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Tips and tricks for surviving the ruined streets of D.C. in The Division 2

Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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These essential tips and tricks will give you the leg up you need in The Division 2. As we noted in our impressions after playing the private beta, The Division 2 is quite similar to the original and if you played the 2016 third person loot shooter, hopping into the Washington D.C.-based sequel won’t feel like a major change. But it’s been a few years and we imagine plenty of newcomers to the franchise will start with this entry.

Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2

We’ve now spent about 25 hours across the full game and its two betas and would like to impart some tips and tricks for the early stages of the game. There’s a lot going on in Ubisoft’s 1:1 replica of D.C. and some of it is easy to miss or overlook. We hope that this guide will help you hit the ground running when The Division 2 officially launches March 15 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Check your gear often

Check your gear often | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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There’s your overall level, which is important, and then there’s also your total armor, health, and weapon stats. The latter three are more important than the level that it says you should be to attempt missions. As you complete missions and explore the streets, you’re going to fill your backpack with new pieces of armor and weapons.

You should make it a habit to check the character menu, which houses your inventory, each and every time you finish a mission. It doesn’t help to be level five and still wearing a level one vest or kneepads. Higher level defensive gear significantly improves your armor. You could be walking around with an armor level of 1,500 when you have the goods to be rocking a 3,000 build.

Similar to defensive gear, check your weapon slots up top. You start out with just two slots but can quickly expand to three by purchasing a perk in the White House Base of Operations. It’s beneficial not only to swap out weapons when you have better ones available, but to make sure you are making the most of your weapon slots.

That is, it’s not exactly ideal to be carrying to assault rifles at once. You’ll be able to carry two long guns (shotguns, SMGs, LMGs, snipers, rifles) and one pistol. We suggest carrying one automatic weapon and one “precise” gun such as a shotgun, sniper, or standard rifle.

Before switching gear, though, make sure to check its talents, attributes, and brand set (if applicable). When examining a piece of gear, it will have an overall grade. For defensive gear, it’s “armor.” For weapons, it’s DMG (damage). Usually, you want to equip gear with the highest values. But sometimes lower graded gear is still better due to specialized bonuses provided by attributes, brand set, and talents.

For instance, we had a vest with a 1,500 armor grade and another vest with a 1,600 armor grade. But the lower graded vest was “specialized” (blue gear). It came with a 10 percent rifle damage bonus, an 8.5 percent uptick in headset percentage, and 15 percent extra damage to elite enemies. The higher graded vest, a standard item, only had a 10 percent damage bonus for shotguns. We didn’t even have a shotgun in our inventory.

The lesson here? Swap gear often but check carefully before doing so. A surface level look may lead you to make the wrong decision and lose some pretty important bonuses. You can see how each piece of gear changes your armor and health values. Sometimes “better” gear actually lowers your health and armor. So it’s best to pay close attention before switching.

Use your skills and perks

Use your skills and perks | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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The Division 2 feels like more of a challenge than its predecessor. Enemies hound you, with multiple types who aren’t afraid of running up on your position. To survive, especially when playing solo, you best be using the Division agent skills. There are eight skills to unlock from the Quartermaster, each with multiple variants that can be unlocked with additional skill points.

  • Turret
  • Chem Launcher
  • Seeker Mine
  • Drone 
  • Pulse
  • Hive
  • Shield
  • Firefly

Right out of the gate, one of the first perks you should grab is the one that increases your skill capacity to two (perks are also acquired from the Quartermaster). We went with the Turret and Chem Launcher to start. Together, they’re a lethal combo for hordes of baddies. Turrets not only distract and damage enemies, but they point out their positions for you. The Chem Launcher poisons enemies and often sets the floor ablaze. Skills can be a real difference maker, especially when up against heavily armored enemies and bosses.

Agent Skills | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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If skills give you more versatility in battle, perks ensure you’re prepared for the task at hand. SHD Tech can be spent on incredibly useful perks such as increasing your armor kit capacity from three all the way to six, expanding your inventory, and weapon attachments. It can be easy to forget to go back and spend your SHD Tech on upgrades, but make it a priority to speak with the Quartermaster each time you return to a settlement.

