Tom Clancy’s The Division tips and tricks: Settle in for the long game
Ubisoft’s long-gestating Tom Clancy’s The Division is finally here, and people are probably going to be playing it for a long, long time. With that in mind, we have some Division tips and tricks to help you ease into what is a huge game.
The Division is built for the long haul. There are already plenty of comparisons to Bungie’s Destiny – which is only somewhat fair. The games aren’t all that similar with one major exception: they are both made to be replayed again and again. And again and again. And then played some more.
One part shooter, two parts RPG, The Division is a massive, sprawling game with a nearly endless supply of things to do, ranging from collectibles to side quests to PvP combat. As you progress, you also unlock abilities – how you choose to prioritize those abilities helps to determine the way you play the game.
While the game quickly opens up to give you plenty to do, getting into The Division requires a bit of patience. You’ll need to play for a while to really unlock everything the game offers – even then there is more to see and do, but you’ll need to put in hours to get a sense of what the game is meant to be. You’ll need to have some patience and you’ll experience a lot of trial and error. That’s where this guide comes in.
We will update this article at least a few more times, adding more and more. If you have any Division tips and tricks of your own that you’d like to share, let us know in the comment section below!
Base of Operations: Great Deals on Real Estate
A few hours into The Division you’ll unlock your Base of Operations. You may as well take a few minutes to explore and learn where everything is, because you’ll be spending a lot of time here.
When you reach your base, you’ll have three wings you can upgrade: Medical, Security, and Tech. As you play and complete the orange, green, and blue missions (as noted on the map), you’ll earn supplies for each of those wings. When you first earn 200 supplies for each wing, you can upgrade it. That in turn opens up more powerful abilities, bonuses, items, and more. It’s easy to forget about the supplies, so while you shouldn’t obsess too much over them, you can’t ignore them either.
When you do unlock the wings, choose your upgrades wisely. Focus on the things that give you XP and cash first. After that, focus on additions that open up new gameplay options.
- Upgrading the Security Wing first unlocks the Situation Room Upgrade, which grants you a 10-percent XP boost.
- The Medical Wing can increase the Pulse perk and lead to the Life Support ability, which allows you to drop a revival station for your teammates.
- When you unlock your base, look for the Reward Vendor. He will have all the rewards you have coming to you, including the UPlay items and pre-order bonuses. You won’t receive them until you meet him.
- Most missions that offer you supplies won’t give you much XP. It’s a tradeoff, so go with what you need more.
The combat mechanics in The Division are all about cover. You’ll need to remain in cover in combat at almost all times. You’ll also need to keep moving.
When you are in cover, you can look to the next area and hold the cover button, automatically jumping from one spot to the other. As long as you don’t break the cover and stand up, you can generally run under bullets. Staying still is an easy way to get killed – you’ll constantly want to move and try to flank. You’ll also need to know your opponents.
The enemies you face early on won’t give you a lot of trouble, but there is a significant jump when you reach level 8-10 or so. By the time you hit level 30, all fights can get ugly. It’s important to pay attention to the level of the enemies you face. Unless you have to, don’t try to take on opponents more than a level or two above you or you’ll probably regret it. Even if you beat them, you’ll end up wasting a lot of ammo to do it.
The plus side of this is that the game’s enemies also increase their tactics as they level up, meaning the game will constantly try to challenge you.
- Line up your shot while in cover, then pop out to fire off a few quick rounds.
- Practice rolling to get out of the line of fire.
- If you see a grenade area indicator land near you move away quickly, but don’t break cover if you don’t have to.
- You have consumable items including ammo that you should use anytime you need, don’t hoard them. To access these, just hold the d-pad to the right.
- To change the type of grenade you are throwing, hold left on the d-pad.
- If you are in the middle of a firefight, don’t reload, switch weapons. Even with mods, it will almost always be faster.
- The Division is a game of tactics. You can’t just run at enemies, you need to use your equipment and plan ahead.
- You’ll earn the Pulse skill early on, and you’ll want to use it often. Upgrade it as soon as you have the opportunity.
- Don’t spray-and-pray. Pick your shots wisely.
- Press and hold the menu button and it will automatically go to your inventory – be warned though, it doesn’t stop the game.
- If you want to play solo, unlock the turret and use it to cover your flank. Upgrade it, and use it to defend, attack, and distract.
Although The Division is made so it can be played solo, part of the fun is playing with a group – be warned though, playing with a team of four significantly increases the difficulty, so much so that it is better to avoid it at lower levels.
