The Dark Zone may not be the best first choice for grabbing up gear in The Division, if you’re interested in smashing out those end-game damage charts. Thanks to tens of hours in game play, and a solid amount of time spent working on the only map online for Dark Zone Chests in every region of the Dark Zone, I can all but confirm that running through the Dark Zone is both required, and not the finest course of action for getting your best gear in The Division.

I’ll assume by now that you’ve worked your way through the entire epic that is The Division – you’ve gotten the dollar bills, you’ve built your base, and you’re now well on your way to gearing up your character(s) with the best stuff there is to offer in the game. If you’re anything like most, you’ve also spent countless hours running circles in the Dark Zone whether or not you had a map to all the named mobs and Dark Zone chests to help you out. There are two core things you’ll want to understand about The Division before you proceed. First, you will need to be rank 50 in the Dark Zone before you can unlock all of the possible equipment at the High-End tier. Second, you’ll also need to ignore the Dark Zone when you first hit level 50 to make this process as fast as possible.

A fresh level 30 character still not within the Dark Zone should focus on the end-game PVE to help maximize their profits in the long term. The further we are away from launch, the more hostile the Dark Zone becomes. Players are looking for fresh experiences, and while exploration was the first thing we all did as The Division launched, it’s not the first thing on our minds today. Take your innocence to heart and stay out of the Dark Zone for now, focusing on playing through a few daily missions and completing at least one “Challenging” mission. Daily missions task you with playing a piece of the story line you already know with a twist of difficulty. All dailies completed must be against enemies which are at least purple quality, meaning that everyone has a shield for extra health. In the same vein, Challenging-level missions feature exclusively yellow quality enemies from top to bottom and offer the highest level of skill required at this time.

For the uninitiated, daily missions will essentially be the definitive way to prepare yourself to earn your Dark Zone reputation. Standard daily missions will offer you a small amount of the most important currency in the game, as well as purple quality equipment. If you completed the last mission in the game, you’ll already have four pieces of purple quality gear at minimum, and you’ll probably be working on making those as great as they can possibly be. Bigger than that, you’ll want to work on completing at least one Challenging difficulty mission, even if it is not the daily mission for Challenging difficulty. Completing any Challenging difficulty mission will earn you a “high-end” quality piece of gear – the yellow gear that’s better than everything else. While you’ve not likely got enough Phoenix Credits yet to buy recipes for this gear, you can earn it randomly from Challenging missions.

By completing daily missions, Challenging dailies, and Challenging missions fairly regularly, you can load out your characters with amazing gear in a relatively short time. Get yourself a comfortable amount of High-End items before taking yourself into the Dark Zone and you’ll have a great time smashing out the level 30-32 yellow enemies. Remember, while you can buy a few recipes in your base, your ultimate goal before The Division’s first raid hits is to be able to buy the recipes in the Dark Zone. You’ll need to be level 50 in the DZ to do so, and you’ll want a TON of Phoenix Credits. Use this method, along with the map we talked about earlier, and you’ll find that the growing pains of gearing up in The Division weren’t meant for someone as powerful as you are.