Look out for SHD Tech Caches

Look out for SHD Tech Caches | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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Going hand-in-hand with the importance of skills and perks are SHD Tech Caches. Each region of D.C. has locations marked on the map where you can find a cache. Typically, you’ll have to fight off a small group of enemies guarding the cache before getting to the goods.

These caches have SHD Tech and usually a few pieces of gear. The SHD Tech can then be used to unlock new variants to your existing skills and perks. Using the computer for intel inside of new safe houses reveals the locations of all SHD Tech Caches in the area.

Open Field Proficiency Caches

Open Field Proficiency Caches | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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When enemies drop loot or you find bags/containers to loot throughout the world, you may pick up a Field Proficiency Cache. Field Proficiency Caches are sort of like loot boxes, except you don’t have to pay for them. You can hold up to ten at once.

Check your inventory to see if you have one. Opening one will reveal new pieces of gear that you otherwise wouldn’t have known you had. You can also purchase a perk that significantly increases the drop rate of these caches.

Use crafting to get major stat boosts

Use crafting to get major stat boosts | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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When a prompt shows up in one of the settlements to speak to Inaya al-Khaliq, don’t neglect it. Speaking with her unlocks crafting stations in settlements. At these stations, you can craft new gear based off of blueprints you’ve found with various materials.

It costs money to craft but not a ton (at least not in the early stages of the campaign). Crafting new weapons and armor can, in our experience, greatly enhance your overall build. For instance, we crafted a pair of kneepads that increased our armor stats by a full 300 points.

Balance Deconstructing, Junking, and Donating

Balance Deconstructing, Junking, and Donating | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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You have a number options when dealing with gear you don’t want in your inventory. You can either stash it, deconstruct it, donate it (if needed), or junk it and sell it to the vendor. Stashing gear that’s under the level cap of 30 will rarely make sense, as you’re unlikely to ever need it again as you continue to level up.

That leaves you with junking and deconstructing as the two main options. There’s not necessarily a correct way to deal with old gear, because you honestly have to do both. Deconstructing gear, done by pressing R3 in the inventory menu, creates materials that can be used in crafting, an activity that you’ll most certainly use more and more of as the adventure progresses.

But crafting requires not just materials, but E-credits (in-game currency). The Division 2 isn’t generous with E-credits. In fact, the vast majority (and maybe all) of our E-credits have come from junking and selling unneeded gear to vendors. Besides crafting, though, you won’t really need E-credits besides to purchase the occasional weapon or piece of armor from vendors.

Here’s a trick. If you find yourself running out of materials for crafting and you don’t have more gear to deconstruct, return to the vendor. You can re-buy sold gear for the same amount you were originally given for the item.

The last option for unneeded gear is to donate it, if a Project in the settlement is in need. Projects, new side activities, require you to perform tasks in the area for rewards. Some of the Projects ask for gear, such as multiple backpacks.

Talk to everyone in settlements

Talk to everyone in settlements | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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Don’t be in a hurry to get back out onto the streets. Settlements are large areas filled with people who can help you out. Talk to folks behind desks, talk to folks calling out at you, and pay attention to the points of interest marked on the map around you. Speaking with fellow resistance fighters and allies unlocks new side missions, projects, and activities. Similarly, you can learn about new activities by examining the computers inside safe houses.

Use side missions to stay on level

Use side missions to stay on level | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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We’re not saying that you have to complete every single side mission, but you almost assuredly have to engage with a bunch of them to stay on pace level-wise. Completing just the main missions will leave you under-leveled for the next mission. And we’re saying that after only getting a chance to check out the first three story missions.

Side missions are marked on your map. They don’t take as long as main missions, but they reward copious amounts of experience points as well as SHD Tech and blueprints. They’re beneficial all around.

Complete main missions right when they become available

Complete main missions right when they become available | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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Main story missions require you to be at a certain level to enter. Once you’re at that level, though, you should go straight to the mission. Main missions do not level up with you, so you can technically become over-leveled for a mission. That may sound appealing but it’s not worth it in the long run, if the goal is leveling up quickly.

