Escape from Tarkov is an online first-person action based shooter filled with RPG and MMO mechanics and features. Certainly not the first in its genre but it definitely has the potential to rise up and be a shining example of how enjoyable these games can be.

In the closed beta you jump into a map with the hopes of obtaining some nice loot by either scavenging or killing and looting other players or NPC’s. With the loot in hand you must then find the extraction point that allows you to escape from the map.  Whatever you managed to escape with you can either keep for yourself and use, or sell it and make some profit.

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Unlike many survival type games where there doesn’t seem to be any real consequence in death, in Escape from Tarkov it truly is the complete opposite, brutal would be understatement. If you have gone into a game as your character and you are killed, all of the items you took with you are lost. However, you can insure some items but these are only returned to you if the items are not looted by another player after your death.

This forces players to think before they act and tread carefully when it comes to what weapons and medical items to take with them when venturing into Tarkov. As I mentioned previously you not only have to contend with the AI but with other players too, this can lead to some interesting dynamics when it comes to battling. There is only two tell’s that makes you aware you are against AI and that is the voice clips that play randomly when close to them. The other is being experienced enough to tell the difference between the way a real player moves about compared to an NPC.

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Now if sometimes that all just sounds like too much risk, then you are in luck. You can play in the game as a random bandit with the objective to make things difficult for other players. Spawning with randomly generated equipment, health, skills and appearance. If the Scav character survives, then the gear is retrieved to the stash. This is a good way for the new players to experience each map and learn the ins and outs with as little to lose as possible.

Playing in a group is just as daunting as playing alone since there is next to no HUD. No teammate markers or player names meaning you must rely on remembering the appearance of your ally and communication, to prevent any mishaps. Many times have I turned around to see a player and I go to shoot them without thinking only for a last second reflex to stop me in my tracks, realising it’s my teammate.

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The lack of a HUD means you need to be smart about ammo usage, remembering how many shots you have fired in a clip in order to know when to reload. You can rely on the inventory system but remember whilst in the inventory screen you are vulnerable. It’s a harsh trade-off but one that ensures more realism.

Weapon customization is featured in the closed beta and is quite detailed, with numerous attachment or modification slots per weapon. This customization allows for a play how you want approach. Whilst not in-game, players can enter the trading screen and purchase or sell weapons, medical supplies or any other items with various vendors. Players decide ultimately on their loadout provided they have enough funds.

The game from a visual standpoint is highly detailed, the world is fully fleshed-out and looks true to what it should be. There is debris and trash strewn across each area, broken vehicles and windows aplenty. Grass is long and sways with the wind albeit a little too much, it’s super easy to lose yourself in your surroundings.

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Sound is a powerful ally in Escape from Tarkov and allows players to sneak up on other players or prevent others from closing the distance between you and them. Not only do you have to be visually aware, you need to listen, for voices, footsteps and even the rustling of leaves. When walking through a bush or against trees, the sound of leaves scratching against a backpack is prominent. What could be considered a small inclusion is actually a fantastic idea and feature that’s been well executed.

Escape from Tarkov is a joy to play in its current state and we haven’t even seen its final form yet. The final game looks to contain a story mode in which players will explore 10 maps, each increasing in difficulty. After completion of the story, a free roam mode will be unlocked that allows up to 64 players to explore the full map of Tarkov with no border restrictions. Not only that but an arena mode will allow PVP encounters to take place inside a shopping mall for 1v1 and 2v2 action. The game deserves a permanent space on my desktop, showing a whole lot of promise and I look forward to the final product.

Written by Rhys Baldwin.

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