The Rise of Tarkov

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My very first post was an Escape from Tarkov review. Tarkov, at the time, was a niche game, but as it was one of my favourite shooters, I thought it would be an interesting debut to the Coil platform. Escape from Tarkov’s popularity has since exploded, and it now regularly tops the viewer count list on Twitch. This rise in popularity coincided with the release of the new 0.12 patch and the developers allowing players to link their Tarkov accounts to Twitch to receive in-game drops.

A similar method of advertising worked spectacularly for the EA game Apex Legends about a year ago. Twitch seems to be a kingmaker for these kinds of games. Where Tarkov seems to differ is that Electronic Arts officially paid these streamers to play and promote Apex Legends, which required them to disclose this sponsorship on their Twitch streams. From what I was able to dig up, there was no such sponsorship agreement between Battlestate Games and the streamers, other than the partnership with Twitch to enable in-game drops. The streamers seem to genuinely enjoy playing Tarkov, and the viewers love the high-stakes, action-packed gameplay that Escape from Tarkov offers.

In addition to general bug and stability fixes, the 0.12 patch added several interesting new features. Tarkov now allows players to establish and upgrade a base using items and currency they find in-game. Most of these upgrades provide a benefit to the player. For example, the medstation produces first aid kits that heal a player’s injuries during combat. Tarkov also features a representation of Bitcoin as in-game currency and allows the players to use graphics cards found around the game world to create a bitcoin farm.

The biggest change in gameplay from the previous patch is that injuries sustained during a raid carry over after the raid ends. If your character becomes seriously injured during a failed raid attempt, he will have to either rest until his injuries heal, or spend money on healing items to speed up the process. This may sound cumbersome, but it solved a big problem I mentioned in my earlier review. Players can no longer sprint without gear to high-value loot areas and scoop up everything of value. If they die to the NPC Scavs(scavengers) or another player, their character will have serious injuries to contend with before they can enter another raid. The developers have also limited the types of items that players can store in their gamma containers (a secure container in a player’s inventory that does not drop on death).

The most annoying aspect of the new patch is the difficulty level of the bosses. They strike without warning, often before the player even sees them. This bionic vision is exacerbated by their pinpoint accuracy with ammo that has the highest armor penetration rating. Often, all a player hears is their signature weapon fire before being instantly killed from some unknown angle. If this happens towards the end of a raid, it is infuriating.

Patch 0.12 also features the new Reserve map, which is an abandoned government facility rumoured to be stocked full of supplies, ammunition, medication, and other lootable items.

Players have the option of loading into the raid as a soldier from a private military corporation, which they can customize with whatever gear they want, or they can take control of one of the NPC scavs. The scavs have a random assortment of gear and weapons. The rest of the NPCs, save for the bosses, are not hostile towards the player scavs until they kill one of the NPCs. Players get to keep whatever gear they manage to carry to the extract either on their PMC runs or their scav runs, but players must survive the raid in order to keep their gear and any items they found in the game world. If the player fails to extract, either from being killed or from the map time running out, they lose everything. For new players, scav runs are a safe way to learn the maps absent the risk of losing any valuable gear. The only downside is that scav runs have around a 25-minute cooldown.

The popular game streamer Shroud recently mentioned the post-Tarkov shooter effect, which describes the general inability to enjoy other shooter games after one has become addicted to the Escape from Tarkov gameplay loop. There is no other game quite like Tarkov. It is truly unique amongst a slew of carbon copy, generic shooters. But the difficulty level of the gameplay is severe, and it is not a game for casual players. The developers have made no compromises to soften the difficulty curve for novice players, and it is perhaps for this reason that Tarkov is such a popular game with elite first-person shooter players.

Tarkov’s gunfights produce an adrenaline spike found in almost no other shooter, as victory means that a player can loot another player’s gear. Conversely, if he loses, everything carried into the raid that hasn’t been insured by one of the NPC vendors will be lost forever. The insurance is by no means absolute, as the vendors only return items that haven’t been looted by other players. Combat in other shooters tends to blend together as there are no consequences for failure, but every gunfight in Tarkov brings the promise of either reward or ruin. The feeling of dread and excitement as gunfire erupts around you never diminishes. If you’ve ever watched a TV show that was so good that it left you aimlessly browsing for a different show to watch, unable to immediately enjoy anything else, you’ll understand the post-Tarkov shooter effect. Escape from Tarkov is an amazing game that will no doubt be the standard for other multiplayer shooters for decades to come.

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