Scav Guide - Escape From Tarkov Guide - IGN (2024)


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A Scav (short for Scavenger) is one of the two types of characters that you can use while playing Escape from Tarkov. They are a fundamental part of the game and one that you should learn as much as possible in order to have your stash always packed with everything you need.

In this guide, you’ll find what Scavs are, how to play as them, and details about something called Scav Karma. Below are the quick links:

  • What Are Scavs?
  • How To Play as a Scav in Escape From Tarkov
  • How To Distinguish Scavs From PMCs
  • Scav Karma


What Are Scavs?

When you’re about to join a Raid in Escape from Tarkov, you have the chance to choose between two types of characters. One is the PMC, your main character (the one that levels up and will spawn with the equipment that you previously gave to them). The other one is called Scav, and while it plays basically the same way as the PMC, this class has several features that make it a completely new experience.

For starters, Scavs’ equipment is randomly generated. For example, you can spawn just with a pistol and low-tier items for the rest of your gear, or you can start with some top weapons, helmets, bags, etc. However, this equipment won’t remain in your Scav after the Raid — even if you survive. This is because your Scav will change automatically after being killed or escaping the map.

Another main difference between Scavs and PMCs is that the former has only three possible extraction points, while the latter has five. (This number changes if you’re playing in squads with more players).

The bright side about this is that, if you survive the battle, you’ll have the chance to send anything your Scav has equipped to your stash — as long as you have space in your inventory, of course. Anything you leave with your Scav will be discarded and unable to use or sell.

This is the main idea of playing as a Scav. It’s the class you’ll use to just gather loot and add it to your main inventory. Considering that you lose everything you have equipped every time you die with your PMC, playing as a Scav will be mandatory to re-stock your stash, at least during your first hours in Tarkov.

How To Play as a Scav in Escape From Tarkov

As explained above, when playing as a Scav, loot should be your main focus. Specifically, the loot you will find in buildings and corpses.

Killing other PMCs could be an option, but it should be your last resort. The reason is simple: you’ll spawn with random equipment, which is more than likely to be weaker than the weapons and armor another player has saved and pre-selected for their main character.


Unless specified by the quest itself, you can also complete quests with your Scav.

Contrary to PMCs, when playing as a Scav you’ll enter the map when the Raid is in progress (the exact moment varies). This means that the PMCs will also have an advantage in position, and they will be able to loot locations before you. On the other hand, it’s likely that you might see dead players when you start exploring, and you might be able to loot them without much problem. Plus, it’s hard to not find at least a few places that haven’t been looted yet, depending on the map and how fast you move.

An important detail worth mentioning is that you won’t be the only Scav in the area. Other players can spawn as Scavs, too, and you shouldn’t shoot them. Killing a Scav while you’re also a Scav will hurt your reputation with a Trader, and it will have consequences (more on this in the last section of this article). In Escape from Tarkov, there’s a code of honor that establishes that Scavs shouldn’t hurt each other: they are just trying to survive and gather loot. So, you should leave them alone.

You can find Scav bots controlled by the AI on every map. They will never harm you unless you do it first.

How To Distinguish Scavs From PMCs

Now comes the tricky part. While Scavs are supposed to play peacefully and mind their own business, PMCs aren’t supposed to follow that code of honor. They can kill anyone they want without a penalty. When playing, you don’t have any specific element of the HUD or any mark that tells you that the enemy in front of you is a Scav or a PMC.

So, while playing as a Scav, and especially when playing alone, you’ll have to learn how to differentiate one from another. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to do this, and this will only come with experience. Both types of characters look basically the same, but you’ll notice that they tend to move and act differently. For example, Scavs might not shoot at first sight, and they will be picking up items and checking bodies every time they can. Also, if you see a character pretty well equipped and with high-tier gear, it’s most likely that they are a PMC (although they could just be a lucky Scav, too).

One tool that players use all the time is the voice chat. By pressing K, you can use your mic and quickly tell the other player that you’re a Scav. While this could be used for lying or be ignored, you’ll discover that a lot of players actually follow this and leave Scavs be.

Another tip that will come with time is that you learn the zones of the maps that tend to be crawled with PMCs. For example, in Customs, players tend to go and shoot each other in Dormitories. Avoid these zones, at least until there’s little time left.


Lastly, when playing as a Scav you can spawn, see that you have nice weapons and armor, and decide to go straight to one extraction point. It will always be worth it if you come back with some useful items — you don’t really need to return with every space of your inventory occupied. However, beware that you can play as a Scav all the times you want, but it has a cooldown after every use: you’ll have to wait 20 minutes for your next visit to a map.

Scav Karma

In Escape from Tarkov, you’ll gain and lose your reputation with Traders depending on the actions you do. This is the number that you can see in the top right corner of any Trader menu, to the left of the money you have spent and to the right of your current attitude and loyalty level with that NPC.

There’s one specific reputation (the one with Fence) that is tied with a system called Scav Karma. Basically, if you shoot and kill other Scavs while playing as one, you’ll lose reputation points with Fence at the end of the Raid. This will hurt your loyalty level with him, and affect what benefits this Trader can give you: a reduced cooldown for using Scavs, more extraction points, better gear, make AI Scavs help you, avoid Bosses easily, and have better prices when purchasing items from him.

You can also reduce the cooldown for Scavs by upgrading your Hideout.

To increase your Scav Karma, you can do a series of actions that will increase your reputation. For example, you have to survive Raids as a Scav without killing other Scavs, helping them whenever you can, using co-op extraction points, and killing traitors (Scavs that have killed other Scavs). Killing PMCs as a Scav will also give you points.

Looking for more tips and guides for your time with Escape from Tarkov? Please check the following pages:

  • Beginner's Guide: Basics and Features
  • What You Should Know Before Your First Raid
  • Combat Guide and Tips

Up Next: Combat Guide and Tips

PreviousThe Best Beginner LoadoutNextCombat Guide and Tips

Top Guide Sections

  • Beginner's Guide: Basics and Features
  • Scav Guide
  • Combat Guide and Tips
  • Loot Guide

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Scav Guide - Escape From Tarkov Guide - IGN (1)

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Scav Guide - Escape From Tarkov Guide - IGN (2024)


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