With the new wipe, there are bound to be heaps of new players who take their first steps into Tarkov. Fear not, The Beginner's Guide to Tarkov is here to help.
Escape from Tarkov is a cruel mistress, some of you might've seen the warning when you first boot the game up. You will die a lot. And you scoffed, because you are a pro gamer and have played many shooters. Only to be quickly humbled by some Scav removing that pimple off your nose with a shotgun as you turned a corner. Deaths come hard and fast in Tarkov, often without meaning either. You will die to bullshit and eventually, you'll love it. Here are some basics that'll increase your odds of survival by a small margin.
Accepting your many Deaths
The biggest hurdle for new players is to overcome ‘gear-fear'. That's that antsy feeling that prevents you from using that cool new weapon you just found. Better gear means your odds of survival will increase ever so slightly. And believe me, sometimes something as simple as taking an extra magazine for your pistol with you into the raid can make or break a run. You can never be too over-prepared, but that doesn't mean you have to be fully equipped for war. Gear for the job. If you're just trying to get a quick and dirty loot run in, you don't need your pockets full of grenades and and painkillers.
So it's for the best to just accept that you probably won't make it out alive most of the time. But that's okay. Every death in Tarkov is a learning experience. Get camped at a certain point on the map? That's your camping spot now. Ran into a boss Scav at an inopportune time? Maybe adjust your route and or your gear. Escape from Tarkov is one of those games, where you just have to accept that losing is fun. And maybe you'll find comfort in the fact that every time you mercilessly steamroll another PMC, they'll probably feel the biting sting too.
Escape from Tarkov is very similar to Fighting Games. Yes, you have equipment and stats but they don't mean that much in the grand scale of things. A beginner with the best gun, loaded full of what may as well be the laser cannon of the Death Star, will still get killed just as easily.
It's not just your character leveling up, it's you. And there are many, many things that play into this, that you won't learn from YouTube videos or articles like this. They help for sure, but nothing is better than developing a proper instinct. This can go so deep, that in the spur of the moment you'll understand what fights to take and which ones to avoid. If a player is very trigger-happy, you can assume that their aim might not be that good. Maybe they lack certain tactical skills and hide behind a big gun. And maybe they crumble once you start pushing them.
The same goes for the maps, you can run them offline as much as you want. Learn all the Scav spawns and where all the good loot is at. You can even have a map open on your second screen to find all of that out. But it'll mean little in an online session. Because players are both unpredictable, and predictable at the same time. More experienced players will go for the dangerous places, while newer players will probably try to avoid them. That way you can for example pick your prey. You can also start trying to predict how players will move through the map.
Especially once you know all the spawns on a map. Then you can guess what locations will probably be looted by the time you get there and more importantly when you can expect someone to arrive at your location. It'll also give you a general idea of which extraction points are being camped and when player Scavs are about to spawn in.
Point is, you won't learn much from just reading up. You have to gain these experiences yourself. Which guns you're best with, and what equipment to run with. What routes you are comfortable at and the little peek holes and bushes you can use to your advantage… Get out there and be somebody.
You'll probably look at all the gear your favorite streamer is running, or that loadout a guy just steamrolled you with. And don't get me wrong, gear is important. As I mentioned above, one bullet can make a difference. But you shouldn't agonize over what is the best set to go into a raid with, or only roll out with a gun using your favorite reflex sight. Escape from Tarkov is all about making the best out of what you have.
Especially now during the early wipe, people will probably play a lot safer than they would otherwise. Gear means something, to them.
But you are different. You have accepted that all possessions are temporary and that that gun you just kitted out. You know, the one you spend 2 hours scraping rubbles together for? It's just a bunch of code on a hard drive. Nothing more. Playing with the gear you are comfortable with, is gonna raise your survival rate. You don't want to be caught pants down using an SKS because it was cheap.
That being said, you want to get used to as many guns as possible. Or at least how to use them in an engagement. So don't be afraid to grab a gun you are not comfortable with and run a few raids with it. Being well versed in all kinds of weapons will help you overcome gear fear.
