Escape From Tarkov Extended New Player’s Guide
I saw this guide here:
and was inspired to create an extension of this guide as people begin to get the hang of the game and are wondering what the next steps are. I’ve had several friends try out the game over the past few weeks, so it’ll just be typing up what I’ve tried to explain to them. Read the linked guide for the basics.Important Tips
- Insure. Everything. Every. Raid. Seriously, at lower tiers of gear you will get 80%+ of the gear you take in back from insurance. This is enormously important.
- Learn a money run: see below for more details
- If on a standard account (like me), rush for the Punisher series of quests (Prapor) as your highest priority. Getting the Epsilon container as early as possible will massively increase your gains.
- When looting, toss items into better rigs/backpack and equip/toss into your bag. You’ll want to search these in bushes or hidden areas rather than sitting in the open. Looting should be grab and run
- Ammo matters most. You’ll get more kills investing in good ammunition than spending your money modding out your guns for ergo or recoil.
- There’s always another pmc. Probably the guys friend. Sitting in that bush waiting for you to loot him. Scout before you loot
- Start raids fast. Move quick as you can towards your objective/route when you first get in to avoid people rushing your spawn. Finish raids slow. Once you’ve completed a task or grabbed all the loot, normal walk it out. Running will alert the creepers and, worse, the extract campers.
- Controversial tip: Run factory for scav runs. Scav runs for me are to get in and out as fast as possible, usually with no combat at all. Grab as many guns/armor/packs as you can and extract. Use that money to get good gear for your actual raids.
I break gear up into 5 tiers, recommendations below based on use case and price:
Tier 1: Cheap as possible setups designed to be used in money runs and the very early game to get to Tier 2 when poor
- Armor: Paca (Ragman L1) and SSh-68 helmet (Ragman L1) both recommended but optional at this tier
- Rig/Pack: Scav Vest (Ragman L1) and biggest available bag, ScavBP (Ragman L2) when available (kill scavs and sub out for better rigs/bag)
- Weapons: Shotguns (MP153 especially) and Pistols. Try to use the flea for better ammo (makes the most difference) based on the ammo chart. Scav run salvaged weapons mostly here
- Meds: Pain killers (required) and anything to stop bleeds
Tier 2: The basics for money runs and early game questing. Early game bread and butter.
- Armor: Paca (Ragman L1) or salvaged level 3 armor (Press, UNTAR, or 6B23) and SSh-68 helmet (Ragman L1)
- Rig/Pack: SOE Micro (Ragman L1) and ScavBP (Ragman L2) or biggest available
- Weapons: Mosin, SKS, VEPR KM, ADAR or any 7.62 (PS) or 5.45 (T, BT, or BP if you can get it) automatic AK variant. Scav run salvage weapons mostly, buy better ammo off flea/add scope of your choice if you have the money
- Meds: Pain killers and CAR pack, preferably with a backup AI2/painkiller pack
Tier 3: Mid game every raid gear once you’re somewhat established
- Armor: Level 3+ armor (6B23-1 at Ragman L2 for purchasing) or salvaged level 4 armored rigs (6B3TM or 6B5) and Kiver with Kiver faceshield (Ragman L2) or SSh-68 helmet (Ragman L1)
- Rig/Pack: Triton (Ragman L2) and Berkut (Ragman L2) or biggest available for both
- Weapons: Scoped OP-SKS/Vepr Hunter, basic modded ADAR, 7.62 (PS or BP if you can afford), or 5.45 (BP/BT) AK variant. Aim for recoil reduction with decent ergo, see budget build guides and find your favorite
- Meds: Pain killers, CAR pack + AI2 or selawa, backup painkillers and meds in sec container
Tier 4: Late game builds for high levels with some money
- Armor: Level 4 armor (or at least fresh 6B23-1 Ragman L2) with Kiver with Kiver faceshield (Ragman L2), Zsh1 with faceshield (Ragman L3, get skiers black variant), or SSh-68 helmet with audio amplifiers
- Rig/Pack: Triton (Ragman L2) and Berkut (Ragman L2) or biggest available for both
- Weapons: Modded M4 or MDR, 7.62 (BP), or 5.45 (BS+) AK variant or long scoped rifle depending on map
- Meds: Pain killers, CAR pack + AI2 or selawa, backup painkillers and IFAK in sec container
Tier 5: Anyone running this gear doesn’t need this guide
- Armor: Level 5 armor (my favorites the Killa vest) with Zsh1/Altyn/FastMT with faceshield or Kzh-1 with faceshield and audio amps
- Rig/Pack: Triton or better with Beta2 or Attack2
- Weapons: Favorite top tier fully modded gun, mines the VSS/ASVAL
- Meds: Morphine, Selawa, IFAK, backup painkillers in sec container
The Money Run
I got over gear fear by realizing how quickly money could be made. On patch .12, this is more true than any patch before.
