I saw this guide here:
and was inspired to create an extension of this guide as people begin to get the hang of the game and are wondering what the next steps are. I've had several friends try out the game over the past few weeks, so it'll just be typing up what I've tried to explain to them. Read the linked guide for the basics.
- Insure. Everything. Every. Raid. Seriously, at lower tiers of gear you will get 80%+ of the gear you take in back from insurance. This is enormously important.
- Learn a money run: see below for more details
- If on a standard account (like me), rush for the Punisher series of quests (Prapor) as your highest priority. Getting the Epsilon container as early as possible will massively increase your gains.
- When looting, toss items into better rigs/backpack and equip/toss into your bag. You'll want to search these in bushes or hidden areas rather than sitting in the open. Looting should be grab and run
- Ammo matters most. You'll get more kills investing in good ammunition than spending your money modding out your guns for ergo or recoil.
- There's always a bigger pmc. Probably the guys friend. Sitting in that bush waiting for you to loot him. Scout before you loot
- Start raids fast. Move quick as you can towards your objective/route when you first get in to avoid people rushing your spawn. Finish raids slow. Once you've completed a task or grabbed all the loot, normal walk it out. Running will alert the creepers and, worse, the extract campers.
- Controversial tip: Run factory for scav runs. Scav runs for me are to get in and out as fast as possible, usually with no combat at all. Grab as many guns/armor/packs as you can and extract. Use that money to get good gear for your actual raids.
I break gear up into 5 tiers, recommendations below based on use case and price:
Tier 1: Cheap as possible setups designed to be used in money runs and the very early game to get to Tier 2 when poor
- Armor: Paca (Ragman L1) and SSh-68 helmet (Ragman L1) both recommended but optional at this tier
- Rig/Pack: Scav Vest (Ragman L1) and biggest available bag, ScavBP (Ragman L2) when available (kill scavs and sub out for better rigs/bag)
- Weapons: Shotguns (MP153 especially) and Pistols. Try to use the flea for better ammo (makes the most difference) based on the ammo chart. Scav run salvaged weapons mostly here
- Meds: Pain killers (required) and anything to stop bleeds
Tier 2: The basics for money runs and early game questing. Early game bread and butter.
- Armor: Paca (Ragman L1) or salvaged level 3 armor (Press, UNTAR, or 6B23) and SSh-68 helmet (Ragman L1)
- Rig/Pack: SOE Micro (Ragman L1) and ScavBP (Ragman L2) or biggest available
- Weapons: Mosin, SKS, VEPR KM, ADAR or any 7.62 (PS) or 5.45 (T, BT, or BP if you can get it) automatic AK variant. Scav run salvage weapons mostly, buy better ammo off flea/add scope of your choice if you have the money
- Meds: Pain killers and CAR pack, preferably with a backup AI2/painkiller pack
Tier 3: Mid game every raid gear once you're somewhat established
- Armor: Level 3+ armor (6B23-1 at Ragman L2 for purchasing) or salvaged level 4 armored rigs (6B3TM or 6B5) and Kiver with Kiver faceshield (Ragman L2) or SSh-68 helmet (Ragman L1)
- Rig/Pack: Triton (Ragman L2) and Berkut (Ragman L2) or biggest available for both
- Weapons: Scoped OP-SKS/Vepr Hunter, basic modded ADAR, 7.62 (PS or BP if you can afford), or 5.45 (BP/BT) AK variant. Aim for recoil reduction with decent ergo, see budget build guides and find your favorite
- Meds: Pain killers, CAR pack + AI2 or selawa, backup painkillers and meds in sec container
Tier 4: Late game builds for high levels with some money
- Armor: Level 4 armor (or at least fresh 6B23-1 Ragman L2) with Kiver with Kiver faceshield (Ragman L2), Zsh1 with faceshield (Ragman L3, get skiers black variant), or SSh-68 helmet with audio amplifiers
- Rig/Pack: Triton (Ragman L2) and Berkut (Ragman L2) or biggest available for both
- Weapons: Modded M4 or MDR, 7.62 (BP), or 5.45 (BS+) AK variant or long scoped rifle depending on map
- Meds: Pain killers, CAR pack + AI2 or selawa, backup painkillers and IFAK in sec container
Tier 5: Anyone running this gear doesn't need this guide
- Armor: Level 5 armor (my favorites the Killa vest) with Zsh1/Altyn/FastMT with faceshield or Kzh-1 with faceshield and audio amps
- Rig/Pack: Triton or better with Beta2 or Attack2
- Weapons: Favorite top tier fully modded gun, mines the VSS/ASVAL
- Meds: Morphine, Selawa, IFAK, backup painkillers in sec container
The Money Run
I got over gear fear by realizing how quickly money could be made. On patch .12, this is more true than any patch before.
