The Division 2 has grown on me a bit more than I’d expected it would. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first game for a number of reasons, and I didn’t really expect the second to hold much interest for me. I had originally intended to pass on the open beta but ended up giving the game a shot anyway.
After playing the game for a week, I’ve found there are a handful of things that are worth sharing with readers. In some cases, I’m just citing some basic strategic moves to maximize your time online, in others I’m just spotlighting something I didn’t find obvious at first. Either way, this is a list of things I would have liked to have known earlier as I started playing the game.
You’ve probably noticed Armor comes with various brand names and a random set of bonuses. I didn’t realize at first that the brands matter. As you get three pieces from a brand, you incrementally get additional bonuses for each piece. All three bonuses show up when inspecting the item, but the ones that are subdued are not active yet due to not having enough pieces of the set.
Choosing armor is further complicated by how stats appear to be randomly generated for armor. The extra bonus stat, or stats in higher level gear, seems to be random, meaning you could find a nice second China Light set to get the 10% shotgun damage that also has 15% boost to SMGs, which you don’t use. Maybe the 15% shotgun bonus on your Douglas & Harding armor is better for now, despite being the wrong set.
One thing that was done very well in The Division 2 is that the game rewards you for taking your time and looking around. If you’re ever in a mission and the next stage is clearly in one direction, but there’s a gate, door, short hall, or something to be explored off to the side, check it out.
I’ve found gun crates and gotten great drops in very unexpected places, so I’ve gotten into the habit of climbing everything I can and looking down every hallway. Players are rewarded for being inquisitive, and often very well. It’s definitely worth taking a little extra time to see precisely what’s around every corner.
In particular, I’ve found that story missions to be good about rewarding explorative behavior. Nearly every time I’ve come across a scene where the next step in a mission was clearly in one direction with another option near by heading in another, there were a number of resources, armor, or weapons in the other direction and usually within a few steps.
I know this is an obvious one, but I didn’t know. If you see a gate locked with a bike lock, shoot the lock. You’ll then be able to open the gate and there’s always something good inside waiting for you. It’ll sometimes be a fair amount of salvage material, but it seems like more often for me it’s been a weapon crate or some other gear to be looted.
Most that have been playing for long have had to figure this out in order to get access to some SHD Tech caches already, but I thought it worth putting in the list for any new players who are just now starting. Afterall, this is a list of things that confused me or that I missed and didn’t see in a single location when I was new to the game.
The first focus for every player ought to be unlocking the first two skills, turret and hive in my case. You’ll soon acquire enough SHD Tech between skill unlocks that you’ll start picking up perks. Extra armor kits and grenades can be handy, but you should prioritize the accolades first. It’s a series of five perks for one point each that increase the amount of experience you gain for various actions while killing enemies.
The result is a noticeable increase in experience gain and should be your first investment. This allows you to level a bit more quickly, and you should soon find yourself leveling just a little faster than the pace of the story missions.
After that, I would pick up the deconstruction perks and then go for the extra armor and grenades. You’re basically throwing money away by deconstructing before you have the perks, and while early crafting isn’t critical, it still accounts for some resources. Maxing out on resource capacity means you can then sell more, which means more credits to buy that key piece of missing armor later from the vendor.
Around level 10, you’ll start getting access to mods for your combat skills. Mods will do a number of things like improving skill cool downs, increasing the damage of the skill, or providing more health for deployable equipment. I was able to craft mods before I started looting them, so I didn’t know where printer filaments came from.
Printer filaments are critical components in crafting mods for your combat skills. You get them from deconstructing other skill mods. At the time, I had none to deconstruct. By level 14 or so, I was collecting enough mods through normal play that with the help of deconstruction perks, I now have plenty of printer filaments.
Have you noticed those Hyena boxes in missions that were locked and that you couldn’t open? They needed a Hyena key, which I’ve heard can drop off of the NPCs in that area if you kill enough of them. I don’t know that I’ve gotten a single key that way, but I have gotten them by going underground.
You’ve probably noticed those yellow arrows on your minimap and found entrances to what look like the sewer when you explored to find out what those symbols were marking. If you’re like me, you were heading to a mission every time and didn’t let yourself get side-tracked into something unrelated. You probably should, though.
