This game is going to kick your ass. Hopefully I can make your ass-pounding a little less raw. Take these tips with a grain of salt as they are from personal experience from a veteran.
Do NOT be afraid to die and lose everything. The worst thing you can do is be afraid of losing your gear. Tarkov is risk vs. reward. If you never risk anything you can never reap the good rewards (excluding your prison wallet but we will get to that).
Learn Customs, like all starting quests are there.
Factory is a deathtrap for new players, but you CAN get your pistol kills quests done there easily.
Get level 5 for flea market
Do your quests, use the wiki
Bank some progress every run, don't tilt, example: even if you die you made progress if you killed just one Scav
If a quest does not EXPLICITLY say "find in raid", you can buy that shit on the flea market. Prices might go up because of new players, but it will probably be less painful than finding everything yourself.
You need level 5 for flea market. So do your starting Customs quests and unlock it.
A lot of placement quests ALSO require you to survive the raid. Completing quests is way more important than fighting sometimes.
Some quests use special quest items, these do not appear in your normal inventory. Instead you can see them in the Tasks menu in your Character screen.
You can, and should, move a quest item to Off Raid if you are not trying to do that quest immediately following the previous one. Some quests require you to do something 2 raids in a row and survive both, this is how you can do a different raid in-between those two parts.
Markers and Cameras are expensive if you are new, keep them in your butt while you do marking quests.
Traders have levels LL1-LL4.
You level them up by increasing the 3 stats on the top right of their window; your player level, your reputation with them, and the total "sales" in Roubles.
Reputation is gained from completing quests with them.
Sales is increased by BOTH buying and selling with them.
Sometimes it is totally worth it to just sell to traders instead of flea marketing, you'll learn which items have more value where in time.
Higher traders means better gear for you! Getting face-rolled by someone with a black Ulach helmet and a Gen4 Assault? Well they probably didn't buy that shit on the flea market.
Let's talk about your pouch slot. Starting out you will either have an Alpha (2×2) or a Gamma (3×3) case depending on what edition of the game you bought. Simply put, more space in your pouch is more money in your butt. You can't put guns or anything in them, but you can stuff any valuables in there. Most important thing is to most valuable single slot items you find in raid in your butt to help recoup your losses if you die.
Also, keep the keys you need in your butt. Take them out when you don't. Getting a Keybar helps but it can take time. You might have more luck buying an early Docs Case on the flea market.
The most important thing you have to learn is that gear increases your survivability in general. It is absolutely useful!
Unless you have a face-shield you can still be 1 hit face-tapped regardless of the quality of your gear.
Armor – this is my 5 second armor explanation, be gentle
Armor has a class and a health value. Classes range 1-6. Each class has an effective mitigation against different types of ammunition, but in general, the higher the class the better.
Armor works in conjunction with the penetration values of ammunition. Let me play out a scenario to explain.
You are using class 5 armor, your opponent is using ammunition that is rated well against it (like m995).
Your opponent begins shooting you. What will happen is that the round will hit you and start the calculation. It will check the health of your armor compared to the penetration value of the ammunition used. The lower your armor health is, and the higher the pen value for the ammo is, the greater chance the round will penetrate the armor and blow up your fleshy insides.
So a low health armor is virtually worthless against any decent ammo.
Similarly, low class armor is worthless against decent ammo, but…
Any armor is better than none, especially against Scavs. Even a PACA could save your life.
Armor has coverage! Your torso has 2 hit-boxes, thorax and stomach.
Helmets – ayy lmao
Works the same way as body armor with a twist.
Helmets have a chance to ricochet, meaning that even good ammo can bounce off it. This depends on a lot of nerd shit like the angle of incidence and what not but the gist is you want High ricochet chance. Rmed is slightly lower.
Your head actually has a few hit boxes; top, ears, jaws, nape.
Face-shields protect your face and jaws, but aside from Killa's face-shield they don't work great against good ammo (you shouldn't be trying to tank with your face anyway)
Helmets can deafen you, usually the best helmets allow you to have your ears out or use headsets, unless you are in tight spaces where you know you'll be fighting (like in Factory)
For example, I would wear a Zsh with a face-shield in Factory, but on Shoreline I would wear an Ssh or a Ulach.
I really cannot overstate how valuable being able to hear is in this game. A Kiver can be a death sentence in an open map.
The cheapest good helmet is the Ssh, or the penis helmet
The Kolpak and the Fireman helmet are absolute dogshit do not wear them even as a Scav, they hinder you instead by making you fucking deaf
Ammo – also quick and dirty. ALWAYS REFER TO THE CHART. ALL HAIL THE CHART.
You should be thinking of 2 things when looking at ammo, damage and penetration.
If using low pen ammo with high damage, you can definitely shoot at someones legs until they die and the TTK will be WAY faster
Save These Things
These items are immediate prison wallet candidates. I'll separate them by quest progression and then by value. Keep quest progression items you'll need them to complete quests!
5 Morphine, found in raid
5 Salewas, found in raid
7 Wilston, Strike, and Malboro cigarettes (there is a handy Hideout recipe for some of these)
4 Fuel Conditioner
This list used to be short… now almost everything has SOME value. I would say go into your Hideout and look at what it costs to build stuff. When in doubt, put it in your butt and figure out what it is worth later. Here are some highlights though.
Pack of Screws
I'm not going to go into too much detail here but we can start with a few tips.
Upgrade your med station, bed, and food first
They give you out of raid healing bonuses, saving you precious early game health
Water and Energy second
You can refill fuel containers by taking them into raid, preferably in your prison wallet
Learn the maps, start with Customs, use the wiki
Check your health, water, and food BEFORE going into a raid
Learn player spawns (use the wiki), that is where players are going to move from at the start of a raid, plan around potential movement directions
Use your Scav whenever it is up
Play on the map you know the best
Know when to leave, find something valuable or a quest item? Might be better just to dip out
Know when to fight. Have a good gun and good ammo? Might be able to kill a player. Have an Obrez? Might as well use it on yourself.
Recommendations for Low Levels
7.62x54LR LpsGzh (Mosin, etc.) is effective against almost all armors
7.62×51 types can be found in Scav kits
7.62×39 PS is good early game ammo, learn to love the base SKS kids
5.56 and 5.45, now you are going to have some trouble because these ammo types only start being useful after m855a1 and BP, respecitively
Both base ammo types, m855 and PS are straight up poo
.366 weapons are hot garbage
PACA only option low level, might save you from buckshot Scav
6B23-1 cheap class 3 armor, not great for players but good otherwise, great repair cost
Press vest, comparable to 6B23-1, blue though so not great camo
Class 4 armors are OK but most repair like ass or have low health
Armored Vests are decent if you find them, but they don't repair great and limit inventory space (can't equip a armor underneath)
Ssh penis helmet, seriously its 17k Roubles and it does the same job as more expensive helmets, can wear headsets
Zsh with face-shield for close encounters, kind of expensive