Do you love large open maps, massive weapon modding, immersive gameplay and very intense gun play? Escape From Tarkov might very well be the game you have been looking for. Or as I like to call it, the ‘FPS Dark Souls’.
What is Escape from Tarkov?
Escape From Tarkov is a hardcore first person shooter with survival elements in the beta stage from Battlestate Games where the core concept of the game is to kill as many other players and scavs, grab as much loot as you can carry and extract before you are killed. As it stands there are two game modes to choose from when you play, Scav mode and PMC mode.
The Lore of Escape From Tarkov.
Escape From Tarkov is set in a fictional region called Norvinsk which shares its borders with Russia and Europe. Due to its location, it served as a gateway of sorts for the two regions. However, because of it geographical position it attracted a large amount of companies including some very shady ones with the Terra Group being the main catalyst for Tarkovs current war torn situation.
Not long after these companies moved into Norvinsk, an array of political scandals occurred which sparked conflict between Russian troops, UN peacekeepers, the USEC and the Bears. When the fighting started the borders to the region were sealed leaving these warring factions to their own devices. No way to get out, no way to communicate with the outside world, just survive.
The Terra Group.
The Terra Group is an international corporation that acts as a holding company whose subsidiaries engage in many different fields. It is made up of over 40 large enterprises with offices all over the world. Due to this, they have a strong political influence where ever they are. One of their subsidiaries, TerraGroup Labs PLC, a UK based scientific research company, provides ongoing field research in biotechnology, agricultural business and farming. But they have been strongly involved in many illegal activities throughout the Norvinsk region.
The TerraGroup is the employer of the PMC (private military company) USEC (United Security) and the reason why they are in Tarkov. The Bears are a part of the Russian Government to combat them and investigate the TerraGroup’s presence in Tarkov.
The Factions of Tarkov.
In Escape From Tarkov there are two PMC factions and an AI faction which you can select to play as. The USEC and the Bears. Both factions have their strengths and weaknesses but do have a few differences that set them apart. The Bears focus on AK weapon systems, raw power, assault operations and zeroing. The USEC however focus on AR weapon systems, total weapon modification, tactics and negotiation. Both factions will also have unique passive skills to reinforce this. Having said all of that either faction you choose you can still use whatever weapon you like. Personally I chose Bear because I thought they were cooler and I prefer AKs anyway but that is just my personal preference.
There is also one more faction, the Scavs. Scavs are actually people from Tarkov who refused to flee when the borders were getting sealed. They stayed to steal weapons and gear to sell. Every level has Scavs and they can be frustrating. In the older versions of the game it was quite common for them to randomly snap shot you in the head out of nowhere but that has been fixed.
You can do a raid with a scav every 20 minutes. But there are several differences between playing as a Scav or as your PMC. Playing as a PMC, you bring your own gear and accumulate experience points. Play as a Scav, you are given random gear, cannot get experience points and will have different extraction points from the PMCs. However, any gear that you can successfully extract with you can keep, and other scvas will not attack you unless you attacked them first, or another player scav decides they really like your pistol. Furthermore, when you play as a Scav you take the place of an existing AI Scav, so you will be at a random part of the level. Most of the time you spawn into a raid that has been going for a while. One time I jumped into a Scav run I was shocked to find literally about 15 bodies. Looted up and extracted easiest raid of my life.
At this time there are currently 7 traders who accept one or multiple of the 3 currencies of the game; Euros, Roubles or American Dollars and some items can be traded for. Prapor who sells all the ammo types, the therapist who sells meds and first aid, Skier who sells packs, chest rigs, and armour, Fence who sells basically everything but a lot more expensive and acts as a community marketplace for the game. Peacekeeper is sort of a mix between Prapor and Skier but takes dollars and trades, Mechanic sells heavily modified weapons but primarily trades only a few things you can purchase and Ragman sells packs and helmets, each of which can be leveled up. When you level up a trader and gain reputation you unlock more items to buy. In my opinion the best to level are Prapor for his ammo and Therapist for her first aid. All traders except for Peacekeeper and Fence give you the option to do quests for rewards and reputation.
Escape From Tarkov Gameplay.
The gameplay of Escape From Tarkov, in my opinion, is incredible but extremely difficult. Recoil is very real so you can’t just spray and pray like you would in COD or Battlefield. Before you enter a raid you pick your equipment from your stash and jump in to one of the 5 currently available maps. If your going into a large map make sure you bring some water as you can die as dehydration.
Ammo management is very important as you don’t have an ammo counter like traditional FPS games. You have mags or clips which you have to manually reload so be careful that you don’t find yourself in a situation where all of your mags are empty.
When you extract it is very fulfilling but when you die it can be extremely frustrating and stressful for one main reason; if you die in a raid you lose all of the gear you brought in unless you had some items in your secure container (a special container you can get whatever is in there you keep always) and your melee weapon. That could be gear you spent weeks trying to get enough money to buy and lose it within 5 minutes of a raid. The only saving grace is the insurance policy. If you insure your items and they are not removed from the raid (a player extracted with them) you will get them back in 24-48 hours. The combat can be very fast paced or a long term sniper fight. But it feels real, it feels intense, my first few raids I was actually shaking at my computer.
Aside from fighting with Players and Scavs you can mod your weapons. The modding system is massive and there are huge amount of parts to mod your weapons with from reticles, iron sights, silencers, grips, stocks barrels and not to mention the dozens of ammo types the game offers. In my experience the game overwhelmed me with choice, I wasn’t sure what parts to go with. I’d recommend looking at a few forums if you find yourself not knowing what parts to use or the best ammo for what guns.
Is Escape From Tarkov pay to win?
Towards the start of the year Escape From Tarkov went under a bit of flak claiming that it was a pay to win game based on what edition you purchased. The cheapest being $44.99 and the most expensive being $139.99. The primary difference between the versions is the size of your stash (where you store items in between raids) and the amount of starting equipment. I personally have the most expensive edition called the edge of darkness edition only because I am highly invested in the game and loved it from the first trailer. That edition has given me zero advantage over players as this game is in my opinion 95% skill and 5% luck. I have been wearing the best gear available in the game and have died to AI and players with shotguns or pistols. I have done well over 300 raids in Escape From Tarkov and i have lost track of how much gear I have lost. So to summarise in my opinion and experience within the game it is not pay to win.
My Review on Escape From Tarkov.
This game has been beautifully made. The levels are gorgeous, the sounds are amazing and feel incredibly lifelike and the gunplay is challenging yet fun. I have had both an amazing and very frustrating experience with this game. My gripes with the game include having to researching every map to know where the exits are. The game offers quests but in my opinion they could have been done better and they should be simpler. Furthermore, the big one for me is getting meds becomes a lot harder due to a previous patch. The Therapist is the trader who sells meds, so when you rank her to level 2 you would get a better first aid kit. But when I got her to level 2 I noticed they changed that mechanism, which made it more difficult to survive. On a positive, they are adding great content such as more guns, attachments, levels and even expanding on existing levels and with each major update, they are making it easier for new players to get started. Battlestate Games plans to fully release Escape From Tarkov sometime this year (as far as I know). I intend to invest more of my precious gaming time on this game, regardless of how noob like I am.
Price: $44.99 – $139.99 USD
Written By: Jack Adam-De-Villiers | YouTube