So you've just bought The Division and now you're looking to maximize your play time. Well, you've come to a good place (and if you're on the fence about buying The Division check out our review here). Here I'll give you some tips and tricks for leveling up, getting good loot, staying safe in the Dark Zone, and making your most of your time in the game.
It's Dangerous To Go Alone! Take FriendsThe Division was built with playing with your friends in mind. Besides it usually being more fun, the number of enemies and their levels will scale with the number of people in your party and your teammates' respective levels, making things more challenging, providing more EXP to level up, and more opportunities for loot drops. Don't have any friends online to play with? Fret not, The Division makes things very easy to get a team together with matchmaking. You can matchmake for a specific story mission or, at any of the safe houses, matchmake a team and decide what you want to do afterward. Matchmaking or playing with friends is especially important in the Dark Zone. While you can go all lone wolf in the Dark Zone, it's much safer to go with a team who can watch your back and make sure you don't get your loot stolen.
Also, when it comes to your team, try to coordinate your weaponry and skills. Diversify your skills so that you can get the most bonuses to damage, defense, and healing for those big firefights that you're guaranteed to find yourselves in with a full team. Pulse to tag enemies and provide extra damage, Smart Cover for damage and defense boosts, Support Stations for healing and allowing teammates to revive themselves, and the Turret to distract and damage enemies. Remember all the skills have 3 mods that change how they function, so you can have teammates with the same skill but use them for different things.
Power LevelingIf you want to make sure you level up as quickly as possible so you can get the best gear and play the end game content, you'll need to make sure you spend your time efficiently. Main missions and side missions are the biggest sources of EXP in The Division. Encounters and just roaming around killing enemies will get you EXP, but your main focus will want to be on main and side missions. In the Dark Zone you can only gain EXP for your Dark Zone level, so keep that in mind if you want to reach the main level cap (30) instead of the Dark Zone cap (99). If you already have friends with the game and they are a much higher level than you, have them join your team and help run you through missions faster and at higher levels to increase your leveling speed.
As far as leveling up your Dark Zone level, killing enemies and Rogue Agents is what you'll need to do since there are no missions in the Dark Zone. Killing Rogue Agents will get you the most EXP, but they will also most likely be the toughest to kill as well since they are other players with the same skills at their disposal as you, which is another reason going into the Dark Zone with a team is a good idea. Don't be afraid to utilize the proximity chat with other players in the Dark Zone to either team up or at least make a tenuous alliance to not kill each other.
Looter ShooterSo you want the best guns and gear in the game? Well if you follow the advice I've already given, you should be all set. Playing the main and side missions might not get you much loot from the enemies themselves, but it will help you unlock blueprints so you can build your gear yourself. There's one particular blueprint for a superior (purple) Enhanced AUG sub-machine gun that will melt enemies well into the high 20 levels, that you get from a side mission.
Blueprints and crafting are going to be what you'll be using Fabric, Electronics, Gun Parts, Tools, and Division Tech on to create guns, gear, and mods. You'll be able to craft some pretty good gear throughout the game, which is why you'll want to dismantle most of your items instead of selling them. When you start, you won't get many credits from the things you sell, so dismantling them so that you will have a good supply of materials to craft things with is a smart move. When it comes to purple gear, selling rather than dismantling is probably the smarter choice since you don't get much more from dismantling, but they do sell for far more credits. You can also acquire upgrades to your base for each section that will allow you to collect materials from them throughout the day.
The Dark Zone is actually the best place for loot drops from enemies, as well as chests with high tier loot. The offset to the Dark Zone having much better loot is that you have to extract it and you can only carry so many contaminated items at a time. Even if you die in the Dark Zone, the loot you've collected will stay at your point of death unless another player comes and grabs it, which is why having a team to guard your loot if you die is a smart plan.
The Dark Zone is also home to safe houses that have Dark Zone Vendors with the best gear in the game, which are located in the two highest level sections of the Dark Zone. Eventually you will be able to unlock a vendor in your base that will sell high end gear, but until then the Dark Zone safe houses are your only options. These high end vendors will only take Phoenix Credits, which you can only get from killing high level named enemies and completing daily missions on the challenging difficulty. Named enemies usually only drop one Phoenix Credit, so the challenging level missions are where you'll get the bulk of the credits for high end gear. Also, you can log on to your Ubisoft Club account and spend Uplay Units on a pack of 30 Phoenix Credits.
Unfortunately, I'm not an omniscient God (yet), so this is by no means a comprehensive article about all of The Division, but I hope it at least helps someone out there who's just picked up the game and wants some advice.
Did I help you learn something new about The Division? Did I get something wrong? Do you know any other tips or tricks that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!