Escape from Tarkov is an online first-person survival game currently in development by Battlestate Games. We were given access to the games closed beta which started in December 2016, and this is what we think so far.
At the moment, Escape from Tarkov is in closed beta with Battlestate Games adding more and more content seemingly on a daily basis. The team are hard at work squishing any bugs and making the game an enjoyable experience. But my time with the game didn’t feel like a beta. Everything feels well polished and responsive; apart from the odd hic-up here and there, I found Escape from Tarkov to be one of the better games in the survival genre.
The main premise of Escape from Tarkov is fairly simple. Players enter a Raid that consists of three to nine players and hunt one another until only one is left standing. Players are able to scavenge for materials that can be found littered around the map as well as looting from the corpses of downed players. There are of course other aspects of the game, such as becoming a trader or establishing your own raider party, but the basics of the game are to survive.
At the moment the closed beta only has four maps to play on, with the promise of more to come. The Shoreline, Factory, Woods and Customs. Each one plays differently and players need to adapt to their surroundings in order to survive. For example, the Factory is very enclosed with tight corridors and containers, open walkways leading to a second level and razor wire littered around a few wide, open spaces. The Shoreline, on the other hand, has a number of open spaces with fewer places to hide. A few buildings are dotted around the map which offers cover from enemy fire as well as vantage points to pick off your foes one by one. Throw in a dynamic night and day cylcle and the whoe experience becomes pretty tense.
While there is no way to track the whereabouts of your enemies (seeing as the whole point is to survive, this would be a little unfair), the dev team have added in a number of ways that players can locate others. Firing your weapon obviously creates a lot of noise, but muzzle flashes can be seen and the screams of the unlucky fool on the opposite end can be heard as they die. In addition, the environment can work against you. Footsteps and heavy breathing can be heard as well as banging into items will alert you would be killer to your location. I was unfortunate enough to get stuck in some razor wire, which not only injured my character but made noise and slowed my movement. A nice realistic touch, while incredibly frustrating, made me appreciate the work that’s gone into Escape from Tarkov.
I actually found myself playing the Factory a fair amount. While I enjoyed the experience the other maps offered, it was the tight corridors and defendable positions which kept drawing me back. Before entering a Raid players can set up their characters and choose what gear, if any, they wish to take along. It’s worth noting that being killed can, and often will, result in you losing whatever equipment is on your character at the time of death. There is an option to insure your gear, for an in-game premium – but whether or not you get your items back depends on if another player decides to loot your still warm corpse or not.
And fortune favours the brave. Players gain experience by not only defeating opponents but by exploring and discovering. The team at Battlestate Games has worked hard to ensure that players are rewarded for being curious. In addition, players can also find weapons and items which can be used in turn to trade for other items of use.
As this is an online game where losing has consequences, there will always be those who try to disconnect in a shallow attempt to prevent their character from losing any and all items in their possession. To counter this, Battlestate Games has built in a fail-safe of sorts. If a player disconnects mid game their character will remain in the Raid. Alone and uncontrolled ripe for the picking. It’s sweet justice that unfortunately can go sour rather quickly. While I applaud the feature and genuinely hope it deters players from disconnecting it has bitten me in the proverbial a couple of times. As the game is still in beta there are naturally a few bugs; the one that I come across most often is a dreaded black screen once the game has supposedly loaded the content for me to begin playing. With no other choice than to disconnect I’ve been scolded a couple of time upon logging back in. With this being said, however, Escape from Tarkov does give you the option to jump back into the Raid with your character providing he is still alive and a set amount of time has not passed. If you do choose to leave, you still lose your gear and any other items you may have found during gameplay.
This does, of course, require you to set your loadout before entering the Raid. The option to set your gear is on a different screen and isn’t presented before you enter the match. Not a huge issue but I did find myself entering a session with nought but a pistol and no ammo. Aiming my weapon at a careless passerby only to be rewarded with a click was not my idea of a good time. Though I suspect the other player had done the same thing. We stared at one another for a few seconds like rabbits caught in a car’s headlights before darting in opposite directions.
It is possible to team up with friends and other like-minded survivalists, though unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you how well this feature worked. Every time I tried to join a match with one of my friends the entire game would freeze forcing me to reboot my entire system. As this caused me to lose a number of items each time I was reluctant to keep trying.
Overall Escape from Tarkov is highly polished for a closed beta. While it has a few bugs here and there I can’t say it was anything that majorly put me off from playing. The difficulty curve is a little steep but Battlestate Games has added in an offline mode for the time being allowing players to explore and discover to their heart’s content without the fear of being gunned down. Every time I’ve logged on there has always been a patch ready and waiting so it’s clear the dev team are actively working to make this the best they possibly can and with little competition for the genre of game I can honestly see it doing well. If you’re into PUBG, give Escape from Tarkov a go; it’s unlikely that you’ll want to go back.
Escape from Tarkove is currently available on the PC for pre-order at €34.99 and is currently in Closed Beta.