Backup Activated. System Rebooted
S'up ladies? I recently made a comment on the difference in the DZ farming experience between Div 1 and 2:
"... I don't like that playing smarter isn't on the menu any more."
Being an introspective person by nature, I had to ask myself: is this true, or are you being a little bitch? After a little reflection, I threw on my armor regen PvP build and headed out to the DZ to find out. You might be asking yourself, why would an avowed coward have a PvP build? I still pay attention to every facet of the game, even the ones that don't really interest me. I play a lot, so setting aside some choice drops isn't hard.
I spent a lot of time clearing landmarks, rushing supply drops, extracting a lot of DZ credits (because the loot is mostly garbage), and getting shot in the back. I got smarter. I'm not here to tell you it's all overblown, and you can recapture the magic of DZ 7-9, but I am going to show you how you can get wise, and make it harder to get got.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Before we get into new stuff, healthy chunks of the old guide still apply. You still want to know the maps, specifically multiple routes from point A to point B. Avoiding the main thoroughfares is still in your best interest. Engaging Landmarks gives you away, calling an extraction (now with a 1:30 timer for added stress) is still ringing the dinner bell. Supply drops are the new contamination event.
The big changes are the compact DZs with tons of checkpoints that make it easy for a ganker to fast travel to your extraction. Burst damage is really high, and the time it takes to flag rogue is low, so the chances of you surviving someone who means you harm are very low. Running from rogues isn't really an option anymore.
Choosing Your Target
Alright, we've emotionally committed to giving this a try, but since there are three DZs, we need to pick one to give a whirl. Let's pull up the map and see what's on offer for targeted loot. Looks like Providence in DZ East, ARs in DZ West, and Rigger in DZ South. So which one are you going to pick? I know you really want The Gift, but I promise a Providence DZ will be an absolute shitshow. I'm going to start in DZ South. Rigger (along with Striker and Ongoing Directive) is pretty shitty, so there will be less competition for resources.
Fast travel to a checkpoint or go unlock the DZ if you haven't even done that yet and pull up the map. Once you're in a DZ checkpoint, you can see the Landmarks that are available to clear. If they're all down or red, time to pick another DZ. You're going to be tripping over other farmers, and a DZ that active is sure to attract unwanted attention. You can pop into all three DZs and survey the situation before choosing one to actually enter.
Invaded DZs are a new wrinkle. You'll fight Black Tusk vs other factions, they like to send helicopters to ambush you, and the DZ supply drops will be four named enemies. I've farmed them as successfully as the other DZs, so they don't really matter when considering where to farm.
Once you've found a quiet corner to get started, hang out in the checkpoint for a few minutes, and watch for rogue activity. The little skulls still show up on the map too. If someone's going rogue then returning to SHD status without downing or killing anyone, they're probably picking locks or hacking terminals. Manhunts tend to hang out in one area and kill the people who come and try to fight them, so don't let an active manhunt make you quake in your boots. If you can keep your distance, they're actually a good distraction for griefers. Make sure to check the map fairly regularly, so you can move if they get too close. Once you're feeling acclimated, let's open that door and see what's happening.
It's Dangerous to Go Alone
Before we get into tactics, there's no avoiding the fact that you're better off in a group. I've seen gankers roll up on extractions, see that it's a four man group, and leave. You can tell they're gankers because they always choose the most obnoxious masks. That, and the feed telling you they're killing people. If you run into another player at a Landmark, and they don't shoot you in the back, send them an invite. People also group up in the official Discord, so consider taking a posse.
When you're in a group, you need to have some boundaries in mind. Are you staying with your new friends if one of them goes rogue? When the rogues show up, are you going to fight back? Look, I just met you, if you can be a meat shield for me and I can escape, it's nothing personal. This calculus is completely different when playing with randoms vs clanmates. You should probably be nicer to your friends, though I guess true friendship means they have to accept you as a coward.
Let's Get Down to Business
Alright, you've dipped a toe into the DZ, and hopefully didn't get spawn camped. They can only do that in the Invaded DZ by the way, and you can see players through the door, so don't feed the trolls. There are resources everywhere, and I mean both crafting materials, and the DZ resource boxes that contain DZ currency. That stuff still goes straight to inventory, and nobody can take it from you, as the Div Tech of yesteryear. You'll find that it doesn't take much DZ time to completely fill your crafting mats. DZ resources are capped at 300 and are per-character.
Everything else, regardless of source, has to be extracted. Whether it's a drop from clearing a landmark, opening a chest (regular or locked), or dropped by an NPC, you have to extract it if you want to keep it. You can destroy everything for more DZ resources, but you have to extract those too. They bundle in increments of 25, and you get one per item destroyed (even purple stuff), so you can carry at most 250 items worth of resources. I would strongly advise against this because if you get killed, you lose all that effort. Extracted DZ resources go to your stash, and you can keep an unlimited amount there, so use it like a piggy bank.
Landmarks are still the best farming. You get up to three waves of NPCs, a named enemy, and tons of drops. Not sure what the exact respawn time is, but you can have multiple groups farming Landmarks without stepping on each other. The second you start fighting a Landmark, it turns red on the map, and it disappears from the map once it's been cleared. This bat-signal alerting others to our position is undesirable but unavoidable. Best to get in and out as quick as possible. Landmarks award Field Recon Data upon clearing, so make sure you're not full before heading into the DZ.
Supply drops are better than Landmarks but substantially less frequent. The surest sign that you're in a ghost town of a DZ is unclaimed supply drops. If they're not showing engaged, or playing the audio clip that another agent is claiming them shortly after spawning, you should be headed that way.
Have You Ever Been Experienced?