The tunnels are filled with a lot of great loot that’s worth your time to pick up. More importantly, you’ll likely find a small box along the edge of the tunnel that looks a bit like a circuit breaker without any conduit running from it. Those boxes contain faction keys. You’ll most often get a key for the presiding faction in that area, but sometimes will find keys for other factions. Faction loot boxes drop great gear and should be opened at every opportunity.
Shoot to Disable
Many of your enemies will have weak points that can be exploited. Grenadiers and support gunners will have ammo pouches that will explode if shot. It’s not just entertaining and it’s not just extra damage. It’s a distraction. The NPC will stop worrying about any enemies in the area and just run around while their pants explode around them.
There’s clear comedic value there, but between forcing an enemy to stand and often break cover for a period of time can be really helpful, not to mention the very respectable amount of damage the exploding ammunition does to the NPC in question.
I’ve found that Hive is a great tool for some of the more difficult enemies because of the likelihood of setting off one of those reactions. The number of shards flying at the enemy and hitting him all over have a fair chance of hitting one of those weak points. It’ll either knock some armor off or set off a reaction. Other skills can do it as well, but Hive has been a very consistent performer for me.
Play with a Friend
While the beta proved interesting enough for me to pick up the game and early gameplay was enjoyable, I’d started getting a bit bored after about a week of playing the game. I thought the game would end up being too basic of an experience for me to enjoy it for long, but then I teamed up with a friend, and then later another joined us.
Grouping scales content to match, and scales very well. Missions are a little harder with two players, and even harder with three and four. I found that teaming up with friends made the rather simple missions even more fun because they required a little more planning and coordination to pull off.
When playing alone, I usually employed my skills to just see how fast I could take a group of enemies down. While playing with my friends, I found myself throwing out a Hive or flame turret to hold off a charge of enemies long enough for our team to reposition and reapply our armor before re-engaging. Often, a well-timed deployable from one member of the team or another was the difference in the group wiping or not.
As much a note to myself as to you all, but you want to keep playing just a bit more when you get to those slow spots. I won’t say that The Division 2 is the must buy game of the year by a long shot. At its core, it’s still a looter-shooter and will have a limited playability for me. Though to be fair, I do feel as if I have gotten my money out of it over the last couple weeks.
Just as I was getting bored with the game this weekend and thinking about picking up another one, I found the game becoming more interesting. Part of it was playing with friends and moving into that period where the game was just more challenging, but I also passed into a new section of the city not long after that and began to run into new types of enemies.
Missions got a whole lot more complex and more interesting as the types of enemies started getting more diverse. The old tactic of sitting in the back and sniping the crap out of everyone is no longer valid and is especially invalidated by the difficulty being ramped while playing alongside friends. Instead, I’ve found myself swapping weapon to weapon more often as I adjust my playstyle to match the dynamic situations created in each engagement.
I think the terrain used in missions is getting more interesting, too. Fighting in the Air and Space Museum (my favorite one IRL, btw) created some very interesting combat as hostile NPCs stormed the theater room through multiple doors and sniped through holes in the screen. In the last fight, bunches of weaker enemies even stacked up and rushed our positions a few times, which was as effective in the game as it is in real life.
It seems as if the AI behavior has gotten more interesting as I’ve moved to new areas, as well. In part, it’s probably as much to do with the new AI types as anything. It does seem as if even old unit types also behave more interesting, though. Whatever the reason, the AI seems to be making interesting decisions that do make the fights more engaging than they had been earlier in the game.
I hope those few points help players out a bit. I’m hardly the first to come up with most of them and had to look for myself first when I came to those knowledge gaps. These are all things I didn’t know when I started and wished had been pulled into a single place for me to read and is information that now hopefully saves someone a little searching.
All the articles I’ve read assumes you’re a fan of the series and doesn’t bother to point out subtle things like the impact of playing with others and getting to later missions, though. I know I came really close to walking away and it was a PM from a friend that pulled me back in for just a few more missions. I could have walked away early and would have never known the game got more interesting and hope this provides the encouragement for someone else to get over that hump.
That said, there could be more gaps in interesting content later. I’m a long way from the end-game, but new enemies are being introduced at a pretty consistent rate right now. I think that’ll continue to extend the play-life of the game for me to some degree. At the very least, I’ll know to push a little farther if I start to get bored again, just in case.