So many of us have waited for so long, but the wait to become an active agent in The Division and roam a ravaged New York City is over. We can all finally go about fighting swarms of escaped convicts, thugs, fire-obsessed zealots, and other enemies. But don’t jump in thinking you can just run and gun your way through the game. The Division may look like a shooter, but at it’s core it’s a strategy game crossed with a role-playing game. This means you’re going to have to play smart if you want to stay alive and keep your keyboard or controller intact. Fortunately, we’ve got just the tips you’ll need to hit the ground running and stay safe and alive in New York.
1. Think about cover at all times
When you’re up against 10 or so enemies and the bullets are flying, there’s no easier way to die than to stand out in the open trying to spray them all down. The Division’s combat is largely taking cover, moving between cover, and positioning yourself to have a tactical advantage.
If there are enemies, you better get behind some cover quickly. The thicker, the better. It also helps to find a bit of cover that has an L shape and a bit of length to it. The L shape is important because it will keep two sides of you covered, so you only have to worry about enemies flanking from two sides. The length is important because enemies can target you with suppressing fire, and if you don’t have some wiggle room, you might be pinned. If you can find cover that’s up high, you’ll be in even better position, as enemies below will be more exposed.
2. Be aware of your surroundings
This means a couple things. The first is simply know where enemies might come from — if you just passed an alley and now have enemies in front of you, it’d be smart to assume that enemies could flank you from that alley. More advanced enemies in The Division are actually pretty smart about flanking, so if you’ve left a route for them to come around behind you, you should expect that they will.
The second aspect of this is to be aware of cover you can switch to if the enemies push up on you or flush you out of your current hiding. It’s easy to take cover at the beginning of a firefight and try to stay in that same position until all the enemies are dead, but this will only work with the easiest groups of enemies, and probably even then only if you have some squad-mates who are helping out. Oftentimes you’ll find enemies throwing grenades to force you out of cover, and when they do, you’ll wish you had figured out where you could safely and quickly roll away to beforehand. (You can see toward the end of this video how quickly I die when I’m pushed out of my cover without a backup cover in mind.)
3. Shoot enemies with grenades
As just mentioned, enemies with grenades are going to make it hard for you to stay in cover. Fortunately, enemies who are going to throw a grenade will have a pretty clear HUD indicator over them, and if you’re a tactical agent, you’ll quickly turn that threat into an opportunity.
When enemies are preparing to throw a grenade, you can take the opportunity to load them up with bullets. A powerful sniper shot or a solid few rounds from one of your other weapons ought to be enough to make the enemy drop the grenade at their own feet, harming them and any of their nearby allies.
4. Shoot heavy thugs in the backpack
Like the grenadier tactic, there are a few instances when you’ll be wise to pick your shot with pinpoint timing or accuracy. While shooting a grenadier is about timing, shooting one of the heavy thugs with a backpack is about careful aim. You can spot these enemies by the HUD indicator over them that looks like an rocket-propelled grenade, and of course by their plump size and large backpack.
What’s in that backpack? A lot of ammo. If you do enough damage to the backpack (a direct shot from a marksman rifle does the trick) all of the ammunition in the backpack starts to go off, significantly damaging the enemy, potentially damaging nearby enemies, and leaving the target vulnerable to more bullets from you as they flail around. (In the video above, you’ll see what the enemy looks like, and how much it takes to kill him because I don’t target the backpack.)
5. Shoot cleaners in the fuel tanks
Cleaners are a dangerous faction, and they’ll be quick to set you on fire with their surprising quantity of flamethrowers. Fortunately, they’re powerful and heavily armored units have an even more fatal flaw than the heavy thugs. The flamethrower-wielding cleaners have an easy to spot red fuel tank on their back. A few rounds direct to this tank will send the enemy running for their life, but running never helps. In my experience so far, a sniper shot to one of these tanks has been as good as a one-hit kill (better even than a headshot). The only exception has been some of the boss-level flamers, which have multiple fuel tanks, and don’t go don’t quite so easily. These are easy to spot though, as they are super-human-sized.
6. Don’t neglect your enemies legs
OK, so you’re not going to do the most damage by shooting enemies in the legs, and most of the time you’ll be better served by shooting them in the torso, head, or specific weak points like those mentioned earlier. But there’s one aspect to shooting enemies in the legs that makes it particularly useful: it will trip them up.
