New York City is a hard place to exist at the best of times, but in the wake of a flu pandemic that’s left it a lawless concrete jungle, one’s life expectancy can suddenly plummet.

Luckily, if you’re one of The Division’s agents, you’re better equipped than most to survive, but the Big Apple is still capable of throwing you the odd curveball – many of which can cause an untimely demise. If you find yourself hitting a wall in Ubisoft’s new MMO/RPG/Shooter hybrid, cast your eyes on the tips below. They just may save your bacon.

Don’t tackle a mission until you’re ready

This may sound obvious, but given the fact that the story missions are plonked in such close proximity to the player’s base, you may be tempted to tackle some missions before you’ve hit the requisite level cap. Take our advice on this: don’t.

When you hover the game’s cursor over a mission it’ll give you a heads up on how leveled up your character should be before you attempt it. If you ignore this and head in anyway, you run the risk of being caught in a never-ending war of attrition in which hard-as-nails enemies will turn you into a cadaver without much effort on their part. Make sure you have the armour, equipment and level required for each mission – unless, of course, you can pair up with players who are tougher than you, who don’t mind carrying you for a bit.

Make sure you upgrade your Base as quickly as possible

The Division’s main base contains weapons, gear, ammo and more, but after the first couple of missions, players will unlock three new wings – Medical, Technical and Security. It’s in your best interests to pour as many upgrade points into the three wings as soon as possible; not only do they unlock new equipment and abilities that players can switch out on the fly, they unlock passive perks, which players can also mod – depending on how much work they’ve put in. Players earn upgrade points by completing missions for each of the wings which are dotted around the map. The stronger your base is, the stronger you are.

Unlock as many safe houses as you can

Safe houses aren’t just areas where you can’t be attacked and you’re free to buy gear and restock your ammo – they’re fast travel points. First off, they cut your travelling time down by a massive margin; simply travelling to one of these nodes is easier and faster than hot-footing it through the streets for ten minutes at a time – and there’s less chance you’ll run into trouble.

The Division Tips

Second, and this is most important, safe houses are respawn points. This means that if you haven’t unlocked the one nearest to the mission or encounter you’re tackling you face a long walk on foot back from the other side of the map if you die. Safe houses are invaluable and they should be your first port of call whenever you enter a new district.

Take note of everything you collect

As you saunter through the streets of New York shooting and looting the ne’er-do-wells you come across, your inventory is going to fill up pretty quickly. In a way this is good because it will encourage you to mix and match. Every single time you collect a weapon, check your inventory for mods. Every time you pick up a new piece of gear, see how it compares to what you’re currently using. The idea here is to turn yourself into a walking slaughterhouse and this is only possible if you make sure you’re using the best equipment and the most lethal weapons which you’ve modded completely.

Don’t hoard equipment you’re not using

You only have space in your pack for a finite number of items, and let’s face it; once you upgrade to a new kneepad, gun or gas mask, you aren’t going back to the equipment you started out with.

The Division Tips and Tricks

As players progress through the levels, you’ll find that it’s not even worth stashing most of the stuff you find – unless, of course, you want to keep a trunk filled with snazzy outfits that have no real use beyond making you look like a snappy dresser. Nearly everything you find can be sold off at either your base or one of the many safe houses on the map. For the junk you can’t flog, it’s worth… well, junking it, so you can use it to craft items at a later date.

The Dark Zone can wait

We know you’re itching to get into the Dark Zone. The red blob smack bang in the middle of the map of Manhattan holds the promise of tough enemies loaded with superior loot – and loot’s one of the main reasons you’re playing The Division in the first place. Take heed, though, a lot of loot drops will only be earned after you’ve poured literally boxes of bullets into enemies with guns that are of a decent level and modded to the hilt. We suggest you take your time leveling up before you head in there – and try not to go in alone. Oh, and if you do decide to team up with people you know in real life, don’t be a douche and betray them for their loot. Friendships can end in the Dark Zone.