Escape From Tarkov beginner’s guide: What is EFT, how to play, more

Battlestate Games

Escape from Tarkov is one of the most hardcore and addicting shooters around, set in an unforgiving world full of other players on the hunt for kills and loot. Here’s our Escape From Tarkov beginner’s guide.

If you’ve been paying attention to video games the last couple of years, you’ve likely heard of Escape From Tarkov. This hardcore mil-sim is part loot-shooter and part survival game, and there’s nothing quite like it.

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If you’re wondering just how to get started now that you’ve picked it up, or are curious as to the ins and outs of the gameplay then we’ve got you covered with our Escape From Tarkov beginner’s guide. Here’s all you need to get started in Battlestate Games’ hard-as-nails shooter.


Battlestate Games
There’s no other game quite like Escape From Tarkov.

What is Escape from Tarkov?

Escape From Tarkov is a first-person shooter set on a variety of massive multiplayer maps. Players enter missions, known as Raids, to acquire everything from barter items, currency, ammunition and weapons, before attempting to make it out alive.

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Players pick to play as a PMC (Private Military Company) soldier for either the BEAR or USEC factions and will need to avoid (or kill) other players, as well as the other residents of Tarkov known as Scavs.

Tarkov is not for the faint of heart though – die in a raid and you will lose all the gear you came in with. Success can come down to making sure you’ve got enough of the right ammo in your spare magazine, or even just being in the right place at the right time. Still looking to take on the challenge? Read on.

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Escape from Tarkov Beginner's GuideBattlestate Games
Every Escape from Tarkov map has a series of exits called extracts you’ll need to learn in order to be successful during raids.

Is Escape from Tarkov on console?

As of the time of writing, Escape From Tarkov is only available on PC, and you’ll need to buy it directly from Battlestate Games – it’s not found on Steam, Epic Games Store, or any other storefront.

Escape From Tarkov Beginner's GuideBattlestate Games
Scav Bosses in Tarkov spawn at certain locations and offer great loot, but a huge challenge as well.

Is Escape from Tarkov free?

No – escape from Tarkov is not free-to-play. You’ll need to purchase an account directly from Battlestate Games in order to play the game, which is still technically in beta.

There are several different levels of versions to buy, with more expensive ones offering more stash space and better starting gear.

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Battlestate Games
Remember: not dying is the most important part of Tarkov!

How to play Escape from Tarkov

Before heading into your first raid, there are a few things you should know about Escape From Tarkov that make it much more than just pulling a virtual trigger like so many other FPS games.

For one, anything you take into a raid is fair game for other players to steal if they take you out – PMC or Scav. That means potentially sought-after weapons should only be taken in if you’re feeling particularly confident, although they can be insured – but even that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the item back should you die. With that in mind, you won’t want to take anything more than what you need to survive.

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One thing you will need, though, are items to heal with. Salewas and painkillers can help you out of a jam, but you’ll need something called a Survivor Kit or a CMS to pick you up if your limbs are broken in-game – lest you find yourself dragging along the floor or even bleeding out on the spot.

Remember – you’re going to die, and there’s no way to avoid it especially as a new player. While you might have weapons, armor and backpacks in your stash, it’s better to think of them as just rented from Tarkov, instead of outright owned. Chances are, you’ll be giving most of it back anyways.

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PMC Raids vs Scav Raids

Your main character, no matter the faction, operates as a PMV, which Scavs will attack on sight. The good news is that you can jump into a game as a Scav as well, giving you a randomized loadout to loot and learn the maps with.

Not only does this let you try out more varied weapons risk-free, but it also means you don’t have to worry about losing what you have. That lets you focus on getting used to Escape From Tarkov’s weighty combat and more realistic movement.

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Other Scavs won’t immediately attack you, either, potentially letting you ambush unsuspecting PMC players. If you successfully extract during a Scav run, you can take your loot with you for your main character.

Escape from Tarkov Beginner's GuideBattlestate Games
If you’re sneaky, you can usually get in, loot, and get out with a Scav run.


“Escape” is literally in the name of the game, but getting out of any of Tarkov’s maps isn’t as easy as you might think. There are multiple extraction spots on each map, but not all are available at all times. Some require items, some require cash, but none are actually marked. That means you’ll want to find a map online, or a player who knows where they’re going.

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Get yourself to an extraction spot, though, and you’ll need to stay alive for a few seconds to get out. That can be tense, so try not to alert anyone of your presence while you’re there.

If you don’t make it to an extraction point before the raid timer runs out, it’s the same as dying: you lose all of your loot, except what you’ve insured beforehand.


Aside from the shooting and looting aspect of Escape from Tarkov, there’s plenty of gameplay meat within its menus, too. Each of the game’s vendors will not only offer players weapons or items, but tasks as well.

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Completing these isn’t always easy, but you’ll earn cash or items (often both), while also building your relationship with the vendor in question – lowering their prices and granting access to different equipment.

Escape From Tarkov Beginner's GuideBattlestate Games
The FPS / RPG hybrid is known for its fierce, unforgiving gameplay.

Things to remember when playing Escape From Tarkov

Here are a few handy tips to remember when you’re about to embark on, or are already in, a raid.

Proximity chat

One of the biggest tools any Tarkov player can use is VOIP, or proximity chat. As the name implies, this allows you to speak directly to other players using your mic. You can negotiate, avoid conflict, or even beg for your life, so be sure to bind the key in an easy to reach spot.

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VOIP is especially useful for Scav raids, as you can communicate with other player Scavs, and even negotiate with PMC players to let them know you’re not a threat (even if you are) and for scavenging permission after they’re gone.


Before heading into a raid, you can insure the items that you’re taking with you for a fee. This isn’t foolproof, though – if you insure your fancy assault rifle but someone else takes it from your cold, dead hands, then you won’t get it back.

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This often means players will throw their gear into a nearby bush if it looks like they’re going to be killed. It’s also courteous to stash any insured items for your squadmates, should they perish. If no one finds it, it’ll be returned to you after a waiting period.

So, if you’re a Scav ratting around at the end of a raid, be sure to give a double check to areas where it seems like combat went down, as you might just make it out with a valuable bit of gear.

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Offline raids

While they won’t net you any loot, offline raids are a great way to plan farming routes through the game, familiarize yourself with the entrances and exits of each location. You won’t gain any gear, but you won’t lose anything you came in with, either.

You can play these with or without AI-controlled Scavs, too, so it’s a nice way to practice your combat skills as well.

Secure container

One of Escape From Tarkov’s most important inventory items is the Secure Container. As the name implies, anything put in here will be safe and returned after a raid – even if you’re killed. There’s a limited amount of space, though, so you’ll want to use it wisely, though you can buy larger ones, and also acquire them through tasks.

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With that in mind, if you spot something you really want to keep, like a key or crucial crafting item for your Hideout, put it in your container.

So, there you have it – our Escape From Tarkov Beginner’s Guide. If you’re looking for more on Escape From Tarkov, be sure to check out the following as well:

When is the next server wipe? | How to fix a laggy menu | How to improve FPS

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