Over the past few years, I’ve tortured myself for thousands of hours in a video game that sometimes brings me nothing but pain.
Escape from Tarkov is an incredibly unique survival, first-person shooter. It has an incredible looting system and realistic gun customization that is unmatched in the FPS genre.
It’s also a broken mess filled with frustrations, cheaters, and constant bugs that make me want to rip my hair out. Sometimes in the game, I truly question my sanity and why I keep subjecting myself to the pain.
But I am helplessly in love with this game. Maybe the adrenaline rush from finding (or taking) some expensive loot that will help you on your journey.
Or maybe it’s the bold promise of a brighter future when the game is fully fleshed out.
Either way, I don’t see myself giving up Escape from Tarkov anytime soon. Let me tell you a little about my time in this love-hate relationship.
Early access: a gift and a curse
The first thing to note is that Escape from Tarkov is still in development.w We’re essentially beta-testing the game before its official launch.
I’ve logged a couple of thousand hours in the game over the last four or five years. That might sound like a lot, but hardcore Tarkov fans will call those rookie numbers.
Those hours lead me to the conclusion that early access is both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, the end goal of Escape from Tarkov is one that I’m incredibly excited about, and I’m glad I can experience part of the journey early.
On the other hand, the game is a buggy mess. And for every patch that fixes known issues, more issues continue to arise to frustrate you even further.
The latest update brought a new map, called Streets of Tarkov. It was a highly anticipated update that fans of the game have been waiting for for years.
The new map’s scope is beyond anything we’ve had in the game yet. And, as you might imagine, so is the scope of the bugs it introduced.
This patch changed the game’s sound, and it obviously isn’t optimized. Directional audio is shaky at best, and don’t even imagine being able to locate someone a couple of floors above or below you.
Not to mention, random sounds decide they want to cut out after a few minutes in a match.
One minute you hear yourself accidentally brush against a bush, and the next, you can run through a jungle without the hint of a bush sound.
Again, the game is still in development. But these bugs are incredibly frustrating, especially when the devs take a key aspect of the game and make it fundamentally worse than before.
Unique gameplay loop but subpar gameplay
The biggest draw for me to Escape from Tarkov is its gameplay loop. Players are dropped into a map with gear they equip from their stash.
The object is to move around the map, complete tasks, gather loot, and survive. But you’ll be on a map with 10 to 15 other players and dozens of AI, called “scavs,” that could easily kill you.
If you survive long enough and make it to an extraction zone, you can keep everything you find along the way. But if you die, everything you have, including the gear you brought in, is gone forever.
This leads to stressful situations when you need to survive for a task or find some expensive loot. It also makes the game exhilarating and rewarding when you successfully extract.
But Escape from Tarkov’s gameplay is in a constant state of distress, with bugs and questionable mechanics.
One really frustrating aspect is desync.
Desync is the difference between what we see in a game and what others see. It’s due to server latency and is why you sometimes die in shooters quicker than you thought possible.
And it’s really bad in Escape from Tarkov. It’s not uncommon to die for someone who looks like they’re still running on your screen, and they see you almost a full second before you see them.
Escape from Tarkov is meant to be a tactical game.
That means less running and gunning like Call of Duty and more angles and tactical gameplay, like Counter-Strike. But a lot of that is lost due to desync.
Escape from Tarkov has a pretty significant problem with cheaters. And the cheats are pretty game-breaking.
The game is filled with your average god mode, radar, and aimbots. But those aren’t even the most frustrating cheats.
Some cheats allow other players to see all of the loot on the map. That also includes anything that you have on your person.
So if you load into a map with a cheater and you have some really nice, expensive gear on, they’ll know. Then, they can use their radar and aimbots to take you out and steal your gear.
The game uses Battleye anti-cheat and recently finished a massive ban wave that has made the game more bearable for at least a while.
But the cheaters will be back and on their regular shenanigans before long.
One questionable mechanic that has been a hot topic lately is gun recoil.
See, Escape from Tarkov is an RPG at the end of the day. Your character has skills that you level up and progresses as you play.
One of those skills is recoil. The more you use an automatic weapon, the better your character will be at controlling recoil.
The problem is the actual player has very little control over a gun’s recoil. In other games, you move your mouse to counteract a gun’s recoil when firing.
In Escape from Tarkov, moving the mouse does little if you don’t have a high recoil level.
On the other hand, players with a high recoil control skill don’t have to counteract recoil very much at all.
This isn’t terrible in theory. But the problem is that the game wipes the entire servers every six months when it adds new content. And that resets your skills back to zero.
So only the gamers that can dedicate a full-time job’s worth of hours every week get to experience good recoil control.
Most gamers have to deal with ridiculously bouncy guns the entire time they play Escape from Tarkov.
I will never Escape from Tarkov
Anyone who plays this game knows that it’s a frustrating mess that makes us question what we’re doing with our lives. But so many of us keep coming back.
I think I’ll continue to play this game until the servers shut down for good or I’m no longer able.
It’s probably my favorite shooter of all time, and the unique aspects of the game outweigh the incredible frustrations that come with hours of gameplay.
There’s something special about finally snagging that hard-to-find item or killing a team of players that have been hunting you.
The adrenaline rush from Escape from Tarkov is unmatched by any game I’ve played.
Ideally, there will come a time when the game’s content is finished, and developers can focus on optimizing every aspect. After all, the game is still in early access.
Until that time comes, I’ll likely continue to fight through the pain. At least until everything becomes too frustrating, and it’s time for a break.
Then, I’ll wait until the servers wipe again and return to self-torture.
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