‘Escape From Tarkov’ beginner’s guide – 7 tips for winning more PVP fights

Here's a beginner's guide to surviving more fights with players in 'Escape From Tarkov'

Over several years of development, Battlestate Games has filled Escape From Tarkov to the brim with deadly NPC enemies. From the laser-accurate Rogues on Lighthouse to the Factory-dwelling powerhouse that is Tagilla, make no mistake: the AI citizens of Tarkov are not to be underestimated.

But despite all that, they’re not really the biggest danger you’ll face in Escape From Tarkov. That accolade goes to the fellow players you’ll encounter within each raid. Although the addition of voice chat has done wonders in allowing PMCs to cooperate, the fact of the matter is that in the majority of situations, a bullet will do all the talking. You’re carrying what other players want (loot) while they do the same, and if that’s not fuel for fighting, I don’t know what is.

Surviving encounters with other players can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the game or can’t afford to gear up with the best equipment that money can buy. If you’re wondering how to kill players in Tarkov, this one’s for you: here are seven tips to winning PVP fights, killing other players, and generally surviving more raids.

Move carefully

Escape From Tarkov
Escape From Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games

For many PVP encounters, who wins and dies is often decided before a single shot has been fired. Learning to get the drop on other players – while knowing how to avoid the same fate-  is one of the most important things you can do to stay alive. To achieve that, have a hard think about how you’re moving through Tarkov.

Movement is king in Escape From Tarkov. At every moment of the raid, move with purpose. If you think you’ve heard something, hold up and let your ears do the work for a moment – there’s a chance they haven’t heard you yet, and your silence could cause them to walk into an ambush where you have the upper hand. If you’re shot at, don’t immediately drop to prone: either return fire, or start sprinting to break the shooter’s line of sight.

Likewise, consider the noise you’re making: moving too loudly – whether you’re sprinting in a confined area or looting without listening out for footsteps – will let veterans pinpoint exactly where you are, and where you’re doing, giving them everything they need to kill you and take your gear.

That doesn’t mean you should always crawl around silently on every map. While some areas – often indoor, high-value locations – can call for moving at a slow walk speed, in other maps that will get you killed. Noise isn’t as important in open maps like Woods or Shoreline, because unless you’re at high-loot spots, your chances of running right up into a player are much slimmer than they are in places like Interchange or Customs. Moving slowly in these wider maps will only make it easier for distant snipers to take you down, so take into consideration not only how you’re moving, but where. On open maps, try to move quicker and less predictably (always zig-zag through open areas), but on more tight-knit maps, dial it back a bit and move slower as you listen out for louder players – in doing so, you’ll win more fights before they even start.

Bring in the right gear 

escape from tarkov
Escape From Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games

As a new player, there’s no way around it: sometimes you’ll absolutely be outmatched by a high-level PMC who’s toting high-class armour, expensive ammo, and a weapon that’s covered stock to suppressor in mods.

Unfortunately, this gear is often far too expensive for many players to run. Whether you’re on a budget or you’re simply not comfortable with carrying around a loadout worth millions of Rubles, there are still some basic guidelines to follow before you go into a raid.

First of all, consult the almighty ammo chart (here’s an ammo chart for 12.12) to see what bullets are worth using. Not all ammo is created equal – some couldn’t shoot through paper, while others will do a surprising amount of damage on a budget. Get to grips with your ammo, and you’ll up your chances of survival before taking a single step into Tarkov.

It’s also important to consider bringing a grenade or two into raids where you expect to encounter players. Your budget ammo might not chew through an AVS rig, but an M67 grenade will do the job just fine. Get into the habit of including a grenade in your pre-raid gear up ritual (and remember to use them), and you’ll instantly stand more of a chance against even the most geared players.

Practice with your guns before getting into real combat

Escape From Tarkov woods
Escape From Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games.

In Escape From Tarkov, each gun you use can feel vastly different to the last – even if you’re firing different weapons with the same brand. That’s because Tarkov has an incredibly comprehensive weapon modding system, meaning that weapons can have very unique recoil, accuracy and range based on what’s been tacked on.

This sounds fantastic, but it can come with issues for new players and those looking to try out something new. Firing in full-auto can often surprise you with violent recoil that can get you killed in a PVP fight, and that can leave you hesitant to use full-auto on other guns – even if they’re correctly equipped to spray and pray.

To avoid nasty surprises in the heat of the moment, it’s worth testing out how your gun fires before giving it a trial by fire. This can be done by building a shooting range in your hideout, or going into an offline raid and trying to test it out on Scavs.