There are 4 main money runs in the game (5 if you count the customs stash run). Learn one. Any of them will work, just look up a YouTube guide and start running it. Don’t go hatch running or into a money run without a back pack/rig and at least a pistol, its just not efficient. You’ll get far more money consistently the more geared you go because you can actually extract with the loot.
- Interchange – My personal choice. Basics of my run are ignore everything and rush the 3 tech stores next to Oli, then the Oli shelves for hoses, filters, tubes, propane, and other rares. The big pro here is consistency. Cons are squads seem to love this run, along with lots and lots of spots for creepers to hide in the dark spots around the loot. Best items are graphics cards and tetris, but you generally only get one or two of either even if you clear the full run. The real money is in all the mid tier items, extracts from a complete run will bring 500k – 1 mil, and you can get 3 full runs in an hour with sell/load time once you get the hang of it. This used to be far more lucrative in the early in the wipe, but is still a great option. Beware extract campers.
- Shoreline – A very popular choice right now due to its ability to make you instantly rich in one run. Big key items are LedX and Red keycard in the basement, worth 1.1m and 14m respectively. There are no-key routes that include the big ticket items, but keys to a few specific rooms make the resort significantly more consistent. Expect geared solo players to be wandering the halls.
- Reserve – Probably the most lucrative of the 3 if you had the map to yourself, but unfortunately the hardest to extract from and crowded due to the popularity of the map during the current patch. Pestily has a great guide on this, but expect multiple people competing for the same loot on most runs and others waiting to kill those for their loot on the route.
- Labs – High risk, high reward. My favorite. I wouldn’t run this until you can afford to lose a mil or two during dry runs/are confident in the game. There are two approaches, full gear and budget. Budget players rush the good item spawns and hope to get a lucky shot on the tier 5 geared players running behind them. Personally I run full gear as it seems to have better returns over time. This means losing 2+ mill after a few dry runs, or making 6+ mil in a few good extracts in a row. May the lab gods bestow you with great loot.
- Bonus route: Customs has a stash run that I would highly recommend learning for all the early game questing you’ll do. Its not a great money maker to do just for the stashes, but its easy money for when you’re also running quests.
Any of these runs will be fine to fund all your exploits and leveling once learned. It is the best way to combat gear fear. You’ll be much less pissed losing a high tier setup knowing you can make that back in one raid on Shoreline or Interchange. Find a video guide so you know the exact spots to check and then start practicing with light gear, you’ll be rolling in rubles in no time. Eventually you’ll be good enough to do your run with meme builds while listening to podcasts to relax between geared raids.Leveling
Finally, there’s leveling up. Level gates easy access to gear and supplies, so it will also dictate what tier of gear you’re running and, ultimately, survival rates. Here’s a couple ways of boosting up:
- Quests – Quests are the fastest way to level in the early game. Cycle between getting funds from money runs and running the early game quests. This will also level the merchants so killing many birds with one stone.
- Scav hunts – Scavs give solid experience when killed and have consistent spawn points. Head-shots also give an exp multiplier, so running through and head-shotting small groups of scavs when running other objectives will give large exp boosts per raid. Even if you can’t loot them (I usually don’t if I’m on a money run/they’re out of the way) the exp is worth it. In the mid to late game, you can farm exp on maps like factory or labs by slaughtering large groups at a choke-point (this is what those high level geared players are doing there).
