a lone wolf then it’s still possible to team up with other players however. Go up to another agent in a hub area for example, and you can select an option to join their squad (right click for console players).
The other option is to select the matchmaking option when going into a mission area. In the Dark Zone, you can also bring up your map and see other players, whose squad you can then join.
As always, don’t be scared to chat to people – there’s no point being in a squad if you can’t verbally warn teammates about advancing enemies.
5. This isn’t CoD
If you try to play The Division like Call of Duty or Halo, you’re going to have a very, very bad time.
The time to kill in multiplayer is very short, and AI enemies have quite a lot of health. Both of these factors mean that you’re going to be mincemeat rather quickly if you just run towards enemies while showering them with bullets. It doesn’t matter how scary your Viking war cry is – you’ll be dead before you know it.
The remedy to all this of course, is The Division’s excellent cover system. Shooting from the safety of cover is an absolute must, but you should also take advantage of the fact that you’re able to select other forms of cover in your immediate vicinity, before holding down A (or X) which causes you to automatically run there for safety.
In this way, you can plan ahead and form tactical charges in relative safety. Other tricks like using your Pulse ability to mark enemies is also handy when it comes to planning a route.
6. Aim high
Similar to Destiny, you’ll notice numbers appearing around enemies each time you land a shot. It’ll come as no surprise that those numbers increase when you manage to land a headshot, which means you’re causing more damage with a critical hit.
Certain enemies fall into the bullet sponge category as they have white bars above their standard health bar. This is an overshield of sorts, which you’ll need to obliterate before going in for the final kill.
7. Points mean prizes
The Division is a heavily loot-focused shooter, and you should be looking to continuously improve your gear at every opportunity.
Loot can include new guns, armour or weapon mods, and can be nabbed from crates and rucksacks, so always keep an eye out on your map for potential treasure.
Enemies can also drop loot, with higher level baddies serving up tastier rewards. Loot quality varies from Worn (grey), Standard (green), Specialised (blue), Superior (purple) and High-End (yellow), a pattern that Destiny fans will find instantly recognisable.
You should always check what items to keep and equip, though bear in mind that you might need to raise your level before you can use some of the better equipment.
8. Be nice
Civilian NPCs in most games tend to be rather annoying, pestering us heroes with niggly requests like rescuing their little kid from a well or collecting eggs from a bunch of unruly hens, because they’re too damn lazy to sort out their own problems.
Civilians in The Division are less annoying however, and tend to ask for things like food and drink, which you yourself collect on your travels.
Oblige them, and you can receive weapons and cosmetic clothing items in return. Consuming the food and drink for yourself can also give you temporary stat boosts, so you might not want to be charitable every single time.
9. Play it safe
Once you’ve levelled up and become comfortable with the weapons, combat and cover system, you’ll want to dive into the tasty caramel centre of The Division – namely, the Dark Zone.
This is the dog-eat-dog multiplayer combat zone in which you can work with other players to gain coveted higher-level Dark Zone loot, or go rogue, turning against them for even higher rewards, at a much greater risk.
When you first start out, you’ll ideally want to be in a group you trust, for maximum rewards. If you do start off on your own however, play it safe. Look for respawning NPC enemies which drop loot, and kill them. Ideally these enemies should be near an extraction zone, minimising the time you have to travel between picking up their dropped loot, and extracting it out of the Dark Zone so that it’s permanently in your inventory.
Extracting loot on your own can be very dangerous, as other rogue agents will be looking to pounce on you and steal your hard-earned treasure. Try not to wait around the extraction zone in the open, and instead only run out into it once the timer has almost run out.
If you do happen to be in a group of friends however, then your best bet probably is to go rogue. That means that you’ll be preying on other players, stealing their loot and ambushing their extractions. The reward is much greater, but you’ll be marked as rogue, and other players will be rewarded for taking you out. If they succeed, you’ll lose your Dark Zone credits, rank and keys.
10. Buy smart
Dark Zone credits can be spent at Dark Zone vendors, who provide much better gear than the standard vendors you first encounter. Choosing when to buy items is a bit of a calculated risk however, as both your rank and credits can go down if you have a particularly bad day.
If you don’t see anything you like, then try out a few of the different Dark Zone vendors before buying something for the sake of it, as you’ll otherwise be hit with buyer’s remorse.
11. Crunch those numbers
As you progress through The Division, you’ll get to a stage where you’ll know what sort of player you want to be, and this is all linked to three attribute levels – Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics.
These values are affected by the gear that you equip. Stamina is the simplest one to explain – the more stamina you have, the more health you have, which means it’ll take longer for you to kick the bucket.
The firearms value is directly linked to how much damage you can do with your weapons. While each gun has a damage per second (DPS) value, if you have an identical gun but a larger firearms value than your opponent, you’ll dish out more damage overall.
Electronics is linked to your skill power, so the higher this value, the better your skills will be. For example, if you have a higher electronics level, your shield will be able to take more damage and recover quicker than normal.
Balancing all of these values can be quite tricky, as they’re all determined by the gear you equip, in a similar way to the Intelligence, Discipline and Strength stats linked to armour in Destiny. If you want to be a glass cannon for example (aka maximising your firepower at the expense of your durability), then you’ll want to equip gear which is focused primarily on your firearms value.
However, things aren’t quite as simple as that. Higher level weapons have perks – such as increased damaged, or a chance of blinding enemies with each headshot – which require minimum levels for both electronics and stamina values.
Essentially, you’ll have to get used to mixing around gear until you find the ideal combination of values for your playstyle, and this is what endgame players will mostly be focusing on. You’ll be at this stage before you know it, so get out there, and happy hunting.