Try to be thorough: get a feel for how your gun handles on full-auto, how it performs at a longer range, and whether it could do with any additional modding. There’s a gun for every playstyle in Tarkov, it’s just a matter of working out what yours is – and then getting to grips with it.

Use gear to inform your decision-making

Escape From Tarkov Killa
Escape From Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games

Now that we’ve talked about gearing up, let’s look at how this should affect your behaviour. In short, what you’re carrying should influence how you choose to use it once you’re actually in a raid.

If you’re packing a long-range gun, maybe stay away from some of the more claustrophobic areas of Escape From Tarkov – an M700 sniper won’t serve you well in Customs’ Dorms area for example. Likewise, a full-auto SMG might not be the best choice for the rolling fields of Woods. Use your gear to your strengths, and you’ll have a much better time with killing players in Escape From Tarkov.

This also means taking your gear into consideration when making decisions about other players. If you’re packing a fully-automatic powerhouse of a gun and strong armour, don’t just sit on the edge of skirmishes: you want to be as up-close and personal as possible. If you’re slinging around a sniper and you see a player go into a building, don’t follow them in: sit and watch the exits so that you don’t accidentally get drawn into a close-range fight that doesn’t benefit you.

Escape From Tarkov
Escape From Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games

When you’re in a firefight, you should also try to take note of other PMC’s gear. If someone’s clad in class six armour and a fancy helmet, sometimes the tried-and-true “aim for the head” doesn’t always apply, and you can have more success in focusing fire on their legs, an area that cannot be protected by armour. Called the “leg meta”, this tactic is a great equaliser for bringing down geared players on a budget.

Consider what you are (and aren’t) geared to do, play to your strengths, and you’ll win a lot more fights in Escape From Tarkov.

Learn where you’re in the most danger

Escape From Tarkov
Escape From Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games.

Two things can make areas dangerous in Escape From Tarkov – if they’re considered high-loot or high-traffic. This means that some places (E.G. Resort on Shoreline, Kiba on Interchange) will be more popular because they’re filled with goodies, and others will be busier because they’re on the way to other places. High-traffic areas include the chokepoints in Shoreline where players cross the river, Customs’ main road, and the village with the car extract on Woods.

Learning where players are more likely to appear takes time, but it’s worth googling a map for a location before heading in and giving it a look over to speed that process up. Look for anywhere with several high-value spawns or quest locations, and adapt accordingly: circle around dangerous spots if you’ve got no reason to go there, and prepare for combat and stay vigilant if a quest (or the promise of loot) is bringing you into a hot zone.

Loot fast

escape-from-tarkhov
Escape from Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games.

Congratulations – you’ve just taken down a player, or maybe you’ve even wiped a whole squad. Giddy with the prospect of loot, you’ve hunkered down to hoover up gear and then bang: you’re dead. Sound familiar? That’s because trying to secure your hard-earned loot can be just as dangerous as the fight itself.

If you’ve come out of a fight alive, don’t drop your guard – it might not be over. Have you checked to see if your victim had friends? Are they watching the body? Scope out the situation very carefully before committing to looting, because you’re as good as dead if someone gets the drop on you while you’re trapped in an interface.

Also remember that long, drawn-out fights make a lot of noise and they’ll often attract players who are looking to enter the fray and clean up as a third-party. Once your fight has been won and you know that nobody’s using the body as bait, loot your prize and run: you don’t want to be anywhere near that area when a bunch of opportunistic PMCs arrive.

Pick your battles

Escape From Tarkov sunshine
Escape From Tarkov. Credit: Battlestate Games

Although this is our last point, it’s the most important one on the list. Unlike many shooters, Escape From Tarkov isn’t about racking up a gory killcount or slaughtering every other PMC in a lobby.

At the end of the day, Escape From Tarkov is often about simply surviving each raid – any loot you get out of there is an added bonus. Obviously there are quests that necessitate killing other players – and you can find some of the best loot on PMCs – but there is no rule to say you must engage every single player you see.

If a situation doesn’t look favourable to you, you aren’t always forced to engage: don’t start a fight (or stay in one) if it doesn’t look good for you. If you haven’t been spotted, you can always let that scary-looking squad pass – unless you’re willing to try your luck and accept that the odds are against you. In many cases, winning more PVP fights simply comes down to knowing what’s worth scrapping for.

With all of the above, you should be much better prepared to win more fights against players in Escape From Tarkov. One common theme with all of these tips is that Tarkov isn’t always about who can fire faster, or who has the most expensive loadout: it’s about who can think on their feet and stay sharp in every raid.

If you haven’t tried Escape From Tarkov, it’s available in Beta at EscapeFromTarkov.com.

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