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The ultimate Escape From Tarkov beginner’s guide

Looking to get into Battlestate Games' hardcore realistic shooter? Here are the best Escape From Tarkov tips to get your starting on the right foot.

Escape From Tarkov is one of those games that you’ve probably seen on Twitch but never picked up. The hardcore shooter is one of the most rewarding games out there for those of you who enjoy hyper-realistic gun play and tactical teamwork, but getting to grips with it can be a struggle to say the least, especially if you’re a newcomer to the genre.

Like most of its players who routinely shoot on sight, Escape From Tarkov is pretty unfriendly to noobs. There’s no easy-to-digest tutorial in the game, meaning raids can feel like a baptism of fire when you first start running them with low-tier gear.

Don’t worry though, this is where we come in. As a group of players who have been there and done that, cried over lost gear and raged over souped-up Scavs that just wouldn’t go down, we’ve got the best tips to get you started in one of the best FPS games. So without further ado, here’s our Escape From Tarkov beginner’s guide.

What is Escape From Tarkov?

Escape From Tarkov is a hardcore looter shooter at heart with RPG elements. The online game has two real factions – BEAR and USEC, which you’ll pick from when you first boot up the game – before going toe to toe with AI and human-controlled players across a variety of maps in the war-torn city of Tarkov. As the name suggests, you have to escape from Tarkov, but in reality, all this means is you have to survive a single raid – an outing into one of the city’s maps.

While you’re on a raid, either as your chosen faction in PMC or as a Scav raider, channel your inner trash panda and hoover up as much loot as you possibly can. If you get out, you can choose to store this loot or sell it for a profit. Fail as a PMC and you’ll have the cost of healing yourself and replacing your gear.

Escape from Tarkov beginner’s guide

If you want to avoid the constant fear of losing all your gear and your money, you’re going to want to stay alive. Here’s how you do just that, all while improving your EFT skills.

Run Scav raids first

When you run raids as a member of your chosen faction, everything you enter with is on the line. If you choose to go in as a friendly Scav though, you essentially get an opportunity to escape with free gear. You see, in Escape From Tarkov, Scavs are essentially the AI that terrorizes you when you play as PMCs, but in this mode, you have the chance to run with the Russians.

When you play as a Scav, you’ll be pushed into an ongoing raid at a random time with random gear, but you won’t be attacked by other Scavs –  unless you engage them. You still have to watch out for players, but if you can escape, you’ll have made a cushy profit while buffing your arsenal. Effectively, it’s a more stress-free way to play, which is great to start out – though the random gear does also add a unique challenge each run.

Escape from Tarkov guide: A soldier leaning out a window and aiming a weapon in Reserve.

Insure your gear

When you finally muster the courage to use your own gear as a PMC in a raid, make sure to insure it. If you die but no one picks it up, it’ll return via Prapor or Therapist in the next day or so.

Who you choose to insure with is up to you, though. Prapor offers lower rates, but his returns are slower, whereas Therapist is more expensive but will get your gear back to you within 24 hours.

Always have access to a map

The nature of Escape From Tarkov means you’re going to get lost a lot. If you’ve got a second screen or access to a big enough mobile or tablet device, it’s probably best to load up a map that you can refer to during a raid. You can find lots of community maps online, complete with extract locations, on places like Reddit and the EFT wiki.

If you’re just starting out though, we’d recommend getting to grips with the Customs and Factory maps first. You can run these maps in offline mode without Scavs to get better acquainted with them.

Learn where your extracts are

Every single map on Escape From Tarkov has a number of different extracts. You’ll be given a different selection depending on how you’re doing the raid and some are only accessible with the help of others or with a key.

Every map will have a set of extracts which are always open. There are some though, like Smugglers Boat on Customs that are only open at certain times. Generally extracts that feature ‘???’ in the raid are time, cash, or item-sensitive, so don’t bank on them if you need to escape quickly.

There are also some extracts like Factory Gate on Woods where you’ll need to find a friendly player Scav to extract. It’s worth knowing now that nailing these extracts is very rare – but Fence will give you some good rewards if you do find someone willing to take up your offer.

Escape from Tarkov guide: Three players on a roof aiming with rifles off-screen in Reserve.

Complete quests

Escape From Tarkov has quests that will help you unlock new items and traders in the game. If you’re looking to actually progress, these quests are paramount to your raid experience. Every quest requires you to do something different and there are guides online for specific ones in case you get stuck, but they also range in difficulty.

