Taking The First Steps to Escape From Tarkov
Ben has a look at Escape From Tarkov, an incredibly realistic shooter set in an MMO world of perma death
Escape from Tarkov is a title that seems to focus so much on realism that it kind of forgets about gaming and instead just becomes a simulator…when you get past the preparation and loading times anyway.
Developed by Battlestate Games, Escape from Tarkov is a title that launched in December 2016 to a few players and is now in beta at the time of writing this. I’m playing it on the press edition of the beta for this piece. While I’m only going to be taking a look at this title rather than issuing a review on it, it’s certainly very, very in-depth. Let me talk a little bit about the initial prep before you actually get to play the game. You get to choose between two factions, USEC or BEAR, and these once chosen you get the option to play or set up your character, and we all know which one you’re going to do right away.
As far as character customisation goes, there’s not much you can edit in terms of image, at least not from what I can see. There’s a skill tree that you can grow as you progress and level up, but the main customisation seems to be weapon focused. Forget the simple process of just adding a scope, grip, and bigger mag in the familiar way you would in Call of Duty, or Battlefield — escape From Tarkov allows you to customise nearly every customisable part of your weapons. You know how you spend most of your time with games such as The Elder Scrolls, or Mass Effect titles customising your characters face? Similar situation, but with weapons instead of faces.
The initial gameplay finds you joining an Online world with either player controlled bandits just out to kill you, or other players trying to escape. It does take a fair while to load up whatever location you choose to spawn in from the location selection screen which are basically servers. The world is Tarkov, the city has fallen victim to politically led combat and your goal is to -cue the title of the game- Escape from Tarkov. You find yourself following a story-driven narrative while also getting the chance to discover surrounding locations, either leading to some loot, or story based secrets. You’ll be able to work alone or with other players, but the game is immensely realistic, and that’s where I want to take this write up towards.
Escape From Tarkov isn’t super realistic as you can withstand a bullet or two, at least I seemed to survive someone shooting at me a few times, and well, it doesn’t send your character flying if you’re in the radius of a grenades blast. Instead, the realism comes more with movement, interactivity, and character stats. If you ignore the heavy headbobbing effect, the first thing I noticed first was the iron sights system. Rather than pulling scoped weapon up and the scope taking up most of the screen like most games, the scope only comes up in the centre of the screen, the surrounding stays at the player set a field of view, and instead the scope is magnified. It’s like looking around with a telescope rather than looking down the sights.
This only applies to scopes 4x and upwards as a reflex, and holographic sights are fairly usual. The game’s website says that you’re supposed to experience weapons jamming up, overheating, and such, but I never survived long enough to have a weapon carried over because once you die, anything you have on your person shall be lost, unless you insured them with your insurer before going out.
Considering realism is spoken about a lot in hyping the game up, I didn’t get a great deal of power from not only my weapons but my enemies too. Sure, I could tell I had been hit, but there was no jerky camera to throw me off. One time I went out into the field, I got shot, didn’t realise I was bleeding out, eventually passed out and died as I was running for cover, but there wasn’t much to indicate that I was in fact bleeding. Another match saw me get hit quite possibly in the leg as the camera became tilted, then my pace heavily reduced…so I guess it depends on whether a bullet hurts or not.
The environment that you walk upon will make sounds depending on the materials and you pace/stance. Some shrubbery makes more noise than grass, and if you stand still, just turning around makes a noise too, and some foliage will move when you go through it, meaning if a Sniper’s looking out for you and they see a moving bush…you’re dead. I learnt that. The game is rather dark, as in it’s incredibly hard to see anything as so far, every server I’ve joined has been met with a setting sun, leaving me lost in the dark, occasionally flicking my flashlight on and off to remain hidden. There are moments where it’s sunny, I’ve yet to experience that, but the game runs on a real-time time of day and weather changes, so there’s always going to be challenges coming forth no matter how good you are at Escape From Tarkov. For me, it’s not clear on where I’m meant to be going, but every time I tried a server, I felt like I was sneakily being nudged to follow a path.
The sounds as slightly explained earlier didn’t make a huge impact in terms of weaponry, which surprised me. However, the breathing, footsteps and rustling of the environment around you were immersing. There’s dramatic, action-themed music in the menu area which does kind of help you get through the incredibly complicated menu areas and load-out areas without growing too bored. There’s also a trading system which I’m not going to get into because I don’t entirely understand it, but I do know that it allows you to run your own store essentially with a constantly changing economy that changes in relation to real players actions.
So, if you’re looking for a title to sate your realism appetite with an intricate trading system, and an incredible customisable weapon system, then this could be the title for you, but if you’re after a more casual feeling game, then look elsewhere.