Escape from Tarkov has been available since July 2017 and has come a long way since then. It’s been constantly developed and updated by BattleState Games, and is turning into something very special indeed having exploded in popularity through some genius marketing on Twitch.
I’ve been playing it since late 2018 and have put in a ridiculous amount of time in it- I’m not exactly sure how much as the stats are reset each wipe, but the last time I checked I was at over 100 hours in the last wipe alone. What?!?! Don’t look at me like that….
So given that, I decided it was time to start pulling my experience together into a guide that will hopefully stop people making some of the mistakes I made during my early Tarkov life, and bridge some of the middle ground between newbie and pro.
It helps though to understand why Tarkov is such a great game. One of these reasons is that it generates truly memorable experiences like the one I had just the other day.
So, I was approaching the back of Bus Station on the Customs map With Steve as a Duo one raid. We were moving parallel to Dorms and approaching from Gas station itself- which we had just cleared. You see, we wanted to nip into the blue container to check the stash before making our way through construction to the back of Big Red, which Steve had a mission for. We moved quickly and while we did hear some odd rustling, we assumed it was us so paid it no attention.
Steve goes to check the stash in the container when I hear more rustling and the unmistakable sound of footsteps. Duly alerted, I rush out of the left of the container to face the rear of Bus Station where the bushes are that I guessed the noise had come from when all hell breaks loose. Seems our two-man team had been followed by another 2 man team. And they had the drop on us….
It’s interesting; as the gunfire started I distinctly remember wondering where they’d picked us up. I reasoned that it must have been when we were clearing the Scavs from Gas Station as gunfire can make a bit of noise. They’d obviously been able to identify us there, but not quite catch up. Until now.
It was early wipe, so although I had a kitted-out AKS-74U I was only running T Ammo, so when I ineffectually emptied the 30-round clip into the PMC who’d literally just emerged from the bush, himself firing, I reasoned I was dead. Luckily, the Bus Station is slightly elevated compared to the container so his first volley went straight over my head (by how much I’d rather not know) and my attack, although not killing him must have hurt like hell because he strafed left to try to get the container between me and him- probably to pop some pills or hastily stop some bleeding. Annoyingly he managed to hit me then with a number of rounds, and while my armour held I was bleeding, I had an arm and a leg blacked out; a few more shots and I was done for. Happily the side he went behind was the side Steve was now pushing and he put him down with prejudice.
I hastily reload but before I can pop a pill and start to heal I hear more rustling behind and realise the running sound had been the other member of this two-man going for the flank. I was in the open, half dead and unable to run due to my leg being out. Steve was on the other side of the container, probably looting his kill (rather than checking the area) so I was on my own. I went prone, just as the enemy cleared the bushes and I gave him the contents of my fresh clip. Happily, he fell over. I then limped to cover and began the lengthy healing process just as Steve asked if I was OK (presumably still looting). Cretin.
This was in the first ten minutes of the raid- we’d spawned on the wrong side for the mission, so had wanted to get through the ZB011 side as quickly as possible; to grab the objective and extract at the nearby Crossroads Exfil. Instead, we ended up killing 8 Scavs just getting to Bus Station, 2 PMC’s as detailed above, and then a further 4 Scavs and 1 PMC just getting to big ol’Red. By then I was out of painkillers, Ammo and was barely able to walk.
Still, we grabbed the mission and I limped to extract with Steve playing bodyguard; kindly killing the roaming Scav in storage to give me a clear run to Crossroads and freedom.
This epitomises why I love this game. A simple run turned into a veritable bloodbath with multiple Scav and PMC kills followed by the exceptionally tense (and slow) plod to the mission and extraction. It’s never the planned moments that stick with you: it’s the ambushes you escape, the ridiculous survival stories and the moments when against all odds, you survive while your attackers do not.
It’s discussing these moments with other players when I stream (https://twitch.tv/spats1e #shamelessplug) that I realise the only reason I can survive encounters like that was due to experience. I knew to push out from that container as soon as I heard the sound and that nothing less than a clip would do (and even then not always guaranteed). I also knew I had to go prone when I was injured with no cover and again, going Full-Auto saved me and got me another kill. And that’s even before we get into how Steve and I having played together for years now often instinctively know what the other is going to do and how best to support, mostly, to maximise our chances of survival. Except for, you know, when he kills me by mistake.
So I think it’s time I shared this experience. I figure it’s time to do a guide on how to adjust and get the best out of Tarkov from the perspective of an above-average (just) player. There are already a number of guides out there from professional gamers but I hope that you’ll find my tips more helpful and most importantly, more applicable to those of us who are approaching the middle of out time in Tarkov.
As I have learnt, success in Escape From Tarkov boils down to a number of key concepts which I’ve listed below. These are each covered in their own piece and can be found here:
- The Basics
- The Maps
- The Economy, Traders and Missions
- Your Load-out, Guns and Ammo
- The Hideout
- The Meta-Game
- Advanced tactics; Looting and Movement
- Advanced tactics; Combat
There’s so much to go over that this turned into a multipart series. You could write a literal book on this game, though I’m hoping to stop just short of that….
Part one, The Basics, is linked above (along with all the other pieces).