Oh and insurance scams as often as you can. You've probably noticed already that you can insure your equipment. Insuring it means you'll get it back within a day or so if no one extracted with it. So if you loot the same helmet for example, or find a slightly better or worse one. Chug yours it into some corner or bush no one will ever find it in and take the new one. Now you have two helmets to insure. This works out especially well when starting out. Most players will probably skip out on equipment that's the same or worse than theirs. Oh, and you should probably, occasionally check bushes near prominent loot spots for goodies.
Everyone wants to shoot the cool guns, with all the attachments but you have to understand. It is a lot more important what comes out of your gun and where you aim it. Then what you are actually using to shoot it. You are looking for ammunition that has a decent penetration rate, balanced with the damage it does. All of that is very complicated so please consult this handy chart made by the folks at eft.monster. Always try to go out with the best ammunition available to you, it'll make your life easier. Especially when you're hunting for players or one of the many bosses.
Tacticool Scav Action
The good thing about Escape from Tarkov is, that all those years I thought wasted playing ArmA 3 will finally have some use. Allow me to teach you how to play Tarkov like a military-sim cool guy and clear out rooms efficiently.
Because the classic running and gunning of other shooters, just won't work. In Escape from Tarkov, death comes quick and from everywhere. So you have to learn how to check your corners and always check your back. You need to develop a healthy sense of paranoia. So when you enter a room, you know something is wrong just because a door is open or it's quiet. Not the usual kind of quiet, the kind of quiet when you know that there is someone being quiet.
So make a habit out of stopping constantly behind cover and listen. Different headsets will enhance different sounds, but we want to focus on footsteps more than anything else. Sound in Escape from Tarkov is a little wacky, but you'll know if someone is close to you or not. And they may not even be aware of your existence, blasting their favorite music or watching YouTube on the side. Or even before entering a building, make an effort to stop and just listen. You'll at least know if there's one Scav or several inside. Beats having someone getting the drop on you.
If you are moving through an area, especially a wide-open one. Try to run from cover to cover without exposing yourself too much. There are always bushes, trees, rocks and other structures that can obscure someone's view. Taking the direct route to an objective is more likely to get you killed, so try to find one with more cover. In most situations, you always want at least something between you and a potential enemy. And you also want to minimize the directions someone can get a drop on you. So it's always good to hug walls and other structures.
You'll also probably want to avoid ‘sky lining'. If you are running around on a hill, thinking it'll give you the most stunning views, I have bad news for you. It is way easier to spot someone moving against the horizon or on top of structures. In most cases, we want to avoid detection, so try running along the slope of hills and trenches. Occasionally peaking out might expose your head, but it beats giving the enemy a full profile to fire at.
While we are on the subject of not being detected, we should probably talk about exposure in general. You always want to give the enemy as little as possible to shoot at. Ideally, we solve that by leaning. Having very tight angles to shoot at each other, will make things a lot more difficult for both parties, and it'll become a peeking game. But if you run between some structures, line up your shot when you know your enemy is gonna chase you. Before they are done checking the room for you, because you half hid behind a wall. You can already pepper them with shots, and the time it'll take them to react, is usually enough to kill them.
If you're on the other side of this scenario, checking around corners or clearing rooms. You probably want to avoid what other shooters taught you about just looking into the direction you're walking in. We do something that is commonly referred to as ‘pie-slicing'. The practice of checking rooms and corners in small increments, optimally done while leaning to reduce exposure.
To put it simply; as you walk by an open door or clear a corner, you turn your mouse as more and more of the room or space opens up. Especially when there is a lot of clutter you have to clear, take your time and slowly check the space in front you step by step. You can also do this fast to catch the enemy off guard. But chances are that they'll be waiting for you, trying to do the same thing. Be slow and steady and prepared.
