You start in the character creator. Here you can customize your character to look the way you want him/her to. After creating your character, you head outside into your settlement just as bandits are attacking the place. Clear them out and at the end you'll be prompted to revive a downed NPC. This triggers a rather long cutscene sequence where you're prompted to leave for Washington DC in order to investigate the SHD distress signal. When the title card sequence is over, you are immediately thrown into a mission, Dawn's Early Light. During this, you are introduced to the first main enemy faction, the Hyenas, as you're fighting through them to reach the White House. On arrival, you're prompted to visit the Division Coordinator upstairs. When that's finished, head down to the Quartermaster and get your first perks. Acquiring the Weapon Slot perk is mandatory, but besides that I'd advise to get the second skill slot as a preparation.
Now you're given the task to meet Odessa Sawyer in the Theater settlement. Make your way there and along the way you'll have the chance to earn your first achievement of the game. Simply run up to a car hood and press just before hitting it to slide over it.
Unlocked by 42,757 tracked gamers (74% - TA Ratio = 1.15)
Continue to the Theater settlement and you'll be able to get your first true main mission, Grand Washington Hotel. Here you're tasked with battling through the hotel to save Odessa's daughter. The mission is fairly straightforward, but I want to give special attention to the rooftop fight. There you'll fight Saint, the named boss of the mission and the first tank you'll encounter. If you break all his armour before killing him (both arms, chest, helmet and both legs), you'll earn an achievement:
Unlocked by 10,522 tracked gamers (18% - TA Ratio = 2.33)
If you don't get that achievement now, don't fret. There are plenty more tanks you'll encounter throughout the game
After the rooftop sequence, head down to the atrium and get on the minigun. Kill every enemy and clear the objective using the minigun and you'll earn a commendation. Once the mission is complete, another achievement is yours:
Unlocked by 56,470 tracked gamers (98% - TA Ratio = 1.00)
Now you can go back to the White House and choose your second skill. If you're a soloist, I'd advise to pick up the Reviver variant of the Hive. Alongside the Reinforcer Chem Launcher it will drastically help you survive difficult encounters as the reviver automatically deploys when you go down if it's not on cooldown. Now check your map and you'll see an undiscovered safehouse in the Downtown East area. Head there and interact with the laptop to get the liberation project. This will mark all SHD Tech caches in the region on your map as well.
Each liberation project is essentially the same: collect SHD tech, complete 3 activities and donate 50 resources to control points in the region. When completing all liberation projects, you get a bounty to kill the region "boss". The regions you need to complete these projects in are:
- Downtown East (level 2-7)
- Federal Triangle (level 4-8)
- East Mall (level 7-11)
- Southwest (level 11-15)
- Downtown West (level 15-18)
- Constitution Hall (level 17-21)
- West Potomac Park (level 19-23)
- Foggy Bottom (level 21-25)
- West End (level 23-27)
- Judiciary Square (level 25-29)
Downtown West does not have a safehouse, but does have a liberation project. Therefore you can pass up on the Downtown West boss bounty, but since it's a good source of XP outside of side missions I'll advise you to do it anyway.
When you've completed the liberation projects of these regions and their associated bounties, you'll unlock the following achievement:
Unlocked by 6,088 tracked gamers (11% - TA Ratio = 3.07)
For now, I'd advise to complete the Downtown East liberation project and then move on to the next main mission, Jefferson Trade Center.
This is one of the easier main missions and is clear with its objectives. One location of note is the Hyenas chest tucked away in the back right corner of the room immediately following the last garage section. You probably don't have a key to open it yet, but that chest can drop an exotic crafting component and I will refer back to it later for that reason.
While completing this project, you'll have to capture a control point in order to donate resources to that control point. If you capture that control point with at least one other player without any of you going down, you'll earn an achievement:
Unlocked by 36,946 tracked gamers (64% - TA Ratio = 1.24)
Afterwards, don't fill up the supplies of the control point you've captured. Instead, wait for a group of civilians to go and collect resources and tag along. When they are at their destination, stand near the civilian collecting resources and hold to give them the resources that they need. This will net you another achievement:
Unlocked by 16,195 tracked gamers (28% - TA Ratio = 1.88)
By now you should have some SHD tech to purchase perks or skill variants at the Quartermaster. My advice would be to get all the Accolade perks you can, since these will help you level up faster. If you still have leftover SHD Tech, you can also get the Restock perks, the Armor Kit 1 perk and the Inventory 1 perk.
Here, I'd advise to do some open world activities and clean out your map a bit until you reach level 6 before starting the next main mission, ViewPoint Museum. This mission is straightforward until you get to your first objective defense section. The goal is to kill all waves of enemies that are trying to destroy the objective. Those waves can come from unexpected directions and have high ground advantage on you. After this section, you also get the first timed section of the game. You need to destroy three EMP jammers while fighting off constant waves of enemies within three minutes. When all three jammers are destroyed, the boss will spawn. He's a quite tanky enemy that also has a helmet on that shields him against headshots until it breaks. When this boss is dead, no more enemies will spawn and clearing out the room will finish the mission and get you another achievement:
Unlocked by 44,658 tracked gamers (77% - TA Ratio = 1.13)
Now, fast travel back to the Theater and talk to Grace Larson to unlock your next Base of Operations feature: clans. There is an achievement for being in a clan, so either create your own or join an existing clan like one of the TrueAchievements ones for this:
Unlocked by 34,469 tracked gamers (60% - TA Ratio = 1.29)
You are likely not yet level 8 for this, so head down to the safehouse and get the liberation project. Afterwards, you can capture some control points and do other activities in the area until you are level 8. Then it's time for the next main mission, American History Museum.
This mission is a bit longer than the previous ones and is the only one where you are fighting two factions simultaneously. One major thing to note is that medics are introduced in this mission. They have the capability to revive enemies you've killed, but shooting their defibrillator prevents that. Also, doing that once will get you another achievement:
Unlocked by 40,297 tracked gamers (70% - TA Ratio = 1.19)
Play through the mission and at the end of it yet another achievement is waiting for you:
Unlocked by 42,376 tracked gamers (74% - TA Ratio = 1.16)
Again, it's best to do open world activities until you are level 10 for the last Theater main mission, Air & Space Museum. Play through the mission as you did with the others. If you care about vanity, there's a hidden backpack charm in this mission. When the True Sons crash a space shuttle into the floor to try and halt your progress, walk up to the three circles on its right side (the side facing you when the shuttle is crashed) and hold for the Space Shuttle charm. Upon completing this mission, you get two side missions that involve talking to people at various settlements. And since you're likely level 11 at this point, let's move on to the next page.