After numerous delays and a couple of beta releases, Tom Clancy’s The Division is finally here. Ubisoft’s ambitious third-person online shooter is one of the biggest game releases of the year and is even being touted as a “Destiny Killer” in some circles as that game suffers through a content drought. While it’s tough to say whether or not The Division is a worthy alternative to Bungie’s addictive RPG-shooter hybrid at this early stage (or whether it even makes sense to compare the two games at all given their many differences), Ubisoft’s latest is a compelling title in its own right. Whether you got a chance to test the game out in one of its beta releases or are coming to it with a fresh pair of eyes, the staggering number of systems in The Division can be pretty overwhelming in the beginning. If you’re looking to get a handle on The Division as quickly as possible, follow these handy tips to make your experience much less painful and a lot more enjoyable. New York City isn’t going to save itself, after all.
10. Play With Friends If You Can
While The Division can most definitely be tackled solo, it is enhanced considerably if you bring at least one friend along for the ride. From what I can tell so far, The Division isn’t a particularly difficult game, but playing solo is a different story. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by AI enemies (even if they’re not the brightest) if you don’t have a friend or two watching your back. Plus, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the Dark Zone (the game’s most dangerous area, where other players can kill you and take your loot), you’re going to want to have some friends you trust backing you up. The game allows you to party up in groups of four, so it’s a good idea to take advantage of the game’s cooperative features whenever possible (it’s also just a lot more fun this way). However, if you can’t find any friends to party up with, you still have options when it comes to taking back New York with a team …
9. Everything Has Matchmaking
One thing that The Division definitely has going for it over Destiny is the ability to use matchmaking in every activity. Yes, you can definitely play by your lonesome if you really want to, but tackling missions – especially on higher difficulties – is much better in a group. Each mission location includes a pretty clearly-defined zone in which to start matchmaking if you so choose and it’s a good idea to opt in. You don’t have to actually talk to your teammates if you don’t want to and the best part is that you stay connected with them after missions end, meaning that you can roll with the same group of players as long as you want or until one of them drops out.
8. Don’t Trust Anyone In The Dark Zone
Remember what I was saying about friends being the only people you can trust in the Dark Zone? Well, it bears repeating because you never know when players will turn on you, gun you down, and take all of your awesome loot. The risk-reward nature of The Division’s player vs. player area is arguably the game’s most compelling feature, which means that you’ll definitely want to play it safe if you want to actually hang onto your hard-fought loot gains. If you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to call in an extraction by yourself, try to scope out a good place to hide and wait until the timer has almost run out to extract your items. Otherwise, you may get killed by some rogues long before the helicopter even gets there and that’s simply no fun at all.
7. The Pulse Ability Is Your Friend
When you first start out in The Division, you’re presented with a choice between three different skills. No matter what your playstyle is, it’s advisable to go with the pulse ability; the remote-detonated grenade is finicky and ineffective, and who really needs a ballistic shield when cover is readily available in almost every combat situation? The pulse not only highlights all enemies in a wide radius for you and your party members, it also increases your critical hit chance and damage when upgraded a bit. It’s a skill that you’ll probably want to hang onto for quite awhile and if you do pass on using it, make sure that at least one of your party members is rolling with it because it’s extremely useful in every situation.
6. Cover Is Also Your Friend
As a cover-based shooter, it sort of goes without saying that taking cover is pretty integral to the experience, but it really can’t be stressed enough just how important cover is in keeping you alive. While you’re almost always better off being in cover than not, it’s also important to remember to move around when possible. The Division includes an intuitive system for moving between cover points, meaning it’s pretty easy to get to a different position without sustaining heavy damage. The only time taking cover really hampers you is when enemies (such as the surprisingly effective guys toting baseball bats) get in close for melee attacks, but hopefully you’ll be able to take them out before they even get close.
5. Dump Mods Onto Weapons To Free Inventory Space
Like with most game of its kind, managing inventory space in The Division quickly becomes an ongoing problem to sort out as you inevitably find more and more loot. While it’s important to remember to sell off any unwanted items to vendors and to use the safehouse stash for anything you want to hold onto but not necessarily carry with you all the time, the reality is that you won’t always have quick access to either of these resources. If you’re in the middle of a mission or Dark Zone run and need to free up inventory space fast, try dumping mods into any available slots on your weapons before resorting to deconstructing something in your inventory. It will free up valuable pack space and make your weapons more effective at the same time.
4. Keep An Eye On The Mini-Map For Hidden Items
In a game as detailed as The Division, it’s almost impossible to spot hidden items and secrets with the naked eye alone. Luckily, the game’s mini-map highlights all points of interest within a certain radius, meaning that you can easily spot an ammo box or loot chest that you otherwise may have missed. The large variety of map symbols makes it difficult at first to tell what kind of item is even on the map, but it’s still worthwhile to check out any points of interests you see come up.
3. Pay Attention To Attribute Stats
While it’s rather pointless to start comparing weapon and armor stats early on in the game (just stick to the “higher number is better” philosophy), once you start getting uncommon and rare loot drops on a regular basis, you’ll want to start taking the time to dive into the minutia of each item’s stats. In particular, pay attention to how each item affects your three attribute levels – Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics. Much like Destiny‘s Intelligence, Discipline, and Strength stats, each one of The Division‘s attributes affects certain things about your character. Firearms is related to your overall weapon damage, Electronics is linked to skill power, while Stamina increases your overall health. Take note of your personal playstyle when equipping various armor pieces so you know which attributes you want to focus on. Your best bet is to have a balanced build of all three attributes, but there’s also nothing wrong with pouring points into one attribute over others. It’s all up to personal preference.
2. Try Not To Get Too Overwhelmed
The Division‘s user interface is definitely a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s rather elegantly laid out and intuitive when it comes to providing relevant information in the moment-to-moment gameplay (it’s pretty difficult to get lost in this game). On the other hand, the UI throws a staggering amount of information at you right from the get-go and even after hours of play, it can all feel pretty overwhelming. The best tip I can give, especially if you haven’t played for very long yet, is to not freak out about the game bombarding you with information. Take some time and look through the various sub-menus to get a firm grasp of everything and try not to rush through it all just to get to the next mission. The Division is (ostensibly) designed for long-term play, so it’s best not to run before you learn to walk.
1. ALWAYS Give Supplies To Civilians
Oddly enough, one of The Division’s most exciting features is its extensive cosmetic customization system. It’s surprsingly a lot of fun to deck your agent out in an array of snazzy new jackets, pants, and hats. While cosmetic items will occassionally drop as loot from downed enemies and can be found in chests regularly, the most reliable way to get a new piece of clothing is from helping civilians who ask for aid. I can’t stress this enough, but ALWAYS give them whatever they want. Food items and medpacks are much easier to find than clothing, so this is a trade you’ll always want to make. Civilians regularly drop good clothing items and at the end of the day, what’s more important than your character looking as cool as possible? Who knows, you may even luck out and find one of the fabled scarves coveted by the entire Division community.
Oh and pro tip: those food items can actually be consumed by your character, offering a variety of stat boosts. Nifty!