Until you reach level 10 or higher, the ideal team is a two-person squad. The difficulty will spike a bit, but having two players working together more than makes up for it. Four players is certainly possible, but without the additional equipment that comes at higher levels, you’ll need to be extremely vigilant and heal your downed teammates often.
When you do have a full team and players with decent equipment, ideally you will want to coordinate and have everyone fill a different role.
- Mark enemies by pressing up on the d-pad.
- If you can coordinate with a four-person team, have everyone stay hidden and move into position using cover. Have everyone mark their target, then open fire as a unit.
- When your teammates fall, don’t rush in after them. Have them try to crawl to cover. Even if they die, it’s better for someone to have to respawn and fast travel back tot he action than have multiple team mambers die.
Crafting and the Art of the Deal
The more you play, the more stuff you will collect, and the odds are a lot of it will be junk. Given that you have limited inventory, you’ll want to make sure to dispose of the stuff you don’t need, and you can do this two ways: sell the weapons/items, or break them down to create craftable items.
When you are first starting out, you won’t get much for selling stuff. If you are vigilant about it though, after a few missions you should have earned enough and sold enough to purchase blue weapons. These should last you awhile.
If you don’t want to go this route, or you already have weapons you like, break everything down to make craft parts. You can even break down craft parts to make new craft parts. Keep doing this consistently, and you’ll eventually have green craft parts. Five green parts then break down to make a blue part, and so on. Find the craft station at your base and look for the option to craft new items. Trade up often, but don’t do so just because. Look through the lists and see what you are aiming for, then go for those numbers.
Once you start crafting, you may want to stash the pieces in your inventory (found in the Base), and save it until you are at a high level and struggling to find more powerful weapons.
- If you aren’t sure about an item or weapon, just stash it in your inventory at the Base. You can always sell it or break it down later.
Dark Zone, Dark Deeds
The Dark Zone is a PvP zone, but that doesn’t mean it is all competitive multiplayer. What that means is that you can – and should – explore the area, but you will need to watch your back. At all times. The DZ also has its own leveling system and economy.
There’s a very good reason for taking the risk though – the enemies drop some of the best gear. Even a few minutes in the DZ can earn you rare, high-level weapons and gear well above anything you’ll find outside it. There is, of course, a catch.
The weapons and gear you come across need to be “decontaminated” before you can use them. To do this, you’ll need to extract them and collect them later at any stash box on the outside. You will only be able to carry a certain number of DZ items (you can, and should, upgrade the number), and when you die in the DZ you drop all that gear. You can return and pick it up, but other players can also grab it if you are too slow.
The extraction zones are labeled on the map, and once you arrive there, you’ll be prompted to fire off a flare. Doing so will initiate a countdown timer. When it runs out, you’ll see a rope hanging from a helicopter. Interact with it and you’ll load your gear. Alternatively, you can also hijak someone else’s soon-to-be extracted gear, but be prepared for some hard feelings.
Here’s where the strategy comes in.
When you call for an extraction, everyone in your area sees that an extraction is on the way. This will generally attract them, either to help fight off the incoming enemy hordes (who frequently drop good stuff), or to kill the people waiting for the extraction and take their stuff. The smart play is to take it slow and see what the other players are like.
Occasionally you will have people going rouge. When this happens, their name turns red and they are highlighted on the map; there’s also a bounty out on them. If there are several people at the extraction, there is less chance of people going rogue, and you’ll frequently see groups sticking together, roaming the DZ looking for enemies. If you find yourself alone though, watch your back.
The Dark Zone uses its own currency known as Phoenix Credits. You’ll need these to buy certain high-level weapons after you reach level 30, and there are a few ways to earn these credits – although they don’t come easy. The fastest way to snag some Phoenix credits is to complete the Daily story missions after you’ve beaten the game. If the missions has a “Challenging” rating, you’ll earn extra credits. You will also share these credits with any teammates, so don’t hesitate to play with a group (although you can go solo if you prefer). you will also earn credits in the DZ for killing bosses (enemies with names), but far less than through missions.
- If you are alone and you see a group working together and coming towards you, proceed with caution. Assuming they don’t kill you immediately, join them.
- If you are in an area with multiple players and shooting breaks out, immediately run for cover before assessing the situation.
- If you see a red skull suddenly appear on your map, it means a player just killed another player. If you are up for it, hunt them down.
