If you want to survive in The Division's run down Manhattan, you'll need to level up your agent by earning as much XP as possible. As your Character Level increases you can equip better weapons and gear, which you'll need to take on the tougher enemies you encounter as you explore further across the map, as well as giving you a better chance of making it through the Dark Zone alive. Follow these tips and you'll be making progress towards the elusive level 30 cap in no time.
On A Mission
This may sound obvious, but the biggest source of XP by far is from completing main story Missions. Hover over one on the map screen and you'll see the huge rewards on offer, as well as an option to increase the difficulty - note that making the challenge harder won't increase the XP earned by finishing the Mission, but the higher level enemies you'll face mean you'll get more kill XP along the way. You can also replay previous Missions from the map screen, and although you won't earn that lucrative reward on subsequent playthroughs it's still worth doing to hoover up plenty of kill XP.
When it comes to upgrading your Base of Operations, you should prioritise getting the Security Wing up and running. Once you've rescued Captain Roy Benitez and activated his wing back at base, you'll receive the Experienced Agent perk which grants a 10% increase to XP gained from all activities, thus speeding up your level increase for the rest of the game. If you unlock the Armoury and Barracks upgrades you'll also get the Combat Veteran perk for a 25% increase to XP gained from accolades, but as this costs a cool 1,500 Security Wing Supplies in total it'll be a while before this is possible.
Another good source of XP is Side Missions and Encounters, and although Side Missions tend to be more the more lucrative of the two you should tackle either of them if you're passing nearby. To keep a decent supply of these side quests on the map, check in with the JTF Officer and read the Situation Board whenever you enter a Safe House, and keep opening up additional Safe Houses when you move into new areas for further sources.
As well as collecting a baseline level of XP for killing enemies, you'll receive additional rewards for nailing head shots, chaining a series of kills together and other displays of shooting prowess. Do your best to avoid getting downed or killed during skirmishes, as you'll also receive bonuses getting through firefights without needing to be rescued or respawning.
Teaming up with other players is a great way to increase your level fast, as more enemies appear when you tackle Missions as a group and their difficulty will be scaled up accordingly for more kill XP. Working together with one or more higher level player can also help you get through tougher Missions earlier than you'd be able to on your own, allowing you to access those sweet XP Mission rewards. If you don't have any friends available online to help out, remember there's always the matchmaking option to jump in with other agents.
As well as affecting your Firearms, Stamina and Electronics levels, the gear you equip has additional attributes to enhance your other stats. One of the Minor Attributes that can be attached to gear is Increased Kill XP, so if you prioritise equipping as many items as you can with this feature you can give your XP earning rate a serious hike.
As you're walking the streets of Manhattan, keep an eye out for passers by who are automatically scanned on your screen as you get near them. These Civilians in need will ask for supplies, and if you can afford to spare a Soda or Energy Bar (you've got plenty to spare, right?) then a small XP bonus will be your reward. It's not much, but do it often and it soon adds up.
Between Incident Reports, Phone Recordings, ECHOs and more, there are a huge number of collectible items to track down. Again, the individual rewards are modest, but with nearly 300 pieces of Intel in total you can make some serious XP gains by grabbing as many as possible. If you're struggling to spot any of them then check out our Intel Collectibles location guide for help.
Check Your Stats
If you've been following the tips listed in this guide you should have given your XP earning rate a significant boost, and there's an easy way to see exactly how much effect your actions have had. Head to the Inventory menu, then tab over to the Character page and scroll down to the final Exploration category - here you can see the percentage of additional XP you'll receive for killing enemies and getting headshots, so check it regularly to ensure you're getting the biggest increase possible.