How to Play Guide for Escape from Tarkov

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This page covers the basics of combat and survival in Escape from Tarkov.

Beta Disclaimer[edit | edit source]

  • Escape from Tarkov is presently in beta state of development. Features will be added and removed, thus the current state of the game is not representative of the final product. Battlestate Games, the developer of Escape from Tarkov, periodically wipes all progress alongside major patches. Major patches tend to be 4-6 months apart, but can happen sooner. All items, weapons, gear, and skills are deleted when a wipe hits. This feature could be changed when the game is fully released.
  • Many of the systems in the game are not yet finished and are in a placeholder state. Mechanics may break or not function as intended.

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Escape from Tarkov can be purchased on the official website as a "pre-order". Pre-orders are able to be downloaded and played immediately after purchase. The client can be downloaded from your profile page by clicking the large "Install" button.

Once the game has finished downloading and you've launched it for the first time you'll be asked some questions, starting with what language and name you want to use. You are able to change your name once every 14 days, so don't feel too locked into it! Next comes your first major choice, what faction to use? You have the options of BEAR and USEC. Currently there are two major differences. The first is that BEAR only speak using Russian voice lines while USEC speak English. This can be important for communicating with (or taunting!) other players in-game. The second difference is your choice of cosmetic tactical clothing. There are a few other minor differences, such as dialogue differences from characters and slightly different starting gear.

Basics[edit | edit source]

  • Escape from Tarkov aims to emulate the modern combat experience in the vein of ARMA. It boasts an accurate ballistic model, an in-depth health system, and an outstanding weapon modification system with few parallels in modern gaming. Escape from Tarkov's full body awareness and movement systems similarly match that of ARMA's, with features such as leaning, adjustable posture and movement speed, and a far slower pace of combat tied to the shoot and scoot mindset.
  • The weapon modification system is a primary cornerstone of Escape From Tarkov, and allows for near complete customization of every firearm you're likely to come across. This depth of weapon customization enables the user to swap out everything from the barrel of the gun to the shoulder pad, enhancing your ability to choose your weapon.
  • The in-game economy is similarly unique, and relies heavily upon looting and scavenging from the surroundings. You must successfully extract from a raid to keep the gear you found. It requires a keen eye and a quick wit to know when to get out, or when to risk gambling what you've got for that extra bit of loot.
  • Situational awareness is key to being successful in all aspects of Escape From Tarkov. Be it in spotting a wayward bit of rare loot, or realizing that far-off bush is actually a player in disguise. As there are no HUD indicators of friends or foes, keeping a constant awareness of your surroundings is mandatory. Whilst your vision is a vital factor in identifying targets, sound will be both your greatest enemy and ally. Especially given the brutal nature of combat.

Controls[edit | edit source]

Basic Advanced
W - Move forward

S - Move backward

A - Move left

D - Move right

Spacebar - Jump

X - Prone, press again to return to previous stance

C - Crouch

Left Shift - Sprint

Left Alt - Hold Breath

Q - Quick Lean to the left

E - Quick Lean to the right

V - Take out Melee Weapon

2x V - Quick Melee Attack

1 - Take out Secondary Weapon

2 - Take out Primary Weapon 1

3 - Take out Primary Weapon 2

4/5/6/7/8/9 - Use Quickbar Slot 1/2/3/4/5/6

Mousewheel up - Increase Movement Speed

Mousewheel down - Decrease Movement Speed

Caps Lock - Walk/Change Movement Speed to Minimum, press again to return to previous speed

Left Mouse Button - Fire Weapon

Right Mouse Button - Aim Weapon

Middle Mouse Button - Free look, Examine (interface), Check Magazine (interface), Fold Weapons (interface)

R - Normal Reload

2x R - Toss magazine on the ground for a Quick Reload

H - Toggle Underbarrel grenade launcher

B - Change Weapon Fire Mode

Tab - Open/Close Inventory

T - Toggle Tactical Attachment

N - Toggle NVG/Face Shield

G - Throw Grenade

F - Interact

Page Up - Increase Sight Zeroing

Page Down - Decrease Sight Zeroing

L - Examine Weapon

O - Check Raid Time

2x O - Check Raid Extractions

2x Y - Communication Menu (Right Mouse Button on Gesture/Voice line to open Hotkeys, Left Mouse Button to assign one)

