1) Depends. A lot of the games are weekly day skirmishes which are like recball kind of play/dynamics (hour long games of CTF, attack/defend, VIP protection, "defuse the bomb", or deathmatch style games.... kind of like CS in real life I guess but not really). Then there are hardcore 48 hour+ milsim games. You'll be able to find what you're looking for because game styles vary a lot.
2) Eh.... it depends. I got lucky, snagged a deal and bought my first gun used. You could go that route but you need to know exactly what you want. and to do that you need to intensively study the FAQ's and what people say about beginner gear. I had the benefit of being underage at the time and reading a lot of FAQ's and random posts so I kind of had an idea of what worked and what didn't.
TM is always a good choice for a beginner gun. If you don't touch the internals then it'll usually work perfectly it's generally agreed that they have one of the highest QC levels OOTB (out of the box).
ICS, it's good on one hand, bad on another. You do have the split gearbox which could be a good thing if you play a lot of indoor and outdoor games you can switch setups easier, on the other hand the disadvantage is that there's like 3 or 4 proprietary parts that you need to get from ICS themselves if they break (for sure the Anti Reversal Latch is proprietary although I've never really heard of that breaking).
At the $300-400 price point you're probably looking at something from CYMA, JG, DBoys, Kalash, G&G. Maybe, just maybe something from CA's proline if you get lucky (never buy from their sportline series, there's much better available at that price point). All the above prices I've mentioned are $300-400 BNIB you can find them cheaper used or even get a package deal with extra mags, "lazur scoope" (red dot sight), and maybe half a bag of BB's thrown in as well (packages vary obviously some players might be looking for something new, others might be getting married and leaving the sport, etc.).
3) PB mask will be accepted anywhere. They follow the ASTM standard which is the standard insurance companies set for eyepro for PB fields and since we play at PB fields sometimes we've adopted PB goggles as standard. Other places (usually private fields or airsoft only fields) might only require sealed ballistics or even allow ballistic glasses. It all depends on the field and field owner. If you get a PB mask that's modular or can remove the goggles part you don't need to use the mask part unless the field requires full protection. If you do remove the mask part and just use the goggles you can get a better cheek weld on your guns but then obviously your face isn't protected so might be a good idea to get something like a shemagh to absorb the energy and "catch" the bb in it's "crumple zone" (that's the reason why speedballers wear super loose/baggy jerseys so the paintballs don't explode when they get hit.
ಠ_ಠLess QQ more Pew Pew
READY TO >> RACE