Masochists Apply Here
For the uninitiated who don’t seek out mental and emotional anguish for entertainment I will to the best of my ability give you a brief overview of what Escape From Tarkov is. On its face Tarkov is a hardcore, survival, first person shooter game developed by Battlestate Games. The goal of the game is to essentially survive an unforgiving hellscape of insurmountable and perpetual loss, the likes of which you can eventually retire from thanks to your hard earned Bitcoin farm. That is, of course, if the increasing urge of self harm doesn’t get to you first. If that doesn’t quite sound like it’s the game for you then it might be best for you to stay in your realm, go clean up your island on Animal Crossing it’s starting to look a little ratty you casual. Not to be critical.
Recently, I’ve seen Escape From Tarkov becoming increasingly more popular as more people are becoming exposed to it. Players seem to really enjoy and take to the more realistic weapon ballistics as well as the hardcore survival nature of the game. To better explain the purpose and what players actually do in Tarkov I will expand upon my grim and somewhat vague initial description, even though it is nonetheless an accurate one. In Escape From Tarkov players are given tasks to do, which ultimately are just quests, and in order to get them done you must go into raids. These raids can range anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes in length. Within that time players must be able to get their tasks done and make it to one of the specific extraction points on the map in order to get out with all of their loot gathered in raid, on top of just keeping all of the items that they had initially brought into the raid.
“… unforgiving hellscape of insurmountable and perpetual loss”
So far the game probably doesn’t sound too bad. However, like I had said before Tarkov is an “unforgiving hellscape of insurmountable and perpetual loss”. I’ll do my best to expand on that specific aspect of the game and why I think it is so true. Escape From Tarkov is by no means a pick up and play type of game. I’m sure you’ve seen clips of it on TikTok, Twitch, or YouTube and think it looks fun and want to give it a try. Well I’m here to tell you that this game has the single steepest learning curve I’ve ever seen.
Learning to Walk
To start you have to be able to find your way around these huge maps that can be littered with land mines, other players (PMCs or player Scavs), AI enemies (Scavs), extremely dangerous AI enemies (Raiders and Scav bosses), and of course the bush camping, armorless, PM pistol using players (Rats). If the terminology here is enough to lose you then you should probably stop there and save your money. Despite all of that, if you still manage to evade or kill all of these threats in your way then you’re still left with the task of traversing the map without any guidance whatsoever, although the developers have just recently added a usable compass.
The only way to really know where you’re going is to know the map inside and out by significant landmarks, Scav boss spawn locations, player spawn locations, and most importantly the various extraction locations, a lot of which are not clearly marked in the least. Sometime these extractions end up being just some random spot in the middle of the woods like in the image below. Nothing to mark its place, no significant landmarks around, you just have to know where it is. Once you get over the outright lack of guidance traversing the maps (or even how to find/perform tasks) part down you can begin to go into real raids and try your luck.
Now that we’ve got the walking part down let’s move on to the actual shooting the enemies you may come across part. This part has to be simple right? Well you’re wrong it’s not even remotely as simple as you think. Again, I said “unforgiving hellscape”, we aren’t nearly there yet. “How could shooting someone be hard?”, you may ask. I’ll tell you in two words, ammo type. What ammo type you decide to use in your gun is quite significant in Escape From Tarkov, because honestly most of them you just don’t want to find yourself relying on. Many have low armor penetration numbers, and almost every player you will come across will be wearing some level of armor. Armors also vary in toughness from level 1 being the weakest to level 6 being the most protective.
That is not to say it is not impossible to kill other players while using cheap ammo. Headshots are still very real, grenades are always an option, and even the best armor can be trashed if it absorbs enough shots. You have to realize that the ammo type you choose to run is not always up to you though, because the good ammo is quite expensive to run. Money is a big determining factor, especially early on, in the quality of gear you are able to run in raids. Just to show you the absurd complicated nature of ammo in Tarkov I will show you a detailed chart that demonstrates what ammo type is good for specific armor types in the game.
One of my favorite parts of Tarkov is the advanced weapon ballistics system that Battlestate Games has developed. While complicated, it adds unique depth to the game that we don’t see in other first person shooters. As you can see they go to great lengths to give us a realistic ballistic archetype within their game in order to add to the experience that is Escape From Tarkov.
We’ve covered the basics so far, now I think its time to move on to keeping you alive for as long as possible, whether it be after escaping a gunfight wounded or just trying not to die from dehydration. Healing yourself in Tarkov may not be nearly as advanced and complicated as the ammo type situation, but its closer than not. To start with the health for your character is broken up into seven different section on the body as you can see below, depending on where you get shot that will be the part initially affected.
