Escape From Tarkov Review — Only For The Most Hardcore FPS Players

Hard to get into, and harder to leave!

Escape from Tarkov Review
Overall
3.5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Escape from Tarkov offers an addictive experience only to those who overcome its steep learning curve and get used to the mechanics.

Pros

  • Strong Gunplay.
  • Intricate Mechanics.
  • Interesting Lore.
  • Impressive Visuals.

Cons

  • Challenging For Beginners.
  • Cheaters.
  • Lackluster Progression.
  • Performance Issues.

Most FPS titles today lean towards being arcade-like rather than purely realistic to appeal to the general audience. Call of Duty, Battlefield, Fortnite, and other popular shooter franchises keep the action and thrill alive with fast-paced combat, fluid movement, and worthwhile progression. So, when I jumped into Escape From Tarkov for the first time, the mechanics completely threw me off.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Battlestate Games.
  • Publisher: Battlestate Games.
  • Release Date: July 27, 2017.
  • Platforms: PC.
  • Game Length: 214 hours.
  • Time Played: 119 hours.

As I sunk hours into this game, I started to get my footing and appreciate some of its design choices. Don’t get me wrong: even as an extraction shooter, Tarkov needs a bit of work, and it’s definitely not for everyone. However, I feel it has enough potential to thoroughly satisfy its target niche audience.

Story And Setting

story escape from tarkov
The two major factions: USEC and BEAR (Screenshot by eXputer)

Unlike most extraction shooters, Escape From Tarkov tries to set up a narrative while establishing roles for its factions to give the world some character. Tarkov is a city situated in the fictional Norvinsk region of Russia where everyone has fallen into chaos after Terra Group, a foreign corporation, grew in size and began illegally hoarding the city’s resources.

Now, there are three military factions fighting in Tarkov: USEC, BEAR, and SCAVs, the local scavenger gangs. Backed by the Russian government, BEAR acts in secrecy to uncover Terra Group’s true activities, while Terra Group employs USEC to keep anyone from damaging their activities. All three factions actively target each other, often leading to violence and hostility throughout the region.

The Broken Metropolitan

setting escape from tarkov
The grim and torn city of Tarkov (Screenshot by eXputer)

Escape from Tarkov does an excellent job with its setting, portraying its city as if it’s in the midst of an apocalypse. Everything in the region, from homes to streets to buildings, is covered in blood and rubble. There’s no sign of life except for the military forces hunting anyone who isn’t a part of their faction.

Unlike most extraction shooters, Escape From Tarkov tries to set up a narrative while establishing roles for its factions to give the world some character.

I absolutely adore the care and detail put into the environment, making you truly feel the effects of the ongoing war. Rather than going for over-the-top gore and military action, the setting is simple and grounded, which is exactly what I believe this game was aiming for.

Gameplay

gameplay escape from tarkov
The first-person gameplay (Screenshot by eXputer)

Escape from Tarkov’s gameplay focuses on slow and heavy combat, prioritizing movement, stealth, and situational awareness over gun accuracy. Each session, or raid, is a 15–35-minute session in which your goal is to scour the map for valuable loot and head to the extraction point before the timer runs out. You can join a raid as a PMC or SCAV; both have completely different mechanics.

PMC is your main character with whom you drop into the game, loot, and extract while the rest of the world is hunting you. SCAV is a randomized character that’s friendly with the A.I. and other player SCAVs while your enemies are the other PMCs. SCAVs are generally an easier way to earn money and XP, but they have a 20-minute cooldown once you join a raid as a SCAV.

pmc and scav
PMC vs. SCAV (Screenshot by eXputer)

If I had to summarize, the one word I would use to describe Tarkov’s gunplay is exquisite. It’s impactful, tight, and centered around pure realism. For most players, I’d imagine it will take a while before they adapt to the physics, which is why I recommend sticking to co-op mode rather than going solo.

Escape from Tarkov’s gameplay focuses on slow and heavy combat, prioritizing movement, stealth, and situational awareness over gun accuracy.

Stealth plays a huge role in Tarkov, and a massive chunk of life-and-death situations come down to who saw who first. The time-to-kill in this game is extremely quick, thus explaining the massive camping issue in Tarkov where players just hide until someone enters their crosshairs. Stay cautious, check your corners, and regularly interact with your audio gauge that toggles the noise you make when moving.

Intricate Mechanics Beyond The Looting And Shooting

limbs hp
Introducing the HP system (Screenshot by eXputer)

When you want to heal in FPS games, you either use a medkit or the game automatically regenerates it for you. Tarkov, on the other hand, goes much deeper. Each limb of your character has a certain HP, and once a limb’s HP goes to zero, it suffers permanent damage by turning black.

When a limb turns black, it has a major impact on your character. For instance, if one of your legs goes black, you can’t run, and one of your arms turns black, resulting in having wanky aim. The bleeding, hydration, and energy bars also affect your HP, so you must take care of those, too. Additionally, when you return from a raid, most of the damage you take stays with you, and you’ll need to heal it afterward.

Stealth plays a huge role in Tarkov, and a massive chunk of life-and-death situations come down to who saw who first.

