A lot of people that are starting out mid-wipe often feel like they've "missed the train" in terms of being able to compete and progress their accounts. I wanted to share a few ideas that I think will give the opportunity for new players to feel more like they belong in the Tarkov playerbase regardless of where in the wipe they start. We want new players to feel welcome to the game, and help them find ways to succeed and continue playing.
1) First off, let's make expectations clear. Even the most skilled streamers that play this game for a living and consistently run the most top-tier equipment might average something like ~50% survival rate. You will always be dying at the hands of other players. So if you're surviving 5 in 20 raids, our goal here is try and bump you up by just a couple, so you're surviving maybe 7-8 in 20 raids, with the juicy long-term goal of surviving around 10 in 20 raids. You still need to get used to dying all the time, as we're really fighting for inches, not for yards here. (Or cm/m for you metric lads)
2) Teaming up doesn't necessarily make raids easier. Squads are a lot easier to spot, make a lot more noise, and a lot easier to ambush. As a solo player, every single sound you hear is a hostile noise and you have no hesitation about shooting the moment you see something move, while squads often miss audio cues and are always slightly less reactive as they have to keep tab of whether the person they're shooting at is a friendly. It's a lot harder to sneak up on a solo player because any sound you make, including just aiming your gun, will immediate generate audio cues that can tip off a vigilant solo.
This is why a lot of streamers can be just as successful playing as solos as their peers running squads. What you lack in extra firepower and collective healthpool, you gain in awareness and the ability to act without delay. (As well as being able to contest much less dangerous loot locations – 10 hidden caches and a few safes and scavs is a pretty solid run for a solo, but a heavily geared squad is going to need to raid more dangerous hotspots if they want to split more than scraps.)
3) The head has 35HP and the thorax has 85HP. That's not a lot. Taking raids slow, moving quietly, and waiting for an opportunity to ambush an enemy player is a very solid way of killing players who are otherwise better geared and more skilled than you. Nothing says "even a God-King can bleed" more than an SNB mosin shot to the head of an Altyn wearing Chad who was completely unaware of the rat attack about to hit them.
4) Go into factory off-line mode with scavs set to horde and spend a regular part of your Tarkov time doing shooting drills. Practice your mechanics, your aim, your positioning. Tarkov doesn't use SBMM for its raid matchmaking so you could be pitted against other players that were Predators in Apex Legends, Global Elites in CS:GO, etc. Mechanics matter, and since Tarkov doesn't try to create raid lobbies that match based off player skill, improving your own will directly correlate into higher success rates against the general Tarkov population.
5) Get rid of your gear fear by committing to running proper loadouts and assuming that you're going to die with it. Every 2-3 scav runs you should come out with enough to run a decent 300k loadout. One run with proper gear is going to teach you far more than 5 runs with useless equipment that you can't depend on. Don't think of it as "I went in with 300k of equipment, I MUST come out with 600k of loot." Think of it as an investment in your skills. Don't let yourself be so afraid of losing that you prevent yourself from learning how to win. You don't have to burn your savings to zero, but try to commit a decent amount of your progress toward using good loadouts semi-regularly, as it will help you in the long-run when you start taking on more high-end quests and chasing bigger rewards.
6) Try whatever you want, but the most important thing is to pick one or two loadouts and stick with it. Muscle memory matters. If every single raid you're running some random different weapon you pulled from your Scav run, then you're running around with guns that you don't know how to shoot. The more low-end your gun, the more it matters that you know how to control its particular recoil. It's like trying to make progress getting better at sports but only spending 5 minutes playing basketball before moving onto tennis, then volleyball, then golf. You need to use consistent tools in order to develop consistent performance with them.
7) Try to make sure you're being sensible with where you're going given your loadout. If you're charging to Mantis on Interchange, you're going to run into people geared to fight Killa. People who are hitting Shoreline resort rooms that spawn Ledxs and red keycards worth 40MM roubles are probably not going to think twice about bringing 800k loadouts. You can still go for Zero to Hero raids in these areas with 70k of gear, but calibrate your expectations for the odds of success.
8) Similar to #6, it's a lot better to know 1 or 2 maps really well, where you know various loot locations, interception points of other player spawns, and the general flow of the raid, so you always have a "familiar home" that you can go to for some more consistent raids or money runs. This gives you a stable hunting grounds that you can build confidence in, as well as giving you an option for a familiar experience in between quests or just days you don't feel like getting lost for half an hour. Each map offers different opportunities as your "home raid."
For me, those maps were Factory and (old) Customs. Here's what various maps offer:
Choosing your "home map"
Factory: Raw combat mechanics, PMC spawn interceptions, tactical repositioning. No other map teaches mechanics more efficiently than this map, as the map loot is borderline non-existant, so the biggest rewards are you eat what you kill. Bring a cheap pistol to practice headshotting scavs, you'll risk 10k to get super cheap and fast combat practice while consistently walking out with cheap scav equipment. Every so often you'll get lucky and plunder some major PMC gear, but most importantly you very quickly eliminate fear of gunfire and learn to embrace the violence.
Customs: Area sweep, tactical pathing, PMC spawn interceptions. Splitting a lobby into two ends of a linear map to smash into each other combined with the highest sniper scav density in Tarkov means this map teaches players on how to sweep through high-traffic lanes to fight their way to extraction. Reacting to new information to figure out optimal paths to cross the map. Better loot than Factory, but still on the more combat-centric side.
Shoreline: Map circumnavigation, positioning, cover. High loot availability across a HUGE map to share among entire lobby, although low loot density with more ground to cover. A well-rounded map that offers raid paths for noobs and veterans alike, from peaceful cache hunting to the violent hotspots at resort. Great map for quieter, more jumpy players that want to ease into the violence.
Woods: Target detection, pixel-awareness, positioning, cover, long-range combat. Detecting suspicious pixels is a skill that this map quickly develops given the snipey/campy nature. Boss in particular is a ruthless lesson in first-shooter advantage. Map loot is low, and mostly concentrated in the dangerous map epicenter.
Reserve: Map flow. No other map rewards understanding global cues and alarms more, especially since many extractions are time-limited. Map has extremely high overall loot as well as high density, but guarded by a spread of early-game threats (regular scavs) to extremely dangerous end-game bosses and raiders.
Interchange: Path optimization, awareness, engagement mechanics. One of the most consistent maps as most of the action happens indoors, and the settings (lighting brightness, etc.) almost the exact same regardless of whether it's day or night outdoors, sunny, cloudy, raining, etc. Spawn and speed are critical, which develops pathing optimization habits to get to loot before other players. Since everything is indoors, audio awareness is key. Bit of an Apex Legends/PUBG/Battle Royale feel, because once you're inside, there's no telling which direction the next threat comes from and 5 separate gunfights can be echoing through the whole building at the same time.
Labs: Rainbow Six Seige/CS:GO/Valorant. Most combat instances come down to holding angles, entry-fragging, and executing precise corner sweeps. Tight combat lanes make this map most familiar for your traditional hardcore FPS players that live and die by the timeless skirmish of simple and direct aim duels. This is Factory+, with most lobbies filled with much more confident and skilled players that are either determined to score big wins, or eager to burn cash for exciting battles purely for enjoyment. Generally not a good map for newer players looking for normal raids. Most players are rational opponents that want a bigger slice of the pie, but labs players will blow it up and get everyone including themselves killed just for the giggles. Great fun for an end-game romp when you have more money than you know what to do with.