According to its About page, Escape from Tarkov is a “hardcore and realistic online first-person action RPG simulator with MMO features and a story-driven walkthrough.” It’s a shooter with persistent character inventory and loadouts, a base-building feature, and tough-as-nails gameplay. Despite having not officially released yet, the game has gained a significant online presence thanks to YouTuber and influencer endorsements, which has many new players diving in to the game.
Despite the preemptive popularity of the game, it’s not immediately apparent what exactly it is. Yes, it’s a first-person shooter, but developer Battlestate Games’ description includes a lot of jargon that reads like nonsense if you’re simply trying to glean the basic gameplay loop. In this guide, we’ll explain what exactly Escape From Tarkov is, and hopefully reveal why is has so many people talking.
What’s a Tarkov?
Escape From Tarkov takes place in the fictional Norvinsk region between Russia and Europe. Ongoing armed conflict has caused mass evacuation of the city of Tarkov, and as a player your aim is escape with as much loot as possible without dying.
The core gameplay loop of Escape From Tarkov takes place in matches that Battlestate calls “raids.” In any given raid, the primary goal is to escape the map. A close second, though, is to gather as much loot as possible. Each map is a large, complex environment with many buildings to explore, with piles and piles of loot to find. You’ll want to collect the best gear you can and make your way to one of the map’s exit points. If you die, though, you’ll lose everything on your body.
Each map is populated by a bunch of AI soldiers called SCAVS. Killing a SCAV gives you access to their precious gear. Early on in your Escape From Tarkov career, this is most likely to be your primary method of earning new equipment. There’s a twist, though: SCAVS will sometimes be player-controlled enemies rather than AI-controlled.
Outside of raids, you have a persistent inventory of everything you manage to loot. This is where you’ll keep your most precious belongings, like keys to hidden areas, ammo, rare weapons, and more. You can also take specialty containers into raids, which serve as a sort of insurance against losing it.
Emphasis on “Realistic”
Beyond the push-your-luck elements of simply participating in raids, Tarkov features some downright hardcore gameplay mechanics. Battlestate’s description of “realistic” is very apt here. In-game, you’ll need to monitor your character’s hunger, thirst, endurance, and relative health. The are many different kinds of medicine in Tarkov, each of which assists with a different aspect of your character’s well-being. Additionally, you can break your character’s limbs, which will negatively affect your running speed or steady aim.
There are lots of other elements to keep in mind as well, such as your gear’s condition, bullet physics, various character actions like leaning and stance transitions, and a lot more. There isn’t much in the way of a heads up display in Tarkov, either. In fact, you’ll have to manually check your gun’s stock of ammunition, it’s tendency to jam, and more.
Escape From Tarkov features a fully player-driven economy. It surrounds the in-game auction house, an MMO-style marketplace where players can post gear for sale. Play the market right and you’ll find yourself swimming in riches. Be careful of what you buy, though—you need to be aware of an item’s condition to be sure that you’re not being swindled. Just like the shooting mechanics, the auction house is truly unforgiving.
And that’s a general rundown on what Escape From Tarkov is! Did this get you interested in the game? Let us know in the comments section!