Escape from Tarkov Review - Is This the Most Realistic Shooter?
Escape From Tarkov Review
Escape from Tarkov, developed and published by Battlestate Games, has a long history. In the beginning, back in 2012, EFT was supposed to be yet another DayZ, Fortnite, or Battle Royale killer. First gameplays have shown a lot of things that hardcore FPS players craved for. The thick atmosphere, slow, tactical gameplay, realistic visuals, fantastic sound design, absolutely fantastic 1st, and 3rd person animations, and military realism. After some years, this title went through the Closed Alpha, Extended Alpha, Closed Beta, and Open Beta, which has been available for players since July 28th, 2017. How did this game change over the years of open Beta? Who is this game for? Is it worth its price? What are the goal and features of the game? Were there any broken promises from this game’s devs? We will answer all of those questions in this Escape from Tarkov review.
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The Background of Escape from Tarkov
The story begins with a political scandal that caused an open war between the Terra Group corporation and the Russian authorities. Both of these factions hired mercenaries - USEC and BEAR - to fight for control. The arena of activities is Norvinsk, a fictional region in Western Russia, and its biggest city - Tarkov. Your part is to survive, gather resources in the abandoned city center, and eventually leave the conflict zone.
In the gameplay, you can be a PMC (Private Military Company) representative or a Scav. Scavengers are the NPC faction in Tarkov that you can disguise as. Your point of interest is to search for valuable loot, avoid bullets. In a world where you have no friends, you may end up as another corpse, that becomes food for wild animals. Between runs, you can go back to your hideout and clear your mind. You won't be able to watch TV there, listen to the music, or watch movies and videos on Netflix, but it's the place to modify your gear with loads of material that you gathered, test all sorts of guns and scopes at the shooting range, and essentially call it home. EFT has been developed and published by Battlestate Games.
The Unique Nature of Escape from Tarkov
Saying that EFT is a game like no other is a bit of an understatement. Devs showed absolute dedication towards creating a thrilling FPS experience for those who were absolutely craving for a hardcore PvP shooting gameplay. You get thrown into this dangerous world with just a few things in your global inventory. You put them on, you go out, you die, and you lose the gun that you’ve brought with yourself. Combine that with a sound and damage system feature that favors slow, tactical, calculated, and safe gameplay. You’ve got a perfect environment for the suspense and tension to kick in.
This nature of gameplay - using your items and losing them forever - is what brings people in, and at the same time, pushes them away from the game. Nothing feels worse than going into the game, investing hours of gameplay to get some kills or loot, and one good sniper shot being the reason for you to lose items that you’ve gained throughout these hours of raw gameplay. It's the worst case scenario. Even more devastating for those who don’t have that much time to play. The game doesn't have many difficulty levels, but it still requires you to have a more substantial portion of skill than you can get from the tutorial in order to climb to the top. Going for PMC runs with no skill, knowledge, and low level equipment is one of the in-game ways to fail miserably.
If we were to describe Escape from Tarkov to people that have played other FPS games, it’s like an ARMA + DayZ title, that is focused around PvP, based around the infantry combat, with less janky controls. While ARMA generally leans towards the realism of a battlefield, with all the tactics, map grids, command tone, squads, and platoons, Escape from Tarkov bases its authenticity on gunplay, tension, confrontation, and survival. Survival is an absolute priority in EFT. But you’re not surviving against nature, like in RUST, or DayZ. Instead, you are focused on surviving in encounters against human and AI-controlled soldiers and escaping with the goods that you have acquired on your raid.
When it comes to weapon modding - it's another game on its own. The amount of great weapons that you can create from many attachments and weapon parts is absolutely astounding. Purchase parts from military companies through looting, visit vendors, and their supply chains or get them on a flea market.
Slow Gameplay = Fun?
It’s not hard to see that Escape from Tarkov doesn’t offer a quick-paced shooter experience. It has a very tough learning curve. Lots of enemies and shooters that can end your life in the Factory or another map. The failed raids are slowly draining your stash, so you use every mechanic possible, saving your stamina and economy, to avoid death in each match. Due to the current situation of raids being the only way of playing this game (we will talk about that in the next paragraph), you hop in for a “round” that will last 45 minutes on your main character, and between 5-45 minutes on your Scav character. Each time you join in, you can expect different things. Sometimes - it's an absolutely easy street. You can go through the entire map, not seeing anyone, extracting with all the goodies that you’ve managed to loot. And sometimes, you will struggle for 40 minutes to even catch a breath because of the things that might happen on the map that you’re playing on.
Most of the time, we would’ve compared Escape from Tarkov to a dense thriller flick. It’s a slow burn, long moments of tension that can escalate at any moment, and short moments of silence that will turn into true fear and desperation. It grows on you. Things that happen in this game are very potent when it comes to increasing players’ heart-rate. Especially when you find something really valuable, and you make it your priority to extract that specific item, so you can sell it, use it for a quest, or take it with you on a different map. Hearing any sound that can signal a potential threat results in shivers running down your spine.