F1 - Mumble, Hotkey for Gestures/Voice lines

F2/F3/F4/F5/F6/F7/F8/F9/F10/F11/F12 - Hotkeys for Gestures/Voice lines

Escape - Open Game Menu/Close last opened Inventory window

Print Screen - Take Screenshot (C:\Users\YOUR_NAME\Documents\Escape from Tarkov\Screenshots)

Press Delete while the cursor is on an Item - Discard the Item

Press R while dragging an Item - Rotate the Item

Hold R + Mousewheel up/Mousewheel down – Selective Reload of a specific Magazine

Hold C + Mousewheel up/Mousewheel down – Switch between 7 Stances from Standing to Crouching and vice versa

Left Shift + T – Check Chamber

Left Alt + Right Mouse Button – Switch between Sight Reticle Modes/Magnification

Left Alt + A – Slow Lean to the left, press normal lean to reset

Left Alt + D – Slow Lean to the right, press normal lean to reset

Left Alt + Q – Side step to the left

Left Alt + E – Side step to the right

Left Alt + W – Over Ledge Blind Fire

Left Alt + S – Around right Corner Blind Fire

Left Alt + L – Fold/Unfold Stock

Left Alt + B – Check Weapon Fire Mode Indicator

Left Alt + T – Check Magazine and estimate remaining Ammo

Left Ctrl + T – Switch between Modes of Tactical Attachment

Left Ctrl + Right Mouse Button – Switch between Sights/Scopes

Press Left Alt + Left Mouse Button on a Gear Item – Equip Gear Item automatically in the right Gear slot

Press Left Ctrl + Left Mouse Button on an Item – Move Item to Chest Rig/Pockets/Backpack depending on the Item category

Movement[edit | edit source]

Movement in Escape From Tarkov is more than simply sprinting or walking. It is handled differently than most other first person shooters, with the movement model trying to mimic the actual performance of a soldier encumbered with gear and weapons. It allows you to move at varying speeds, from a snail's pace which generates the least amount of audible noise, to a sprint which may compromise your position.

The way you move through a level is just as important as your ability to gun down a target in a single shot. When moving through the terrain of a map, stepping on broken glass and tile, stepping on a pile of metal debris, or walking through a bush, everything generates a different sound cue which your opponent can use to narrow down your position. Slow, steady, and thoughtful movement should be your mainstays. Be it something as simple as moving across an abandoned street, or as complex as repositioning in a firefight to flank your unsuspecting foe. How you move, how you're postured, and when you move are all vital aspects of consideration.

Be warned, Headsets amplify your footsteps in clear, crisp, HD surround sound. They are a powerful tool against even the power of slow walking, and can render even the stealthiest players flatfooted when an errant footstep is heard through them.

  • Movement Speed can be broken down into three types: Sprinting, walking, and slow walking.
    • Walking requires no change or key press, it is by default your main movement speed. It is limited only by the various pieces of body armor you're wearing.
    • Sprinting can be performed by pressing Left Shift and depletes your stamina bar. Knowing how far you can travel with one stamina bar's worth of sprinting can be the difference between an engagement being lost or won. Sprinting also generates the highest amount of noise compared to the other methods of moving.
    • Slow Walking can be performed by pressing the Caps Lock or by manually lowering your walk speed to it's lowest, by simply scrolling Mousewheel Down To return to a higher movement speed if you've used the mousewheel, you must use Mousewheel Up to maximize the movement bar in the bottom left portion of the UI. Slow Walking is the bread and butter of survival in Tarkov. It generates the least amount of noise, prevents you from making noise whilst moving through foliage, and negates the effects of walking on different materials such as glass or metal. The power of moving with this method cannot be overstated, and should never be underestimated. Beyond the standard movement types, there are two additional movement techniques. Sidestepping, and Sliding.
    • Sidestepping can be done by pressing Left Alt + Q / E Sidestepping does exactly what it sounds like. There are two types of sidestepping, pressing the keys and releasing them immediately will move you one step left or right, and then immediately back to your previous position. Holding the keys will result in your keeping position until released.
    • Sliding a problematic mechanic at best, and at worst it can get you in a precarious situation. Sliding can be initiated by holding Left Shift and pressing C after you pick up enough speed. This mechanic can also be initiated by releasing Left Shift However, this method seems to be an unintended behavior of the Slide mechanic and a bug. Sliding, intentionally or otherwise, locks you into a forward movement and generates a unique noise compared to other methods.