The Division challenges you with a mix of enemy types. One of those types is a nearly fearless rusher that will run through all the bullets flying about so they can get close to you and, in all likelihood, hit you in the head with a baseball bat. Having to divert your attention to a bunch of rushers can be difficult, especially because not the enemies you were shooting are free to shoot at you while you’re busy trying to kill rushers before they reach you. But you don’t have to kill the rushers so fast. If you shoot them in the legs, they may stop or stumble, buying you some time to either get a better sight on their heads, or to send a few more bullets at the gun-wielding enemies behind them.
7. Make your primary and secondary weapons different types
The Division allows you to carry a primary and secondary weapon, as well as a sidearm. There’s actually no difference between the primary and secondary, meaning any weapon could be put into either slot (though some buffs may affect slots differently). It doesn’t matter much whether you want an M4 in your primary and a shotgun in your secondary — what matters is that you have different types of guns handy. You’ll find yourself in a lot of situations, and the dynamic of the battle can change quickly. If you’re carrying around two sniper rifles, and suddenly find yourself in a close-range fight, you’re going to have a lot of trouble finding the time to scope in on each enemy and line up a shot.
If you regularly play with a squad, you’ll have a little more leeway to choose what weapons you’re most comfortable with, but you should still consider weapons suited to different types of engagement. You may be able to get away with two mid-range weapons, but don’t pick two close-range or two long-range weapons and expect to have an easy time. Pick a primary that suits you, and a secondary that you know you’ll be able to handle well enough to save your skin in a pinch.
8. Don’t forget a few weapons in your backpack
You might think you should carry a primary and secondary weapon and a sidearm, and that’s it. Right, that leaves all the extra space in your backpack for loot! Only problem is that it can be very helpful to have a few backup weapons handy wherever you go. In The Division, you never lock into a specific class as you would in most RPGs. Instead, you’re able to change up your class, role, function, and all on the fly. But you’ll have a hard time changing up your role if your guns stay the same, and going back to the base of operations to switch out your inventory every time isn’t practical. Especially because the need to change roles can happen over the course of a single mission. So, having a few different weapon types sitting in your backpack can be handy.
A second aspect of this is that some prolonged firefights can see your ammo count for your primary and secondary weapons starting to get pretty low. If you run out of ammo for your main weapons but you have a different type of weapon in your backpack, that backup won’t be suffering from the same ammo drought, allowing you to keep up the fight.
9. Pick a good sidearm and get to be friends with it
Sidearms are no joke in The Division, and because they have unlimited ammo, they may be the only defense you have left against a ceaseless flood of enemies (especially if you ignore my earlier advice). Even if you don’t run out of ammo completely, the sidearm is a great option when an enemy only has a few more points of health left and you’re primary weapons need to be reloaded. One of my favorite types of sidearms has a relatively common perk that makes it do double damage against low health enemies, making the use of a sidearm to finish off an enemy the most sensible decision in a firefight.
10. Get a microphone and use it
If you play The Division without a microphone, you are literally the worst. The Division is a tactical game, and one of the major focuses is working with a squad, which you need to communicate to do effectively. Aside from the obvious reasons — that it will allow you to communicate with your teammates, have a more fun time, be more effective, and all that — it also might just save your skin around other players in the Dark Zone. I once was shot by another player in the DZ while engaging some AI enemies, and I was about to turn and wreck this newly rogue agent, but because he had a mic, I could hear him say, “Whoops, my bad. Sorry.” And you know what? He was forgiven. If he had tried to type, “Sorry,” he’d have needed to do it on a Ouija board.
11. Hang around Dark Zone extraction points with your guns ready
I’m not going to suggest you hang around the DZ extraction points so you can kill other agents and steal their loot. That’s a good way to get yourself targeted and killed on the regular. However, what is a good strategy is hanging around the DZ extraction points and killing other agents who do try to kill other agents and loot them. If an agent attacks another agent, they’ll go rogue. Then it will be OK for you to kill them, and loot them, getting bonus DZ experience points and money in the process.
You may be able to spot potential rogues at extraction points if they don’t have a yellow bio-hazard container hanging from the bottom of their backpack. It’s possible they’re defending a friend. Otherwise, the lack of a container indicates that they have no loot to extract, so they may be there hoping to steal someone else’s loot. Once they do attack another agent, you’ll see the tell-tale red skull above their head, and then it’s open season. Even if you don’t encounter rogues, some extraction points will have AI enemies show up now and then, and you can get XP from fighting them.
With all of these tips and tricks handy, you should be able to quickly get your footing in The Division and be ready to help save New York.
Follow Mark on Twitter at @WallStMarkSheet
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook