This is a lOOOOong guide on the quick subtleties of player-player friendliness, those who are looking for a shorter version can just skip all the non-numbered "paragraphs" (blocks of text) edit: nonessential stuff prefixed "E:".
Before you go typing "can you post this again, but with like, idk, just 3 sentences?" It is long and complex because the reality is even the "simplest" person is complex and prone to unpredictably of reaction even if they don't realize (especially those who think they are simple, mad is mad, and happy is happy, you will come to find are highly variable in reactions depending on the way they are interacted with), and if you are actually struggling with player interactions and genuinely want to improve upon them, then this guide has a detailed explanation for not just what happens, but WHY and ultimately, no one guide can give you "instructions" on what to do for every situation. It is up to YOU to use what you learn in this guide, determine what seems right or wrong, and apply it to the situation at hand in your own way, I can only offer what I have learned from playing this and games like this way too damn long and what seems to work over what doesn't.
Have you experienced that people are just ALL assholes in tarkov? And whenever you try and be friendly you just get mowed down every time no matter what you do, and just accepted that people are shit? While it's true, people are shit, this is Tarkov, and money matters over life, this guide is here to teach you what everyone knows but almost noone understands, that people are also people, with fucking brains and whatnot, and not only do they think stuff you aren't thinking, they think stuff you (and often even themselves) aren't even aware they can be thinking, and this guide aims to help you understand how a human brain reacts to social cues that you are putting out that lose their translation over the time it forms in your brain, travels onto your hands, gets input into a keyboard, travels more than a hundred miles, goes through that process again backwards and finally shows up on a screen to some random across the internet, and how to avoid the most common situation stated below…
What two potentially friendly people tend to do: both walk up with raised weapons, friendly initiator (player A) has…
1: 0 sense of his surroundings, and walks out to meet the dude like a stroll in the park without declaring intention… In a fucking warzone.
2: Walks up with a raised weapon and immediately faces and flags potential friendly with a loaded firearm.
3: Does nothing but wiggle because he heard that was some "secret tarkov code" to declare friendliness, while in reality it's stigmatized as a precursor to a betrayal tap. Which player B in the defensive position will think about.
Result: player A gets fucking blasted to kingdom come.
What two potentially friendly people should do: player B walks up with a raised weapon, friendly initiator (player A) does…
1: An immediate assessment of situation and context of meeting. Scav/scav? PMC/scav? Solo? Group? Was there fighting just before this? Level of gear? Time in raid? Location? And most importantly, is the P-scav in the middle of AI's? All of this matters and must be quickly compiled to determine response.
For this example player A is a scav with an sks, and no backpack, nothing fancy on his person, player B is also a scav with an AKS-74U a scav backpack, and not much else, our two potential friendlies have almost nothing to lose, the map is Customs mid raid lets say 29 mins left, the location is halfway between military checkpoint and new gas station in an open area with little cover, there are AI scavs at checkpoint, but they are far enough away to not consider an immediate threat, there has been recent fighting at bus station, but you can assume player B was not involved.
2: Determine method of interaction, did player B see player A first? Is player B moving stealthily? Who has engagement advantage/better cover? Will you approach, or let them come to you? How will you approach?
For this example player A has all advantage, the best situation for an initiator, player A is behind player B and is in an ambush position and neither are in a hot zone, player A decides to pull knife out and show intent and friendliness by willingly giving up his advantageous position to declare himself to player B unarmed and by drawing his attention by emoting/moving loudly. Player A, makes sure to observe player B's intentions and position immediately and takes care to make "friendly noises" (PMC non-yelling emotes, SCAV F1 callouts) while looking as relaxed and non-threatening as possible. Player B now doesn't have to assume anything at all, and can CLEARLY see intent by observing that player A has disarmed himself despite having a superior weapon as clearly seen on his back AND gave up stealth to meet player B without player B knowing player A was there first while player A is completely vulnerable.
E: As an extra precaution/bonus, player A also side hops with knife out while keeping distance to player B and not getting closer or even backing away very slowly (to show player A isn't trying to run up and melee Player B) AND should player B fire a burst at player A out of initial shock, they are very likely to miss (keep in mind just cause they shot at you doesn't necessarily mean they will keep shooting, they often shoot a few rounds out of surprise but then stop firing when they start processing what you are trying to do.) they key is for player A to be as defensive as possible and a hard target, while also showing no intent to harm, this is the hardest trick but it has great payoff, as sometimes it can even calm down someone who had full intent to kill you from the beginning once they dump a whole mag into the air trying to hit you, now having to reload, and you STILL are being friendly. (And plays HEAVILY into the last step of this guide as you will see).