Stances[edit | edit source]

Just as important as Movement in Escape From Tarkov, how you stand can make a world of difference to your overall ability to survive. Knowing when to duck is just as vital as knowing when to move. The ability to vary your stance, combined with the movement options that the game provides, permits a huge amount of flexibility in terms of tactical agility and how you can engage an opponent.

  • You have three standard stances to choose from: Standing, Crouching, and Prone, each with a different application, and maximum movement speed.
    • Standing allows you to move the fastest, but also makes you more visible at range and causes you to generate the most noise.
    • Crouching balances a low profile and reasonable movement speed and is excellent for taking advantage of most cover, whilst generating the lowest amount of sound.
    • Prone makes you almost immobile, but gives you excellent accuracy and greatly reduced silhouette. Whilst being prone, you cannot lower the amount of noise you make by moving slowly as more surface area is in contact with your body. Thus in most situations, being crouched is far superior to laying prone. Moving out of the prone stance also always produces noise in the process, no matter your movement speed setting or Covert Movement skill.

However, whilst the three standard stances are available, you are able to shift between a slew of different postures. By pressing the following keys: C + Mousewheel Up/Mousewheel Down(Default) Doing such enables you to peek over cover that would otherwise be impossible to see or fire over.

  • Beyond the stances you have access to, there is also leaning to take into account. Leaning and peeking should become second nature, around every corner, every edge, every bit of cover. Exposing only a portion of yourself is far less dangerous than moving wholly out of cover. The advantages of doing so cannot be overstated.
    • The primary method of leaning is done with the Q and E keys. Doing so requires holding down either key, and puts you out at a maximum lean.
    • The secondary method is to hold Left Alt + A / D This secondary method is a variable lean, and doesn't need to be held down when you release the keys. To reset your stance, press either Q or E
    • An important side-note is that performing Left Alt + Q / E whilst prone allows you to turn your entire body and weapon sideways, significantly lowering your weapon. This is a very rarely used mechanic and allows for a wide variety of additional tactics, especially as anyone attempting to return fire is provided with an even smaller target to fire back at.

Weaponry and Equipment[edit | edit source]

Weaponry in Escape From Tarkov is your bread and butter and could have a guide written about it three times the length of this one. Be it a simple sidearm or a lead-throwing M4 with extended magazines. The choice of what you go into a raid with is entirely yours, excluding when one goes in as a Scavenger. Firearm performance will vary wildly depending on what modifications you use, and how you use them. Where-as in most games, the overall statistics of a weapon matter far less than in other games. Learning an individual weapon's handling and kinks, be it modified heavily or a stock variant, is vital to your overall success against other players and AI opposition. The depth of the weapon systems cannot be overstated, or overlooked.

  • There are a slew of vital considerations when picking a weapon's modifications such as your estimated range you expect your engagement to take place in, what your intended target is going to be and if that target is armored or not, as well as how your playstyle factors into such considerations.
    • Picking your weapon's optics is very much a personal preference, but time to ADS (Aim Down Sights), and the distance you expect to have to engage from are important. Contrary to most other games, point shooting (Firing without aiming down your weapon's sights) is just as, if not more effective, than ADS in most situations. Learning how to effectively point shoot is critical to surviving engagements and can often make the difference between winning and losing a battle.
    • What ammunition you use isn't as cut and dry as the "best" statistic that a given ammo type has. Availability, if that ammunition is sold out in the traders or not, or if you've unlocked it all are further considerations. If you figure you're not going to be going up against fully geared squads of five, then you may settle on something that doesn't have as high of an armor piercing value, and instead does more overall damage to flesh. The type and quantity of magazines that you take into a raid is of similar concern, as reloading ammo into empty magazines is a dangerous proposition, and a virtually impossible feat to pull off whilst engaged in a firefight. It is also of note, you are not limited to using only a single ammunition type per each magazine.
    • What weapon type you decide upon, much like optics, and ammo, is further personal preference. However, It is highly recommended that you never go into a raid unarmed, as doing so will render you mostly harmless, making you an object for criticism and scorn.
    • When picking up a weapon in the field, it's always wise to do a quick magazine check, using Left Alt + T to ensure that the weapon has ammo. After doing so, checking the weapon's chamber, using Left Shift + T will ensure that you've got a round in the chamber.

