Loot shooters like The Division 2 are all about the endgame for some players. In order to participate in high-level challenges and truly feel comfortable in the three Dark Zone PvE/PvP areas, though, you need to finish the story and hit the level cap of 30.
Thankfully, the story missions are quite enjoyable. No matter how you approach the grind to 30, it will be a grind. There’s no way around it. You’re looking at at least 20 to 30 hours working towards the cap, even if you’re an unstoppable Division agent. But you can come in closer to the lower end of that estimate by sticking to a plan — as in our leveling guide.
For all the best tips and tricks you need to know, check out our Division 2 beginner’s guide and our skills and perks guide.
Story missions are the best source for experience points. While that may be an obvious thing to note, there’s another reason why they should be treated as a priority. Story missions do not level up alongside you like other content. That means they offer fixed XP. You’re blocked from entering story missions below the required level, but once you reach the level of the next story mission, you should complete it before doing anything else.
Each and every story mission we’ve completed has provided enough XP for us to level up. But that wouldn’t be true if we engaged with side content and became over-leveled for a story mission. Plus you’re throwing away XP by completing side content before main missions, as all side missions and open world activities level up with you, increasing XP rewards in the process.
After completing a story mission, you can replay it to earn additional loot on multiple difficulty levels (story, normal, and hard). However, you will not earn the large chunk of XP at the end of the mission, even if you replay it on hard difficulty. You’ll earn XP for defeating enemies as usual, but replaying isn’t worth it if you’re trying to level up quickly.
The Division 2 is built as a cooperative endeavor, but you can play through all of the story content solo if you’d like. In terms of leveling, there are two ways of looking at it. When playing solo, you’ll earn more XP for completing missions simply because you have to kill all of the enemies yourself. You only earn XP for the enemies you deal damage to, so you rack up much more playing by yourself.
However, if you assemble a good squad, you can complete missions faster playing in a group. Still, if you’re clearing missions in under an hour solo, you’re doing just fine. You might be able to shave off a couple of hours of the grind by playing with a squad, though.
You can earn a sizable sum of additional XP by killing groups of enemies if you have the accolade perks. Purchased from the Quartermaster at the White House with SHD Tech, these five perks really help. The first one costs just one SHD Tech, but they scale up to five by the time you purchase the last one.
Side missions, which unlock organically and by talking to folks in Settlements, typically reward you with a third to half the amount of XP given out in main missions. But you can complete side missions much quicker than main missions. In fact, we’ve played a handful that took us no more than 15 minutes.
You’re going to experience a gap between your level and the next main mission, quite often. To fill that gap fast, knock out any and all side missions. But make sure to stop once you reach the level of the next main mission. The remaining side missions will level up alongside you, and their XP rewards will increase.
Control Points, marked on your map with a red flag, are entirely optional. However, they are the best source of XP outside of main and side missions. They level up alongside you, so you only want to clear them out when you’re currently under-leveled for the next main mission.
After securing a Control Point, talk to the officer and see what supplies they need. Donating supplies, which you’ll find naturally during your adventure, rewards small sums of XP. Capturing Control Points also really helps your efforts for the next major XP source.
Projects are available in each Settlement for the various regions in D.C. Each Project tasks you with fulfilling three objectives. These range from donating gear and resources to completing open world activities and recovering SHD Tech Cache. Once you reach the upper teens and early 20s level-wise, Projects really start paying. Like side missions, they level alongside you. A good rule to follow is after unlocking a safe house, quickly go pick up all of the SHD Tech in the area. While en route, engage with the ? mark activities on the map. These small-scale events take five to ten minutes.
Trust us, by routinely knocking out open world activities, you’ll save yourself a lot of time. By the time you reach the mid-twenties, Project completion radio calls will start to crop up regularly, notifying you that a big XP reward is coming your way next time you return to the settlement.
Once you hit level 26, the first Stronghold becomes available in Judiciary Square. District Union Arena asks you to eliminate the remaining Hyena leaders. Doing so will reward you with nearly 300k XP. Once you complete that, you’ll be almost ready for the next Stronghold, located on the western edge of the map.
Roosevelt Island, a level 28 challenge rewards more than 300k experience. After knocking out these two Strongholds, you’ll be very close to the level cap. And once you hit 30, a pair of final Strongholds will be waiting for you to usher you into the endgame.