The cold and unforgiving landscape of Tarkov chews up and spits out new players on a daily basis. Here’s what you need to know in order to survive your first thirty days.
When I initially bought Escape from Tarkov during the New Year’s sale, I was a little nervous that I would end up abandoning the game in a few weeks. As of February 3, I was happy to see that I had 67 hours of playtime.
Starting a career in Tarkov is like getting thrown into the deep end of a pool with no floaties, except the pool is full of gasoline and the person who threw you in just lit a match. It can be a truly terrifying experience, one that rivals any horror game I have ever had the misfortune of playing. This trial by fire can be deadly, here are a few things I wish I knew before my first month.
You Will Die… A Lot
One of the most difficult aspects of EFT to come to terms with is the fact that no matter how hard you try or how good you are, you will die and you will lose gear. Many players are tempted to let their fancy starting weapons sit in their stash because of gear fear, the idea that players are nervous to bring good guns and gear into raids because they do not want to die and lose them.
Leaving that gear in a stash will contribute nothing to your gameplay, other than cause frustration when you need to transfer gear into an almost full stash. If you really don’t want to lose those guns, you will be better off selling them to vendors and using the roubles earned from those sales to fund more runs.
Purchasing insurance is a great way to mitigate some of this gear fear. If you die in a raid, and an item you bought insurance one was not taken by another PMC by the time the raid ends, Prapor or Therapist will return it to you about a day later.
Gear fear will start to wear off as your playtime increases, but you should never feel bad about dying. There are plenty of enemy players that have dedicated the past three years of their lives to perfecting this game. They know the maps, spawns, weapons, and armor like the back of their hand. The best way to improve in Tarkov is to learn from your mistakes, analyze your fights, and think about how you could have possibly changed the outcome.
Take Advantage of Scav Runs
The best way to deal with gear fear is to run raids with gear that does not belong to you. During your first week, I would recommend playing raids on your Scav whenever they are off cooldown.
Not only do Scav runs present you with the possibility of free loot without needing to worry about losing money, it also gives players the opportunity to practice PvP with a variety of weapons. During PMC runs, you may find yourself running out of ammo for your favorite gun and need to grab anything that fires.
You might not find yourself bringing a PPSH-41 on your PMC, but your Scav would certainly love to introduce you to the submachine gun. Practicing fighting with all weapon types will increase your overall survivability in tense situations.
Set Your Own Goals
It may not look like it on the surface, but in reality EFT is an MMO. While there isn’t a persistent world that all players are constantly roaming and interacting with, the player driven economy, quests, and levelling system all lend themselves to the typical MMO structure.
Like most MMOs, EFT does not have a definitive ending. Players who focus their time completing tasks will eventually run out, but there is much more that the game offers.
Goals can be as simple as levelling up your character and relationship with Ragman in order to purchase the coolest outfits, or as complex as completing all the tasks required to unlock a Kappa Container. You may want to level up your skill with snipers and one-tap enemies from across the map, or focus on shotguns for close-quarter encounters.
The endless possibilities when it comes to establishing goals is quite staggering. With that being said, there is one goal that should be your main priority when you first launch the game.
Reaching Level 10 Changes the Game Entirely
The grind from level one to ten is a difficult one, as all of the traders will only offer basic trades. The Flea Market, the place where players can sell items to one another, is not available until players reach level ten.
Without access to the Flea, players are limited in the resources they can purchase, being forced to loot good armor, weapons, and ammo from raids. This is why it is important to utilize Scav runs early on, which give you opportunities to jump start your bank account.
The first ten levels are difficult, but breaking through that experience threshold is incredibly satisfying. Unlocking the Flea Market allows players to purchase any item they may desire, instantly improving the likelihood that they survive each raid. That is, if they know what to buy.
Learn the Price and Effectiveness of Items
With nearly 2,000 different items that players can potentially acquire, knowing what items are worth a slot in your inventory is daunting as a new player. Items that are easy to come by in real life, such as screws and nails, can sometimes be sold on the Flea Market for more money than a computer processor.
While learning prices is important, understanding the price-per-slot is more important. If an item takes up two slots, and is valued at 15,000 roubles, it would be better to carry two, one-slot items that are each valued at 10,000 roubles.
Some items may not sell for much money, such as cigarettes, but need to be found-in-raid for certain tasks. Players can easily walk past a valuable item, not knowing what the loot is actually worth. The most important item type to have an understanding of is ammunition.
Ammo Matters More Than Weapons
An aspect of Tarkov that I have yet to fully take advantage of is the plethora of available ammunition. There are twenty-two different calibers of bullets, each having a laundry list of different types.
Different varieties of the same caliber have different features. Some may be more prone to cause bleeding, some have a high likelihood of inducing bone fractures, while others leave tracers as they fly through the air.
The two most important stats to take note of when purchasing ammunition is flesh damage and armor penetration. Many high-level players will have access to armor that can completely mitigate almost half of the ammo types in the game. While a well placed headshot should take out nearly any player, a helmet with a face shield will either need to be penetrated or destroyed before dealing damage to your opponent.
The only body parts that cannot be armored are the legs, meaning that hitting someone in either leg will always deal full damage. It seems counter-intuitive to every other FPS, but aiming for the legs might be your best bet against heavily armored enemies.
Never Underestimate Scavs
If you regularly watch content creators play EFT, you might hear them say something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, it’s just a Scav.” To experienced players with thousands of hours, Scavs pose very little threat.
While Scavs generally have very poor aim, a stray bullet can still knock your head off without any warning. A pack of Scavs can easily pin you down if you peak out of cover too many times.
It is best to take out Scavs as quickly as possible. If you see one in the distance, or hear one yelling nearby, you should not hesitate to open fire.
If You Can, Play With Friends
Much like most multiplayer games, forming a squad with friends can lead to great loot runs and hysterical fails. Having people to guide you through the early stages can be beneficial, and having more players on your team should theoretically increase your chance of surviving.
Unfortunately, the chaos of a full squad of five PMCs can sometimes increase the chance that you die, as friendly fire is always enabled. Grenades in particular can easily wipe out a full squad if someone accidentally presses “G.”
If you don’t know anybody who has joined the Tarkov community yet, you can always check out the looking for group subreddit. Here, you can find plenty of Discord servers full of players that are more than willing to play with newcomers.
Much of my early success is due, in part, to the new friends I have made on one of these Discord servers. There is something special about EFT and the bond that players form with one another, thanks to the shared experience of suffering and loss.
My Final Thoughts On Tarkov
Escape from Tarkov is certainly is not a game for everyone. Players need to be determined, cool-headed, or outright stubborn in order to survive in the apocalyptic wasteland.
While the gameplay is far from perfect, and a few bugs have caused me some minor inconveniences, there is something about EFT that keeps me coming back for more. No matter how many times I get sniped from across the map, torn apart by a frag grenade, or blinded by flash rounds, I find myself logging on everyday to grab my returned insurance and leap back in to the fray.
NEXT: 15 FPS To Play If You Like Escape from Tarkov
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