- Don’t pick a fight with higher level players. You will lose.
- Wait until at least level 10 or higher to explore the Dark Zone. You will be outmatched.
- Don’t be the first to run for the helicopter to extract gear. Wait a bit and see how it all plays out.
- In an extraction zone, find a secure location and set up your defenses before firing off the flare. If you are with teammates, watch each others backs – then when the fighting is mostly done, watch your own.
- Post-patch, downed players will drop ammo and medkits (these are generated, not taken from the player’s inventory). You can now also heal the players using a medkit or health station before they die.
- The rewards for taking down a rogue player have increased – so too have the rewards for surviving being rogue.
- An upcoming update will feature hourly rare loot drops. Players will be notified of the drop, but only the first group there gets it – they’ll have to fight off waves of high-level enemies to keep it.
- The recent Incursion update also introduced supply drops that offer non-contaminated gear. It will attract enemies though.
The Division is going to have plenty of add-on content, some of it small, some of it coming as massive expansions. The first announced expansion is Underground, which introduces the New York subway tunnels, and it is planned for June. The second, Survival, will introduce a survival mode to the game and is expected in late summer. A third, Last Stand, will be released in winter.
All three of these expansions will be part of the Season Pass, or they can be purchased individually. More will be announced in the future. The paid expansions will appear first on Xbox One as part of an exclusivity deal. The DLC will then come to the PC and PlayStation 4 a month later.
There are also at least two free add-ons for The Division: “Incursions,” which introduce boss-like fights against a tough enemy, and a “Conflict” update that will add new features to the Dark Zone.
- There is a major free update coming on April 12 that will introduce several new elements, most notably, the new “Incursions,” which are essentially raids.
- The new update will bring the ability to swap gear, but only within your group, and for a limited time.
- Gear sets are coming. Equipping a complete set will give you a bonus talent.
- Hourly loot drops are coming to the Dark Zone.
- Gear levels are coming, which will push your level cap well above 30 by equipping more and more powerful gear.
- Underground will offer randomly generated missions and take place under the city in new locations.
- Underground will be released on June 28 for Xbox One and PC owners. PS4 players will have to wait until August 2.
Explore, Unlock Safe Houses, and Kill Without Pity
The Division is a game of exploration, but take it slow. If an area on the map says you should be at a higher level, take it at its word. It’s not that you can’t survive, but you’ll have a tough time and it will be more frustrating than fun.
Explore the broken New York City, and look for shortcuts, items, and secrets. You’ll find countless side quests and collectibles on the map, so check it often.
Throughout the city you’ll also find Safe Houses. When you see one, go out of your way to reach it. Once you are there, you can then fast travel to that location. You’ll also find a character (JTF Officers) that gives you a status update around the city, and a board that fills in some of the map. Safe Houses also offer vendors and restock boxes.
- Use the Pulse skill as often as possible. As soon as it recharges use it to identify collectibles and find enemies. If they are read, kill them without mercy.
- If you are looking to level up quickly, stick to the story and side missions. The other events are worth completing for other reasons (including items), but the primary and secondary missions give you the most XP.
- There are several open apartment buildings you can explore in The Division. If you have time, explore them. They often contain new weapons and items worth your time.
- If you see an enemy with a name, they will grant you significant experience. Take them out.
- A patch has made it so that you won’t see random named characters in the world anymore (to prevent grinding). You’ll have to explore and find more.
A post-launch addition to The Division is the inclusion of a Gear Score. Once you reach level 30, you will then be able to increase your rank by way of the gear you earn and equip. The gear score is cumulative, and you will need a high Gear Score to access certain missions, including the Incursions.
Eventually, the gear you come across will be high enough that you can be picky about what you equip, but if you want to jump into an Incursion right away, you’ll need to keep an eye out for gear with a score value. If you collect and equip a specific Gear set, you can also earn unique abilities that vary based on the set.
There are currently four ways to earn this type of gear: Incursions, Challenge Mode Missions, built from blueprints, and dropped as loot in the Dark Zone.
- The current maximum Gear Score you can reach is 240, although that’s easier said than done. It may rise soon as well.
- Playing an Incursion on the “Challenging” mode is the only way to earn a level 240 piece of gear.
- The crafting vendor at the Base of Operations, and the vendor at the Dark Zone Level 06 checkpoint can both sell blueprints that allow you to craft up to level 214 gear.
- Named bosses in the DZ occasionally drop gear with a high score, but it is random.