E: Keep in mind for the rest of this guide, in-game, this all goes by fucking QUICK, like in a second or less and while there is good logical reason to do all this, player B isn't sitting there thinking, "wow i guess I shouldn't shoot him because I can see that he was positioning himself in such a way that he was showing himself to be friendly to me before I could react with lethal force etc. etc. yada. yada. This is all done to get past the lizard brain of folks that will be taking the brunt of the brain processing for the reaction to seeing a possibly dangerous competitor suddenly show up to them.
E: WARNING: Sometimes player B will feign friendliness to kill player A unaware once they stop moving around and being a hard target, these dishonest people are usually easy to spot however because they won't have time to properly set up a betrayal and there is hint of their intention in their movement, look for these indicators of dishonest individuals: Player B "accepts" player A's friendliness by wiggling and emoting, but shows no intent to act passive and instead continues moving left and right while still having their gun out, getting ready to assassinate player A once an easy shot presents itself, or slowly starts moving to a piece of cover they clearly weren't moving to before. Another common one is that Player B will not look away from you at all and "follows" line of sight to player A trying to maybe line up a shot even after player A starts slowing down, making no attempt to do wiggles, check gear, or anything at all besides get ready to shoot you once you stop. Basically, look for any indication player B has that they are "getting ready" for something or are moving quickly or in an aggressive manner After everything in step 1 and 2 have already happened. These scumbags are actually fairly rare but are usually easy to spot as they tend to go for easy pickings instead of just fighting you normally and are not very aware of how obvious their attempts to betray others are to a keen observer as they go for gullible/easy targets.
E: From experience with other games (DAYZ for example) Once VOIP gets added, look for people speaking in a way that seems they are trying just a bit too hard and enthusiastically in a clear confident manner, people who say "yeah" where you would normally hear an "uhh" and speak just a tad too quickly. And if they show no skepticism AT ALL and talk as if they already know you, that is a clear red flag that they have different intentions. A liar usually thinks very hard about how their lie is going to work, which means it's naturally hard to act surprised and like they don't know how to react to a situation they clearly planned for in their heads.
3: once both parties show lack of intent to kill (many means to this, sometimes player B will stop and wiggle only, sometimes they will match your pose and draw knife, sometimes they will emote and look around/spam their mouse etc. look for indications of "silliness", non-tactical movement, and a general relaxed posture/slower movement to ascertain levels of friendliness) then comes the "solidification" where you both try to cement proper friendliness by several means, the most effective is the "trade" where player A drops something of relative value (but not of ESSENTIALITY, primary weapon, meds unless spare, ammo, high value low slots, and anything you think you are gonna NEED) a spare gun, maybe a gas analyzer something in the 10-30k range, but do not drop trash, this will be sometimes be seen as either an insult, or more commonly and worse, that you don't know what you are doing and are not worth their time. As the initiator, its a subconscious thing that player B expects player A to be knowledgeable, especially after the whole shebang doing this complex show to gain friendliness despite the huge risk, and looking like you don't know what you are doing, or that you do, and are taking them for a fool, gives the impression that you are a risk, which is a kick in the balls to someone that just went through great risk to not fire upon you and now that they "know" you, you turn out to be an antagonist. Build the trust, don't just assume you have it and go on your merry way. If you are dirt poor, (which you shouldn't be, loot/gear up before you go to danger zones/expected player zones) but its an emergency, and you must try to build trust with no gear on, try wiggling around and doing silly emotes, maybe spin in place or something, (the subconscious analogue for this is laughing) then quickly get back on task (step 3) if player B drops something, look at what he dropped, look back at him then press the "point" emote and back away to show you don't want it, even if it is a gun, or something you need, try to as the initiator, maintain a "host" attitude, player B is your guest, and you act as not a leader,(or worse a boss) but a competent ally who can gear up/fight with what you have. Don't take something without offering something, wait a minute after you grab what you want, if player B doesn't pick something up, then you are free to take it back. After trading people are usually calm and you are ready for the next step.
