The sequel to Ubisoft’s shared world shooter is a massive game but with a few simple tips you can get to the endgame before you know it.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is officially released today. Some people may have played it already, if they paid extra for one of the special editions, but if you’re starting out fresh today then the game can be quite a daunting prospect. The gameplay and combat is pretty easy to pick up but there’s such a mountain of content that just deciding where to go next can be as difficult as fighting the bad guys.
We outlined the basics of the game in our review in progress, but it’ll still be until next week before we can offer a final score. That’s because the game saves a lot of its best content for the endgame, where you get to choose a specialisation for your character and get a signature weapon.
There’s a lot of other things that change at that point, but to get that far means playing through the story campaign and getting your character to level 30. If that’s something you want to do sooner rather than later then here are some useful tips on taking the shortest route.
Pick the perfect perks
After a short tutorial section at the start of the game you’ll find yourself at a bombed-out version of the White House where you’ll have to make some important choices about your character and their abilities, starting with perks.
These are passive abilities that work in the background and at first seem to offer only minor benefits. But if you’re aiming to get to level 30 ASAP then what you need is experience points (XP) and there are a number of accolade perks that double the amount of XP you get by performing headshots, multikills, hitting armour weakpoints, and tactical kills.
The game will force you to pick a second weapon slot first, but after that choose the XP multipliers and you’ll find yourself levelling up much more quickly.
Select the correct skills
Which skill you pick has a less direct effect on your progress, but some are clearly much more useful than others, especially at the beginning. Lots of people pick the Striker Drone first, for the obvious reasons that a) it’s really cool and b) it can attack enemies without any input from you. That makes it, and the Assault Turret, very handy if you’re playing on your own.
Conversely the Reviver Hive, Chem Launcher, and Fixer Drone are only useful if you’re regularly playing in a team, so be very careful about picking them first. Skills like the Firefly and Seeker Mine are useful but they’re more specialised than the others and probably something you want to leave until you’re more experienced with the game.
The Crusader Shield is kind of in the middle, with its mix of defensive and offensive capabilities, but it can be tricky to use correctly and is more useful when you’ve got an ally to retreat towards.
Cover is everything
Once you’re out of the White House you’ll be ready to tackle your first proper story mission. By this point you should already have a handle on the basic controls, but the one tactic to keep in mind is to stay in cover all the time. Lots of third person games have a cover system but The Division 2’s is unique in that it will move you automatically from cover to cover as long as you just point where you want to go and keep your finger on the promoted button.
If the new position is quite far away that can take a good couple of seconds and if you let go of the button at all during that time you’ll be left standing in the open – which is not something you want to happen.
If you suspect enemies are nearby use cover to sneak up on them, and if you can actually see them then get as close as you dare before opening fire as they’ll quickly scatter once they know you’re there (grenades can be very handy here).
Cover is vital but you have to keep moving to make it effective or you’ll just get pinned down and/or get grenades thrown at you. Reinforcements can also arrive without any warning, so keep looking around you all the time and keep a close eye on where bullets are coming from.
Maximise mission experience
You’ll notice every main story mission has a recommendation for the experience level you need to be to complete it. If you’re too low it’ll be in the red and you’re not advised to tackle it, but if the number is lower than your current level then you’ve also done something wrong.
Completing missions that are below your current experience level will reduce the amount of XP you get as a reward, so keep a close eye on all your available missions (via the main map) and make sure you complete them before they become too easy. By the same logic you can get more XP for beating missions that are above your current level, but that’s obviously harder – although not necessarily that much more if you have a skilled co-op partner with you.
The flipside to this advice is to ignore side missions as much as possible. Some will be very tempting but the higher your level the more reward you get for completing them. That’s because you get XP equivalent to a third of your current level whenever you beat one, and that’s a lot more XP if you’re level twentysomething than if you’re just five or six.
So leave them till the end and you’ll get a lot more XP for your buck. But even then don’t complete them if you’re about to level up normally, as you won’t carry over the full amount of XP into the next level.
There are no complications when capturing control points or other random events, so feel free to take them on as and when you want, as their rewards don’t scale with your level.
Keep your eye on the projects
You might want to ignore the side missions until later on but never neglect the projects desk at your base of operations. You’ll get a steady build-up of parts and materials as you play and donating them to build up settlements provides a major XP reward for no additional effort. Sometimes you also need to donate specific gear, so don’t just sell or deconstruct old equipment without checking first.
Upgrading settlements also has the benefit of gaining you new followers, which in turn will unlock new missions and, importantly, offer rewards such as boosting your XP and adding new areas to your base. Sometimes this requires you to complete a public event, rather than just donating resources, but since it all gains you XP it’s all worth doing.
Mods are the superior choice
The Division 2 is a lot more customisable than the first game and that includes mods for all your gear. When you start getting to the good stuff (‘Superior’ or above) make sure you upgrade it with mods.
These work similarly to perks in that you have a variety of choices that add small bonuses, but if you’re racing to get to level 30 then the ones that increase how quickly you gain experience are going to be the most useful. The best thing about mods is that they work across multiple types of weapon, so you don’t have to worry about them being left attached to an obsolete gun.
One thing you shouldn’t bother with though is crafting weapons at the beginning of the game. You’ll be given the option but it’s not worth the materials, which are better used elsewhere or keep until you’ve got a better idea for what weapons you find the most effective. It’s much better to experiment with as many different guns as you can at the start and then begin to specialise once you get more serious.