- Survival – There is a significant buff to experience gain when extracting from a raid. Extraction should take priority once whatever your primary objective is done. This will gain you more experience and loot over time than anything else. I’ve never been good at this, but greed has lost me more gains in this game than anything else.
Probably missed a bunch of stuff and people will disagree with some of my recommendations, but this is what has worked for me for the over 2 years I’ve been addicted to this game. Correct me in the comments below.
General Tips Continued:
- Ammo is the most important thing for combat in this game. I don’t think I put enough emphasis on this in the previous guide. How do you kill high tier geared players? Good ammo. Low gear? Good ammo. Spend your money here, not on gear or weapon mods. Best example I have is literally my last raid. I got one tapped by a mosin in a full tier 5 setup at full health. Vader helm, Killa armor, silenced M4 build totaling around a mil with ammo and mods. Missed his first shot, I located him, dead to one shot in the thorax. Good ammo trumps all. Here is the best ammo of each type for commonly used guns:
556: M855A1 < M856A1 << M995
545: BT << BS < 7N39
12×70: Flechette < AP-20
762×51: M80 << M62 < M61
762×54: 7N1 < SNB < 7N37
9×39: SP6 < SPP < BP
9×19: AP 6.3
- On that same note, take grenades into raids. Grenades are very powerful in tarkov. If someone is in range (which is significantly bigger than other games) they will die. A hatchling with a nade and some luck can take down the most geared players in the game. I would highly recommend at least putting one in your pouch for over geared/room clearing purposes.
- Quick Hideout Note (thinking about doing a passive income and usual profitable crafting guide): rush for the intel center, the discounts of trades and scav run reduction are huge. Then crafting table, library, and air filtration are all useful. I get about 500k-700k in passive income per day from the hideout by just logging in a couple times. The scav box is absolutely worth it, the 6k rouble option consistently nets me 15-20k (up to 100k+). Bitcoin farm is maybe worth it? Its a big profit per day, mines already paid off, but takes 1-2 months to return its value at current prices. Best crafts are Ifaks at the med, m995 and other ammo at the bench, sugar/condensed milk at the fridge, pure water at the filtration all depending on price of ingredients which fluctuate a lot.
- Check out the youtube community for loot runs, quest guides, and everything else. Tarkov is a very hard to game explain in a written or word of mouth guide. For specifics, see videos.
- Finally, have a plan before you raid. At least know the extracts and your objective (money run, quest, killin dudes) and exactly where those are for the map you’re running.
TLDR: Shoreline for money, Interchange for consistency, Customs for quests, Factory/Labs for fights.I did a brief overview on money runs on various maps in my previous guide, but wanted to update those maps in light of recent changes to spawns and my experiences over the past month or so testing all the maps out. In profitability order:
Shoreline – With the new addition of 6-8 LedX spawns, shoreline has become king for money. It takes the high reward possibility of Labs and mixes it with the consistent loot value of Interchange with the only draw back being the need for keys, which I purchased for around 3-4 mil for all good loot rooms ( 15 keys in total). This is a steep investment, but it is a one time cost, and completely worth it. You can expect an LedX about 1/7 raids clearing most LedX rooms. I got 5/36 shoreline runs, clearing most rooms about 2/3rds of the time, dying or being beaten to the rooms in the other 1/3. Unlike labs, however, these are just the cherry on top of consistently amazing loot in the rooms with easy extracts to boot. The big draw back is popularity, I run into at least 2-3 PMCs at the resort, usually 4-5 with a duo or squad tossed in the mix. They’re usually tier 3-4 geared (I go tier 5 but don’t recommend that unless you’re good with losing a mil to a lucky mosin shot) and have a bad habit of hiding in rooms and ambushing.