When you complete a quest, you’ll be rewarded with cash, items, or both, and your reputation with a particular trader will increase, leading to better prices all round. Over time, as your reputation with traders improves, you’ll unlock better gear to purchase for raids.

Make use of your secure container

Every player has access to a secure container during a PMC raid that will allow you to keep items you’ve found, even if you die. The size of your secure container will differ depending on the edition of the game you’ve bought. The smallest is 2×2 while the largest is 3×3. You can upgrade these as you progress, but they’re very much late-game buys due to their price points.

When you’re in a raid and you find an expensive-looking item or a marked key, stick it in your secure container to keep it safe.

Bring only what you need to a raid

Don’t learn the hard way. Only bring what you need (and can afford to lose) to a raid. Since Tarkov is hyper-realistic, you’re going to need to plan your gear set meticulously. When you’re starting out, you don’t need to bring a second weapon, but you do need to invest in medical supplies and decent armour.

When you boot up the game for the first time, you’ll be given PACA armour. Since it’s a level two vest, it won’t do much to keep you alive, but it’s better than nothing to kick your raids off. Once you get the hang of things, make sure to look up the hierarchy of things like armour, helmets, and ammunition, so that when you’re actually out and about you’re less at risk of dying to a single round.

Similarly, you’re going to want to stock up on medical supplies to keep you fueled.

Escape from Tarkov guide: A player looking at the sun on Woods while holding a scoped assault rifle.

Keep an eye on your health

That leads us nicely to our next point. Depending on your finances, you can buy a number of different medical supplies to keep you fit and healthy in the field. While salewa first aid kits, splints, and painkillers are an absolute must for newcomers, especially for fixing up heavy bleeds, we’d recommend you pick up a CMS or Survivor Kit as soon as you can. The latter two products will allow you to reattach your limbs if they are blacked out during combat.

Keep an eye on map times

When you load into a raid, double tap ‘O’ to see the raid’s countdown and your extracts. This will give you an idea of how long you can spend wandering the streets of Tarkov before you need to get out of there.

If you’ve found a lot of loot and you want to escape earlier, that’s fine, but just make sure enough time has passed or you have enough raid experience so it doesn’t count as a run-through.

Make use of offline raids

If you want to get to grips with Tarkov’s gunplay or learn loot routes, your best bet is to try out an offline raid. You can go in totally alone without any Scavs just so you can get well acquainted with the map or you can go in with Scavs and get some shooting practice in.

It goes without saying though that any items you find in offline raids won’t be moved over to your stash.

Add meds to your quick bar

Your weapons are automatically assigned a slot in Escape From Tarkov, but your medical supplies aren’t. As you’ll quickly come to realise, jumping into your inventory mid-fight to stitch your stomach back up isn’t exactly ideal, but there’s a way to mitigate that.

When you load into a raid, drag your medical supplies up to your quick bar, memorize the slot assigned, and you’re good to go. Next time you’re shot, you can find a nice little hole to heal without worrying about sifting through your inventory first.

Escape from Tarkov guide: Escape From Tarkov boss Sanitar healing himself on Shoreline while holding a rifle, with another character next to him aiming their rifle.

Wiggle if you’re friendly

There’s an unwritten rule in Escape From Tarkov and that’s the wiggle. If you see someone wiggling (by leaning), it’s another player saying ‘I’m friendly’. Obviously, we’re not going to tell you not to shoot them – it could be bait after all – but assess the situation quickly and decide what you’re going to do.

Be wary of bosses

The maps on Escape From Tarkov have bosses that can spawn at set locations. These guys are guarded by Scavs and are super aggressive and armed to the teeth, so don’t take one on unless you’re prepared.

If you do come across one during a raid and you don’t want to engage, then run. Run as fast as you can and don’t look back.

Work on your hideout

The hideout might seem like a random addition to Escape From Tarkov, but it’s something worth dabbling with. Each upgrade will give you access to new things like the Workbench, which allows you to mod your guns, or increases your rest time so you can recover from raids quicker.

There are specific things you’ll need to complete for each upgrade and it can be quite pricey, so make sure you know what you want before you commit to it.

One of the best upgrades you can get for your hideout is a Bitcoin Farm. This is a mid to late-game upgrade that’ll set you back a fair bit, but it’ll be worth it in the end, we promise. Since the price of Bitcoin is tied to the in-game prices, you can make some easy money in-game with the right investment.

That’s all we have for you in our Escape From Tarkov beginner’s guide. It’s not an easy game to get to grips with, but it’s certainly one you learn by playing, so get out there, and get your Scav on.