VOIP Changes Everything
For those familiar with Escape From Tarkov you know that the game had been growing increasingly stale of late. It tends to happen towards the end of a wipe, but even the last couple large updates haven’t really made immediate impacts on the game. If you were paying attention though, these previous updates have been setting up bigger things to come, and now with patch 12.12 we are seeing everything come together as Battlestate Games kicks off the start of a new direction for the game.
The big change that is making headlines is the addition of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). Don’t worry, I’m not going to sit here and talk down to you like this is an article in Rolling Stone as I go into the depths of explaining what VOIP is as I try to relate to my readers, full well knowing I just googled everything I’m about to say in order to sound like I know what I’m taking about. If you find yourself on this page you likely know what VOIP is. It is simply an in game voice over chat option that can be toggled on or off. It is generally a popular feature in games like DayZ and Rust. However, at the same time it can be a detriment to games as well when players abuse it. Battlestate Games thankfully saw this coming and appropriately limited usage to 15 seconds at a time putting a stop to that behavior before it happens.
I believe VOIP to be the missing piece Battlestate Games has been searching for in order to bring everything together. Since the recent addition of Scav and PMC joint extractions it’s obviously been near impossible to perform without any form of communication between players in raid. VOIP bridges the communication gap of players in raid and leads to ultimately a better overall experience. Furthermore, it fundamentally changes the way you go about Scav raids. Now you don’t find yourself trying to figure out if everything that moves is a player Scav or an AI Scav, because you can finally talk to each other. Players can trade loot with each other, team up to take on PMCs, the possibilities are limitless. Sure you still need to be careful who you trust, because many will still not hesitate to gun you down once they’ve garnered your trust. However, overall I think VOIP is a great addition to Tarkov.
Twitch Success Brings Huge Growth
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across funny clips online of VOIP interactions between players, and this is what the game desperately needed to stay alive. The added “clipability” is really what helps to build a healthy and growing playerbase. Additionally, it creates interest among streamers to dive into the game, because it finally offers an entertainment value to outsiders who may not have previously had Escape From Tarkov on their radar. Like it or not the more friendly a game can be to streamers the more likely it is to break through to that next level of notoriety. Recently, the game has went over four million followers on Twitch which is really unbelievable success coming from a small independent developer.
Of course, this comes with its own set of problems as well. Case and point being many of these new players may not enjoy the unforgiving learning curve that the game presents. This will lead to them calling for sweeping changes from the developers to make the game more welcoming to beginning players. In many cases you will see the developers of games give in to these demands, and it will end up irreparably damaging their relationship with the core of their players that have been with the game since day one. After a game loses their core base it’s only a matter of time before all of the trend following playerbase dwindles leaving nobody left once the hype burns off.
That being said, Battlestate Games is not one to cave to the demands of the masses. They have a vision for their game, and have not strayed from it. Are they happy to have the game blowing up like it has in the last couple years? I’m sure they are thrilled to see it, but they began as a small time independent developer with only a handful of people working on their game and a dream to make a great game. They’ve of course grown in size in order to keep up with the demands of a growing playerbase, but still by no means have any intentions of giving in to the public outcry in order to keep their larger player count numbers up. Battlestate Games doesn’t have to answer to a corporate board that simply don’t have the ability to see past the numbers. Because of this, their humble beginnings, and their true passion behind their vision I have high hopes for where they’ll be able to take Escape From Tarkov in the future.
Flea Market Bans Widely Level the Playing Field
While VOIP may be making mainstream headlines the real changes that have truly changed the game are the sweeping bans of high tier armors and ammos on the in game flea market. Preventing these high tier items from being sold on the flea market really change Tarkov in more ways than new and casual players may realize. Before the bans players had about two weeks after the wipe kicked off to level up and accumulate millions of rubles in order properly gear up for their raids. If you fell behind more often then not you found yourself at a significant disadvantage in gunfights. After that breakpoint nearly everyone was running the best armor and ammo leaving you heavily under geared and relying more on catching your enemies by surprise in order to have a chance to survive a fight. Honestly, it made the game a lot less enjoyable, because the times in which you had great gunfights between players was few and far between.
After the flea market bans took place it really leveled the playing field in a big way, and for a much longer period of time. Not only are these items hard to come across in the game, but now they can’t be purchased by anyone either which really delays the time before players are able to regularly out gear their opponents. Everyone is more evenly matched across the board which means better gunfights are much more common. Thus, the overall experience is much improved. Despite the unforgiving nature Escape From Tarkov presents to new players this change actually helps them out as well. It gives them a much needed break while they struggle to learn the game.
Battlestate Games’ Vision is Shaping Up
If you’ve ever had the privilege to watch Nikita Buyanov, head of Battlestate Games, talk about his vision and plans for the future of Escape From Tarkov you can clearly see the genuine passion behind is words. When the game experiences issues he is the first to go in front of a camera and address the issues, and give updates on the situation. For example, when the game was experiencing massive overload during the Twitch drops last Christmas and Battlestate Games had to install a login queue Nikita went on Twitch to talk about what was going on, and let me tell you the man looked like a prisoner of war that hadn’t slept in 48 hours and wasn’t allowed food. You could clearly tell he was working 20 hours a day to fix the problems with his game because he genuinely cares about it. This studio only wants to present the best possible version of their game to its players. This type of passion behind a game is so rare in today’s industry, and with this latest update it really shows through in their product.
I wouldn’t hesitate to say that after the installation of this update Escape From Tarkov is no longer a beta version of itself. Sure its nowhere near the depths of open world functionality that Nikita himself envisions, but the game just feels right now. Finally, we have a balance in the game that we have not previously felt up to this point. Wherever Battlestate Games goes from here I have full confidence in their vision, because they have the rare ability to listen to the community when needed while at the same time being able to completely ignore their demands when they push back too far on what the game is supposed to be. They don’t strive to please everyone, all they want to do is make their game great in their way whether you like it or not. This really feels like a new beginning for Escape From Tarkov, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.