Five Tips For Playing Tom Clancy's The Division

Tom Clancy's The Division
Tom Clancy's The Division. Ubisoft

As I head back out for another trip into the Dark Zone to try and find some more loot in the addictive Tom Clancy’s The Division, the best game since at least The Witcher 3: Blood Hunt, and arguably since “Bloodborne,” I realize what the last few dozen hours of gameplay have taught me. There are definite strategies to succeeding at The Division, and we here at are built to help you, the gamer. So let me offer five hints for those of you just customizing your avatar and getting ready to save New York City. You’re gonna have a blast.


I’ll admit a dirty secret: I don’t really like co-op. Since the co-op gaming craze took off about five years ago, I’ve kind of been in denial, playing games co-op when I have to, but, just as often, going it alone to avoid players who don’t know what they’re doing or drop out entirely. And much of The Division can be played alone. Sure, they’re constantly asking you to initiate “Matchmaking,” but my response for a long time was, “Whatever. I got this.” And that will work…for a while. After about Level 15, you’ll notice that the story missions have become inordinately difficult. That’s because they’re designed to be done as a team. I remember being stuck on one particularly annoying mission when I decided to try it with partners. We raced through it. And even this co-op hesitant player had a blast. My two partners had very difficult skills equipped and we complemented each other perfectly, as one healed this warrior and our third player, while we unleashed hell. Try it. You’ll love it.


This might seem logical, but tips often are. As you level up and become strong enough to explore new sections or New York City and open the map: Always find the safe house first. You’ll quickly realize that not only is the safe house where you can respawn when you die but it opens up numerous side missions by reading the board and getting the briefing from the agent there. Here’s the real tip: Commit to it. When you mark a safe house on your map, you’ll be distracted by other missions on your way there. Ignore them. Get to the new safe house and then work backward to the other side missions. The safe houses are key.


As the game expands, you’ll get further and further away from your Base of Operations. Don’t forget about it. In fact, it’s essential to the game’s success, not only opening new perks and talents but giving you new tools with which to play (and has some cool easter eggs buried in it). For example, one of the Tech Wing upgrades allows you modify your armor further than you otherwise would. And don’t forget about checking out the vendors and crafting station every time you go there. Basically, after every story mission, and after accumulating credits to upgrade wings, go do it. You can’t take ‘em with you when you go.


You may be tempted to wander into the Dark Zone, the legendary center of Manhattan that’s lawless but promises the most impressive loot. Know your role. It’s the Wild West of The Division, rumored to be the place in which people kill each other for their gear. Given the loss of XP in doing so and the bounty put on your head, it almost never happens. In fact, I’ve spent hours in the Dark Zone and never been killed by another player. Enemies, on the other hand? They’re brutal. And they will get together to destroy you, especially as you try to extract the cool stuff you’ve found (loot found in the DZ needs to be extracted due to biohazard). Don’t even bother until you're level 20, very familiar with your upgraded skill sets and ready for the carnage.


At first, I followed a typical RPG structure, selling weapons and armor I didn’t need and buying cool new toys. Don’t bother. You’ll find much cooler weapons in the field than you will at vendors (except for maybe in the DZ), and you’ll find much cooler weapons at the crafting station. When your backpack gets full—and it will get full—deconstruct weapons and gear so you’re ready to make new ones. My favorite current weapon is one I made myself. I’m so proud.