Oh, yes, the sound. It's one of the reasons that cause this game to be much slower than other games of this type. Because in Escape from Tarkov, most of the time, you will hear things before you are able to see them. Battlestate Games worked wonders to give you the best, most realistic sound system, we’ve ever heard in a video game. They’ve been out there, day and night, collecting sounds of nature, sounds made by different guns, people moving in specific sorts of gear, even soldiers walking on specific surfaces with specific gear and a specific weapon in hands. Everything you hear in the game was perfected to create a very realistic and horrifying environment. Yes, realistic sounds are what make this game scary and tense.
If you expect some run-and-gun CoD gameplay, you won't find it here. Or to put it more realistically, it happens, but it sure as hell doesn’t work. AI Scavs and real P.M.C players will pinpoint your location easily before you are able to run a few steps if they are close enough. In fact, in Escape from Tarkov, you will spend more time listening to things, than shooting at them. TTK is really fast in this game if you’ve got the right kind of ammo on you, and most of the time. If you play right, you won’t even have to use that whole 30-ammo magazine each raid. You can easily kill a group of three with 6-12 well-placed rounds if you've got the right equipment in your backpack.
Current Repetitive Gameplay Loop
Escape from Tarkov suffers from one huge issue. Of course, it is thrilling, captivating, and suspenseful, but these things end as routine comes along. And it can come along quickly. You will not get used to these emotions rapidly, but there’s one thing that you will get used to after a few dozens hours. And it’s the gameplay loop that is tied to raids.
Raids are the only way of playing the game at the moment. Escape From Tarkov was supposed to be a military survival game on one huge map. You take care of your soldier. You loot, you eat, you kill, you survive. Maybe even create your own base and team up with some peeps? And it’s going to be like that in the future. But we’re very far away from that kind of gameplay. There are upcoming EFT maps that are not completed yet, and they will join the existing maps, to then become one huge map with lots of routes. That is the plan of the devs, and hopefully - we will get it.
As of now - the game can get very dull if you play on the same map over and over again. Of course, there are things that will make each playthrough slightly different. Your movement, Scav spawns, extraction point placement, other players, sounds that they make - but it can become very boring anyway. It’s like playing the same game mode over and over again. You spawn in on a small map, you are there to loot, kill some players, survive encounters, move sneakily, and maybe you are lucky or skilled enough to extract all of your goods with some bonuses. But that is absolutely all, times the maps that are out there. The maps are simply too small. There’s some playing field, but most of the time - if you stick to your playstyle, and you stick to the same tactics that work for you (because of the high survival rate), you will enter a stalemate.
Looking at DayZ - the gameplay is pretty repetitive as well, but thanks to the size of the map, variety of the terrain, and the social aspects of the game that are dependant on players themselves, the entire experience remains fresh. DayZ leans towards survival through finding the will to survive in a harsh world, and you have mechanics for that. Escape From Tarkov, on the other hand, leans more towards PvP gunfights + looting to supply more gunfights in more Raids. And there’s no way of changing that. There’s no voice chat in the game, the only way of connecting with other players is something called wiggling (leaning left and right in rapid succession), which can be easily ignored, or not respected at all. There’s only ONE way of playing EFT, and it can become a quick problem for some people.
You can, and you should sort through maps when joining them. If you’re aiming for pure fun, you should absolutely randomize your playing field. For if the maps become too familiar too fast (and it’s very easy due to their sizes), everything exciting that happens in EFT can become a simple routine. You take your stuff, you pick a familiar map, you go through the same path that is the most beneficial to you, there are some players, there are some scavs that can ruin your pathing, and it is exciting up until a particular moment. A moment that may come sooner than you'd like.
You can break that boring gameplay loop. In theory - this routine can be broken by changing your own playstyle. You don’t have to always lean towards making as much profit. Because when you already know the techniques of obtaining large amounts of Roubles, it’s very easy to fall into this loop of constantly gaining money, and never spending it. It’s a very boring playstyle, but it makes a profit. You should make money in EFT, but only to spend it. Buy some cool weapons, mod them to your liking, get yourself a nice pair of headphones, get armor and a helmet, and have some fun out there, killing other players. As long as you are able to sustain that playstyle, and you like it - EFT will provide you with hundreds of hours of pure fun.
There’s Something Missing For Now
Escape From Tarkov is still in its Early Access stage. You can pay for the game, you can play it right now, but there’s still a long way to go until it becomes a full product. When the maps become complete, devs will work on connecting them to create a vast map consisting of those smaller ones. They have to make it work, to somehow fit dozens of players in the same playing field without breaking the servers, to ensure the stability before everything. Currently, we have access to military bases, underground labs, a large shopping mall with a store similar to IKEA, the forest, the seashore. We’re still waiting for maps like Streets Of Tarkov, with large business buildings, flats, hotels, banks, and luxurious houses. What about the incoming Suburbs that will feel like the most “real” and “familiar” experience? And of course, you can’t forget about radiated places or locations with poisonous mists. You can be sure that the Escape Tarkov will have a wonderful, big game world for some time. And maps aren’t the only thing.