Ammunition is arguably far more important than modifications on a weapon, as ammo choices determine the ability of a bullet to kill an opponent whereas weapon modifications can only aid in landing shots. As a general rule of thumb, if you want to shoot at a player center mass, you are best off using the ammunition with the highest penetration stats possible, given budget restrictions. You may be able to "Leg meta" other players by using high flesh damage rounds and aiming for non armored areas of a player, typically the legs, however this approach requires multiple successive hits to drain the entire health pool of a player rather than eliminating just the head or thorax.

Equipment in Escape From Tarkov covers a breadth of items, from body armor to backpacks. Knowing what to bring along with you on a raid is critical to ensuring your success financially, and overall survival. Things like headsets, backpacks, vests, and body armor, are everywhere.

What grade of armor you're wearing matters significantly, as Class II protection will do you no good against a rifle round. Just as Class VI protection will stop everything but large caliber armor piercing ammo. One important consideration is head protection. The head hitbox in Escape from Tarkov is divided into 5 segments: Top, Nape, Ears, Eyes and Jaws. Different helmets will cover different segments.

To choose your equipment, you are faced with three factors : Availability, Price, and Quality. An expensive loadout like the following: SSO "Attack 2" raid backpack + 6B43 Zabralo-Sh 6A Armor + Velocity Systems Multi-Purpose Patrol Vest can hold a lot of magazines, meds, loot and will protect you from a great variety of threats, but is going to be hard to come by if you don't have much money and high trader loyalty levels. On the other hand, a cheap loadout like the Scav Vest + MBSS Backpack is not going to protect you and won't let you take a lot of loot on the way back, but is way cheaper and available at an early stage of the game. Also, bringing high end weaponry alongside low end gear is a risk, of course. You could lose the fight easily and thus lose your gun. You can find this type of gear on Scavs, so don't hesitate looting the ones you kill for easy and free loadouts: Scavs sometimes are found with a Scav Backpack or possibly even, the Pilgrim Backpack, which is even bigger, alongside many other pieces of equipment. You can check the following pages to learn more about the different options Tarkov has to offer:

Insurance[edit | edit source]

Main article: Insurance


Insurance allows you to retrieve any items that have not been extracted from the raid, after a delay.

Except for raids on The Lab, make sure to always insure the gear you go out with using the Insurance Screen, just before entering the lobby. You can click on the "Insure All" button to make sure that you select all of your belongings. To confirm, press the "Insure" button just above "Ready". You can choose to insure with Prapor or Therapist:

  • Prapor is cheaper, but returns your insured items after 24-36 hours.
  • Therapist is roughly 1.5x more expensive, returns your items after 12-24 hours. You also have 7 days to collect the insured items instead of the 2 that Prapor offers.

Use the insurance system, even at a low level: There's always the chance that your killer won't loot you, or leave your items behind as they find better gear. And if a scav kills you, there's a high chance you'll get everything back.

Your insurer will contact you a few hours/days later to let you know what came back. You can then claim it from the messenger tab. If you do not claim it in 72 hours (Prapor) or 144 hours (Therapist), the insured items will be lost.

There are no penalties for insurance fraud. If you have an identical insured piece of equipment to one you find, you can swap for the uninsured item. If you extract with the new item, you will need to make sure to re-insure it. If the item you swapped out is not looted, you can get it back through insurance normally for additional profit.

