The Dark Zones are a large portion of The Division 2 endgame. A lot of high-level loot is locked behind these contaminated areas of Washington DC. And while they play a lot like the rest of the game, players can go rogue and turn on their fellow agents in the Dark Zones. Die, and you’ll lose all the gear that you went there to obtain.
You can enter a Dark Zone by either climbing over broken walls (these cannot be used to exit, however) or by going through a safe room. In these rooms, you can prepare for your endeavor — restocking your ammo, grenades, and medkits.
- The Division 2 Weapon Guide – Exotics, Mods, Talents
- The Division 2 Class Guide: Specializations, Weapon Unlocks, Grenade Unlocks
Dark Zone Areas
Rather than one giant Dark Zone, The Division 2 has three smaller danger areas. Each one is designed to play different from the next. Here are the descriptions of all the Dark Zones from Ubisoft:
- Dark Zone East – the largest of all three Dark Zones; players utilize long sightlines in over-grown governmental parks.
- Dark Zone South – the smallest of the Dark Zones; emphasis is placed on close-quarters combat. Sightlines are easily broken with large interiors and choke points.
- Dark Zone West – split into two parts by a large canal; Georgetown is characterized by medium-range engagements and features European-style architecture.
Since the battlefields are smaller, Ubisoft has reduced the maximum Dark Zone player count from 24 to 12. This should (in theory) create a more consistent experience with a denser player population.
Dark Zone Extractions
The Dark Zone differs from the base game in that high-level loot is contaminated and must be extracted (and cleansed) to be used. Until you successfully extract the gear, it’s completely unusable, and able to be stolen by Rogue Agents. You’ll also drop your loot if you die by other means. At which point you need to rush back to retrieve it before someone else does.
You need helicopter extraction to keep the loot. This involves shooting up a flare that notifies all agents in the Dark Zone that a helicopter is incoming. You also need to hold your position while both AI and potentially unfriendly players come to steal your loot. When the helicopter finally does arrive, you’ll need to come out of hiding and head down to tie the loot container to a rope. Do this, and you’ll finally get the loot you’ve been fighting for.
Dark Zone Perks
Senait is an all-new Dark Zone operator in the base of operations for each area. He provides a new menu where you can navigate the new Dark Zone perks. You earn a new bonus every five Dark Zone levels.
Ubisoft promises that these perks are not power-based, but that they improve your experience based on your playstyle. Examples include extra backpack space for contaminated items, bonus rewards from Rogue agents, or even “additional opportunities for loot.”
The developers explain that dying when a Rogue Agent “comes at a great cost of experience,” however — an important note for those that want to play the Rogue playstyle and maintain their Dark Zone Perks.
Dark Zone Changes
Ubisoft has made a few changes to how extractions work in The Division 2. In the first game, loot was rolled the second it was dropped. If a low-level player caused it to drop, it was of little-to-no value to high-level players. Equipment rolls now occur during extraction, so no matter who causes the loot to drop, the stats will be based on whoever successfully decontaminates it.
Player levels are now “normalized” when you enter a Dark Zone, too — similar to the way many MMOs handle things. This means that extremely powerful players will be brought down to an equal playing field, while newcomers will be buffed up to stand a chance.
This normalization happens during matchmaking. There are three buckets for all players with levels one through 30 broken up into thirds (1-10, 11-20, etc).
Ubisoft says that anyone normalized down will receive “bonus statistics” to compensate for losing their power. It’s worth noting that all of these changes make it feasible to succeed in the Dark Zone relatively early on in the game.
To help new players, Ubisoft has added checkpoints around spawn areas and entry points to protect any stand-up agents that are around. These locations are guarded by turrets which will fire on any AI or Rogue agents that poke around.
Becoming a Rogue Agent used to be black and white. Kill another agent, you’re rogue. But now there are multiple tiers of going rogue.
Rogue – A regular Rogue Agent takes advantage of the situation by resorting to theft. At this point you can steal other players’ loot, take from Supply drops, and cut ropes to steal attached loot before the helicopter leaves. You’ll become Rogue after performing a few of these actions.
Commit enough of these infractions and you’ll unlock the Thieves Den. This hidden safe area moves around the Dark Zone periodically and houses special vendors. Once you leave this area, you’ll be cleansed of your Rogue status.
Disavowed – Kill another player and you’ll move into the Disavowed status. Non-Rogue agents can kill Disavowed Agents to claim a bounty.
Manhunt – Kill enough players and you’ll become “hunted.” Players with this status can only return to regular duty by accessing a Division terminal. At any given time, there will be three random terminals active in the Dark Zone.
Those who like to live dangerously can instead opt to use the terminal to increase their notoriety. This gives better potential rewards, but requires you go to one of the two remaining terminals to cash in.
It’s worth noting that stand-up agents can only see the general locations of the terminals. Those in Manhunt status can see exactly where each terminal is.
Dark Zone Chests and Keys
There’s no confirmation that Dark Zone chests will return in The Division 2, but here’s how they worked in the first game.
Dark Zone chests are dropped by large groups of enemies. There were previously three different kinds. The first was a standard chest, which can be looted by anyone. The second required the player to be at a certain Dark Zone level. The final chest required you to have Dark Zone keys, which are dropped by high-level enemies or other agents that you kill.
Occupied Dark Zones
For fans of the old system, Ubisoft has created special server-wide events called Occupied Dark Zones. This is your typical Dark Zone experience with a bunch of rule changes. Rogue states are removed, so there is no punishment for killing other agents. That’s good, because friendly fire is also activated. And there’s no normalization. High-level agents with the most powerful gear will shine (Destiny players might liken this to the Iron Banner PVP event).
Only one Dark Zone will ever be occupied at a time.
That’s all we know about The Division 2 Dark Zones so far! There’s a surprising amount of information already out there, but we’ll be sure to update this guide with specifics once the game comes out.
Until then, feel free to check out any of our other guides for The Division 2 elsewhere on the site.