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Escape From Tarkov: 5 Things You Should Know Before Playing

Posted: Feb 16, 2023

If you're someone who's thinking of buying or has just bought Escape From Tarkov, you most likely saw some gameplay or read about the game before realizing that it's much more complicated than the majority of other FPS games. Every mechanic, which is normally a single click of a button in other games tends to consist of multiple steps in EFT. Some people love this complexity and some people hate it. Either way, you're gonna need to memorize and adapt to these systems if you want to excel in the game. So, today I'm bringing you a list of five of what I feel are the most important things you need to know. 

1. Reloading 

Let's touch on how reloading Works in EFT. Reloading in other games is fairly simple. You usually have two ammo counts, the amount of ammo currently in your gun's magazine and the amount of backup ammo you have on hand. If you shoot a few rounds then press the reload key, your magazine is filled from your stack of backup ammo subtracting from its total and allowing you to shoot again. 

This is kind of how EFT works, except much more complicated and with many more steps. There are two primary ways loading weapons is done in EFT.

First, if you have a gun with an internal magazine, such as the stock SKS grounds are top loaded into the gun without requiring the removal of a magazine. This means rounds can be kept loose either in your PMC's pockets or as rig. Your PMC will not have direct access to rounds in his bag or secure container. When you press the reload key, he'll begin loading rounds into the gun until it's full for guns that have removable magazines. 

The process is slightly different, you'll need to keep full magazines in your pockets or rig when the reload key is pressed. Your PMC will unload the current magazine into his rig then insert the most full magazine into the gun. If there are multiple full magazines, the leftmost magazine in your rig will be chosen first because this reload is a two-step process.

You need to make sure that there's space available in your rig for the magazine being removed from the gun or else your PMC will drop it. You'll also need to make sure you keep loose rounds on you in order to refill magazines. Refilling can be accomplished by simply dragging the rounds onto a depleted magazine. This topic like everything in EFT gets a bit more complicated than this. But those steps are the basics. You'll need to know to at least get by in your first few raids.

2. Ammo Determines Damage, Not Guns

In many other games, the amount of damage you deal to an enemy is typically determined by the gun you choose, but this is not how damage is calculated in EFT. It's actually the ammo itself that determines the damage you deal, not the gun. Each type of ammo has many different stats, but the two most important are Penetration and Damage. This math here gets very complicated, but I'll keep it simple for this article.

In short, Penetration Value determines how much damage is dealt to armor and the chance that the round will pass through the armor while Damage Value determines how much damage is done to the PMC.

Since the ammo itself holds these values, you could have 10 different guns, which all deal the same amount of damage. As long as they're running the same round as each other. 

For beginners, I recommend focusing on memorizing what caliber ammo each gun you encounter takes as well as learning to tell the visual differences between each caliber. This will help you later on when learning which rounds you should keep and which ones you should drop when in your rates. 

There's some great resources online, which lay out the stats for every ammo type in the game. My favorite is I highly recommend bookmarking this site, as you'll need to refer back to it frequently during the process of learning the 100 plus different rounds in the game.

3. Insurance

EFT has an interesting system, which you can utilize called the Insurance System. Before E-Trade, you'll be given the option to ensure your gear. You can ensure anything which isn't consumable. This means you will not be able to ensure ammo meds or food. If you choose to insure your gear, you'll need to pay a few EFT Roubles to whichever trader you decide to insure with either Prapor or Therapist.

EFT Insurance System

Therapist services are significantly quicker than Prapors, but are also significantly more expensive. The point of ensuring your gear is that if you lose it while in raid, you'll be able to receive it back from the trader you insured with later on, but only if another player didn't pick it up and extract with it. 

But losing your gear due to death isn't the only time you can benefit from insurance. If you kill a player while in raid, you can utilize the insurance system to drop and hide your gear somewhere then run the opponent's gear the rest of the raid. This process is often called Insurance Fraud in the Tarkov community and is especially useful during the early levels of the game when you don't have much gear at your disposal.

So, while insurance does come with a price, it can definitely help you with maintaining a constant flow of gear back to your Dash if you properly utilize fraud. 

4. Important Status Effects

Tarkov has many health related status effects in the game, which will take a bit to learn for beginners. Think of it, like how many combat systems are handled in MMOs, certain attacks can cause you to receive a certain status effect. You'll then either need to wait on it to go away or counter it with a consumable. This is pretty similar to how Tarkov works.

The most essential status effects you need to learn are Bleeds, Blacks and Breaks. Bleeds can exist as either light or heavy and slowly drain Health until they're stopped. 

Light Bleeds are stopped using bandages and Heavy Bleeds are stopped by using tourniquets or hemostats. Bleeds can also be stopped using most Mega hits. But a significant amount of their durability will be consumed in the process. A black limb is the result of a particular limb on the body reaching zero HP at which point you'll no longer be able to heal it using Mega hits. You'll need to use a surgical kit on it either a CMS or serve 12. Doing so will repair the limb, bringing it back up to one HP but lowering the maximum HP

EFT Heavy Bleeds

Each time surgery is done to the same limb in the same raid. The max HP for that limb will decrease further.

Breaks can happen to arms and legs usually from bullet damage but also to the legs by falling from a significant height. Aim will be shaky with broken arms and movement will be slowed with broken legs. Breaks can be resolved by using splints in Tarkov, either the immobilizing splint or the multi-use aluminum splint. 

Bandages, tourniquets, surgical kits and splints can all be purchased from traders, mainly Therapists or the flea market. In my opinion, it's essential to keep at least one consumable for resolving. Each of these basic status effects on your PMC every rate.

5. Level Up Your Traders

Lastly, you need to level up your traders in order to be successful in EFT. With each of the game's traders, you'll have what's called a Loyalty Level. This level is influenced by three factors, your current PMC level, the amount of EFT Roubles paid to and values sold to that trader and your current reputation with that trader.

Reputation can be increased by completing tasks for traders, either main tasks or operational ones, like dailies and weeklies. By hitting the requirements for each trader Loyalty Level, you'll level up the trader increasing the amount of items, they'll have for sale. The more you level up your traders, the more options you'll have for weapons, gear, meds, ammo and more leveling.

Your traders is essential for effective progression in the game despite not necessarily being obvious when you first start playing. While you can get by with a lot of the equipment available to you at lower loyalty levels, you're definitely at a bit of a disadvantage. Start to focus on which trader you're closest to leveling up, next trying to trade with them more often and completing their tasks. 

Some tasks from a trader may be blocked by another trader's task as well. So, it's important to make sure you're progressing each trader as much as you can. If you hit any tasks that are too difficult to figure out upon receiving them, I recommend utilizing the Escape From Tarkov Wiki as it has walkthroughs for every task in the game.


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