There is also an upgrade to the Hideout that reduces your item return time by 15%. It is provided by upgrading the Intelligence Center module to level 2.


Health, Healing, and Hitpoints[edit | edit source]

Main article: Health system


The medical and health systems in Escape from Tarkov are very in-depth, but simple to understand at a glance once you know what you're looking at. One large difference between Tarkov and other games is that using meds takes time, rendering you vulnerable and exposed. Also creating noise from the jostling and neccesary movements to use them. The health system as a whole is broken down into hitpoints, every body part has it's own HP value and potential status effects that can be applied to it. Some are positive, whilst others are assuredly negative. Your average PMC or Scav has a total of 440 Health Points, set across 7 body parts: Head, Thorax, Stomach, and both Legs and Arms.

There are three colors indicating the state of each body part: Grey, Red and Black. Grey means the body part is fine or only slightly damaged. Red means that a limb is critically low on HP and at risk for being reduced to 0 HP. Black means, in the most simple of terms, destroyed. Or, as it has been termed, "Blacked." When a bodypart has reached 0 HP, it cannot be healed via normal means and requires the use of a specialized surgical kit to restore it. Any further damage taken to a body part that has been blacked is distributed to the other parts at reduced, equal or higher rates depending on what part it is. In the simplest terms, damaging a part with 0 HP still does damage to the rest of the body. On top of those three states are various kinds of status effects you'll encounter.

  • A destroyed/blacked body part can be disastrous for your survival in both the short and long-term while on a raid. It can mean the difference between successfully extracting, or having to limp for 10 minutes to an extraction point only to have the timer run out. The effects of a blacked body part depend entirely on which part it is, even the difference between arms being blacked impacts things at a different rate. Notably, the thorax and head cannot normally be blacked by weapon damage without causing the player to die instantly. Bleeding however is an exception to this, and can lower the head/torso to 0 HP and not kill the player outright.
    • A simplified list of effects of having a blacked body part are as follows:
      • Thorax/Head: Any further damage taken to either body part results in instant death. This also applies to taking damage to another blacked body part. i.e. If your thorax has 0 HP, and your left arm has 0 HP. If you are shot in your left arm, you will die instantly even if the rest of your body is at full HP.
      • Legs: One leg reduces your movement speed by roughly half and avoid sprinting. Both, reduces your total movement speed by 90%. Sprinting on a blacked leg (you need to be under painkiller to do so) will cause damage to your body, as will jumping. Your jump height is also significantly impacted. Vertical weapon sway when moving also is greatly increased.
      • Arms: Your aiming stability is severely impacted, holding your breath also does not completely stabilize your weapon. Reloading, swapping weapons, and Container searching and item use take longer.
      • Stomach: Your Hydration and Energy will begin to drain rapidly. Upon reaching 0, you will begin to slowly lose HP until death or you eat/drink. You will also groan loudly, alerting nearby players and scavs alike.


Eventually, you're going to take damage. For when that happens, you're going to need Meds. There are various types and sorts of meds with a slew of purposes. All have a "charge" and cost to use, some only having a single charge. One of the most deadly status effects a player can suffer is bleeding. Thankfully all medical kits, excluding the AI-2 medikit, can stop bleeding, including bandages. However, if a medical kit lacks sufficient charge to stop bleeding, it will only heal the body part. Other status effects can prove troublesome and debilitating, and often you may either simply lack the means to completely treat them. There are stopgap measures however. A broken leg or arm requires a Immobilizing splint to completely treat for example. But in a pinch, Painkillers, Morphine and other similar meds can enable you to come out on top. Allowing you to keep running even if your legs are blacked, stop coughing if your stomach is dead, or even take more HP damage than normal and still survive.

However, having a body part blacked in raid isn't the end of the world. Beyond the various means of mitigating the problems created by having a body part blacked, a player has the option of outright restoring that part back to functionality outright. This can be done with either the CMS kit or the Surv12 field surgical kit. However, using either will only restore the blacked limb to 1 HP, and will limit it's total overall HP for the remainder of the raid. This effect is cumulative, so using a surgical kit repeatedly will reduce the maximum HP even further. The thorax and head are however incapable of being restored whilst in a raid.


