Escape from Tarkov is a notoriously brutal game. You will drive you to insanity unless you are properly prepared for what you’re letting yourself in for this game. Escape from Tarkov has no tutorial, the game doesn’t tell you how or where to “escape” from said Tarkov, and that bush will one-tap you — causing you to lose all that expensive gear you’re wearing. Don’t worry, this guide will provide you with the latest solos guide to help you achieve success in the game and enough EFT Roubles.
A looter-shooter at heart, Escape from Tarkov is all about, well, escaping from Tarkov — a fictional region and city of Russia. Following a conflict in the area, its borders were sealed off, leaving scavengers and members of private military companies (PMCs) to duke it out. Upon starting the game, the player selects either BEAR (a Russian-sponsored PMC group) or USEC (a Western one). This is the faction your PMC will fight for. Like most looter-shooters, you have a stash to store your loot, and a flea market to sell it. The aim of the game is to get more money, buy more containers which expand your stash size so that you can horde even more loot, and eventually escape from Tarkov (coming in a later update).
You equip items, load into a raid on one of the various maps in the game, and have a set amount of time to get out. This is usually approximately forty-five minutes, give or take. You get out by reaching an extraction point. There are multiple on each map, and when you first load in the game tells you which extractions you can escape from. These extractions are always on the opposite side of the map to where you spawn, meaning that players inevitably cross paths.
Start with Customs
You will likely be overwhelmed with the open-ended nature of Escape from Tarkov, and it doesn’t exactly tell you what map is the best for beginners, but the map Customs is the best place to start. The layout of the map is one of the most complicated, there are a lot of extraction points to learn, and it is full of chokepoints that force player conflict. It isn’t the easiest to learn (in fact, the opposite), but once you’ve mastered Customs the rest of the game will seem easy in comparison.
It might seem boring at first, but you need to play Customs until you no longer need a map to navigate. You will know when it’s time to move onto another map if you can spawn into Customs and immediately know where you need to go to extract. Until then, play Customs until you master it because there are very good reasons to do so.
Firstly, most of the early level quests are located on this map. They give XP, money, and weapons as rewards, providing a healthy boost to your stash early on. Secondly, Customs is one of the most diverse maps. It has a lot of areas with good loot: the Dorms, the customs area itself, and the various warehouses in the industrial area are all chock full of goodies. Lastly, the map has many different area types. There are woodland areas for sneaking and sniping, there are urban areas to practice more tactical movement, and there are close-quarters areas for up close and personal player-versus-player combat. In short, you will hone a variety of skills on Customs, allowing you to find out your strengths and weaknesses, and what kind of playstyle suits you the best.
Bread and Butter
“Scav” is short for the word “scavenger,” and refers to the people who are left in the war-torn Tarkov region. They are AI-controlled for the most part, and they wander around levels saying creepy Russian phrases and giggling; however, some Scavs are player-controlled.
Every twenty minutes, you can select to play as a Scav from the main menu. You will be spawned into a level of your choice with random equipment and weapons. From there you operate the same as a normal PMC, except other AI-controlled Scavs won’t attack you — beware another player Scavs though, they can and will shoot you for your loot. If you attack another Scav, player, or AI, all the Scavs in that area will turn on you.
There is a downside to playing as a Scav, though. You normally spawn with subpar equipment and weapons, meaning that you are at the mercy of the Tarkov gods as to how well you can defend yourself. Saying this, as a new player you should be using your Scav every single time they are available. You might be tempted to want to play that shiny new PMC with all the fun stuff, but EFT is about money and loot at heart, and spawning in as a Scav – with no risk if you die – can yield some amazing results. I once spawned as a Scav, shot someone in the face, and got out with 1 million roubles in loot at level 4. It works.
Streamers, YouTube, and the wiki will all help you learn, but it cannot be overstated that this game requires you to be an expert on many different things. That silly looking pair of pliers you just picked up might be worth 30k on the Flea Market, enough to buy an actual gun. The only way to learn these things is through experience. Look up the solution to any question you have, then in the future, you will already know the answer — this is the key to learning everything in Escape from Tarkov.
Watching people stream the game is a great way to learn the maps when you aren’t playing. YouTube can also provide valuable information not only in the form of tutorials but for finding those pesky extraction points. Sometimes you can follow your map to the extract but not find the specific radius you need to stand in, a quick Alt + Tab and YouTube search with the name of the extract point you want to locate will bring up footage of the precise location you need to find.
Determine You Goals
Are you going in to quest, to loot, or to PVP? Each objective must come with a distinct play style. You have to constantly keep in mind why you’re in for. Going into Shoreline’s resort to pick up a quest item and then hitting 5 locked rooms is probably not the safest way to succeed. Doing a mix of both rarely succeed as the longer you stick around, the more chance you have to get shot.
