In our review of The Division I wrote that I was happy enough at level 26 and that reaching the level cap of 30 did not matter much to me. Well, I have been conscripted back in to pass on my wisdom. I had to clamber up the XP tree after all and see the endgame for myself. It seems a little bare when compared to the mostly-fun climb up but there is some good stuff to focus on. Here are some of the things you could be doing while waiting for the next campaign expansion to come along.
Money, money, money
The hook that Ubisoft hopes to embed deep in your cheek once you hit level 30 is the chase for Phoenix credits. These are a special currency that let you buy high-end and specialised gear from the new vendor who has materialised in your Tech Wing. He sells several high-end pieces of armour and the blueprints for many high-end weapons like the Liberator, an assault rifle with severe critical hit bonuses, and the high-end Vector, a submachine gun with potentially monstrous talents. There is also a special vendor in the Dark Zone, located in the block furthest to the Northeast, in the highest difficulty area, who trades in high-end goods for Phoenix credits instead of the usual Dark Zone funds. Let's look at a few ways to get these special credits.
Enemies with names
Killing named enemies will net you 1-3 credits, which you can scavenge from their corpse. These can be found both inside and outside the Dark Zone, however, the named baddies in the "normal" part of the city do not respawn for days at a time. In the DZ, named enemies will constantly reappear at the purple "landmarks" to get themselves murdered and remurdered. The trade off is that they are much more difficult than those outside the walls and will likely require a team to bring them and their goons down, especially the further north you go.
With this in mind, it isn't always wise to push as far as you might like in search of more enemies. You won't get any more XP for harder mobs and it will take even longer to fell the big guys. However, the latest patch (v. 1.02) has slightly increased the amount of Phoenix credits you get from enemies of level 31 and 32 found in the Northern quadrants (3-5 credits), as well as improving the rate at which named enemies drop high-end items like the Midas - a golden uzi that was so good it had to be recently nerfed.
Generally, you can saunter around in the 2 or 3 most southernmost DZ districts (DZ01 to DZ03) visiting and revisiting the same named enemies without too much trouble. If they do drop high-end loot, scarper to an extraction point and try not to die.
Like Destiny, there are also daily tasks for you to get stuck into, which award Phoenix credits for completion. There are usually three daily missions, revisiting the same story missions as before but demanding a higher difficulty. Playing through on 'hard' these will offer 15 Phoenix credits, some cash and a blueprint or other reward. Playing through a daily 'challenging' mission (see below) will get you 20 Phoenix credits as the daily reward plus another 30 just for having the stones to do it. All in all you can normally get 80 credits each day just by following this set menu.
After hitting level 30 you will unlock the 'Challenging' difficulty. This new difficulty offers 30 Phoenix credits per mission. And when coupled with the daily mission reward you can get as much as 50 Phoenix credits. This is the highest payout you can currently get for a single mission. However, only four of the story missions can be played on this difficulty at the moment: Lincoln Tunnel Checkpoint, Warren Gate Power Plant, Russian Consulate and Lexington Event Center (these all have an orange beam of light coming out of them on the map). Of these, I've found Lincoln Tunnel Checkpoint the easiest and quickest to complete, with the Russian Consulate being the most heinously difficult.
These missions will require a solid investment of time, effort and teamwork. You will have to face down the swarms of ultra spongey enemies so a four person team is more or less a necessity. Some of the battles become cripplingly difficult in challenging, like the Russian Consulate or Warren Gate Power Plant missions, both of which constantly see you fighting waves of nigh-invincible heavies and dangerous shotgun troops in incredibly tight corridors and stairwells. But it's also some of the most tactical fun with friends the game is offering. If anything, it's worth taking them on just for that. Unlike playing the daily missions on Hard, they can also be repeated for the same amount of Phoenix credits every time.
Dark Zone up
The current cap of the open world is level 30, but in the DZ it is level 50. In a bizarre, strong-arming move, Ubisoft have made virtually all the weapons sold by Dark Zone vendors require you to be at least level 30 on both ranks, with many also requiring a level 50 DZ rank. The special vendor in the north of "the Zone" basically only sells to the best of the best, for example.
Personally, after reaching DZ rank 30 I have found that much of the equipment on offer at DZ vendors is already outdated by the time you achieve the rank and it is better to earn Phoenix credits and spend them on the plans from your HQ's high-end vendor, allowing you to craft them yourself. But for those with their hearts set on hitting DZ rank 50 you will have to spend a lot of time farming the mobs of the Dark Zone and avoiding death. We cover how best to do this in our guide to the Dark Zone.
Become a collector
Hey, it's not all about the money. Now that getting your level up is not such a priority, you can afford to take in the sights (sounds) of New York. Use the Canine Unit upgrade on the security wing to reveal all the collectibles in a region by clearing all the side missions and encounters. Then stock up on the world's back story. It's arguably a much more interesting use of your time than murdering the same man over and over again.
Turn it off and come back for the expansion in June/July
This is also entirely fine.
For more tips for The Division check out all our guides here