Escape from Tarkov can be a difficult game to adjust to especially if you join during the bad period of the wipe cycle.
Most games are agnostic in the terms of when you begin playing them. Even popular season shooters don't have that steep difference between new and ongoing players.
Escape from Tarkov is different in the sense that many people can cool off the game if they join at the wrong time. So here is a brief overview of when it is good to join Escape from Tarkov and when it is not.
Moving forward, we are going to assume that you're familiar with the basic Tarkov ecosystem and know what wipe, tasks, and Traders are. If you don't, no worries, we got you covered. Check out our earlier articles for beginners:
Beginning of the wipe - Early wipe
The best time to get into Escape from Tarkov is at the beginning of the wipe cycle, as all players start on equal ground, or at least similar, as players owning more expensive Editions of the game have better starting gear. But that is still manageable compared to entering Tarkov at a later point when most players have leveled up.
By playing the wipe from the beginning, you will level up faster, and have a good chance against other players, and how you attack and move will be crucial as gear difference will be minimal.
Because of that, you can avoid a lot of frustration by leveling up with the community and keeping up with the bulk of the player base. Joining anytime later will put you at a disadvantage, and if you're playing casually, the number of times you die in a firefight will for sure frustrate you.
What you have going for you is you can enter most task locations late during the raid without having a key, as there is a good chance few players on the map will be doing the same task as you. But that comes with the price of task locations being overcrowded during the first part of the raid, as most players run there either to finish tasks or to ambush players doing tasks. Be extra careful around those locations.
The only real downside to playing Tarkov during an early wipe are waiting times, they tend to be a lot longer than usual, especially on high traffic spots like evenings or weekends.
But that usually lasts for the first two weeks, after which loading times start reducing to about 5 minutes or less per session.
If you can put frustration aside, and play casual and level-headed, a late wipe can be a great time to join Tarkov.
You can research the maps, extract points, task locations, and try out different cheap weapons that suit your playing styles, and much more. And compared to the early wipe, you will lose no patience waiting for a session as most servers are going to be less populated than the early wipe.
Some maps will have very few players making it safer for a beginner to enter usually high-dense places and explore them and even try fighting the bosses to try out different approaches. And as long as you play the late wipe as a preparation for the next wipe, it will be fun and will help you a lot when the new wipe begins.
If you however plan on getting some action, engaging, and hunting other players as you would in other shooters, you're gonna have a bad time, and you'll likely get frustrated.
Most players you encounter are going to be experienced fully geared PMCs or low-levels like yourself, with the scale tipping heavily at the first batch.
And no matter how good your shooting skills are, fighting with cheap armor and bullets will always put you at a disadvantage against users running high-tier gear, appearing as bullet sponges for your AK-47.
The worst time to start playing Tarkov is without a doubt mid-wipe. Most players will already be equipped with the high-end gear, and will still actively do tasks and level up, which will make all your task locations full of players, and with the inferior gear, against experienced players, you will rarely make it out alive.
Your best bet, in that case, would be hiding, but one can only do that in part.
The second reason is, that even when you level up to a decent rank and acquire gear, wipe will be at its end and you won't have time to play with that gear, and most maps will be empty or less exciting than in the early-to-mid wipe.
So you will be grinding for an end reward, as you will push through the frustration and when it came reward time, it will be short and unsatisfying as it should be, and that might cool off the game for you.
If you happened to buy Tarkov mid-wipe, we would rather suggest playing offline against A.I., learning the maps, playing Scav wars, Tagged and Cursed events, and then joining the Online a bit later in the wipe, when maps get less crowded.
If you need tips on leveling up fast after the wipe, check out our guide.