The Division is much deeper and bigger than it first appears, and the first time you open up the map and see all those little twinkly icons, or gaze at the stylised HUD and find yourself mildly perplexed by a bunch of unexplained readouts, it can seem daunting.
With that in mind, here are 8 beginner’s tips to get you through the first few hours without too much drama.
IT’S NOT A SHOOTER
Yes, there are guns in it, but The Division is most definitely not a simple 3rd Person Shooter. It’s even less a pure shooter than Destiny, a game with which it shares several notable tropes. In actual fact, The Division is an RPG, which is a whole different barrel of bullets.
Gear is of chief importance. Numbers crunch in the background, and fountain satisfyingly from the tops of your enemies’ heads. There’s loot. Stacks and stacks of it. Anyone going into this expecting to be popping headshots left, right and middle is going to be disappointed. It’s a role-playing game, do act accordingly: maintain your stats, spend your skill points, improve your gear regularly. Don’t assume it’s an easy ride because you know your way around Battlefield and CoD.
The secret to levelling up is putting in the effort. In every safe house there’s a situation board, from which you can update your map with dozens of confusing little icons. Pale blue pentagons are side missions, which reward you with loot and crafting blueprints. They’ll usually take around 5 – 15 minutes and aren’t usually too taxing.
Triangles are “Encounters”, and they come in three flavours: Green are Medical, and often involve viral research; orange are Tech, usually requiring the securing of supplies or disrupting enemy trades; blue are Security, which are often straight-up firefights or stronghold assaults. Mix it up to earn plenty of supplies for the corresponding wings of your base, and to maximise your overall efficiency.
POKE YOUR NOSE IN
For such a large, detailed world, The Division sure likes to hide its collectibles and loot. Containers will show up on the minimap until you ransack them, but things like cellphones won’t be visible all the time, and you’ll need to look for them. It’s worth poking your nose into nooks and crannies for tools, weapon parts, intel and random encounters.
RECYCLE, RECYCLE, RECYCLE
There’s little point buying anything in the early game. You’ll clear the first ten levels in around 6 hours, and you’ll constantly find stuff that’s better than what you just bought. Save your money, and trust in RNGesus. Likewise, early loot isn’t worth much to sell. It’s wiser to break everything down by holding the left stick in on the inventory screen. You’ll be thankful for the crafting materials later.
ONE TOUGH F.O.B
Your first priority should be establishing your forward operating base in Manhattan. Initially, the post office in which you hole up is an inert cave in which to cower, but the first three main missions will unlock Medical, Technical and Security wings and allow you to use passive character perks and more talents, as well as affording you free loot, more missions and the priceless sense that you’re part of something greater. Your base is instanced, too, so it’s upkeep and development is all down to you.
In addition to the wings, there are three vendors, a crafting bench, a situations board, a player stash and a reward vendor to collect your DLC items. Get the base up and running before you start faffing around and you’ll get more out of Manhattan.
THERE’S NO “I” IN TEAM
You can apparently solo everything in The Division, but it’s much more fun to go with friends. The main missions are much easier, as a lot of the bosses are tough bastards that you really don’t want focused solely on you. It makes forays into the PvP Dark Zone more fun, and there’s a greater sense that you’re part of an organisation tasked with saving America, rather than just a lackey doing everyone’s busy work. The main missions will give you the option to matchmake before you start, but you can team up just to walk down a street if you fancy it.
YOU HAVE ITEM WHEELS
This seems obvious, perhaps, but The Division doesn’t like to hold your hand beyond the nannying GPS indicator. I was picking up bottles of water and canned food, incendiary bullets and energy bars with no idea what they did. Holding right on the D-pad reveals an item wheel from which you can select these bits and pieces, while holding left let’s you select grenades. Call me stoopid, but it took me a solid two hours before I even realised you could do it.
FIND THE COVER SYSTEM YOU LIKE
It’s hidden deep in the menus, but the default system means that you can accidentally pop out of cover by moving away from it, as well as round the corner of cover just by moving. If you hit the options button and go to your settings, you can change it so that you don’t leave cover unless you press a button, and so that you will never round cover unless you specifically press a button to do so.