You find yourself alone in a dystopian Russian wasteland with nothing but a rusty, malfunctioning shotgun. As you start lurking through the rubble-strewn streets, you hear scavengers yelling in the distance. They open fire with scary, inhuman precision. Wounded, you take cover behind a burning vehicle to heal and view your map. But there is no map. And there are no meds. You limp your way into a bush, trying to regroup and orientate yourself. Vision becomes blurry as you start suffering from dehydration. You hear stalking footsteps get closer and closer… Welcome to Escape From Tarkov!
The main game mode in Escape From Tarkov is a raid. Raids last 45 minutes and players have to extract before the timer runs out. Your purpose is to loot, complete quests, and eliminate enemies. Successful extraction means you get to keep your gear; death or failure to extract means you lose everything.
Players can enter a raid as a PMC or Scav. The PMC is your main character and can be equipped with your own chosen gear. The Scav is your secondary character and will have random gear equipped. PMCs spawn at the very beginning of a raid and Scavs will typically spawn with 10-15 minutes remaining.
Your goal is to transform your PMC from a Level 1 Timmy into a Level 70 Gigachad. This is mainly accomplished by doing trader quests. Completing quests will give you experience plus other rewards like cash, gear, and trader rep. Experience is also gained by killing PMCs, Scavs, and bosses, as well as looting.
Apart from levelling up, your character has a set of skills. These skills will automatically progress as your PMC spends time in raid. Running will increase Endurance, eating will increase Metabolism, and so forth. Each skill has perks attached to it, and the perks will improve as you level the skill. Strength will improve things like running speed and jumping height, while Health will decrease the chance of a bone fracture. The full list can be found here.
Before entering a raid, you must equip your PMC with gear. PMC loadouts will be fairly basic at the beginning of the wipe, and become better as you level up and unlock higher-tier gear. As mentioned earlier, a PMC will lose all gear if he doesn’t extract successfully, however it is possible to buy insurance. If you fail to extract, all insured items will eventually be returned, provided it wasn’t picked up by a PMC or Scav.
As a PMC, no one is your friend. AI Scavs, player Scavs, and other PMCs are all hostiles. Eliminate them and take their loot!
If you are low on money and can’t even afford a basic loadout for your PMC, your Scav is there to save the day. Scav runs are completely free and you load in with a random set of gear, which you get to keep if you extract successfully. As a Scav your goal is to get as much loot as possible and get out.
When playing as a Scav, AI and human Scavs are friendlies while PMCs are hostiles. AI Scavs will become hostile if you open fire on them. It might seem like a good idea to kill a non-suspecting Scav with better gear or a big backpack, however this will result in a Fence rep penalty. If an AI or human Scav opens fire on you, you can kill them without any penalties, but they have to wound you first.
Increasing your rep with Fence is important as higher rep means better gear on your Scav and a decreased cooldown between Scav runs. Fence rep can be increased by completing Scav runs (without killing other Scavs) and using paid extraction points.
If you’re feeling brave, you can hunt PMCs and take their loot, however it’s no easy task as you will have inferior guns and armour as a Scav. Nonetheless, claiming a few PMC scalps can be very rewarding in terms of loot. If you’re lucky you might even come across some slain PMCs that haven’t been looted.
Scav runs are also a good alternative to offline raids when learning the game. It’s a risk-free way to learn and you can even get some loot out of it! You cannot gain experience or keep items from offline raids.
Every map has a number of designated extraction points, however not all of them will be open in a raid. PMCs and Scavs use separate extractions. Most extractions are straightforward in that you simply need to be in the area, while others require certain actions or items. Bridge V-Ex on Woods requires a payment, Cliff Descent on Reserve requires a Red Rebel Ice Pick and Paracord, ZB-014 on Customs requires a key, and so forth. Make sure you know the extraction point requirements before jumping into a raid.
One of the most important things in Tarkov is map knowledge. There is no mini-map, no GPS, nothing to help you, so you need to become familiar with the maps. The best tool for this is Map Genie. Have the map open on a second screen and start learning the important areas, extractions, hidden stashes, etc. At first, click on “Hide all” and only activate the Extractions and Locations on Map Genie. It’s also a good idea to do a few Scav runs or offline raids first, and once you’re comfortable with the map you can start doing online raids. You don’t want to lose all your gear in the first few raids.
Loot can be found in a variety of containers, and the ones you’ll use most often are Sport bags, Toolboxes, Safes, and Hidden Stashes.
Looting can be very confusing for beginners, especially with regards to what you should keep and what you shouldn’t. Generally you want to keep items of high value, but there are also items you need to keep for quests and hideout upgrades.
As far as knowing which items are valuable and which aren’t, it’s best to look at an item tier list. You will also learn this with experience. Eventually it’ll become second nature and you’ll know how to maximise the value of all items in your backpack.
At the beginning of a wipe, it’s especially important to keep items for quests. There are several collection quests in Tarkov that require you to hand in a list of items. If you can collect these items beforehand, you can finish these quests instantly to speed up your levelling. The quests will usually require the items to be found in raid, so you cannot simply buy them from traders or the flea market. Items that are found in raid have the Found in raid status, which is denoted by a white checkmark in the bottom right corner.
You can find a comprehensive list of quest items on PlayerAuctions, and here’s a few to get you started:
|Therapist||Shortage||3 x Salewa first aid kit|
|Prapor||Debut||2 x MP-133 12ga shotguns|
|Therapist||Sanitary Standards – Part 1 & Part 2||3 x Gas analyzer|
|Jaeger||Acquaintance||3 x Iskra ration pack
2 x Emelya rye croutons
2 x Can of beef stew (Large)
|Skier||Supplier||1 x Module-3M armor
1 x TOZ-106 shotgun
Keep these items in your inventory (do not sell them). This will allow you to finish these quests instantly and gain that juicy XP.