Managing your long-term and short-term inventory is extremely important. When you go into a raid, your short-term inventory is your backpack, tactical rig, and pockets. These have limited slots, so you’ll need to pick and choose the items you want to bring home. Additionally, the items you carry affect your weight, which in turn affects your movement.

The items you bring back are now a part of your permanent, long-term inventory, and you can bring them to other raids. Another way to get permanent items is by visiting different traders. These are your go-to routes for buying weapons and equipment and selling items you get from raids. Each trader deals in specific categories, which honestly makes the buying procedure much easier since you know who’s selling what.

traders escape from tarkov
Traders in Escape from Tarkov (Screenshot by eXputer)

Regularly completing a trader’s tasks builds up their levels, and each new level unlocks new items for you to buy. Alternatively, you can also buy and sell items from the Flea Market, which is essentially your online marketplace. I highly recommend engaging with the market since you’ll often find steal deals to help you in your journey.

The Hellish Layers Of Progression

losing a raid in escape from tarkov
Losing a raid and all my items in the process (Screenshot by eXputer)

Progression in FPS games primarily boils down to unlocking cosmetics and ranking up, but in Escape from Tarkov, it’s noticeably different. For starters, the stakes are much higher, and whatever you lose in the raid is lost permanently unless you’re covered by insurance. The risk reward here, even compared to other extraction shooters, is a little extreme, but I think the satisfaction from a successful raid makes it worthwhile.

There’s also the Wipe, which is frankly a coping mechanic to cover up Tarkov’s grueling punishments. After six months, the game completely cleans your progression while introducing some updates. Yes, all that hard work you earned just vanishes, and believe me, the frustration goes through the roof if the updates are underwhelming, which they often are.

One thing I disdain about the game is its unforgiving nature towards beginners.

One thing I disdain about the game is its unforgiving nature towards beginners. There’s no proper tutorial to guide you through, which is why you’ll often end up losing most, if not all, of your gear within the first week. In that case, you’re just hoping for the next wipe until you actually start learning Escape from Tarkov.

The progression itself is just extremely lackluster. As of now, there are no exclusive unlockables, and the only “progress” you grind for are the achievements that give you nothing. I understand not everything needs to be a grindfest, but the journey feels unrewarding if there isn’t a destination.

The Achievements section (Screenshot by eXputer)

Overall, Escape from Tarkov’s fundamental gameplay mechanics are neat, fleshed out, complex, and dynamic. However, unless you have an addiction to its gunplay, Tarkov doesn’t have much else going for it in terms of replayability. Fortunately, though, that gunplay is a delight once you understand it.

Visuals And Performance

graphics escape from tarkov
The impressive visuals in Escape from Tarkov (Screenshot by eXputer)

Escape from Tarkov looks as realistic as its gameplay, featuring crisp environments and visually stunning graphics. The lighting, gun models, and details, while not the absolute peak in the FPS genre, are still insanely gorgeous and immersive. There are not a lot of graphical settings you can toggle in the menu, but if you have a high-end PC, you’ll be thoroughly impressed when playing it.

Performance-wise, though, oh boy, it’d be an understatement to call Tarkov rough around the edges. There are tons of FPS drops, visual bugs, rendering issues, and general optimization setbacks. There’s also a memory-hogging issue where the game uses a huge chunk of RAM.

Escape from Tarkov looks as realistic as its gameplay, featuring crisp environments and visually stunning graphics.

I ran Escape from Tarkov on High Settings using an RTX 3070 and an i5-12400f, and I was consistently going through framerate dips while touching 120 FPS on average. Since it’s in beta, I’m hoping the game irons out these performance issues upon full release. As it stands though, you’ll need an above-average system to make it run at a playable framerate.

Verdict

verdict for escape from tarkov
Verdict (Screenshot by eXputer)

Escape from Tarkov offers an addictive experience only to those who overcome its steep learning curve and get used to the mechanics. Right from the get-go, the game makes it clear that it comes with unique features that aren’t for everyone. There are some unorthodox gameplay elements that still don’t make sense to me, but as an overall package, Tarkov is designed for enthusiasts and hardcore FPS players.

Behind those complex systems and tedious progression lies a great title that’s packed with tight and impactful gameplay and boasts some of the best realistic FPS elements in the market. But, again, you’ll need to put in the time and effort. 

This is box title
Get This Game
If you enjoy realistic, hardcore FPS games with slow-paced combat.
Dont Get This Game
If you’re not a fan of extraction shooters.
Do I Need To Get This Game
Depends, as Escape from Tarkov is an enthusiast product, meaning its uniqueness could be polarizing.

Alternative Extraction Shooter Games
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Daniyal is a Guides Writer and Editor at eXputer with over one year of experience in content writing. He's had a passion for tech and gaming for more than 15 years. Ever since his first console, the PS2, he's constantly branching off to different genres, and his go-to at the moment is the Souls experience pioneered by FromSoftware, which is evident by his 1,500+ hours of game time on Elden Ring. You can learn some more about Daniyal's gaming journey on his Steam & Xbox profiles.

Experience: 1+ Years || Mainly Covers Guides || Education: Bachelors in Computer Sciences.

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