There are 4 main money runs in the game (5 if you count the customs stash run). Learn one. Any of them will work, just look up a YouTube guide and start running it. Don't go hatch running or into a money run without a back pack/rig and at least a pistol, its just not efficient. You'll get far more money consistently the more geared you go because you can actually extract with the loot.
- Interchange – My personal choice. Basics of my run are ignore everything and rush the 3 tech stores next to Oli, then the Oli shelves for hoses, filters, tubes, propane, and other rares. The big pro here is consistency. Cons are squads seem to love this run, along with lots and lots of spots for creepers to hide in the dark spots around the loot. Best items are graphics cards and tetris, but you generally only get one or two of either even if you clear the full run. The real money is in all the mid tier items, extracts from a complete run will bring 500k – 1 mil, and you can get 3 full runs in an hour with sell/load time once you get the hang of it. This used to be far more lucrative in the early in the wipe, but is still a great option. Beware extract campers.
- Shoreline – A very popular choice right now due to its ability to make you instantly rich in one run. Big key items are LedX and Red keycard in the basement, worth 1.1m and 14m respectively. There are no-key routes that include the big ticket items, but keys to a few specific rooms make the resort significantly more consistent. Expect geared solo players to be wandering the halls.
- Reserve – Probably the most lucrative of the 3 if you had the map to yourself, but unfortunately the hardest to extract from and crowded due to the popularity of the map during the current patch. Pestily has a great guide on this, but expect multiple people competing for the same loot on most runs and others waiting to kill those for their loot on the route.
- Labs – High risk, high reward. My favorite. I wouldn't run this until you can afford to loss a mil or two during dry runs/are confident in the game. There are two approaches, full gear and budget. Budget players rush the good item spawns and hope to get a lucky shot on the tier 5 geared players running behind them. Personally I run full gear as it seems to have better returns over time. This means losing 2+ mill after a few dry runs, or making 6+ mil in a few good extracts in a row. May the lab gods bestow you with great loot.
- Bonus route: Customs has a stash run that I would highly recommend learning for all the early game questing you'll do. Its not a great money maker to do just for the stashes, but its easy money for when you're also running quests.
Any of these runs will be fine to fund all your exploits and leveling once learned. It is the best way to combat gear fear. You'll be much less pissed losing a high tier setup knowing you can make that back in one raid on Shoreline or Interchange. Find a video guide so you know the exact spots to check and then start practicing with light gear, you'll be rolling in rubles in no time. Eventually you'll be good enough to do your run with meme builds while listening to podcasts to relax between geared raids.
Finally, there's leveling up. Level gates easy access to gear and supplies, so it will also dictate what tier of gear you're running and, ultimately, survival rates. Here's a couple ways of boosting up:
- Quests – Quests are the fastest way to level in the early game. Cycle between getting funds from money runs and running the early game quests. This will also level the merchants so killing many birds with one stone.
- Scav hunts – Scavs give solid experience when killed and have consistent spawn points. Head-shots also give an exp multiplier, so running through and head-shotting small groups of scavs when running other objectives will give large exp boosts per raid. Even if you can't loot them (I usually don't if I'm on a money run/they're out of the way) the exp is worth it. In the mid to late game, you can farm exp on maps like factory or labs by slaughtering large groups at a choke-point (this is what those high level geared players are doing there).
- Survival – There is a significant buff to experience gain when extracting from a raid. Extraction should take priority once whatever your primary objective is done. This will gain you more experience and loot over time than anything else. I've never been good at this, but greed has lost me more gains in this game than anything else.
Probably missed a bunch of stuff and people will disagree with some of my recommendations, but this is what has worked for me for the over 2 years I've been addicted to this game. Correct me in the comments below.