An item will be regarded as found in raid if:
-It was found in raid and the PMC had the Survived status (not Run Through)
-It was crafted
-It was earned through a quest
Your hideout is a very important part of the game. One of its most useful features is the ability to craft items. As you upgrade the hideout, new crafts are unlocked and many of these can be used for quests (crafted items have Found in raid status). So instead of spending hours searching for those items in raid, you could just craft them. The hideout is also very useful for crafting high-tier ammo when you haven’t unlocked it from the traders yet.
When you are in a raid, your PMC will steadily lose energy and hydration, so if you’re planning on staying for long, it’s a good idea to take some food and water. As you level your PMC and hideout, energy and hydration drain will decrease, and later on it won’t be necessary to take supplies anymore.
Many new players are baffled when they unload a whole magazine into a player’s body armour, only to be one-tapped afterwards. Ammo is extremely important in Tarkov, and can give you a significant advantage in combat. Every type of ammo has flesh damage and also armour penetration, and it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the ammo chart. You want to be using ammo that can penetrate high-level armour.
Headgear and armour range from Tier 1 to Tier 6, and the higher tiers can protect you against more types of ammo. It’s also important to look at the weight of armour, as heavy armour can slow you down if your PMC doesn’t have sufficient strength. Headgear and armour has a durability rating, which will decrease when taking damage. They can be repaired at a cost, but the maximum points will permanently decrease, and once the maximum points get low enough it won’t provide sufficient protection anymore.
In Escape From Tarkov players have access to several traders, and this is where you will spend a lot of time. You can sell your unwanted items to traders for cash, and also buy things like guns, meds, armour, and backpacks to be used in raids. Each trader has four loyalty levels, and to level up you need to reach a certain level with your PMC and also have enough trader rep. Naturally, as you level up your traders you get access to more powerful items.
The flea market becomes available at level 15 and allows you to trade with other players. This is a big milestone as it basically allows you to buy anything in the game, and you are not limited by the traders anymore. The Flea Market is especially useful for buying parts needed for hideout upgrades and building meta guns. Only items with Found in raid status can be sold on the flea market.
Your pouch is a special container of items that you cannot lose, so even if you don’t extract from a raid, these items will remain. The size of your pouch is determined by which version of the game you own, however containers can also be obtained from traders and by completing missions. The Standard and Left Behind editions will give you a 4-slot pouch, Prepare for Escape a 6-slot, and the Edge of Darkness edition gives you a whopping 9-slot pouch. But there is an even bigger pouch, the 12-slot Kappa container which can be acquired by completing the Collector quest from Fence. An important thing to note is that items in your pouch will only have Found in raid status if you survived the raid.
Most maps have hidden stashes spread all over the map, and these contain loot. The stashes are denoted on Map Genie, however they are still tricky to find. The best thing to do would be to watch a hidden stash guide on YouTube to learn the spots. Hidden stashes are especially useful when doing Scav runs.
Every map has a boss, however they have a low spawn chance so will mostly not be present. The spawn chance for a boss is around 10% for any given map. Bosses are much harder to take down, and they have very good gear, so the rewards are big for taking a boss down.
The healing system in Tarkov is quite comprehensive, and it’s not just a case of throw on some bandages to get back to 100HP. The player’s body is divided into seven healable parts, and you can pick up a whole host of injuries. The main things you need to worry about is:
-Blacked out body part
There are a lot of different types of meds that can be used, but I will just show you the most efficient way. First of all, you want to be using an all-purpose med kit. This is something that can heal health points, light bleeds, and heavy bleeds. The best ones to use is a Salewa or AFAK. You will be using these kits to heal health points and light bleeds. As you can see, using them for heavy bleeds is very costly, so the best thing to do is keep a CALOK-B for heavy bleeds, so you don’t drain your all-purpose kit too quickly. For fractures you will be carrying an Aluminum splint, which has five charges.
The worst type of damage is a blacked out limb, which requires some quick self-surgery. For blacked out limbs, you can either use a Surv12 kit or CMS. The Surv12 is more powerful in that it can restore the body part to higher health and also heals fractures, but it takes up one extra slot. This one will come down to personal preference.
Finally, you want to be carrying some kind of painkiller. The most popular ones are Golden Star, Vaseline, and Ibuprofen. If you’re expecting to be in a gunfight, it can be beneficial to take painkillers before an engagement. Keep painkillers in your pouch as they are quite expensive.
Guns are fully customisable in Tarkov, and you can build your guns in painstaking detail. The most important metrics to look at is Ergonomics, Horizontal, and Vertical Recoil, as this will determine how the gun feels in game. It’s possible to save presets for guns so you don’t have to build them from scratch every time.
Another thing to be aware of is that guns have a durability rating. Durability will impact a gun’s accuracy and can also cause it to malfunction. There is nothing worse than a gun jamming in the middle of a combat, and ideally you want to be using something with at least 90% durability, preferably 95%-100%. It’s also a good idea to check the chamber (Shift + T by default) in-game to be doubly sure it will fire.
And that’s the basics of Escape From Tarkov! It’s impossible to cover everything in a single article, and I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface here. But this is more than enough to get you going; the rest you will just have to learn as you go. Oh, and watch out for the barbed wire!
Also read: Hearthstone Battlegrounds Beginner's Guide