Especially for the quest element of this trip, the amount of time you stay in hugely impacts your chances of success. The more you stay in, the less predictable the enemy position is and all the readiness that came with your preparation will inevitably fade away as the minute passes bringing more unknown variables.
Learn The Maps
It’s been said over and over, knowing the maps is important and is key to success. To me, however, learning the spawns is even more important as it will be decisive in your decision making, the route you’re going to take, the lines you’re going to hold.
You can buy maps in-game, but they don’t actually have any locations or extractions marked on them. You’re better off going on the Escape from Tarkov wiki and finding the relevant map. Keep this up in a browser while you play, then you can dive into a bush and Alt + Tab out of the game to check the map if you need to. This is great when you are learning where the extract points are. You’ve likely spent the better part of an hour creeping around with all your new loot, and need reminding.
It’s very comparable to chess, where knowing the maps would be like knowing how each piece should move on the board. The natural next step would be to work on your openings and it’s kind of like learning the spawns and move according to them.
Plan Your Route
Looking at all the previous points, the last one would be to plan your route according to your objective and the spawn you got. If your goal is to get a quest item in the Resort. Look at your spawn, try to remember where other people might spawn, and ask yourselves the important questions, can they get there before me? Yes or No. In which wing would they be? In which wing my quest item is? In which room, how do I get in? How do I get out? What’s the quickest way to extract from my resort’s exit point?
Analyze The Situation
The second thing you need to do is to forecast as accurately as possible enemy’s movement and base your positioning according to that. To give you an example, if you spawn at the back of the resort, you know that you will be first in the East wing, you also know that your closest threat will be arriving by West Wing. Acknowledging that early on will help you to plan accordingly to your objective. Plan an exit route once you got your item or lay an ambush for those coming up in West. This is why learning the maps and the spawns are important.
Attention To Detail
When playing Tarkov, every detail of your surroundings matters and I invite you to overthink all of them. This comes with experience but trying to give an explanation to everything you see and hear is a good starting point.
Original state of the map versus anomalies. Throughout the raid, I will pay attention to all the anomalies I can see, doors that shouldn’t be open, sniper scav taken down, containers being looted… Then I will try and think about the next POI and make my way there to investigate.
To give you a more concrete example, let’s say I’m moving north to south, and on the mid map, I see a spot that was looted. I know that its mostly like done so by the closest spawn, keeping that in mind, I would think about the trajectory these plays would take to make their way to the next POI. Listen to firefights. How many different guns can you hear, are they silenced, do you hear grenades, are they regular, scripted burst or not, would these guys be fighting scavs?
Once the firefights are over, think. It means somebody won, which also means that the natural next step would be loot. Are you close enough to lay an ambush, if not, are these shots likely made by the closest spawn which would then give you an idea of where they’ll be heading? A contrario, if you do not hear any firefights in the first minutes, this might mean different things which you will need to consider. No firefight doesn’t mean any enemy, It most likely means 5 MAN SQUAD. It can also mean loot run, which then takes me back to the previous points about knowing where the POIs are. It could also mean be careful players because trust me if you’re in presence of Chads, you will hear within the very first minutes of your raid. So again, think about all the possibilities and plan ahead. Finally, keep an eye on the body count you bump into. Know the max players count for each map and count how many PMC bodies you see.
Become A Gun Nut
If you don’t know much about guns — learn. This game has a complex ballistics system that takes into account the weapon caliber you are using, the type of bullet, and the type of armour, if any, your opponent is wearing. Some bullet types have high penetration yet low damage, others have high damage but low penetration. This means that if your opponent is wearing high-level armour and you shoot them with a low-penetration bullet, you might as well be throwing rocks. They will calmly turn around while you are dumping a magazine into them and send you back to the main menu humiliated. This is why most new players think Tarkov is unfair.
When you are first starting out, you only have access to really bad ammunition. Most players will fire wildly at anyone they see, but if you see an enemy covered head-to-toe in the latest gear, you need to take that Frankenstein rifle you’re holding and get out of there. Once you’ve built up experience, money, and weapons, you will be able to take that tank down in one shot. Until then, focus on becoming a good player. Learn how much recoil weapons have, learn what kind of weapons you like, and learn what the bullets you are firing actually do. This isn’t Call of Duty, and those who treat it as such will not enjoy Escape from Tarkov.
Fight Factor Analysis
Unless you’ve got an unlimited cash flow, I would advise picking only the fight you’re sure to win. Of course, things can get out of hand and the upcoming uncontrollable variables that we are going to discuss can impact that but overall, I’ve come to learn that Tarkov players tend to be reasonable in the way they approach firefights. So, if you think you can win, it means you probably can and keep this mindset. If your first thought on spotting two players moving ahead of you is “I’m going to die” then you should probably stick with this taught and bail. There are no such things as “maybe who knows if he does this and that…” in Tarkov and I’m sure already got that by now. So, to sum it up, more things can go wrong than right in this game and you have to keep this in mind.
