I’m staring at my friend’s corpse. I accidentally shot and killed him seconds ago. I wish i could say this was the first time i accidentally killed him, but it isn’t. I feel a sense of guilt creeping over me, because i’m about to dig through his pockets to strip him of all his belongings.
As gruesome as it sounds, this is a normal day in the office in Tarkov. I tried finding a suitable metaphor to describe my hilariously unsuccesful career in the vicious world of “Escape from Tarkov” to my Tarkov accomplice Madse, and the best i came up with was “Playing Tarkov is like being a streaker on a soccer field. You can basically run around for a bit before you get f*cked“.
If you have no clue what Escape from Tarkov is: It’s a thrilling online looter shooter by Russian developer Battlestate Games, hailing itself as one of the scariest games out there. According to the official website, Tarkov is “not a game for weak“, although this is most probably a Russian typo instead of an unfinished sentence. It’s a brutal game, not for the faint of heart, that keeps on pushing my face in the dirt. Yet for some sadomasochistic reason, i keep coming back for more punishment in the action packed streets of Tarkov. Aforementioned action takes place on a handful of larger outdoor and smaller indoor maps with predetermined exit points, where you’re being thrown into a Chernobyl-esque battlefield with human players and a bunch of a.i. goons. Human or a.i., they’ll most probably all start shooting at you on sight, or as more often is the case, from some obscure spot you’ve failed to notice, so they can strip you from all your possessions and leave you bleeding out.
Now why would you voluntarily expose yourself to such torture? It comes down to this: the sheer excitement of you being the predator instead of the prey fills the gameplay with so much suspense, it’s almost incomparable to anything i’ve played before. The first time you get the jump on a player and loot him feels like a true triumph. For about 5 seconds that is, until the next guy creeps up on you and loots you. It’s a fascinating food chain that i love to be part of, but it can definitely be frustrating at times. It’s a good exercise in controlling your self-pity. I will soon write about my love for Dark Souls and how the rough lovin’ those games dish out is the most enjoyable entertainment a game can offer, and my verdict about Tarkov is similar. I just have a soft spot for the rigidity of the gameplay that keeps the blame on the players side. I don’t want to be force-fed solutions, i want to wander around and search for vantage points, to be forced to think more strategic, re-evaluate strategies and try again. Because when you do finally succeed, nothing feels greater.
I’ve rarely felt as vulnerable in a game as i did while playing Tarkov, as it only takes one well placed shot to die. The firefights are usually not your typical Hollywood spectacle, but they are uniquely spectacular in a cold blooded and subdued way. It’s the tension in between these moments that makes the game such a joy to play. The uneasy feeling of walking through a forest with a bag full of loot, looking for the exit, not knowing if some player is ambushing you or lurking through his sights can feel terrifying. Adding to the suspense is the fact the game doesn’t have any hit markers or enemy nameplates (or friendly nameplates, which makes it all too easy to accidentally kill friends). I’ve had amazing moments being prone inside a bush after being shot at from a distance, luring my assailant out to my spot to check if i’d been killed. I heard my enemy come closer as the rustling of the grass intensified, and waited for the right moment before i reversed the prey-predator role once again. Bang Bang!
Shooting at other players is a surefire way to give away your position, and shouldn’t be done recklessly if you plan on staying around in the map for a few minutes. Even the simple act of pressing the sprint button should be a highly conscious decision, as footsteps are very audible and can give your presence away. It’s worth noting that you have to reach the map’s exit(s) within a certain time, so eventually you’ll have to man up and head into the big bad world. I’ve reached the exit by crawling through the grass for what seemed like an eternity multiple times, and the game puts you on that fine line between extreme cowardice and plain common sense.
At the time of writing, this game is still in its closed beta phase, but i did already feel like reviewing it as it’s already such a blast to play! It has it’s flaws, but delivers one hell of a thrill ride to experience with friends. Sure, the game lacks purpose at times, and all your belongings and progression probably will get reset after every major update, but if you can spare a few bucks, try this one out. It’s a unique experience unlike anything i have played before. Tense, scary, rigid and intriguing. Don’t expect a polished package yet, and prepare to get confused by its convoluted menu’s, but most of all: prepare to get entertained!
Escape from Tarkov (Closed Beta) Review
Reader Rating0 Votes
Why you want to go to Tarkov
Playing (read:dying) with your friends is fantastic
Gritty and scary atmosphere unlike anything else
Audio and visuals are crisp and add to the immersion
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