The Division 2 will have three Dark Zones with AI turrets on the doors to 'protect the innocent'

The Division's original "Dark Zone" was a sort of no-holds-barred No Man's Land that offered both PvE combat against high-level NPCs, and PvP combat against agents who have gone rogue—essentially a very "high risk, high reward" locale for players looking for a serious challenge. The Division 2, which arrives in March, will have three distinct Dark Zones, Ubisoft said in an update posted today. Each of these zones will be located in a separate part of Washington DC, and have "its own stories to tell." 

The Division 2's Dark Zones will give players a more nuanced way to go rogue: Instead of just shooting your fellow agents, you can earn the lowest level of naughty designation by breaking into a locked chest or swiping a DZ drop. The twist is that your selfishness will also reveal a hidden signal that can be followed (by undertaking more roguish behavior) to the Thieves' Den, which contains a unique vendor with "tempting wares" and will also wipe your rogue status. 

A change for the sequel is that there will be more rogue states in The Division 2. Thievery is the entry-level position: You can attack other players, and they can do the same to you. (You can also voluntarily toggle basic rogue status, if that's your thing.) Once you've killed another player, you're upgraded to a Disavowed Rogue, which sticks you with a red icon that makes you a much more visible target. And if you've killed a whole bunch of agents (the update doesn't specify a number), you enter Manhunt Rogue state, which places a big bounty on your head and alerts all other players to your presence. 

Division 2 Dark Zones will also sometimes drop "clean loot," which means you'll be able to equip it right away rather than having to survive the risks of extraction so it can be decontaminated first. This is a pretty big and welcome change because, as Tim put it, "Losing sweet gear because a bunch of kids ganked you in the Dark Zone and then laughed at what a scrub you are over local chat really sucked ass."

Also nice is that gear in Dark Zones will mostly be normalized, meaning that all equipment and weapon stats will be balanced within a narrow range, so players packing powerful hardware can't steamroll newer, less well-equipped opponents by default. And entrances to Dark Zones will be covered by automated turrets that will help keep players from being ambushed the moment they step inside.

During the endgame, however, players will eventually encounter Occupied Dark Zones, which are not normalized: in these locations might will absolutely make right. Friendly fire will also be on in Occupied Dark Zones, and there will be no rogue markers to tell you who the bad guys are.   

"If you're having visions of getting jumped by other players immediately upon entering a Dark Zone, fear not. Your first visit to a Dark Zone will be a PvE mission, so you'll only have enemy factions to worry about," Ubisot said. "These missions give you a chance to learn how that Dark Zone turned dark, and to get to know the lay of the land." 

The Division 2 will also have an "organized PvP" mode called Conflict, which will launch with Team Deathmatch and Domination modes on three custom maps. Conflict combat will also be normalized, and will offer its own progression and rewards. 

The Division 2 comes out on March 15, and will be preceded by a "private beta" beginning on February 7. Find out everything else we know about it right here.   

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.