What to do in The Division after level 30
The Division’s main storyline and progression to level 30 does nothing to prepare you for the economies that matter to a level-capped player. The Dark Zone not only sports its own currency, but also its own level; the vitally important Phoenix Credits get next to no introduction in-game; and finally, there are talent builds to reckon with. This guide hopes to help those fresh Level 30s achieve success from day one of the end game.
THE DARK ZONE
The one thing The Division nails spot-on is the Dark Zone. A combination high-end PVE and no-holds-barred PVP arena, the Dark Zone is where many fresh level 30s immediately set their waypoints. Before you go, though, there are some things you should know.
First, there is a separate currency and level progression for the Dark Zone, both of which become relevant in the pursuit of gear and can only be improved by grinding. Dark Zone gear vendors sell epic superior and legendary high-end weapons and armor that can only be acquired after grinding up your Dark Zone level. There are actually two distinct sets of Dark Zone vendor gear – the DZ Level 30 gear, available at all vendors located on the border checkpoints, and DZ Level 50 gear, available at vendors within safe houses inside the Dark Zone.
Second, there are safe houses inside the Dark Zone. These function exactly like safe houses in the normal areas of the game, in that there is no combat allowed, but they are a bit more spartan than you will be accustomed to on the outside. Inside a safe house there is only a vendor and a Resupply Cache – no access to your stash here! Unlike regular safe houses, each Dark Zone safe house possesses multiple exits to alleviate concerns about Rogues camping the exit and killing players while they are still loading the environment.
Rogues are a pain and a constant menace. While a player that is already Rogue shows up periodically on the minimap (and you can get some nice rewards for killing rogues), the real Rogue menace lurks within the heart of every other player in the Dark Zone. A note of caution: be wary of strangers you invite to groups. While the whole “strangers in the night, uniting to grind for some sweet loot before parting friends” dynamic is an intriguing one, it can also lead to disaster; if one player in a group goes rogue, the whole group goes rogue. For the unprepared player, going rogue means almost certain death.
And death hurts in the Dark Zone. Whenever a player is killed, they drop at least part of their contaminated loot (if they have any), as well as some Dark Zone currency and Dark Zone keys. These can be retrieved by the downed player – but only if they aren’t stolen first. There’s something of a silver lining to this, though, in that not all the gear you drop is publicly available; however, there’s no control over what is public and what is private among death drops.
Getting started in the Dark Zone can be daunting, particularly for solo players, but not impossible. With just the assortment of blues and purples you may possess whenever you hit level 30 on the outside, it is best to stick to the lower DZ levels starting out (the Dark Zone features sub-zones, numbered 1 through 6, scaling in difficulty). If the various rioters and looters of DZ01 are a bit overwhelming, consider switching up your build to focus more on crowd control than straight damage.
There are several opportunities for efficient farming patterns in the Dark Zone once you get yourself acclimated (and a basic level of gear), but some can be traps for the foolish. The Kalkasse Sports store – Bryant Park route is great for those with decent gear and a few friends, but not so friendly for solo/duo players, due in large part to the high population of players along the route. Instead, look towards the subways, particularly the routes in DZ04, for relatively safe (from rogues) grinding.
Finally, the Dark Zone is all about trusting and honing your instincts. If you think someone is going to go rogue, vacate the area or go rogue first. It’s much easier to run out the 90 second timer (literally – run those things out, don’t stop, and don’t box yourself in) than it is to recover your loot after getting ganked. Patience is a virtue – but so is clear, decisive action when it is called for. Above all else, never hesitate in the Dark Zone.
Of course, the Dark Zone isn’t the only additional economy for max level players to consider – there are also Phoenix Credits. Phoenix Credits are a currency that drop off of named yellow elites and are rewarded for completing dailies. These Credits are used at your Special Gear Vendor in your base for superior and high-end gear and blueprints, as well as for recalibrating high-end gear.
The best way to gather Phoenix Credits (barring Bullet King exploits) is via the daily challenges. Each day, two missions are given bonuses for completion on Hard, while an additional mission is given a bonus for completion on Challenging. Hard Dailies reward 15 Phoenix Credits each, while Challenging Dailies reward 20 (in addition to the 30 Phoenix Credits rewarded normally for a complete Challenging run). Essentially, by completing your dailies each day you can gain 80 Phoenix Credits.
Challenging runs are legitimately challenging, if not impossible, for newly minted Level 30s. While strategies (covered further down) can help ease the pain of a challenge run, solo matchmaking is not advised. Skipping (or being unable to complete) the day’s challenging daily leaves 50 Credits on the table, but Hard dailies are actually quite easy to complete even at low gear levels, and provide a steady drip of 30 Credits a day for the dedicated.
Once you’ve built up a decent amount of Credits, it is time to spend them. I recommend getting the Liberator blueprint first and foremost, as it is easily one of the best assault rifles available in the game. The Liberator is relatively easy to push up over the 100k DPS mark, making enemies much easier to eliminate both in the Dark Zone and dailies. However, if you are more of a submachine gun fan, the Vector 45 ACP is among the best in that category as well. After that, the choice really comes down to personal preference, though it is important to note that many players suggest getting health to around 60-65k before moving on to stack Firearms and Electronics ratings.
Before diving into the nitty gritty of talent builds, the most important thing for a new level 30 is to understand that talent builds are, ultimately, a combination of personal preference and best practice as applied to your way of playing. Support players will want to invest in support skills, while those who love seeing things blow up will want different things. To further complicate things, high-end gear have their own talents that can be unlocked through achieving certain Firearms, Stamina, or Electronics ratings (or some combination thereof).
First and foremost, though, you’ll need to grind once you hit Level 30. Yes, I know, it seems a little silly at this point, but in order to fully unlock all of your talents and abilities, you’ll likely have to head back and mop up at least some of those side missions you skipped along the way. Luckily, you should be most of the way there once you hit Level 30 (at least 90% complete in each wing of your base), but you’ll need to get each wing to 100% to unlock the Signature Skill for that tech tree.
Signature Skills are long-cooldown, high-impact abilities that can revive downed members, heal or buff the damage resistance of your entire group, or greatly increase the damage dealt for all group members. Signature Skills make Challenge mode doable for those without great gear, and they can mean the difference between success and failure in the Dark Zone.
Once unlocked, you’ll want to think about what type of player you want your character to be – and luckily, the Division allows you to experiment with talents as much as you want. Here are a few Skill and Talent Builds you can use as a starting point:
Support: You like helping others help you get loot? Well, try this out for size.
- Support Station (Ammo Cache Mod)
- Smart Cover (Supply Line Mod)
- Recovery Link
- Tech Support
- Combat Medic
- Battle Buddy
Damage: All about blowing stuff up and mowing people down? This should get you going.
- Pulse (Tactical Scanner Mod)
- Sticky Bomb (BFB Mod)
- Tactical Link
- Tech Support
- Tactical Advance
- One is None
- Chain Reaction
Dark Zone: The Dark Zone is a scary place full of scary people. Be one of them.
- Pulse (Scrambler Mod)
- Sticky Bomb (BFB Mod)
- Survivor Link
- Critical Save
- Strike Back
- Police Up
- One is None
Again, these are just starter builds for a few situations, and there are ever more specialized synergies being developed by the community every day. For those who just hit level 30, though – congratulations. Now the real grind begins.