Main missions dole out by far the most experience points. It’s rare to complete a main mission and not level up. Side missions level up alongside you, so if you complete side missions in the area before leveling up through the main mission, guess what? You just earned less experience points than you would have had you done the main mission first.

Return to settlements or safe houses after each mission

Return to settlements or safe houses after each mission | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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After finishing a mission, you’re usually running a little low on ammo. Rather than moving directly to the next mission not fully stocked, head back to a settlement or safe house (via fast travel). Returning to safe areas automatically restocks ammo for all guns. If you also happen to have the Restock 1 and Restock 2 perks, your armor kits and grenades will replenish fully as well.

Capture control points

Capture control points | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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Control Points are new to The Division 2. Marked with a red flag on the map, these areas need to be liberated from the enemy. Liberating Control Points lets allies set up shop as well as giving you access to a treasure trove of gear and items stockpiled by the baddies. The game tells you when you’re entering a Control Point. First, you have to defeat all the enemies. Then you have to shoot a flare in the sky to call in your allies. After the signal is received, you have to defend the area from another wave of enemies. Beware, Control Points are home to some heavily armed and armored dudes.

Following a successful liberation, the new makeshift settlement will need resources to stay up and running. We haven’t had a chance to see what happens, if anything, when resources run low after fulfilling their initial request, though.

There’s also a practical reason for liberating Control Points. They are located in spots that you’ll want to walk through frequently. Best make them safe areas as soon as possible.

Keep up with settlement projects

Keep up with settlement projects | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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Like Control Points, Projects are brand new to The Division 2 that tie into settlements. The Projects booth in the Theater settlement will be right in front of you when you fast travel in (across from the Vendor). Each Project has three objectives, a combination of donations and completing events such as finding SHD Tech Caches and completing random activities in certain areas.

Random activities are marked on the map with question marks. They range from stopping radio transmissions from disseminating enemy propaganda to protecting supply drops. Completing Projects usually rewards you with more experience points than a side mission. On top of that, though, they often provide you with blueprints for crafting.

Explore off the beaten path

Explore off the beaten path | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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As mentioned, The Division 2 is a 1:1 recreation of Washington D.C. In short, it’s really big. While the overhead marker constantly guides you to your pinpointed location, don’t be afraid to ditch the waypoint and see what you can find. Taking detours through alleyways and into nondescript buildings can lead to some great finds. Besides the obvious tangible benefits of exploration, letting yourself explore outside of the main streets makes The Division 2 a more enjoyable experience in our opinion.

Stay in cover and move strategically

Stay in cover and move strategically | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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It might go without saying, but The Division 2 really is a cover shooter through and through. Running around like Rambo will get you killed in a hurry. Enemies are incredibly accurate, so if you leave yourself open, they will hit you — repeatedly. That doesn’t mean you should never move while in a firefight, but you need to move strategically. On your radar in the upper lefthand corner of the screen, you’ll see general enemy locations as flashing red. If enemies are far away, it will light up red on the outside of the ring. If they are nearing your location, the light will be closer to the middle.

When facing off against a group of enemies, some of them will inevitably approach your position. Computer AI is fairly adept at flanking, so when ducking back into cover glance at the radar to make sure you’re not about to be surprised. In general, it helps to try and get the higher ground. A lot of areas in missions have multiple levels. If you can position yourself above enemies, that’s always the best move. If not, try to find a cover that protects multiple sides, rather than just a one-sided barrier.

Play with others

Play with others | Tips and Tricks for playing The Division 2
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While it’s certainly possible to brute force your way through missions solo (we played the entire beta solo before joining up with others), it’s helpful to team up with other agents. The Division 2 is designed as a shared world, cooperative experience. You’ll run into other players in safe houses and settlements that you can join up with.

If you insist on playing completely alone, just know that you can ask for help. The “call for backup” audio that you’ve probably heard a bunch if you played the beta, can be utilized when the going gets tough. You can call for backup from the menu, and if a nearby agent is feeling helpful, they might just come save you from the Hyenas. You can also use the matchmaking feature inside of each safe house to find playing partners to tackle missions alongside you.

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Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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