As a PMC, post-raid, either via successful extraction or otherwise, your health and status effects will carry over. During the post-raid summary, you will be given the option of paying roubles to restore your health and remove the various effects impacting your PMC. This is not recommend, as you both lose the XP gained from healing, and it is incredibly overpriced. Utilizing found/purchased meds is vastly more cost-effective in both the short and long term. And as your body parts are restored to a minimum of 1 HP, this means that you are not required to use a surgical kit to restore a part back to full health. The free alternative however is to simply wait until the passive regeneration provided by your hideout restores you to full health. This however can take up to an hour without upgrades, and as such, is ill advised.

Extractions[edit | edit source]

Each map has multiple extraction points where you can leave the raid after a certain amount of time. To see the available extractions, double tap O. The extractions will be different for each raid depending on your spawn point and if you're playing as a PMC (USEC/BEAR) or as a Scav.

Some exits are always available , whilst others are only occasionally available (indicated by question marks). You can check if certain exits are available from afar by looking for active lamps/spotlights or green smoke. Some extractions may also require a certain amount of Roubles per person. Others may even require special items to utilize, such as paracord or keys.

On maps like The Lab, Reserve, Interchange, and Customs, special actions are needed in order to use some extraction points.

Sometimes the name of an extract is shown in green or red. Red means that one or multiple players already left the map through that extract. Green means you are close to an extract, but not close enough to extract yourself. When you are inside an extraction zone, a timer will appear in the top right corner and you will leave the map as soon as it hits zero. Extraction times can be between few seconds and a couple of minutes.

Quests[edit | edit source]

Main article: Quests


There are many quests in Escape from Tarkov. Some require you to pick stuff up for certain traders, while others require you to kill other operators or mark vehicles or specific places. Quests are the fastest way of gaining EXP in Escape from Tarkov. Completing one will often reward you with thousands, if not tens of thousands of EXP points. On top of the experience, quests reward you with:

  • Trader Reputation. By gaining trader reputation you unlock new trader loyalty levels. Each time you unlock a new loyalty level you will be able to purchase a large amount of new items from that trader.
  • Quest locked items. Some items can only be purchased from a trader after you complete their relevant quest. For example, after completing The Punisher - Part 4 you are then able to purchase 5.45x39 mm BT at Loyalty Level 3 from Prapor.
  • A variety of money and items. Some items are only able to be received as a quest reward, such as the Secure container Epsilon from The Punisher - Part 6.

Stash size, Organization and Containers[edit | edit source]

In Escape from Tarkov, the beginning size of your Stash is entirely dependent on what edition of the game you buy. The basic edition of the game yields a 10x28 cell Stash, while the Edge of Darkness edition allows you to store items in a 10x68 cell Stash. Here are the different stash sizes available for now:

  • 10x28 on Standard Edition
  • 10x38 on Left Behind Edition
  • 10x48 on Prepare for Escape Edition
  • 10x68 on Edge of Darkness Limited Edition

With the 0.12 update and the addition of the Hideout, it was made possible to increase the player's stash size through upgrading stash module within the hideout from level 1 to 4.

It is recommended that you keep all items of a similar category - weapons, helmets, bags, healing objects - close to each other in order to minimize the time spent in the menu and maximize the action.

  • Alt+Left Click automatically equips the item on your PMC if the slot occupied by said item is free.
  • Ctrl+Left Click automatically transfers the item between your PMC and your stash.
  • Middle Mouse Button is the default shortcut to quickly examine unknown items, examine magazines, or fold weapon stocks.

At some point in a patch, you will feel limited by the size of your stash, even in more expensive editions of the game. This is where Containers come in. These items allow you to store more than the stash space they occupy. For example, the Items case is a 16 cells item (4x4), but can offer 64 storage cells (8x8). These containers are rather high level items, and apart from the Items case, there exists category specific containers as well. The Ammo case only allows you to store Ammunition, while the Meds case will only hold Meds and Healing Kits. More containers are making their appearance in the game, all with different uses, such as the Lucky Scav Junkbox and the T H I C C Weapon case.