Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

“The most anticipated domestic game of our time”, “the ideological successor of DayZ, STALKER and Metro”, “hardcore action movie for serious players”… No matter how many titles Escape from Tarkov was awarded in absentia, the concept presented by the developers turned out to be too attractive and timely. The creators of EFT almost perfectly guessed the people’s desires – the excitement rose to the envy of other AAA projects from more famous studios.

Now Battlestate Games is beginning to gradually lift the veil of secrecy over its main project. We were lucky – access to the alpha version allowed us to look at “Escape from Tarkov” for ourselves and tell you about our impressions.

A personal stash is the main wealth of each player: it is here that all the good found during raids is stored.

“The best city on earth”

Tarkov is a fictional city located in the fictional Norvinsk region in the north-west of our country. In Soviet times, it was a “closed administrative territorial entity” (ZATO) due to the presence of a number of important defense enterprises. The status of a “closed city” was removed in 1994, and some time later, thanks to the creation of a special economic zone in the region, Tarkov became the largest industrial and economic center of the European part of Russia. It is clear that it was not without foreign investors, one of which was the international corporation Terra Group, which invested a lot of money in production in the city.

And everything would be fine – the region is developing, foreign partners are making a profit, the government has the latest developments and solid tax deductions – but this very Terra Group turned out to be dishonest. Moreover, it was not about petty frauds, but rather serious violations of the law, besides, the management of the concern did not hesitate to use brute force in the form of a private military company USEC to solve emerging problems. At some point, the situation got out of control, and real hostilities unfolded on the territory of the city, where the Western mercenaries were already opposed by a Russian PMC called BEAR.

Most civilians have left Tarkov, and the few remaining are trying to survive in the midst of total chaos and anarchy. There are also enough of those who decide to use the current situation for their own enrichment, since now the one who shoots first is right.

The player in the role of one of the mercenaries – BEAR or USEC – must find a way out of the city, which has turned into a territory of lawlessness. The command has not been in contact for a long time, there is no news from the outside world – the city is blocked by the UN military and Russian troops. Everyone can turn out to be an enemy, as well as a friend – both other employees of both PMCs, and local residents or bandits (and often these are one and the same thing). How to behave in such a situation and how to survive? Everyone is free to decide for themselves.

Oddly enough, the information about the plot in the alpha version itself is minimal – except for small notes that are shown in tooltips during level loading. Outside of the game itself, the presentation of the story is much better – in the official groups on social networks, you can even find a stylization of articles from the local press. So those who want to know about the plot of the game are better off looking for information outside the “alpha” – here it has to be mined bit by bit.

Each weapon is disassembled approximately to this state. All other details are presented in several versions, so you can always build a model for a specific situation.

Until the last screw

Having more or less understood the simple history of Tarkov, we finally set off to explore the city. Of course, to begin with, you will have to linger a little to visit the cache and pick up equipment for your fighter. However, as soon as you enter the character’s window, you find that the exit to the city is delayed for at least half an hour – the fault is a special system for modifying weapons and equipment, which allows you to disassemble each “barrel” and change literally anything in it, from the barrel and butt to the sight and shop.

Digging among the variety of all this “firearm”, as well as many modules for it, is very interesting. Even if we do not take into account the fact that the effectiveness of the weapon is affected by its equipment, the assembly and disassembly of each “barrel” is a purely aesthetic pleasure.

There is such a thing as Gun Porn, which refers to various high-quality photos and videos dedicated to weapons and their use or creation (and not at all what you think). So, in Escape from Tarkov, this love of weapons is brought to the highest level. The models are of very high quality and correspond to the real ones, almost every detail can be examined in great detail, replaced with a similar one or completely removed. The only thing missing is the ability to fill stores on their own, one cartridge at a time.

It is quite possible to fight with a “Kalash” without a receiver cover or without a butt, so it’s far from a problem if there are not enough spare parts – there would be critical modules for work. The authors of the models deserve the most flattering words. But GUI developers can no longer be praised: the interface is good in appearance, but very inconvenient to use.

In addition to working with equipment, here you can also study the statistics of your character, his skills and health. Although the role-playing system in the “alpha” is not yet available, you can get a general idea of ​​​​it: the main skills and their descriptions are not hidden from the player, but you still cannot “pump” each one – only the overall level is growing.

In general, the weapon modification system is impressive, especially when you have enough different models and parts to “customize”. Apparently, the “fault” of such an abundance was the press account, so the cache is full of weapons and equipment. Mere mortals will have to extract such wealth from scratch: either during raids or from merchants.