Interchange – For consistent mid value barter items, Interchange is your map. Nothing has changed from my original assessment, tldr version being run Oli shelves and the 3 tech stores next to it for about 500k-1 mil per extract, assuming you bring a decent bag and rig. This map has dropped in popularity with the Shoreline buff, but be on the look out for tier 5 geared PMCs doing their 100 Killa kills grind and the ever present extract campers.
Reserve – This map still has great high value drops, less frequent than Interchange but with higher average value and requiring less keys than Shoreline. The massive drawback here is extract difficulty. If you can afford it, para-cord with the ice-pick for the repel extract is recommended as you just have to ditch/bag chest armor and you’re out. Losing a bag for the manhole has required many a painful pick and chose for me recently and the door just isn’t consistent, sometimes the button will be pressed but its still locked, other times its just open. Its a fun PvP map, but for money its just not beating the two above.
Customs – This map just really isn’t for money, its for quests. But with the addition of the new stashes spread throughout the map you can make decent money whilst running the quests. See my past guide/the link below for stash runs.
Factory – Wait, Factory over Labs? Customs over Labs? Yes, I’m getting to that. So why Factory? Because quick, hit and run style or longer scav pileup at a choke-point style runs can net you tons of experience along with a big stack of weapons and decent loot from scav pockets. Solos try the upper hallway office/breakable door, the bottom pipeline hallway curve, or extract choke-point. Duos and squads can hold down the shower doors with ease.
Labs – People who have read my previous guide might be surprise this is last. The issue with labs is its completely dependent on high level item spawn rates. Labs is my favorite map, I could write a lengthy separate post about everything labs. At the beginning of the wipe, labs was ludicrously OP. You could spawn in and expect a 1/3 chance of an LedX (2.5 mil at the time) along with 2-3 other 400k+ items spawning in each raid. This resulted in 10’s of millions in profit. Then they released Shoreline LedX spawns and turned off labs LedX. The barrel spawn was completely dead (50+ runs and nothing) and the two other (at the time) known locations had maybe a 1/25 rate. You could expect maybe 1-2 other drops per raid and it was now crowded with PMCs. It was difficult to turn a profit doing geared runs, and I lost millions. Today its slightly better, there are 3 new LedX spawns and the barrel spawn has a 1/7-10 (still testing) rate but everything has plummeted in price (VPX is less than 200k now) and you can expect 3-6 tier 5 geared PMCs plus raiders to be skulking around. Great for fights, terrible for money. Though extracting will often bring huge rewards in gear alone in current state.
… – Feel like I’m forgetting one… Hmm… Nah they wouldn’t put a thermal ridden snipe happy map in the game with no loot spawns and lots of annoying quests. (Don’t @ me Woods fans)
TLDR: Highest level armor not worth, high level ammo makes everything vulnerable. Not doing the same tiers (see previous guide) but the actual armor level itself. For actual setups with armor/weapons see my previous guide.
- Level 1:
Examples: 3M body armor, tank helmet
Is it worth: No. Its not worth it. Ever. The speed/sound debuffs alone make it not worth it because it doesn’t stop anything besides terrible pistol ammo. This should be obvious but I see new players wearing it. Don’t bother guys. Sell this on the flea.
- Level 2:
Examples: PACA/6b2 armor, Kolpac/SHPM/Djeta helms
Is it worth: No for all the helmets due to sound debuff, but kinda if you’re really broke for the armor. Level 2 armor is effective against scavs and pistolings. It’ll stop you from getting one shot from distance by a crappy shotgun or pistol and is extremely cheap. I’d mark this as the minimum armor on a budget.
- Level 3:
Recommendations: UNTAR/PRESS/6B23-1/Kirasa armor, SSH68/LZsh with face/Kiver with face helms
Is it worth: Yes. The chest armor should be the standard for every raid. Its still really cheap but will actually stop most low/mid tier rounds. This makes you much more effective against scavs and low-mid gear PMCs. The SSH68 helm is dirt cheap and should be worn for every raid as a minimum. The other two helmets for tier 3+ load outs. Kiver for no headset, LZsh for use with headset, both with the faceshield.
- Level 4:
Recommendations: 6B13/6B23-2/6B3/6B5 armor/vests, Zsh-1-2 with face shield/BNTI LSHZ with neck cover and face shield
Is it worth:
Armor: Kinda, if you have the money to get it fresh or are questing/fighting focused in raids. The main problem with level 4 armor is its lack of health overall and repair ability (essentially can only be used for 1-2 raids before replacing). It also is mostly to increase coverage on mid tier (5.45 BP/BT for example) ammo but does nothing against high tier ammo, so it doesn’t offer much more for the price than level 3. If you have the money, however, it will increase survival rates.
Helmets: Yes, once you have the black skier variant unlocked for the Zsh-1, and only with tier 5+ gear for the BNTI. The Zsh-1 helmet will become you’re go to for tier 3+ armor the instant you unlock it. Its only 5k roubles more expensive with faceshield than the Kiver but provides level 4 protection on head and ears with level 3 for the face. The BNTI or Vader helmet provides a level 4 faceshield and nape cover, giving you full coverage of level 4 armor over all vital areas. This is better than the Fast-MT (most of who’s parts only give level 2-3 protection) and the best helm in the game imo due to it not limiting your vision.
- Level 5:
Recommendations: Killa 6B13 Assault/Gen4/Redut-M armor, Alytn with face shield
Is it worth: Sometimes, but mostly no. I say this as someone who runs level 5 armor 50+% of my raids. But this is only because after awhile the cost stops mattering to you and it makes raids more interesting to be risking more and getting to challenge anything you come across. The main issue is its extreme expense and the ability to be easily killed by inexpensive weapons with high tier ammo. Killa armor + the Vader helm is, in my opinion, the best armor setup in the game due to having full visibility and high movement speed with coverage on all vital parts. But the amount of times that I’ve dropped the 400-500k on this armor only to die in one shot to a mosling or hunterling with high level ammo is ridiculous. Yes, this armor makes you immune to anyone with low/mid tier ammo, but high tier ammo, available to everyone through the flea market, cuts right through.
- Level 6:
Examples: Zhuk-6a, 6B34 “Fort” armor, Vulkan with faceshield helm
Is it worth: No. This armor is the only in the game that will reliably take a few shots from the best ammo in the game, listed above. So why is it bad? First off, it has huge penalties. You are slow and bulky and loud. Second, unless you open up a hole in the armor with no face plate/level 3/4 face plates (making you not tanky), you have restricted vision. Its like being a world war era tank. Hard to kill, sure. But if they brought the right ammo for the job they can run circles around you and blast your blind/slow butt until you drop. Third, its very expensive. Zhuk-6a is the only possible option here really for price and penalties, but its also ceramic. If you’re going to go tier 5, I recommend Killa armor.
Does this mean you should never run good armor? No. What it means is you should be aware you are likely losing value/money by doing so at higher tiers. Better armor will help you survive more raids, help with quests, and is a sign of being a more established player. But you are trading a LOT more money for smaller advantages in return, making it hard to recommend the more expensive armors in the game to anyone who can’t handle multiple instant deaths in a row losing 500k-1mil.
Links to helpful stuff and vids
Ammo Spreadsheet (focus on armor pen power above all):
Best in Slot guide to weapon modding (Shout out to Virion this guide is amazing work) :
Every map key guide (I used as a guide for Shoreline keys mostly):
Shoreline LedX spawns (Note: he and Pestily have some different spawns, I check both):
Interchange Loot guide (I only focus on the 3 tech stores near Oli and Oli itself):
Customs Stash Run:
How I learned Labs this patch:
See key guide lab section above.
The main spawns in the first part of this video:
I used to combine a bunch of different videos but this guy does a solid job of getting all of them:
Learn all the extracts before running the labs:
This guide was brought to you by:
Tarkov 2020 Wait Times! Averaging 20 minutes or more per raid giving me plenty of down time to type it up! I joke but I really do hope they fix this soon, and to new players this is a very uncommon issue. BSG has never let us down before.