If you do decide to pick up a fight. I’d like to take you back to your initial loadout. Plan according to that first. Long-range, keep your distances, short-range, get closer, shootie, aim for the legs. Assess the situation. Where are they going, moving towards or away from you? Are you close or far away from? What’s their spacing? Could a nade do the job? What’re their surroundings, could they quickly get in the cover? Where are they likely to go? Hit the villas? Would it be better for me to wait and camp the door?
Take a good look at your opponent, gear, and behaviors. From gear I mean, do they outgear you? Which would hence give you an idea of their level. Could your ammo go through their armors? Who’s the most feared? Which you should take first. But also try to get into their head, who’s running first, which depending on where they’re going can mean two things. Either he’s the most Chaddy of the group, or he’s the most eager to get out which also means: Loot. Who’s running headfirst and who’s looking around? Meaning who’s the chad and who’s the most “worried” player. Have they been running for a while? Meaning would they run out of stamina soon?
Think about all that and then think again, should I start up this fight? Know, I know, I know, it’s a lot of questions to ask yourself but eventually, it’ll come automatically.
Before you enter a raid, you can choose to insure your items. You should ensure everything with Prapor. He is the cheapest, and, providing no one leaves the raid with your items, you will get them back within 36 hours. You might be tempted to think it’s a waste of money, and that nobody will leave your loot — but they will.
Most body armours are too big to fit in backpacks. A lot of players will also already have better armour, or yours might be so shot up that it isn’t worth space if they can get it out. The same goes for weapons. The more basic your weapon, the more likely people will leave it on your body. It’s the shiny late-game guns they want. Most of the time your stuff will come back to you if you insure it, and it’s much cheaper than buying it again.
Headphone is Important
This goes for both in-game and in person. A decent pair of headphones for playing games is almost a requirement these days, so if you don’t already have a pair, get one. It will allow you to hear the nuanced noise of footsteps and rustling, and let you know exactly which direction they are coming from, and how close.
With that out of the way, your PMC should wear a set of headphones in-game as well. There are various different sets, and they all have a different sound signature, but the most important fact is that they all cut out useless noises and amplify the most important ones. Wind, rain, and ambient sounds all get lessened, but footsteps, gunshots, and footsteps all get amplified. Once you wear a pair, you also become abundantly aware of just how much of a racket you yourself make charging through bushes and opening filing cabinets.
To provide an anecdote from my own experience, I was waiting outside the Dorms on the Customs map when I heard a low rustling coming from some bushes around 15 meters away. I turned to see a player’s face appear through a bush — he had been crawling, thinking he could get the drop on me. With all the self-control of John Rambo, I sprayed a whole magazine into him. If I hadn’t been wearing headphones, I wouldn’t have heard him.
This is the most important piece of advice on this list. Gear-fear is infectious and permeates every stratum of EFT player. It is a term used to identify the anxiety that comes with using expensive, high-level gear and weapons, and the fear of losing them.
If you have the good fortune of scoring some great loot and escaping with it, you probably haven’t thought about what you will do with it. You could spend hours agonizing over it, or, worse still, you could take it into a raid and spend the whole time terrified. Thankfully, the solution is simple — sell it.
Keep A Good Attitude
On most of the map, you’ve got more than 30 minutes to completes your objectives. If you don’t have the best spawn for what you intend to do, then you might as well take your time. And by best spawn, I mean it, not the second or third best. I mean, the best.
Throughout the map, you will stumble into endless clues that will give you an idea of how the raid is unfolding for the other players. Make sure you analyze them all. Do not run if you don’t have to. Take a step back and loop around if necessary. If you think you heard something, you probably did and act as such. Pause, listen for a couple of seconds more, get ready, and clear. If you want to take this to the next level, pop a painkiller before to clear so if it turns out that they were more than your thoughts, you can quickly go back to cover. Do that every time you’re unsure and act just as if you knew somebody was around. Never think as in Hopefully there is nobody camping on top of the tunnel. No, you go there and check before proceeding forward.
Finally, as you move along the map and to keep you on edge, I would advise you to periodically ask yourself. What would I do If was getting shot from this cliff, or this house or whatever? Keep asking you that and plan accordingly.
There is no easy way to succeed at Escape from Tarkov. The game is still under development, but it is also the creator’s intent for it to be obtuse and punishing. You will have to learn from experience to a great extent. Following this guide, however, will give you the fundamentals, and lessen your suffering on your way to the top. Stick with it, and soon enough you will be one of the players you were cursing while you were learning the ropes.