If you thought it would be as easy as healing the body part that was injured then you have yet to grasp the vast lengths that Battlestate Games will go in order to punish you for enjoying their game. The ammo that you get hit with has a lot to do with how exactly you get injured, and there a few different types of injuries that can occur. If you get lucky then you might just end up losing some health points on one or more of these seven body sections. However, most of the time you are not that lucky. There are many types of injuries so I’ll just name a few like heavy bleeding, light bleeding, fractures, pain, tremors, contusions, and poison. All need to be treated/healed differently as well. For example, heavy bleeding requires a tourniquet, light requires a bandage, fractures require splints, and pain requires painkillers. All of these items need to be on your person by the way, otherwise you just simply won’t be able to heal these injuries. Most injuries if gone untreated will eventually kill you so before you choose to make the leap and go into a raid you’ll want to make sure that you have a wide variety of medical supplies with you in the likely event that you do in fact get injured.
While getting shot at and blowing up are your biggest fears as far as immediate threats go you also have to be careful not to starve to death or die from dehydration. As you can see in the picture above Tarkov will also display your hydration and energy levels on the health screen with the number by the water droplet and lighting bolt respectively. These are easily managed by simply eating food and drinking water, but can just as easily be forgotten about. Each level will slowly drop as the raid goes on, and the speed at which it drops be increased if you find yourself running an exerting yourself more often throughout the raid. In addition to the various medical supplies it will be beneficial to you to keep food and drinks on you during a raid too just in case. There is more to the health system in Escape From Tarkov then I have gone into, so make sure to study up before jumping head first into the game. Tarkov is a dangerous place.
Completing Tasks Blind
Completing and figuring out tasks in Tarkov may just be the easiest part of the game, which in hindsight isn’t saying much. Generally speaking Google is your friend in figuring things out in the beginning of your Tarkov journey, but even more so when trying to figure out tasks. Specifically, I would advise using the website https://escapefromtarkov.fandom.com/wiki/Escape_from_Tarkov_Wiki as it seems to be the most accurate and helpful one I have been able to find. Each task will be given to you by the vendors as you reach certain character levels in the game. The vendors will send you what will almost always be a very vague message telling you to do something specific in raid like killing so many Scavs, or it could be as simple as picking an item up from a specific location on a certain map.
Again, as we return to the overarching theme of this article, “unforgiving hellscape” a lot of the tasks are reliant on extracting from the raids alive after completing them. If you happen to die after completing one of these before you are able to make it out, you will have to go back in and try again your luck again. With each message you get for new tasks there is really not much useful information given to you that will help to figure out what you must do in to complete each task. That is why for new players I urge using the Tarkov Wiki I had just talked about. It gives detailed guides and locations that will easily help you figure out your tasks. Tasks are important too, especially early on, because they will be your main source for xp helping you to level up faster, and you get rewards upon completing each one, that can range from food and meds to guns and ammo.
Satisfaction in Growth
If you’ve made it this far then I take it Escape From Tarkov may be of interest to you. If that’s the case then all I have to say is I hope you’ve got the patience and tolerance level to absorb many deaths and lose all of your nice things. If I have learned anything from playing Tarkov you can’t be afraid to lose your best gear, because it’s bound to happen eventually. Take in what gives you the best chance to make it out alive and it might just happen. Believe it or not as much as I’ve tried to deter you from playing this game it is a good game. You will have a lot of fun in Tarkov once you get it figured out. By then you will have experienced first hand how truly satisfying the game can be once you’ve gotten good at it. It is one of the most satisfying games I’ve found to get kills in, there’s just something special to this game. Being able to go from know-nothing rat who can’t even find his way across the map to the alpha Chad who collects dog tags like it’s his job is one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment one can have in a game in my opinion.
Escape From Tarkov is still technically in beta so the developers are often adding content from time to time, adding new mechanics, and just making things in Tarkov more dangerous for the players. The game has come a long way from where it began, and the team at Battlestate Games has grown to be able to keep up with an increasing playerbase. Battlestate Games have proven to be one of the more open and transparent developing companies I’ve seen when discussing future plans and the overall current state of the game. The vision Nikita Buyanov, head of Battlestate Games, seems to have for Escape From Tarkov is ambitious to say the least. He’s often discussed where he wants to see this game when its complete and if it gets there it will be a remarkable feat considering how small of a developer team and community the game had behind it for so long. Only recently have we seen the huge spike in new players and the size of the team at Battlestate to counter.
I hope to see Escape From Tarkov get there one day, but I have never been a fan of games staying in beta for years at a time, especially when they cost nearly as much as full games in order to get access to play them. I don’t often agree with this approach many games take, because when its all said and done it is often just abandoned in the end incomplete and leaving us wondering what could’ve been. It also just gives developers an easy out to make excuses when their game fails or has consistent underlying issues by simply saying “It’s just a beta right now, it will have these issues, we’re working on it.” That being said, I am fully behind the team at Battlestate Games and what they’re doing with Escape From Tarkov. It is still the best shooter on the market in my opinion so go check it out.