The latest expansion for Ubisoft’s The Division, Survival, focuses on scavenging and chaotic engagements. Instead of zombies or the like, the mode puts you in the middle of a gigantic snowstorm after your helicopter crashes into the ground, leaving you with little more than a scrap of fabric and your sidearm. The goal is escape, but to do that you’ll have to roam around New York looking for loot to gear up your character while fighting back infection. It can be an extremely challenging experience, but there’s a few strategies that can help you get started.

Start in PvE Mode

When you first queue into Survival, you’ll see two different modes: PvE and PvP. The second allows players to engage each other at will. Even though it may be tempting to journey immediately into Survival’s PvP mode, you’ll want to start in PvE mode for the sake of learning the base mechanics. Take some time to establish a set looting route, as well as an optimal path through the Dark Zone that you can navigate and survive through. Then when you drop into PvP, you’ll have a leg up on other players who haven’t thought out their plans and on even ground with those who have.

Avoid Enemies You Can’t Handle

Even though this may seem simple enough to understand, avoiding encounters with groups of higher-level enemies you can’t handle without consuming a heavy amount of resources (like Medical Kits, consumables, etc.) is one of the most valuable lessons you’ll learn. Unlike the base game, NPCs in Survival can slaughter you in a few seconds provided you don’t have the appropriate equipment, ending your journey in a matter of seconds. If you know you can’t handle a group of elites, don’t even bother engaging them. Just hide and wait for them to pass or work out a route around them (especially if you’re playing solo). If they do happen to spot you, there’s no shame in running away either.

Use Your Medical Supplies ASAP

From the beginning of each match, you’ll be infected with a disease which will claim your characters life after 60 minutes. To keep it suppressed and add time to your ticking clock, you’ll have to use Painkillers or Medicine from medical bags scattered about the map. While valuable, these should be used immediately once you obtain them to keep your infection in check even though they become less effective over time. If you don’t keep up with your infection, you might find yourself in a situation where Painkillers and Medicine won’t give you the time you need to extract. Remember, it’s always better to have more time than less.

Grab Loot Before Someone Else Does

Since it’s on a whole different set of rules than the base game, loot throughout the entire mode is shared between all players instead of being instanced to individuals. Because of this change, you’ll often encounter players who will wait for you to engage a pack of enemies and proceed to loot everything they were guarding while you’re busy dealing with them. Make sure to loot everything you see on the ground the second it drops and then manage your inventory or trade with your group members in a safe location. You’ll otherwise probably be jumped for the gear you just worked hard to obtain.

Conserve Your Materials

Just like the base game, Survival has an entire set of weapons, equipment, attachments, skills, and more that you can create with components you find out in the world. At first, crafting seems like a weak alternative to looting out in the world, but the closer you get to the Dark Zone, the more blueprints you’ll unlock for more powerful equipment. Even though the temptation to create lower-quality equipment for your character may feel overwhelming at times, be sure to save enough materials to make some high-end gear for yourself once you make it to the Dark Zone. You’ll certainly need it when you go up against high level NPCs like hunters.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore