Welcome to Tarkov! Home of pain, excitement, and some of the most fun gunplay I have ever experienced.
Escape from Tarkov is truly a unique experience, and it is one that I feel should be experienced by pretty much all FPS players. One thing that it is missing right now though is any kind of tutorial for new players. A quick look through YouTube will bring up a bunch of different new player guides, but most of them are filmed/ written by players who are already experts at the game. That doesn’t mean they aren’t quality guides, but they come from a perspective of players who have more time than your average player to learn/ play.
That is where I hope to come in. Tarkov is a game that is more about knowledge then skill. Skill definitely gives you the edge in straight up fights but knowing where to go and how to avoid those fights is just as, if not more important than FPS skill. To be completely transparent, after 1200+ hours in the game I am not great at the PVP side of Tarkov. I can win fights, but I lose more than I win. Where I do well though is understanding how to play the game in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable for newer players without the PVP. I hope that this guide helps you cut through the new player experience as it exists now and gets you to the point where you can enjoy Tarkov as much as I do.
This guide will be cut into three parts:
Pt 1 – Where to Start?
Pt 2 – Your first raids.
Pt 3 – General Advice/ Recommended Resources.
If this guide helps you in any way, please feel free to let me know on Twitter, and hop into my stream sometime while we play so that we can chat further!
Where To Start
Given how in depth Tarkov is, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed when you first boot up the game. In this section, I am going to guide you through my setup process, and help you find the different things that you will need to make the game less confusing. If you already have your game setup to your liking, you can skip the settings section, but if you are fresh to the game, I recommend flipping through it to get an idea of where to start.
Tarkov has some funky settings, and a lot of it can be overwhelming if you dont know where to start. I have started to use the same settings as DrLupo, and it works well with my rig (Ryzen 5 2600, RTX 2060 Super, 16 gigs Ram).
Start on the “Game” tab and make sure that the following settings are selected:
Quick Slots, Stamina and Stance, and Health Condition – Always Shown (This is a preference, but it helps new players know what they have equipped at all times)
Health Color Scheme – Set to Polychrome. This will make it easier to see your health at a glance.
Automatic RAM Cleaner – Make sure that this is unchecked
Only use physical cores – Make sure that this is checked
FOV – Set to 63, Head Bobbing – Set to 0.2, Malfunction notifications – Checked
Click “Save” and then open the settings menu again, going to the “Graphics” tab.
Texture Quality – High
Shadows Quality – Ultra
Object LOD Quality – 2.5
Overall Visibility – 2000
Anti-aliasing – TAA High
HBAO, SSE, and Anisotropic filtering – Off
Nvidia Reflex Low Latency – On and Boost if using Nvidia Card.
**Make sure that all boxes at the bottom of the screen are unchecked. If using a lower end system, you can use MIP Streaming, though it will cause some textures to render incorrectly**
Click “Save” and then open the settings menu again, going to the “Sound” tab.
Overall Volume – 100
Interface Volume – 20
Chat Volume – 80
Music Volume, Hideout Volume, and Music on raid end – Preference
Binaural Audio – Make sure this is selected
Enable VOIP – I recommend enabling, but this is personal preference.
**If enabling VOIP, make sure that device has the appropriate Mic selected**
Click “Save”. These are my recommended settings, but if you want to customize further you can reference the below video by Veritas to understand what impact each setting has. S
Character Screen/ Stash
Now that we have our settings taken care of, the next thing you need to familiarize yourself with is the Character screen. This is where you will setup your loadout in between raids and manage your stash (If you are anything like me, your stash will almost always be a mess, lol).
The character screen has two main areas, your character screen on the left and your stash on the right (Pictured Below). Between raids, you are able to move items between the two, but during a raid you are locked out of your stash. The right side instead would show whatever you are looting in the raid, but it would work essentially the same.
You’ll notice that your character screen is broken up into sections (15 to be exact). These sections are:
- Earpiece – You can equip different headsets in this slot to boost different kinds of audio.
- Headware – This is where your helmet will go.
- Face Cover – Use this slot to equip different kind of face covers. Mostly this is cosmetic, though it does help with camo.
- Body Armor – Here you can equip your basic body armors.
- Arm Band – Allows you to have a specific color armband for easier team coordination.