In multiplayer situations, you'll have to combine all of this with callouts and some more tactical stuff. Cover your partner when while they are looting, or check the area behind you while they are clearing a corner. Combine this with clear callouts, like updating them on the locations of enemies, if you hit them or killed them. It can also never hurt to call out an audible. So if you hear a Scav or a stray shot nearby, call it out. In most cases, your partner will probably heard it as well, but better safe than sorry right?
You also want to give clear callouts on enemy locations. Just yelling someone's ahead is not gonna help anyone. You want to give as clear callouts as humanly possible. So mention what kind of car the enemy is hiding behind and what color it has. What shape the rock is or what general landmark is in that direction. Detail is important. You should also inform your team about your current status, are you healing? Reloading? Looting? Just so they know that they can count on you or have wait for a little until they engage.
Probably one of the most important things in Escape from Tarkov however, is that you don't have to take every fight. If you have valuable loot on you, hell even if you have just enough loot to profit off a raid. You should make an effort to survive and extract. There is no shame in running away, hold an engagement only to defend yourself. And unless the enemy is in your way. Try to land a couple of shots and make an escape while they're healing up. Grenades are really good to either disengage quickly, or force the enemy to retreat.
First Aid for Beginners
Here's a really quick guide to how to patch yourself up in Escape from Tarkov. Now there are plenty of items you can use to heal yourself with, most of them have similar purposes with varying degrees of effectiveness. Some even fulfill multiple purposes.
Different kinds of damage, will cause different kinds of wounds. You can check those on your health menu tab. Each limp has a separate health bar, all of them together make up your total health. Damage to your legs will affect your walking speed, damage to your arms will affect your aim, and damage to your stomach will drain your stamina and hydration levels really fast and increase all future damage you'll take. And getting your head or thorax area destroyed is just instant death.
A body part counts as destroyed if it loses all of its health. There are special items like the CMS kit that can heal blacked-out limbs during raid and set them back to one point of health. But you'll have to patch them up to avoid bleeding or any other negative effects. So as a general rule, here are your priorities when it comes to healing: Head, Thorax > Stomach > Arms and Legs. All of this is very situation depending, but you'll probably want to prioritize stopping any heavy bleedings over a fracture.
For light bleeding, you can use an array of bandages or even the car emergency kit. That one is especially useful in the early game, since it can also be used to heal up a total of 220 health. Heavy bleeding can be removed by an Esmarch and some of the later med kits. Fractures can be removed with and kind of splint. After healing any kind of heavy injury, so anything that isn't light bleeding. You want to take some kind of painkiller to avoid any kind of visual impairment.
After a raid, even when you are killed. You get the option to be healed up again by a doctor for a small fee. This is free until you hit level 5. Afterward you probably want to heal yourself up from your stash. Not only to save some money, but it'll also help you level up your medical skill. Which in turn will make healing in raid a little bit faster.
This goes hand in hand with map knowledge and is tragically something you'll have to learn. There are a number of websites out there that'll show you all the loot hotspots, stashes and what not. You should make good use of them, at least to get a general idea of where to get what. Especially when you start making shopping lists to tick off those pesky quests or start thinking about building out your hideout.
If you're new and want to avoid being mauled by a few angry PMC's, angry Scavs or very angry bosses. Try avoiding and of the high loot areas, at least until you're more comfortable with the game. For starters, maps like Woods, Shoreline and Interchange are probably more suited. All of them are rather open spaces with a lot of loot evenly distributed throughout the map. That doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, however.
To put a little bit of money behind your name, you should look up the locations of hidden stashes. For that, you can consult the good folks at eftmaps.net as a very reliable resource. Hidden stashes are usually out of the way and can hold all kinds of loot. Ranging from gunparts and food, all the way to quest items and crafting materials. If you're just looking to make some quick safe rubbles, you should definitely check them out.
While you start sinking more and more ungodly hours into Escape from Tarkov, you'll get a feeling of what items hold which value. Eventually, you'll have to learn about ‘Value per Slot'. Since some items can take up multiple slots in your inventory, you'll have to do some quick math to figure out if they are worth their space. So sometimes carrying a big, rare item is not worth keeping over several smaller items that exceed its worth. As a rule of thumb, try to prioritize items that only fill one slot. Those are usually a lot more valuable.