DZ experience was changed back in TU8 to only reward PvP interactions and extractions. We're not doing the former, and are only here for the latter, so not a total loss. I'm not sure what the exact math is, but I get a DZ level per full bag extracted. The higher your rank, you can unlock perks for a bigger bag to carry more contaminated items.
Once you hit level 50, you get DZ proficiency caches on level up, and those can contain DZ exclusive gear. If you do nothing but farm and extract every piece of junk, you're getting regular proficiency caches and watchpoints, plus DZ caches. It's probably worth it to sacrifice loot quality for quantity until you reach level 50. You're going to shred most of it anyway, so do it after extraction, unless there's some hot item at the DZ vendors that you're dying for.
Light Up the Sky
When it's time to extract, you still want to pick a great spot. There are a couple that stands out as glaringly bad, like the southern extraction of DZ West. This is elevated, so the only way up is the two ramps or the ropes. No hope of escaping or hiding. In case you've never tried to use a rope under fire: the animation shows you clip onto the rope, then you die. The reality of the matter is, you can't really run away anymore unless you happen to be very close to a turreted checkpoint.
I'm of two minds on how to extract. Safety in numbers is relevant, caution is great, but you might get shot either way. Half the time I hide until the last second then hangs my bag and never stop running, the other half I hang the second the chopper gets there and I'm already engaging the next Landmark before extraction completes. If you're really into the cat and mouse game, I have a build for you later. I think my level of caution would go up substantially if I had something important in my bag, but this isn't the old days when you were pulling hard to find Classified gear out.
I'm not going to get too deep on my current extraction techniques, because I don't want them to stop working. Map out the extraction areas, look at all the routes in and out, any nearby hidey holes. If you call an extraction and get far enough away from the area, the NPCs still stand in the middle and act as a weathervane. Plan ahead, be observant, stay alive.
Got Time for a Quickie?
The longer you hang around, the more likely it is that you'll attract attention, so I've come up with a new strategy. Find the most concentrated section of un-farmed Landmarks, hit two of them, extract whatever you get, leave. Play a mission or do anything different, then find another quiet corner and do it again. This lets you gain a DZ level, get in and out before anyone notices, and provides about one mission's worth of entertainment.
If you want to spend more time being a generous lover, it's best to find a time that works for you. Pay attention to play patterns in your region, when you see tons of players when there's hardly any. Sunday morning is pretty awesome, but it's a weird time to set aside for video games. A lot of gamers sit down to play on Friday night, and I can tell you that's not a great time to go hang out in the DZ.
The Nomadic Ghost
I promised a build, so this is one I've been working on. I feel bad telling you it's awesome for the DZ when it can be exclusively farmed in the DZ. The irony is never lost on me. Here it is, without warranty or guarantee:
3x System Corruption
3x Yaahl Gear (Unbreakable chest, Adrenaline Rush backpack)
Armor Regen everywhere
4 Blues, 2 Reds for me, but that's up to you
Scanner Pulse and Shield for skills
Two weapons of different types, with silencers on both (I use a FAL and The Apartment)
Why should you bother? 130% pulse resistance. You get 40% from each gear/brand set, and 50% from our specialization. It's either 50%, 90%, or 130%, so we're going overboard. Unless they can find you through their line of sight, they'll never find you. I've had people run-up to my extractions, do laps looking for me, then give up and leave. They're getting pulsed by me, so they know I'm there, but they can't pulse me back.
You've got armor regen, ammo regen, and are as quiet as can be. Unbreakable is the closest we're getting to Recovery Link. I've had sessions in the DZ where I went so long without setting foot in a checkpoint, that I had to empty my stash before I could extract. The thing you give up is the "you've been pulsed" warning, which was a good canary for incoming bad actors. I've won exactly one PvP encounter with it, but I'm very upfront about sucking at PvP. I could make an argument for increasing the number of reds in the build to favor quick Landmark clears vs any kind of survivability.
I've said there's no point in running, so our best substitute is hyper-vigilance. If we stay hidden and watch the site, we can make informed decisions on the safety of our extraction. Keep in mind that someone with 90% pulse resistance will be visible for about 1 second, and King Macho recently released a System Corruption PvP build video, so there's a non-zero amount of that running around.
Low Sodium Diet
It's easy to feel that you've been wronged when someone mows you down from behind. You can lament the gear that you lost, or the effort in farming when they take your DZ resources. Dismissing it as part of the game doesn't make you feel any better, but giving in to this victimhood will ensure you don't like the DZ. You're going to die in there, even if you're some PvP god. Salty whining doesn't change anything.
If you get caught out, what happens next is up to you. You can rage quit and never go back. You can take a break and try again. You can respawn and carry on as nothing happened. I like to think about what I could have done differently and shore up the weaknesses that got me into this bind. Sometimes it's just dumb luck. If you're sneaking down an alley, around a corner, and come face to face with a gank squad, that's unfortunate, but going to happen from time to time. Oh well. If they didn't take your bag, go get it and find somewhere else to play.
Back to the question at the beginning, was I being a bitch? Somewhat. It's easy to say "this has changed, I don't like it" and mentally write off the whole thing. It wasn't the same, but I still got a lot of the same feelings/vibes/player experience. The chase isn't available anymore, but the replacement strategy of invisibility is an acceptable substitute.
I learned that there's safety in numbers, but even that isn't a guarantee. I was playing in a 5-man group who were farming Landmarks, and we still had people go rogue and try to jack our extractions.
I've also got to get better at PvP. Still going to lose all of the 2-4v1's, but I'd like to see some of the 1v1's I lose go the other way. For now, I'm going to find some regular Conflict players, so maybe I can handle myself a little better when I let my guard down. It's also the final frontier for me in this game and the only thing I haven't put any time into.
TL;DR: Can't run, so you have to hide. Safety in numbers. DZ farming is still fun.