Now, to get where I'm coming from and what I base my thoughts, impressions and suggestions on. I started this game a week ago and I have 37 hours played (less, really, since I've probably spent a couple of hours AFK in the menues). I've done 45 raids, got to lvl 14, have a survival rate of 28%, 580k rubels in my stash and a stash value of some 4 million and I have 11 PMC kills (don't know if there are more, I know I've withheld looting a few players I've killed and if they count in the "overall" stats since you don't get the info on the player when the raid ends if you haven't picked up the tag). If you read this and think "geez, what a noob", then this post is obviously not for you and congratulations, you have better stats and more hours than me.
- It's OK to be nervous and afraid when in a raid. I am. All the time. Which is why I love the game. Dying or surviving a raid actually makes a difference. BUT, and this is a big one, don't let the fear make you timid. Being timid will get you killed eventually, because someone will see you and kill you, that's just the way it is. Use the fear and play with caution. Think before you act. I'm not saying the sneaky way is the only way to play. Sometimes you have what you want out of raid and will want to just sprint like a madman through the forest to avoid a firefight you don't feel confident winning. Sometimes (rarely) sprinting like a madman and going full auto with an SMG towards another player will net you the kill because they are not expecting you to do that.
TL;DR: Walk and sneak when you're around buildings, in the forest. Go slow and listen. Sprint when in the open. Sneaking across a field will get you killed. Sprinting around bushes, trees and buildings will get you killed. Hiding in the grass will also get you killed, albeit slower.
2) Insure all your stuff! You'll get alot of it back because scavs won't loot you and PMCs don't really want your shitty AK, SKS or pistol. It won't net them alot of money and they don't need to use it in raid.
3) Loot fast! If you're new, just stuff everything you find in your bag or vest. Sort it later, either when you extract or find a safe:ish spot (HINT: anything within 50m of where you or your enemy fired a weapon is NOT safe) you'll soon learn which items are worth anything and which items to just toss to the side of the road.
4) If you're cheap, poor or just not sure if you want to splurge on a game you just started and have the standard edition, you will have an ALPHA container in your inventory. Stuff anything in there that you don't want to lose, you'll keep it even if you die. It's small, so prioritize.
5) Greed kills. If you've gotten decent loot, extract with it. Don't hang around longer than necessary. Every second you spend in a raid is one more second being exposed to PMC's hellbent on hunting you down and taking your stuff.
6) Approach extraction points with caution (while you should approach everything with caution – it sucks more to die when you think you're going to make it). I don't know how many times I've been killed because I let my guard down to soon.
7) Use your SCAV! It's great for several things, first and foremost as a new player: free gear when you extract! It will also let you try out a more aggressive playstyle without risking your own stuff.
8) Use the offline mode! Have a new gun you want to get comfortable with, go offline mode with scavs and shoot them in the face before you try it out for real! You're sick of playing the same old map all the time? Go into offline mode and orient yourself on a new map before bringing in your PMC. Can't find Jaegers camp on woods or the right room in dorms for Prapors second quest? GO OFFLINE and find it!
9) Do research on the game and it's mechanics! There are community made maps of the playable levels, there are ammo charts that show you what kind of ammo penetrates this or that armor level.
10) There are meta guns, guess what, you won't be getting them anytime soon! Unless you luck out and find a PMC body that hasn't been looted yet. If you do, just sell the gear and buy weapons that you will normally play with.
11) The SKS and the PS ammo availible from Prapor at level one are great bang for your buck. They will reliably kill scavs with shots to the torso or head and will eventually kill most players with shots to the torso and will one tap them in the head.
12) Regarding combat. Go for the face or the head, if they're not wearing helmets. Helmets can and will ricochet some bullets). If you wanna be really meta and have an SMG, go for legs in CQB (I can't, since it seems counter-intuitive for me). Legs can't be armored so any shitty ammo you have will do damage. And if you get the leg to 0 hp, your enemy wont be able to sprint and any subsequent damage to that part will spread to his otherwise armored parts.
13) Find friends to play with! I know a squad of 4 has an unfair advantage over you as a solo newbie. Be the guy with the advantage. It's also easier to be patient when you have a friend to talk to while you're slowly securing whatever hill/house/room you want to secure.
14) Read Rainlytes excellent guide for new players! I did!
15) Learn to pointshoot (I think is the preferred term here, it's called hipfire in every other FPS known to man). It's actually pretty accurate.
16) Last tip, should've been the first really, you will die. Alot. Deal with it, it's a game. If you reach the point where it's no longer fun and only frustrating, take a break and come back later.
This is just off the top of my head and my first impressions. Some of you might not agree with all of it, feel free to comment and tell me and anyone else reading why any of these pointers are wrong so we can get better.
I also want to answer a few comments I've seen both here on reddit and elsewhere from other new players who are having a hard time.
"I'm level 17 and I have yet to kill a single PMC. Game is broken and unbalanced!"
– I actually killed a lvl 47 PMC on my first solo PMC raid. I went in with a triton vest and one of my precious starter pistols (the "Grach"). A couple of seconds after I spawn I hear gunfire. I slowly move in that direction and soon see a guy looking like a geared out assault commando exchanging fire with someone further back. After a few seconds, the guy I can't see fires a few rounds and the assault trooper I can see hits the ground. I wait to see if I can get the other party as he's looting and observe the body for 30-60 seconds. No movement, no sound. "Weeeeeell, FREE LOOT!" so I start sneaking up on the body. When I'm like 10 metres I find out the guy is not really dead. He goes from prone to crouching and turns my way and I manage to squeeze out two bullets out of my shitty starter pistol, one of which hits him square in the face. Now he's dead! I promptly sprint the last distance, see he has a vest, a big tactical rig, two fancy guns and a huge backpack. Instead of dumping my own shitty gear and quickly grabbing everything and running like hell, I start searching his vest. And his backpack. While I'm doing this, another guy, presumably the one he was fighting initially comes running up and puts out my lights.
TL;DR, I got a kill by being careful, sneaky, exploiting a tactical opening and being lucky. I then proceeded to get myself killed by being exactly the opposite.
"It's impossible to kill a geared player when your new and everyone is geared!"
– No, it's not. See the story of my first kill above. Go for the face. Unless they have visors, even a crappy bullet to the face will kill them. Also, the Mosin bolt action sniper rifle that's a pretty common find on scavs (and dead PMCs) is a relatively cheap rifle that will reliably go through alot of armor, even with the cheap rounds you can buy from Prapor at lvl1 (7.62x54R LPS Gzh). Same with the Simonov Semi-Automatic Carbine SKS with 7.62x39mm PS ammo. Both the ammo and the rifle can be bought from Prapor at lvl1 for a very cheap sum. Go for the face if you can, but the SKS with that ammo will chew through mid tier armor on PMCs and scavs alike aswell if you happen to get caught in a panicky shootout.
If you actually read this wall of text, kudos to you. Feel free to add me in game ("Renfis") if you're an experienced player who wants to help me get better or if you're just as inexperienced as me and just want someone else to share the moments of sheer terror and panic when you've found something nice and just want to get out without dying.