How To Get The Best Gear
The gear system in Escape from Tarkov is rather more intricate than that of most shooters. It contains almost a hundred distinct weapons with in-depth customization options, as well as armor divided between different types and tiers. Even such seemingly minor details of your loadout as your ammo choice can have a dramatic impact on your gameplay experience. The risk of losing your equipment during one of the six online raids, along with the occasional wipes that reset all character progress, makes this system particularly daunting to new players. Yet it can still be mastered, allowing you to enjoy the game. Read on to find out what makes the best gear in the game and how you can find it.
What to Look For in Gear
Weapons in Escape from Tarkov work a little differently from most other games. For one thing, while the weapon determines the firing rate and the available mods and ammunition, it is the ammo that determines the damage type and strength. Mods, which almost any weapons have access to, modify everything from accuracy and recoil to noise. There are eight primary weapon categories in the games, plus pistols, grenades, and melee weapons. All categories have different roles in combat, and all weapons inside them have subtly different stats or options.
Ultimately, the most suitable weapons depend on your playstyle, as well as on what you can afford. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, there are a few popular choices that can serve you well no matter where you go:
- The SKS assault carbine can take some getting used to due to recoil and reload times, but it is easy to acquire and holds up remarkably well even against well-armored opponents if loaded with the cheap 7.62x39mm PS rounds;
- The Vepr KM assault rifle uses similar ammo, but is easier to use and has a higher rate of fire. Those advantages come at the price of lower accuracy and somewhat reduced availability;
- The ADAR 2-15 SMG excels in the early game. It is widely available, easy to use, and has a brisk rate of fire. The Prism 2.5x scope attachment enhances its range, making it more useful on bigger maps like Shoreline;
- The classic AK-74 and its variants are all highly modular and can be upgraded on the cheap. Fittingly for its reputation, it is one of the most versatile weapons in the meta, although it holds up better in the early game;
- On the higher-level end of the spectrum, the Springfield Armory M1A marksman rifle is one of the most effective long-range weapons. It is still relatively affordable (as its optimal high-damage 7.62x51 mm M80 ammo), has low recoil, and is also very modular;
- The Beretta MDA3 is possibly the best handgun. It specializes in headshots and can equip a suppressor without any need for other modifications, making it ideal for stealthier players. 9x19 mm Pst gzh ammo is highly cost-effective so long as you can hit the head;
- While sniper rifles are somewhat unpopular in the game right now, they can be very effective in the right hands and are necessary for many of the Jaeger quests. DVL-10 is the most formidable gun in this category, being silent and easy to use at long range.
Good Armor can mean the difference between life and death, especially in crowded encounters of the sort likely to occur in Woods raids. There are three main types of armor: vests, chest rigs, and helmets. Armor pieces can vary by coverage areas. In that regard, the most important body parts to cover are your head and thorax, as damage to those areas can cause instant death when their hit points run out. Damage to other areas results in debuffs and a slower demise that is nevertheless easier to avert with healing items.
All Armor pieces have a class, from 1 to 6. As a general rule, the higher class pieces are more durable and offer more protection from a wider variety of bullets. However, they are also more expensive and inflict mobility penalties. Even within the same class, though, there can be major disparities based on materials, coverage, and other stats. The example pieces below are generally the best for their class:
- When you are just starting out, affordable Class 2 pieces like the PACA Soft Armor can tide you over when dealing with AI opponents. Helmets at this level are generally not worth the trouble, though;
- Once you have more money, Class 3 pieces can be viable for activities like questing, when you prioritize mobility and don’t expect to end up in serious firefights with superior opponents. The Zhuk-3 Press armor and the SSh-68 helmet are easy to come by and suitable for fending off Scavs;
- Class 4 armor is especially popular for loot runs and after wipes. It is comparatively affordable and can hold off almost any AI enemies. Armored rigs like the ANA Tactical M1 come into their own at this point thanks to their combination of adequate protection and inventory slots. Pieces from other types, like the Highcom Trooper TFO and Striker ACCH IIIA helmet, are solid but perhaps too expensive for the amount of protection they provide;
- Class 5 pieces tend to be highly prized due to their good balance of mobility and protection. The 6B13 M assault armor worn by the Interchange raid boss is a prime example, being both durable and lightweight. However, it is very difficult to come by. The full protection version of Gen4, FORT Defender-2, and the 5.11 Tactec plate carrier rig are all popular alternatives;
- Operatives who prefer tankier builds or want to do everything possible to protect themselves in the Lab raids should switch over to Class 6 as soon as they can afford it, as it represents a major leap in sheer survivability. The LBT 6094A Slick Plate Carrier and the 6B43 Zabralo-Sh 6A are the best examples of this class, while the Vulkan-5 heavy helmet is unmatched for head protection.
There are several ways to acquire this equipment:
- Looting. You can find useful gear, goods for sale, and cash to buy gear with during raids, by killing enemies and ransacking containers. Customs and Factory raids offer the best looting opportunities. Early on, you could be better off raiding as a Scav, avoiding danger from NPCs and still making a tidy profit needed to get better gear. Afterward, you can move on to riskier PMC raids;
- Crafting. After upgrading your Hideout with Armory modules like the Workbench, you will be able to produce weapons, mods, and ammo for your use or for sale;
- Buying from vendors. Prapor, Peacekeeper, and Skier sell most of the weapons and armor at a lower price after you have raised their loyalty levels by doing their respective quests;
- Trading with players. After reaching level 10, you will gain access to the flea market. There may be good deals for lower-level gear there, and you might be able to sell the loot you don’t need more profitably if you know how to play the market.
All of those methods are valid, but ultimately, raiding is the cornerstone of the gearing process. Farming the most profitable maps will get you where you need quickly and reliably, so long as you understand the fundamentals of the game and don’t risk losing your good equipment on death more than necessary.
On that note, you can mitigate the risk of gear loss through insurance. Prapor is the cheaper option and will give you back the insured equipment in 24-36 hours. The Therapist is more expensive but will get back the gear in 12-24 hours. You can retrieve items from Prapor within four days and from the Therapist in six days. Using this system will allow you to do more risky and lucrative loot runs without fretting too much about losing your best equipment. Cheaper equipment that you don’t value as much could get you through more basic content, however, letting you conserve your resources for more critical tasks.
Although perfectly playable, Escape from Tarkov is still in the beta stage of its development. More items continue to arrive in the game on a semi-regular basis, as do tweaks to the existing equipment. Given the complexity of the system, coaching may be the only way to truly keep up with the resulting meta adjustments. Nevertheless, the basic principles of the gear system are pretty much set in stone. As such, while other weapons or armor pieces may gain prominence later, the overall rules of this guide should remain applicable into the foreseeable future.