There are still over a hundred weapons that are planned to be added to the game. The same thing goes for attachments, gear like helmets, and body armor, even ammo. We can also expect more bosses in locations, and new merchants, that would provide us with some extra things, like items that other players lost, which weren’t insured, nor picked up by other players during the Raids.
Some advanced game mechanics are also planned. There are over 50 of them, and they will be there for your pleasure, convenience, and even more realism. These are Proximity VOIP, walkie-talkies, clan system with unique quests and ranks, daily quests. Immersion of all players is a very important aspect of a game that is going to escape the hell of Early Access. We’re going to have some very nice additions, like player executions, body dragging, opening locked doors with a shotgun, vaulting over fences and walls, clearing a room while aiming from an ajar door.
And let’s not forget about additional planned game modes. Currently, Raids are the only way of playing the game. Here’s what the devs have in store for us:
- Open World server up to 64 players
- Arenas for 1v1, 2v2, or 5v5 combat
- PvE content for groups and clans
- Offline Cinematic, narrative mode
- Playing as a Scav Boss’ Minion
- Timed Challenges.
In the next couple of years or more, we can expect some fresh and unique playable content.
Is The Wait Worth its Price?
You can have a lot of fun in Escape From Tarkov at this very moment. And if you already like the game, you will genuinely enjoy EFT when the full release comes to life. Looking at the current roadmap that Battlestate Games has established, and seeing the things that were already added to this game over the past year - this title will escape the Early Access hell easily. DayZ was stuck for a very long time before it became a good title, EFT easily dodged that bullet, starting to grow immediately. The netcode doesn't need fixing, the game is not buggy, the development is smooth, performance is impressive, even in 4k, and that's one of the most demanding options and settings. In fact, everyone, the entire community that knew what this game was going to be, they don't spare the positives in the comments all over the internet.
Of course, some negatives are out there. Many elements can be improved. Devs have already found many solutions for existing problems and flaws, that for example, have been found by streamers. We haven't noticed any bad patch from this company. Each and every error gets fixed sooner or later. You can find a lot of comments and posts about the Escape of Tarkov on social media, and almost every comment and opinion are positive.
We might see a slight change in price the longer we go into the additional content to the game, so it might be worth investing in a full title game right now. Standard Edition is a reasonable price for this product at the moment, and you can smoothly progress your account to a point in which your account won’t be that much different from other editions of a higher grade. The developer didn't state anything in that regard on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Youtube, no other sites or platforms, but we can suspect that this company could take such an action. We're yet to see the information that would be needing our attention.
The game still has its shortcomings. At the moment - if you are bored with going through the same maps all the time, you won’t put many hours in it. Of course, P.M.C players and A.I Scavs will always provide you with some versatility each time. Each raid can be unique due to players, but playing the same mode over and over again, on small maps can seem like a chore after you spend some hours in the game.
You can get a lot out of this game, even at this very moment. It’s one of the best experiences we’ve ever had, playing solo and playing in an organized team is a wonderful experience, and the idea of losing your stuff after you die gets your heart going. The feeling can be absolutely devastating, but it makes every small success very rewarding and fulfilling.
This review gives us a clear image of the so-called MMO Shooter. Escape From Tarkov is a great game already; in fact, it could be treated like a full product already, seeing its quality. You could even say that the only thing needed for the game are some new maps and game modes. And we will get those, in addition to all of those other things that are guaranteed to be in the final product. Even in its current state, you can still get dozens, maybe hundreds of hours out of this game if you like the hardcore FPS experience. EFT has a high chance of becoming the most polished, realistic, and mechanically-advanced hardcore PvP-focused FPS. It’s worth a buy.
Is Escape from Tarkov any good?
Damn, it is. The realism factor combined with the thrill of survival and risk of losing the equipment makes in an unparalleled experience. Recently it has zero negative reviews in games magazines, with several positive ones, including ours.
Is Escape from Tarkov realistic?
BSG took the matter seriously and did wonder trying to make the game a true reflection of reality. Jumping from heights, taking shots, running long distances will take its toll on your body. You will not regenerate with time like in Call of Duty. You will not build a wall in two seconds, like in Fortnite. A shot to the leg from an AK will make you run slower unless you take painkillers. There is a bunch of other elements that will make it feel like real combat.
Is it worth it to buy EfT Edge of Darkness?
It can be worth in the sense that for a little more money, you receive bigger stash, good relations with traders, and others that will give you an advantage. However, you can go over the limited stash size, and traders' relations come with mission completion. It is why Edge of Darkness is an excellent deal for people who want to have the collectioner's copies in their pocket.
Is it available for Playstation?
Currently, it's available exclusively on PC. We have to wait for an option to go cross platforms, which is possible, but not guaranteed. PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch users will have to wait.