If you start looting anything, you'll notice that there is a short delay between you looting a crate or body. You can use that delay to quickly turn around and adjust your aim. That way you can for example loot a crate while still having your gun pointed at the door, which you want to close, of course. That way you can still cover your back while looting, and the visual of a door flying open even in the back of the menu should be enough to alarm you. But you should definitely practice this to get the timing down.
And while we are on the subject of covering your butt while looting… Go into the sound options and turn your interface sounds all the way down. By default, they're way too loud. And you want to be able to listen out for footsteps, voices and other sounds while looting just to stay on your guard.
On another note, you probably want to change the default key binding to discard items from your inventory. It's on Delete by default. You want to be able to quickly clear out your inventory for all that sweet loot. You also want to discard items from bodies you loot. That way you create a bit of a mess that in the best case, will distract the enemy long enough for you to get some distance or to line up a shot.
Depending on how aggressive you feel, you can also employ the tried and true tactic of snowballing. Means you go in with the absolute minimum of gear required to survive and kill your way up to a way better load out. So you're potentially going in with just a gun, some protection and ammo and seeking out the nearest Scav for his backpack and chest rig. You can always shove loot into newly found equipment and gear up as you go. That way you'll risk little and ensure profit.
Also, always loot jackets. They usually have either money, keys or other useful stuff on them. So when you see one hanging around, they are always worth checking out.
Hideout, General Progression and Stash Economics
You should take a good look at your hideout, at the start it's barely anything. But it is essential to make your later life in the Tarkov region a lot easier. So you should always keep in mind what items you'll need for the next upgrade. While there is no set way of doing things here, you should probably prioritize unlocking the various crafting stations and the generator. Crafting stations will not only give you access to self-made gear, you'll also be able to craft a number of quest items.
As you upgrade it, the hideout will offer you all sorts of bonuses. Be it faster regeneration of your food and hunger meter, faster passive healing or just a bigger stash in general. It is also the key to unlocking some later quests and some other features. Like the Scavbox, here local Scavs will occasionally drop off items for you. Or you can just invest in a bitcoin farm for some sweet passive income.
Quest are also something you'll slowly progress through just by playing the game. They are by no means the only way to level up, but they are the easiest and offer all sorts of rewards. Cash and weapons are the obvious ones of course. But they'll also help you build a better reputation with the various traders of Tarkov, which will, in turn, allow you to buy more stuff from them.
These quests come in various degrees of flavor, some need you to turn in items. Others require you to find something or kill someone. These quests progress quite linear, so by just playing the game, you're usually making progress towards something, somewhere. Especially while just starting out in Tarkov, you should probably less focus on them and more on building up your hideout and making some money. Oh, and by the way, trader reputation also builds up when you just sell items to them.
Your stash is the most important thing, it needs to grow, be nurtured and taken care of. If you don't have the Edge of Darkness edition, that stash can seem a little small. But do keep in mind that all those chest rigs and backpacks are also storage space. So in the early days, you'd to best to sort items into them. Your first big investment should be the lucky scav box. A huge item container that'll hold all kinds of materials. It's quite costly at 1,1 million rubble. But at the start of your Tarkov career, most of your efforts should go towards buying one of those.
That means you'll have to sell most of the stuff you're collecting in raid. Having things stink up your stash is usually not a good idea. If you don't plan to use an item in the foreseeable future, or if it isn't used for an upcoming quest or hideout upgrade, it's got to go. Most items are fairly easy to come by and chances are high that you'll come across an item again in due time. So don't let stuff take up space, if you could sell it to get your reputation with traders up and make some money to buy more equipment.
And by reading all of this, you should be at least somewhat prepared for your future ventures into Escape from Tarkov. Just don't be afraid to go out there and get killed, it happens to the best of us. We're gonna have more guides, tips, tricks and curiosities all around Escape from Tarkov very soon here on ESTNN