- Certain pieces of gear can be traded with teammates – look for the icon.
Incursions are a new feature to The Division, introduced via the April 12 update. They are essentially raids, where teams must work together to complete an unusually difficult challenge. Two were made available to start, and more will be released in the coming months. You’ll find them on the map after you beat the final mission of the game.
During an Incursion, there are no checkpoints. You’ll have to rely on the kindness of your team to heal you, and dying completely means you are out. It will be tough, but you’ll be rewarded with rare loot and a lot of experience, and you can replay the Incursion as many times as you want to earn more rewards.
You will be able to matchmake with anyone, including strangers, in order to try the Incursions. Incursion matchmaking will default to hard, and it will show you a “recommended” level of gear. If you aren’t up for it, the game won’t matchmake you into a team. Switching the level to the Challenge mode will change it to a “required” level of gear, which may present a problem for some.
In order to join an Incursion, you will need a Gear Score of at least 160 (the game recommends 180).
- To earn higher level gear, play the Incursions on the harder setting. you can then go back again and again.
- Bosses will always drop gear of 214 while playing on Challenging mode.
- Ideally, you will need to bring a team with every player filling a different role.
- Support stations will be vital – use them wisely.
There will be a lot of people that play The Division for little while, then give it up and call it a waste of time. That’s up to them, but it would probably be a mistake.
The Division is a slow burn type of game. It’s made to be played over the course of weeks and months, not just a few hours. The first few hours of the game are more or less a tutorial – a massive tutorial that takes several hours to complete. You won’t even unlock your abilities until hours in (how long varies wildly based on if you explore or not), and the enemies are more or less just there for you to shoot in the head as you learn the mechanics.
The bulk of the game won’t even unlock until you hit level 10 or so, and it keep unlocking new content and areas for a dozen more levels at least.
If you hate the game, so be it. Just know you aren’t really playing The Division as it’s meant to be played until at least ten hours in or so. And even then, you’re still only seeing a fraction of it.
- If you want to level up but don’t want to hit the Dark Zone, replay missions on a harder difficulty. You can matchmake to grab a team to make it easier.
- You’ll eventually find gear with mods – but it will be awhile.
Weapons of Gradually Increasing Destruction
Weapons in The Division come and go, so don’t get too attached to them. Just find one you like, then keep it until you find one that is significantly better.
There are classes of weapon designated by colors, and the colors in turn represent the rarity of the weapon. Green is good, blue is better, purple is a must. Of those classes, blue level weapons are your friends, and you’ll want to use them until you have a few purples late in the game.
You’ll also want to use mods constantly. Any time you equip a new weapon, you’ll want to switch the mods from your old one. When you open the equipment menu and switch to a new weapon, immediately go to the mods. From there you can equip any mod you want, even if it is currently on another weapon (if you store a weapon, be sure to take the mods off first). Get in the habit of doing this.
- Save up for a blue weapon early on. Sell green weapons, and within four or five missions you should be able to buy one.
- Select mods that compliment each other.
- You can only quick swap between two weapons at a time, but if you are low on ammo, you can go to your inventory and select a new type of weapon (assuming you are carrying one). The different types of weapons use different ammo, so if you are running low, swap them out.
- Double tap the weapon swap button to bring up the pistol.
- If you are carrying mods you aren’t using, store them. They take up vital inventory spots, but until you are comfortable in the game and know you should hold on to them.
- Civilians. Help all the civilians you come across (they have tracking marks on them, denoting that they need help). They will give you rewards you won’t find anywhere else, including cosmetic gear.
- Rotating stock. The vendors scattered around the city all have their own unique stock, and it changes frequently. If you are looking for something specific, fast travel between locations and check the stock of each vendor.
- Don’t shoot dogs. You can shoot dogs, just like a sociopath.
- Hostage loot. When you rescue hostages, there will generally be a bag filled with valuable items. Make sure to loot it.
- Try different guns. Even if the stats say one is better than another, try them out and find your favorites.
- Fall damage. If you are at an elevated position and see a warning icon, it means you can fall and hurt yourself. Be mindful and watch your step. If you see blue fabric on the ground, you can safely drop down to it.
- Ladders. You can slide down ladders by holding the sprint button.
- Daily missions. Ubisoft is offering daily missions with special rewards. Check your map for details.
- Assignments. The Incursion update also introduced Assignments, limited time missions.
Have some Division tips and tricks?
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