- Eyewear – Eyeglasses/ goggles. This is mostly cosmetic.
- Holster – Pistol Slot
- Scabbard – Melee Weapon Slot
- On Sling – Your primary rifle.
- On Back – Your secondary rifle.
- Tactical Rig – Where you can equip different rigs/ Armored rigs. This is where you will store your extra magazines/ ammo. (NOTE – You cannot equip both Armor and an Armored Rig. Only one or the other. If you have regular Armor, you will need to equip a Tactical Rig rather than an Armored Rig.)
- Pockets – Extra storage. You always have these available.
- Tactical Device – Currently you can only equip a compass here, but there will be more devices added at a later time.
- Backpack – Where you equip your backpack.
- Pouch – (PMC ONLY) – Your pouch, AKA your secured container, are slots that you get to keep even if you die in raid. We will cover this more in the looting section.
When you first start the game, you will notice that your PMC starts with certain weapons/ items in your stash. This SHOULD be enough to get you started, but if you need some additional gear you can flip through the traders and grab whatever you need. That takes us to…
The traders in Tarkov will be your main source of gear as you level them up. Each one gives you tasks to complete, which increases your level with them. As you pass certain milestones, you unlock higher tiers of gear to use in your raids. I strongly recommend visiting each of the traders at the start of the game and inspecting everything in their inventories.
These are the traders that you will be dealing with:
- Prapor – Prapor is a bit of a jack of all trades and focuses more on Russian guns/ mods.
- Therapist – Therapist will be your easiest trader to level up and is your primary resource for any medical supplies.
- Fence – Never buy anything from fence. He hordes leftover scav guns and overcharges you for everything. The only time you should sell to him is if you have a fun that is too damaged to sell to other traders.
- Skier – Skier is a combination of Russian and US gear and has a good mix of guns/ mods for you to use in your raids.
- Peacekeeper – Peacekeeper is the only trader that deals with USD rather than Russian Rubles. He primarily deals with more UN weapons such as M4’s and MP5’s. As you level him up, he has some of the best gear available that you can get from Traders.
- Mechanic – Mechanic is your Gunsmith, and deals in all of the different kinds of weapon mods that you will need throughout the game.
- Ragman – As his name suggests, Ragman deals with Armor and Rigs. You can also change the appearance of your PMC with him by buying new clothes.
- Jaeger – Jaeger is a lazy stoner hunter that constantly asks you to bring him food and do weird tasks for him throughout the game, BUT as you level him up, he gives you access to the best shotgun ammo and some of the best sniper mods in the game.
As the game sits right now, completing tasks for the traders is the main gameplay loop for most players. These tasks will range from finding specific items, going to specific places, or killing other players in specific ways. In the future, though, these tasks will all be considered side quests, and there will be a Main Story throughout the game.
The Hideout is a VERY important part of the game, especially for newer players. This allows you to craft items that can be used in quests, and closer to end game will give you access to the best ammo/ gear in the game.
Your first priority with the hideout should be buying any of the stations that can be setup with just money (Right now this is just Vents but flip through each of the stations to verify when you are setting up.) After paying for Vents, take note of when items you need to get the following stations:
These stations will be used for crafting quest items that you will need throughout the early stages of the game. Throughout the rest of your playthrough, make sure to keep an eye on the hideout for what you will need to build/ upgrade the rest of your stations.
Using the Wiki
Have you reached information overload yet? So far, we have covered just about everything that you need prior to getting into a raid. I’ll have more information coming soon regarding your next steps, but if you feel that you are ready to jump in, I recommend going into an offline raid and getting a feel for the game. Pull up the Wiki and open a map (Recommend starting with either Customs, Woods, or Shoreline) and try to find your extracts on the map.
The Wiki is also where you can find quest guides, info on Scav Bosses, Hideout Info, and even information about where to find specific loot in Tarkov. I use it regularly still and always have a map up while I am playing, just in case I get turned around.
I will have part 2 out soon, which will be covering the first few raids that I recommend (Offline, Quests to Focus, Loadouts, etc), but in the meantime I recommend checking out a recent video that JesseKazaam posted with .12.12 as an intro to Tarkov. (Linked Below) Thank you guys for reading this far, and I will link the next part once it is ready/ posted!