Escape from Tarkov was something that caught my eye a little under a year ago and out of all places, I saw it on Tumblr. I know, the weirdest place to find new games, right? Anyway, fast forward to now and I’ve graciously been given a beta copy of the game to throw my impressions together and now, my excitement has been revamped.
Escape from Tarkov is set in Tarkov, of course, and the main objective is to simply escape, of course. Inside the Norvinsk region of the world, which borders Russia and Europe, all hell broke loose inside Tarkov, all due to a huge political scandal. There are two main forces inside the city which are at war with each other, USEC and BEAR. The situation inside Tarkov reached a point where things were completely out of control, with crime everywhere and gangs controlling parts of the city. The entire area has been closed off, with everyone locked inside, along with diminishing supplies. It’s a pretty interesting story and the idea of being locked inside of a dying city is unique, in its own right. Of course, games have worked along this route before but Escape from Tarkov creates an atmosphere as intense as possible, since it shows how low the human population can fall.
Escape is remarkably realistic and in-depth. One feature is that you’ll have to manually load rounds into a magazine before firing, instead of picking up an already pre-loaded one to dump into your weapon later. This ends up causing players to need to collect empty magazines that can take up inventory space but is needed for later gameplay. Another awesome feature is that players will need to have a weapon magazine in their pockets to reload, as your character can’t grab one out of their backpacks. Reloading will swap to the most readily and fully loaded magazine, however, if you only have two left, it will simply swap one out for the other. Other problems are also present when it comes to weapons, such as jamming and other general wear and tear issues. This game definitely lives up to its hardcore marketing, so you’d best be ready for that.
Skills and Masteries:
Despite this being a hardcore shooting survival game, there is a pretty large amount of levelling that takes place. At the moment, some of the skills are still blacked out as tweaks are being made, which is understandable as it’s in development, but it’s also having consistent updates and it’s rising up rather well. The levelling system isn’t based on kills or having completed certain scenarios; it’s passive, much like Skyrim. Running a lot will improve your Endurance, or if you carry a lot of gear, your strength will increase. This is a brilliant idea because when playing, you’ll no doubt die a lot, especially at the start. Increasing the base stats makes it feel like your entire progress isn’t just being reset when you die.
Graphics do not maketh the game, but they sure do a great job in Tarkov. When you’re pushing a hardcore and realistic title and it includes some wonky animations and jaggy graphics, it would end up breaking the overall immersion. The sound design is dialled in so that it pulls you into the city of Tarkov itself, giving you no escape other than a swift death. Everything in Tarkov feels so alive, like some sort of The Last of Us MMO. The world created is fully breathing and actually feels lived in and because of this, you’re not going to find every item where you’d expect when exploring. Although, hunting down items does definitely feel a lot better than a massive grind on a single enemy to get the best gear.
Just like any survival game, any item you find it lost, normally. Tarkov has a few interesting ways so players do not lose each item that they have had the chance to get their grubby hands on. Before hopping into the game, you can choose to play as a Scav, a person who has stayed behind in Tarkov to try and loot as much as possible. Choosing to play as a Scav will cause the game to generate a random loadout for you to use and if you manage to escape through one of the exits, you’re able to port over any items that you found onto your main character. Finally, there are also containers that you can put any items into and these won’t be lost upon death. If you so find something that you really want to keep and don’t wish to risk it yet, shove it inside one of these. The addition of the Scav mechanic is an awesome feature and if you wish to play Tarkov but less seriously, just hop onto a Scav character and play away without the risk of destroying the main characters loadout.
Trading and Economy:
Anything you pick up can be sold to a variety of vendors, all offering a different amount of currency for the item. Each of these vendors sells specific things as well and upon levelling, you’ll also get access to a much wider range of goods from their store. That being said, certain items will always be worth attaining, even from a Scav, since certain items have high value to certain traders. This has created an entire economy. So, during raids, you might see a ton of AK74u weapons as they are easily attainable and won’t massively hurt your stash if lost. Also, if you have problems finding additional parts to add to your loadout, you can collect other valuables, for example, computer parts, to sell them on and with a levelled up trader, you’d be able to purchase other items.
Overall, this is a game that can redefine and ignite players interest within the survival genre having, after a tonne of awful games has been flooding the market. Escape from Tarkov‘s feet are planted firmly into a core gameplay, yet it happily mixes the formula up to include a progression system that feels worthwhile. Survival games, especially hardcore ones, are very daunting at first but if you’re willing to boot up the game, any player, newcomer or a fan of the genre, is going to have more than an excellent time when playing this. The only issues that the game has at present only really lies within the fact that it’s still an early access game, meaning you’re not going to get everything all at once. However, the developers really seem to be progressing everything at a steady pace with their awesome plans and ideas, instead of simply throwing itself out there for the money and abandoning ship, like many beta games we’ve seen. Escape from Tarkov’s rather loot centred approach could mean that Raids can feel somewhat repetitive after a while, but no matter how many hours you’ve poured into the game, the gunfights are always going to be intense moments. If you want to embark on a mighty quest for loot in a beautiful yet broken world, this is one to watch.