4: Determine goal. IMPORTANT, sometimes the "goal" is nothing more than a meeting without firefight, then separation of your ways, especially if the person you saw was just looting. DO NOT follow around a guy who walks away from you in a loot zone he was already hitting, in these scenarios more often than not, player B will just do some wiggles at you and act non-threatening, but will not attempt to approach you, show you mean the same by walking away, especially from the direction you came from, usually both parties will walk away from the place of meeting, though be aware, should you later meet, more often than not you are fair game, this goes doubly so in a scav patrol zone that has been wiped of scavs, see nothing but dead scavs and a P-scav looting? That should be an immediate red flag that this guy might be not friendly, especially if you suspect the P-scav killed the other scavs.
If on the other hand, you are both in or near a hot zone, and neither of you were looting, (reserve is a common place for this) then you can "team up" and form an impromptu 2-man to meet some immediate goal, usually to go to a source of firefight, and attempt to kill PMC's keep in mind, these kind of team-ups are fairly rare, as all the right conditions have to be in place at the time of meeting, there has to be some "use" for the team-up and things can go wrong if there is no concise goal, as we'll explore in the last section. In our example, both player A and B once teamed up, know there is fighting at bus station, and without a word both decide to gravitate towards that area.
5:Follow-up/Ending. In small intense areas like factory, a team-up is a very fragile thing, that can quickly break down in the chaos over little loot, in areas like railroad station of Reserve, the gear is high, and risk even higher so a successful fight against geared players or raiders must be quickly acted upon, where you would normally stop and loot for a while, with a buddy with no comms, it usually devolves into frenzied looting for whatever is closest and then bail with what you got. Once you meet your "goal" usually after one firefight, especially if the fight was long and the loot decent, the two players then just kinda go their own ways as there is no way to communicate more complex things like place of extract, quest item farms or any further goals, on maps such as interchange, where extracts are the same, a collusion might last all the way to extract, but on most other maps it just kinds dissolves, this is always spotty and you should try and make sure you aren't following each other once it looks like your partner has started to move without you, you should always stick close and keep an eye out on each other, not just for teamwork, but because greed is a thing, and the person you are playing with might be feeling a little unhappy (and justified in betraying you) if things went lopsided in the looting, in unclear situations of loot priority, initiator player A, should strive to give priority to player B and let player B decide if the loot is meant for you or himself, show him you aren't greedy and are willing to give them the bigger share and more often than not, your partner will let you take the lions share, otherwise if you start grabbing willy nilly, your partner might decide that your gear looks better on him. Irregardless this is one part you can decide for yourself, sometimes your partner just IS an asshole and tries to grab everything and leave nothing for you, its up to you to decide what to do then, whether you are willing to risk engaging your "teammate" for whatever loot you think you deserve.
In our scenario Player A and B walk up to overpass kind of carelessly as commonly befalls groups with no comms, and hear a sudden intensification of fire coming from bus station again, they spot a lone mid-gear PMC taking on scavs at bus and both P-scavs engage the player, player A is fairly certain he got the finishing blow, and knows he can check by checking his "character" tab on his scav to find his name and the PMC dogtag to see who dropped the PMC, but decides to go inside bus station and kill the last scav and loot the other dead scavs instead, in this situation, player A passes over the PMC andmakes gestures at the PMC body to signal player B, then starts looting the scavs to give player B a sense that player A Isn't sneaking a headshot in while he loots, remember this "friendship" is always tenuous and subject to the emotions of people playing, so more often than not it becomes an exercise in manipulating emotions, especially if you suspect your partner is less experienced in the game and has less sense of loot priority, you are always rolling the dice with a random, and in my experience its always best to let them take lead and more often than not, they will try to match you own generosity as much as they can. An experienced player on the other hand, can pick up on gestures and will himself usually signal what their intent is better, by using emotes and you will both have a clearer picture of who should do/get what.
In our situation, once player B is done looting he stands up and goes to player A and sees if there is anything else around on scavs, once player A is done player B goes to the PMC and emotes to signal player A that there is more loot and lo and behold there is a modded sks suppresed that player B left for you on the PMC, once he is done signaling he leaves you to the rest of the loot and goes on his way towards his extract, giving you time to separate and make your own ways out of the map. Never to meet again, but accomplished, in that you gained a unique interaction in which both of you through nothing but honor and careful social planning took down an opposing force and walked away maybe not the most geared, but alive and well.