There is always a choice at Zavod – either hide in a corner and wait for someone to reveal themselves, or take the initiative in their own hands, hoping for a surprise effect.

Go out to people

I’m going on my first raid, and I, having gathered with me the equipment to the maximum. VSS in his hands, SV-98 and the most voluminous backpack on his back, a pistol with PBS in a holster, a roomy unloading stuffed with magazines and grenades, a night vision device on his head.

The rules are simple – you need to get to the exit from the location without dying from the bullets of other players or bots, and, if possible, find (or remove from the dead) something useful for use or sale. Other participants are doing the same, and it is quite possible to cooperate with them, but this is more from the realm of fantasy: so far everyone prefers to shoot to kill at every meeting.

Bots in the role of local bandits (they are called “Wild” here) do not pose any particular danger. Yes, they handle weapons well, but their actions are easy to predict – they behave too simply and predictably.

In the future, players will also be able to act as “Savages”: in this case, they will not be able to choose equipment, but, having survived, it will be possible to replenish the cache of the main character if they manage to find something valuable.

So far, three cards are available in EFT: “Customs”, “Forest” and “Factory”. If the latter is a relatively small level, where there is practically no place to deploy with long-range weapons, then the first two will take a long time to study. There is no open world, at least not yet. Later, the developers promise to add a separate mode in which it will be possible to move around Tarkov relatively freely, albeit with loading levels at transition points.

The gameplay in each location is unique. “Zavod” is a paradise for “campers” and those who know how to control themselves. You focus more on the sound, all movements are in short dashes, from cover to cover. Here, shotguns and pistols are in honor – the very thing to shoot quickly without spending a lot of time searching for the enemy. As a rule, the most patient survives here.

At Customs, things are different. A vast open-air area built up with garages and warehouses, with a railway and a river. You will have to try to find other players or valuable loot. Skirmishes at medium distances, active use of shelters and detours from the flanks – it is better not to go here with a “short-barreled” weapon.

The design of the locations pleases – in Tarkov you can easily guess an ordinary Russian city.

“Forest” and in Tarkov forest. Wildlife in the suburbs, there are enough coniferous thickets, as well as enough open spaces. Here, the potential of sniper weapons is fully revealed, although you can find use for the same shotguns.

I would like to hope that the rest of the locations will be as diverse both externally and in terms of gameplay. At the very least, dense urban development of Tarkov itself awaits us – for sure, there will also be their own characteristics, which will have to be taken into account during raids for swag.

without ceremony

Fights in EFT are really hardcore: a couple of hits are enough to send the enemy to the next world, and the recoil when fired and ballistics modeling forces you to shoot in short bursts or single shots, preferably from a sitting or lying position. Quite at the level of the Operation Flashpoint / Arma series, and in some ways even tougher – in Tarkov, for example, there is practically no “zoom”, thanks to which, in the same Arma III, you can easily hit a target at a distance of 500 – 600 meters even without optical sight. Here, sometimes you have to shoot not at the enemy, but at the shelter behind which he hid, hoping that the bullet would still catch him. Quite realistic, as promised.

The sound design deserves special mention. It’s not just good, it’s great. Juicy sounds of shots, the sound of shell casings on the floor, a loud stomp when running, curses of “wounded animals” – everything is done very high quality and “like in life.” The bandits yell obscenities, not at all embarrassed, and the weapons shoot really loudly, without any pity for the ears. Again, sound works great for both atmosphere and gameplay. Take the same “Plant” – in the vast majority of cases, the enemy can first be heard, not seen.

You can’t exactly call it a “casual” game. In addition to the rather complex implementation of shooting, raids in the dark can be cited as an example. At night, nothing is really visible here, even a night vision device does not save, which, as in real life, provides far from the best visibility.

Equipment is completely lost upon death, with the exception of the contents of a special container (and that one is quite small – you can’t put much in it). I lost all the most fashionable “equipment” in that very first raid. However, for the note to the delighted fans of hardcore – then the fault of the unsuccessful end of the sortie was not at all an enemy bullet, but a banal flight to the main menu without explaining the reasons for what happened. There are still enough such errors – “alpha” is “alpha”, in some places the game can surprise you very unpleasantly. Optimization also suffers – I had to get used to the constant howl of the cooler of the video card operating at the limit of its capabilities.

At the moment, there are four merchants in the game, and each has its own preferences and its own assortment of goods.

***

Escape from Tarkov at the moment is a rather rough draft, on which there is still work and work to be done. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that the authors know what they want to achieve, and judging by the implementation of some of their promises in the alpha version, they do not intend to turn off the intended path at all. If they succeed, then we will indeed get that “hardcore action movie for serious people.”

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