Escape From Tarkov Factions Explained: BEAR, USEC, Scav

Escape From Tarkov Factions Explained: BEAR, USEC, Scav
Images via Battlestate Games

Written by 

Harry Boulton


19th Jan 2023 17:22

While the world of Tarkov is very much a free for all, which one of the Escape From Tarkov factions that you choose can make quite a big difference in some scenarios. There are only two factions available to players in Escape From Tarkov, but the AI splinters off into many beyond this so it is good to know who you are fighting. Make sure to carry on reading to see a full list of all of the Escape From Tarkov factions, including details on what each one does and where they are found.

Escape From Tarkov Factions Explained

Escape From Tarkov Factions Explained
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Factions in Escape From Tarkov are the different groups that roam the Norvinsk region and are chiefly defined by their country of origin. There are two factions exclusively for players, and then four AI factions of varying sizes.

Factions are not to be confused with the divide between PMCs and Scavs in Escape From Tarkov though, as although there is some crossover it is not a binary split. 

PMCs - otherwise known as private military companies are bands of freelance soldiers who are generally only ascribed to who is paying them at the current time. The two main PMC factions are BEAR and USEC which are exclusively player controlled, but there are also the Rogues who are AI ex-USEC operatives.

Alternatively, Scavs are, as the name might suggest, scavengers who roam the lands looking for loot to sell or keep. Standard Scavs can be controlled by both AI and players alike, but you can also have Scav bosses, Raiders, and also Cultists too.

Here is a full list of every faction in Escape From Tarkov and who they are controlled by:

  • USEC (Players)
  • BEAR (Players)
  • Scavs (Players/AI)
  • Scav Raiders (AI)
  • Cultists (AI)
  • Rogues (AI)

USEC & BEAR Explained

The USEC and BEAR factions are the two choices presented to you at the start of every new wipe. From an identity level, USEC operatives hail from the US, using primarily western/NATO weapons, whereas BEAR operatives come from Russia and use primarily Russian weapons.

Outside of this, there are practically no gameplay differences between the two factions. They can all use the same guns, the Escape From Tarkov Traders currently have no difference in attitude towards you, and Scavs treat you the exact same way.

There are a handful of quests exclusive to each faction, but in general, they just involve you killing a certain number of PMCs from the opposite faction. Outside of this, the only other difference comes from the way that Rogues will treat you, but we will go over that in their section below.

Scavs Explained

As mentioned, Scavs in Escape From Tarkov are not associated with any form of military, operating entirely within their own means. They can be controlled both by players and AI, but player Scavs usually do not spawn until later in the raid.

Scavs typically carry bad gear in terrible condition, but sometimes they can spawn with high-tier or rare loot. As a player, your Scav character is entirely randomly generated each time and completely unconnected from your PMC, so dying as a Scav has no consequence.

When playing as a Scav, other Scavs (apart from bosses) will be non-hostile towards you, meaning that you can loot mostly in peace. Damaging or killing other Scavs will lower your Scav Karma, which affects your cooldown timer and lowers your chance for high-tier loot to spawn on the character.

Scav Bosses Explained

Scav Bosses are super-juiced versions of normal Scavs that have significantly more health and much stronger weapons. They are usually exclusive to a single map and have multiple spawn points, but a very low spawn chance.

Scav bosses also typically have a handful of guards that roam with them, which are also much stronger than your standard AI Scav enemy. Killing all of these can often result in very strong gear, and also sometimes high-tier loot too.

Scav Raiders Explained

Scav Raiders are a separate faction of Scavs exclusive to the Labs and Reserve map. Typically they only spawn when an action is taken on the map - like turning on the power in Reserve.

They are stronger than normal Scavs but not as strong as bosses, often carrying meta guns, ammo, and armour, making them perfect for farming. They are a lot more aggressive than standard Scavs too, so you will have to be careful if they're in your vicinity.

Cultists Explained

Cultists in Escape From Tarkov are a small and spooky group of AI foes that only appear during specific hours of the night on specific maps. They make no sound when they move and often sneak up behind you to stab you with their poison knife.

They are also often accompanied by the Cultist priest, who is the boss variant and is even more dangerous. They also are cold-blooded, so cannot be spotted when using any form of thermal optic devices.

Rogues Explained

Finally, the Rogues are the last of the Escape From Tarkov factions, existing exclusively within the Water Treatment Plant on the Lighthouse map. They are ex-USEC PMCs and can be extremely dangerous if you're not careful.

They have special behaviour patterns, reacting differently depending on what faction your own PMC is. They are generally passive towards USEC PMCs, reacting in a hostile manner only when you do not follow their orders. On the flip side, they will shoot on-sight if you are a BEAR operative - which can sometimes be from distances of 200m and beyond.

Can You Switch Factions Mid-Wipe In Escape From Tarkov?

Escape From Tarkov Factions Explained
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Unfortunately, you will have to wait until a fresh Escape From Tarkov wipe to switch factions in Escape From Tarkov, meaning that your initial choice is permanent for the entire patch. This can be quite tricky if you find yourself on Lighthouse a fair amount, but it might be worth it for the extra challenge.

It is unclear whether this will work differently when the game reaches 1.0 and partly moves away from the wipe system, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens in the future.

That wraps up this guide on the Escape From Tarkov factions, giving you a detailed explanation of what each one does in-game. If you want to make sure that you're getting the most FPS possible though, don't miss this Escape From Tarkov best settings guide.

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