A Shooter Where You Risk Losing Your Gear Forever

Escape From Tarkov is a military shooter currently in closed beta all about shooting other players and stealing their loot. Set in a fictional Eastern European city rife with conflict, Escape From Tarkov feels like a mashup of ARMA and Borderlands.

Players embark on raids to different locations and scrounge around for guns and loot to take with them if they can find the extraction point. Tarkov's most important mechanic is the risk of losing everything you bring with you into a match.

It's not always a good idea to bring you best gear out on missions though, since you'll lose everything permanently if someone kills you and steals it. Before joining a match, players can gear up with as much gear as they want, but players can take gear off each others' corpses too.

If another player makes it to the extraction point with your gear, it's gone for good. The entire game centres on a risk/reward setup in which starting a match with a strong loadout gives a significant advantage, but one false step can lead to disaster.

Tarkov is a hardcore shooter that tries to capture all the details of using a firearm. Weapons are highly customisable and can be modified with a variety of stocks, sights, and rail attachments. Each weapon has a distinctive heft and recoil pattern.

The level of detail is impressive if a bit fetishistic; players must inspect magazines before reloading and can only be shot a few times before bleeding out and dying. Guns are powerful, frightening things in Escape From Tarkov and each enemy encounter poses significant danger. This turns matches into slow, methodical affairs full of sneaking and sudden death. I streamed it last night on Kotaku's Twitch channel, and you can watch one of my matches below:

I was still learning the basics but this was an intense match.

In addition to other players, Tarkov populates maps with NPC mercenaries called SCAVs. They patrol maps looking for players to ambush and gunfights to join in. But not every SCAV is AI-controlled. Players can also choose to join matches as SCAVs with random loadouts, and they can take any loot they find.

It's a way to join matches without the risk of losing gear. A small cooldown period prevents players from always joining matches as a SCAV and grabbing risk-free loot. One of the most exciting moments in any Tarkov match is encountering a player-controlled SCAV among a pack of NPCs enemies.

You'll spend just as much time managing your inventory as shooting baddies.

Another aspect of Escape From Tarkov is inventory management. The emphasis on realistic gunplay and customisation means spending a lot of time in menu screens before matches, finding the best ways to kit out your soldier.

Loading the proper bullets into magazines and placing them correctly in your vest pocket might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it's a surprisingly meditative process. Mixing armour and backpacks before loading them up with supplies is a tricky cost/benefit analysis. Figuring out the biggest bang with the least amount of cost turns inventory management into a genuine puzzle.

While Tarkov's various mechanics create a tense experience, it's currently undercut by various technical issues. This is understandable -- the game is in closed beta, after all -- but the idea of Escape From Tarkov is currently grander than the execution.

Frame rate dips heavily on certain maps and matchmaking is incredibly slow, sometimes in excess of three or four minutes. Tarkov's current state is very rough, and it will take some time before it's ready for a larger playerbase.

Still, going out on raids and stealing gear before getting into a massive gunfight that you barely survive is a thrilling experience. Tarkov is punishing, but there's a lot of fun to be found in mastering its complexities and slowly becoming a hardened mercenary. 

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Comments

    Game runs great outside of Shoreline (30 player map) and I rarely feel cheated when I die. There are a few major bugs that include desyncing when opening doors and grenades being sometimes silent, but the game is great otherwise.

    That said it is best played with mates as the randos on the discord have a tendency of being trashy loot grubs.

    This has been on my radar for so long. After Survarium turned into a shitshow, this seems like the online STALKER experience I always wanted.

    Are they ever getting local servers? I'll take SEA if we can't get Oceania.

      I'm playing from melbourne and its not bad i think there may have been 1 or 2 issues where lag has killed me but everyone is experiencing that at some point in there current Gameplay.

      I have heard there is talks of a Sydney server. Dont know if its true though simple google search and some digging in the forums is where i got this from.

      The game will always match you with the best connection as well.

        Good to know! I just looked up the pre-order costs. Christ it's pricey.

        Still probably going to buy.

      Oceania server launched Aug 24th last year. Definitely couldn't imagine playing this game with high ping, it's painful enough losing everything without latency coming into play!

        I play with people from the Discord and I find its not too bad so long as you play aggressive so that the ping difference does not favor the other players.

        Oceania server means I'm probably going to buy. I feel a bit burned being a REALLY early backer on Survarium, so I worry.

    So basically the game has permadeath with loadouts? If you die, you die and your gear you chose stays on your body unless you can retrieve it?

      It's basically just an instance based survival game for now. There is a store outside of each session that you can buy gear from, which results in a Wow style gear treadmill that has you balancing risk and reward.

      Well it’s a bit more complex than that... If you die, your equipped items can be looted by other players. You are able to insure your kit though, so if no one extracts with your gear, you get it back. You also have a smallish container, that you keep even if you die, so you can put stuff in there and you won’t lose it! It sounds harsh, but it’s not really, it doesn’t take long to build up cash & kit yourself out again!

        Not trashing the game at all, it sounds highly intriguing to me so far. So the cash you build up, it's ingame or through microtransactions?

          All in game. They have promised no micro transactions, but they do plan on doing paid dlc. I don’t think microtransaction would really work in the game as it is, they would destroy the core experience. In saying that, at the moment, there are preorder tiers (I am not happy about that) and the top one gives you more inventory space immediately. This is only an advantage in the beta, in the full game, the extra inventory space will be a reward for completing a quest

    Just a warning to anyone.

    Their terms and conditions state you are not allowed to get a refund under any circumstances.

    So if you buy it you wont be getting a refund for any reason in the future.

    Once upon a time I thought this was going to be a HUGE online open world STALKER type game, how wrong I was.. Just another arena shooter filled with lootbox systems.

      Yeah, I too jumped on the disappointment train when I discovered this was not the 'new' STALKER I was hoping for when I first heard about it.

        This game is still pretty special looking.

        Been keeping an eye on this one via twitch for months now. A real competitor to PUBG (while being its own unique thing, not just a battle-royal copycat).

      It will be open world by the time it releases, at the moment there is only one game mode available, that is the raids where you need to extract. There are going to be more traders with more quests, some single player I believe, and much more content to come. Don’t judge it by the state that it is in now, as it is only just entered beta. The game is a lot of fun though, really tense and exciting. It gets your heart racing for sure! The open beta is coming up soon, so sign up and give it a go :)

    "A Shooter Where You Risk Losing Your Gear Forever" - And your money, you should probably add that. This developer is shady and has stolen money from their supporters. They have a EULA and TOS that doesn't hold up in any country other than Russia and I personally have been a victim to this scam call Tarkov and being and Aussie, we get told to Fuck off.

    what do you call a game that locks cusmizablity out, SHIT! if you lock out paywall or crate clothing and/or cusmizabitly the game is now poop, it even feel like poop.

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