When starting up Escape From Tarkov for the first time you’re going to be faced with a choice of playing as BEAR or USEC.
Both of these factions are private military companies (PMCs), with USEC being American and BEAR being formed directly by the Russian military.
There are a few things to keep in mind when making this choice, the most important of which is simply that BEAR speaks Russian and USEC speaks English.
This is important to keep in mind because currently there is no in-game voice chat. This means that if you want to convey any information to someone that you aren’t in a voice-call with on Discord or TeamSpeak, you’ll need to use the voice lines available in-game.
All of these voice lines will be spoken in English or Russian based on which faction you chose. Unless you’ve changed the controls, Pressing ‘Y’ will have your character mumble a voice line.
Double-tapping ‘Y’ will open up the voice line menu and allow you to attempt to roughly communicate with other players. While you might find that most players are very quick to fight rather than cooperate, attempting to cooperate is an option.
Escape From Tarkov BEAR or USEC?
In addition, while these features haven’t been implemented yet, BattleState Games has stated that they’d like to introduce special skills based on which faction you play.
Since BEAR is Russian their skills have been chosen to reflect that, with bonuses to AKs and heavy armor, as well as high-caliber weapons and a focus on general aggression.
The skills chosen for USEC reflect a more mobile, flexible approach with a preference for AR systems, heavy weapon customization, and tactics.
Now currently these skills haven’t actually been implemented, but the game is still in development and BSG hasn’t made skill overhaul their focus yet.
So while the storyline of EFT hasn’t been the focus of development, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that technically USEC are the bad guys.
BEAR was created by the Russian government to investigate and counteract whatever illegal dealings TerraGroup Labs was up to in Tarkov, while USEC is working on behalf of TerraGroup Labs, particularly now to hide/destroy information that may paint them in a negative light.
This is a minor note since the story of Tarkov hasn’t even really been implemented in the game, but it might be worth thinking about.
While EFT is still in development, BattleState Games hasn’t made the distinction between these factions their top priority. However, with each major update comes another wipe, and after each wipe, you’re allowed to select your faction again, so you’ll get a chance to choose again once the story or skills get more fleshed out.