Oh hello there, its been a while.
After that one comment thread about alleged sexism in Escape from Tarkov (or rather developers being clueless provincials imo) I actually decided to play the damn game. That was iirc back in january. I poured about 400 hours into it and I’m still not sure what I think about it. I kind of wanted it to be DayZ lite but it’s not really that. Recently I scrolled through my old DayZ screenshots and I remembered vividly almost everything that happened even though it was like five-six years ago. In Tarkov more stuff happens in one 15-30 min “raid” then in 10 hours of DayZ BUT it’s a far less unique and memorable experience. Basically you complete some lame quest, do some PvP, grab some stuff and/or die trying. DayZ offered a world (flawed and static as it was) that existed regardless of what players were doing and even though people liked to disparage DayZ as “just slow deathmatch” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that (incidentally there is a deathmatch mod for DayZ and it is indeed slow). But DayZ required so much time and patience.
So Tarkov then. What is it?
It’s a monstrously over complicated and janky multiplayer game that tries to blend lootershooter, survival, ‘realistic military style’ PvP and some non-gameplay MMO elements (hideout and flea market). It’s a mixed bag and it’s not at all realistic. I’ll start with The Bad: It’s still in alpha and it shows. It will probably never be what devs initially planned/promised. Even though quests are still placeholders I doubt devs will ever rework that part of the game completely. Basically quests suck in Tarkov. Spawn locations are bad. Cheaters are a fact of life. Endgame content is “bring Thermal goggles and gen4-s/altyn-s into every raid because wipe is soon anyway”. Midgame content is nonexistent (ok, you grinded to get an Epsilon case, fine cool so what, EOD people had better case from the start) because all gear in this game is either ‘budget trash’ or ‘top shelf’. But at some point everyone has best ammo and with best ammo top tear gear is as paper thin as trash gear. And here is where I arrive to The Good and why I still play this game. Basically I treat Tarkov as a gambling game. I bring low tear stuff and try to leave the raid with top tear stuff. I die most of the time of course. But sometimes I get lucky. This is the gameplay loop of Tarkov for me. I bring some cheap ass gun (sks, mosin, vepr hunter, maybe a mildly upgraded AKM if I’m willing to spend a 100k on a raid) and some trash gear, I camp corners, crawl and sneak to where I expect to see geared players, I ambush them and try to get out with their stuff. I never even use it and just sell it. That’s about it. Sounds trivial but it’s addicting like any gambling and also carrying a few millions worth of loot is exhilarating. So much so that I become a jittery mess until I’m in the exfil location. If I meet someone while carrying some pointlessly expensive stuff I usually die unless I panic spray them. Gear fear is very real thing for me.
Now some random thoughts. If anyone saw videos of popular streamers playing it just forget it. There is a ‘Streamer Tarkov’ and ‘Normal Tarkov’. Streamers chase PvP, their insane following tries to stream snipe them, also they are good at the game because they play it pretty much all day every day. Therefore when you see 1v5 clips take it with a grain of salt. This is not ‘Normal Tarkov’. In all 400 hours I saw five-man groups maybe half a dozen times. Seeing four or more people at the same time is rare. YMMV of course. I’m pretty sure communications are a nightmare and friendly fire is a huge problem for big groups. Hell I once was in a dark room with a hostile duo and at some point they almost killed each other. I tried playing as a duo but constantly communicating trivial stuff is exhausting and with my cowardly playstyle it’s even worse than being alone.
Player skill in Tarkov is not what people think. Twitch aim is mostly useless unless you dm people on Factory with a mosin. Map and game knowledge are more important. At some point everyone have meta guns with no recoil and large magazines. Basically people just spray in the general direction of the center of the screen and whoever have a bigger dps wins. I hate that meta. Thats why Labs and Factory I don’t go to often unless I want to farm raiders on Labs. Thankfully you can go to bigger maps and play it like a pseudo-Dayz. Still stuff that happens in Tarkov is nowhere near as in Dayz in terms of ‘emergent gameplay’.
What really bums me is that there is no great story to tell about a Tarkov raid. So you killed a team of five geared players with a mosin obrez and got all their loot - FLIRs, gen4s, altyns, M1As, whatever. Good for you. So what? Great memorable moments in Dayz for me didn’t even have fighting and loot as the main part. It was like added spice to an already pretty good meal. Tarkov can provide great entertainment and experience but not a memorable one. Last wipe I dropped a fully geared duo on Customs. That was the pinnacle of all my raids. I ambushed them. Headshotted one, wounded another and then I flanked the surviving player for almost ten minutes. I went from railway bridge near factory checkpoint all around the outer rim of the map and came from Old gas station. They never expected it and I got all their stuff. Basically two best sets of gear in the game (fully upgraded AS VAL with Reap-ir, M1A with FLIR, gen4 vests, ALTYN helmets etc and they had good stuff they looted themselves). Then bot shot me in the stomach and I started dying of dehidration/low energy. I had to drop a bag with part of the loot and I barely limped out of the raid. I sold everything for about 1,8 millions (could have been more if I didin’t have to drop stuff). So what? It meant nothing, I just had 1.8 millions I didn’t even need. They lost stuff they could replace easily. They weren’t even upset I bet. Being one–tapped is a fact of life. Then wipe happened anyway. So what? This wipe I killed EOD edition owner who brought all his fancy stuff on a Shoreline raid while being lvl1. He fought some bots and I facetapped from a hill top with some trash gun. I got his stuff and suddenly two naked people with pistols jumped me. I barely killed them and survived only because I had top armor from EOD edition person. I sold it all. I got the cash. I upgraded something in the hideout. So what? Nothing really. Nothing at all.
TL;DR Basically you can listen to ‘Ministry - So What’ instead of playing Tarkov. Or you can listen to it while playing because audio in Tarkov is still inconsistent even after the latest patch so sometimes you don’t hear people creeping up on you and sometimes they don’t hear you creeping up on them. I still kind of like some things about it but such sheer meaninglessness creeps me out nowadays for obvious IRL reasons.