Up until yesterday we didn’t really know too much about the hardcore, realistic online first-person action RPG/Simulator with MMO features and story-driven walkthrough that is Escape from Tarkov. We’d been given the situation and the objectives and snippets of gameplay and some screen captures but no solid footage of the game. Having watched all 90 minutes of the Official Developer Stream I’m going to outline what we knew about the game up until this point and what we now know because of the stream.
The basic outline of the story, as found on the developer website is as follows:
With each passing day the situation in the Norvinsk region grows more and more complicated. Incessant warfare in Tarkov has sparked massive panic; local population has fled the city, but those who stayed are looking to improve their fortunes at the expense of others. Having accepted the new reality, “savage” Tarkov locals – Scavs flocked into well-armed gangs and started the redivision of the city. Nowadays, Tarkov is separated by unseen borders, controlled by different groups. Gain-greedy gunmen would go to any length to have their way, including the murder of civilians and direct confrontation with the two private military companies.
The players will have to experience living in the skin of one of the mercenaries who survived the initial stage of the Tarkov conflict. After choosing one of the sides – USEC or BEAR – the player’s character starts to make his way out of the city. Tarkov is sealed off by UN and Russian military, supply chains are cut, communication with operational command is lost, and in these conditions everyone has to make his own choices of what to do and how to get out of the chaos-ridden metropolis
Sounds pretty sweet right? You bet your arse it’s sweet. You basically bust around a mostly abandoned Russian town, exploring, looting sweet shit and killing bad guys, then looting their sweet shit. Within the game you will experience real time weather changes as well as night/day cycles as you discover the real story that lead to the events in Tarkov. Russian developers Battlestate Games have gone to great lengths to create an immersive combat experience where every move you make is made to feel as though you were living it.
Prior to this stream we were told that players would be aware of real-life ballistics and projectile hit physics as well as having the weapon perform like the real life guns they have been based on. As a weapon is used it will wear out, overheat at times and jam just as with real weapons. Something we discovered in the stream is that the developers have created different qualities of ammunition. So ammo you pick up off the ground in an abandoned building will not be the same quality ammo you find in a gun store. This poor quality ammo can actually jam the gun making it unusable, there is some serious attention to detail with the weaponry here (as we would expect from the country that brought us FPS Russia (you should put a link to his Youtube)). The amount of detail that has been put into the weapons and their customisation options is immense as you will see in some of the screen captures. Players will be able to mod anything and everything on the gun using a drop down menu to place items onto the weapon. Additionally you will be able to look over your weapon, check if there is a bullet in the chamber and because the HUD is completely clear, check how much ammunition you have remaining. This involves removing the magazine and having the figure displayed on the screen. Now this might prove to be annoying but the realism involved in the action is second to none.
Battlestate has created two types of reload: standard and tactical. Standard is as you see with other games but the tactical reload will allow you to do so quicker by dropping a magazine on the floor rather than stowing it away in your inventory. Each bullet type you use will have a different speed and its ability to penetrate or ricochet will be reflected in this. During the stream we were shown the effects of ricochet and not only will it ricochet of walls and into the ground or another person, bullets can also penetrate more than one person and its trajectory will change from entry to exit.
Once again, in line with the realism aspect, weapons with a laser sight and a scope will have to be calibrated to line up. As you can see in the image below the laser sight here is well below the scope meaning you have a calibration error that will have to be adjusted if you want accuracy over longer ranges. Talking about laser sights, players will be able to turn the laser off to “make some sneaky action” (their words), which is exactly what you want when you’re going in quiet.
The developers have created Escape from Tarkov with realism in mind and that means you’re not going to have it easy out there in the abandoned township. If you die while trying to escape, everything you have found, looted, stolen or made will be taken off you. To ensure this doesn’t happen players can create backup inventory kits, utilise secure containers and buy insurance to safeguard their hard-earned equipment. If you don’t treat yourself and your equipment well in-game you will soon find it becomes harder and harder to stay alive. Player’s will have to ensure they take appropriate medicines, purify their water, and sort out food rations and repair weapons and other equipment. Failure to do so may result in that weapon or item failing at a crucial juncture. To keep in line with the realism, the inventory is organised as though you were wearing it and how you set that up may be the difference between living and dying.
But which one is correct?
In this world there are no rules. As you loot fallen comrades or containers, explore the area and complete certain actions with or against friends you will start to gain experience. This experience will earn you points to level up and there are almost 100 unique skills to improve on within the game. The more you complete an action the better your skills will be in-game; it is completely up to the player how they go about their build. With killing or cooperation comes consequences and killing friends will earn you bad karma that may give you negative effects as you progress through the game. This was mentioned briefly in the stream but wasn’t elaborated on. From what I could tell from the stream the map itself appears to be quite big. The dev team explained that there are hidden areas to discover and exploring the vast nothingness could be a lucrative endeavour. In their fairly reasonable English (despite the claim to poor English skills) it was explained that Tarkov is “like Gotham City but Russian version”, sounds incredible.
The main enemy you will face in-game are called Scavs, a convenient term for savage AI-driven civilian scavengers. What we’ve been told about this enemy is “the louder you scream – the faster they come”. Battlestate are incorporating a mode where you can play as a Scav with pre-set weapons and gear and anything you manage to escape with during that playthrough can be transferred to your main character. Fear not, any deaths as a Scav will not negatively affect your main character.
Escape from Tarkov is not just fighting and escaping; there are a lot of non-combat activities to break up the firefights. During a playthrough gamers will be able to communicate and trade with NPCs, gain their trust and open up a world of special equipment and deals. The economy within the game is ever-changing and will adapt to the actions of the playable characters within that server. Players can sell or trade items at rag fairs and auctions, become a trader and open your own store, establish comms with others to learn the goss and create specialised combat groups.
During the stream they answered some questions that fans had submitted prior, I won’t go over them all but I can confirm they discussed having a Russian roulette feature and there will be a shitload of booze (read: vodka). If you want to listen to all of the questions skip to 1:17:30 to hear them.
Overall, the quality of the game so far looks extremely decent considering we’ve only been shown the alpha build. The sheer detail Battlestate have gone to to create this world is commendable.
Battlestate have said they won’t rule out a release on console but the last thing they want is for the game to be downgraded for consoles. Escape from Tarkov is being designed and created to its full capability and at this stage that means it’s only being released on PC. At the time of writing no release date has been announced but with the state of the game as it appears to be, fingers crossed we will hear something soon. Until then, gamers can head to their website at www.escapefromtarkov.com and pre-order now for guaranteed access to the closed beta.
Skip to 3:05 in the stream for the start.