Escape From Tarkov (Alpha) Review – The Future of Action/RPG MMO’s?

Escape From Tarkov
Battlestate Games

I’ve played just about every first person shooter there is out there. From 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D, to 1998’s classic game Half-Life (and its 1999 mod Counter-Strike), on up to modern shooters such as Squad and Arma 3 (which sadly isn’t really a mil-sim anymore).

One thing that I’ve noticed is although various first person shooters feature different settings from all sorts of disparate timelines (modern times, near future, World War II, etc.), for the most part the genre as a whole has remained relatively the same. By that I mean you run around with your digital avatar in a first person perspective, aim at targets on your computer screen, and then “pew, pew” them until they are no longer moving. In a way, FPS games remind me of fighting games. Stagnant and unchanging, with little if anything in the way of innovation.


Survival games have also become hugely popular in recent years—the initial wave mainly consisting of games within the survival horror subgenre, and lately more “pure” survival fare such as Rust, Ark, and the like. These latest survival games usually revolve around players starting off with virtually nothing, having to go out and scavenge for resources, build bases, and craft weapons in order to fight off enemy players and/or AI foes. This mix of fun elements makes survival games wildly addictive, and I know that I’ve personally lost many hours to some of them. But I’ve always wondered what it would be like if someone made a game which combined the different facets from these genres and pushed things even further, as far as realism goes.

Seemingly out of nowhere, St. Petersburg’s indie developer Battlestate Games comes along and answered this call for originality, and did so quite well. Their new offering, Escape From Tarkov, is not only a first person shooter with survival elements, but also a quasi-MMO as well. I say “quasi” because even though the game features a large open-world map, players can only access three areas of it so far. Battlestate’s plan is to have all of the points on the map fully realized, and eventually form one singularly massive playing area.


The backstory is an interesting one—a fictitious Russian city called Tarkov lies between East and West, and is the flashpoint of a conflict between two Private Military Companies. These PMC’s are USEC, a UN-backed cadre of mercenaries whom are involved in some sort of murky black ops in the area, and BEAR, a Russian-based force. What’s so fascinating here is that BEAR are merely responding to and investigating USEC, whom they believe to be totally corrupt. So in this game, the Western forces are the bad guys (it was made in Russia after all).

Gameplay basically revolves around going on “raids” across the three available maps. There’s Factory, which is a more closed in urban affair, Customs, a collection of Conex containers, warehouses and office buildings, and patchy tree lines, and Woods, which features wide-open woodlands punctuated by various sorts of industrial structures and compounds.


You can play as either USEC or BEAR mercenaries, or choose to be a Scav, which is the third, minor faction featured in Escape From Tarkov. Unlike the well-equipped PMC factions, Scavs are a rag-tag assortment of various Russian bushwhackers and banditos, intent on trying to pilfer loot anyway they can. Since player-Scavs are naturally at a disadvantage they must utilize asymmetric warfare against their USEC and BEAR foes, and are also bolstered by AI Scavs.

Escape From Tarkov can become a very intense experience, because each player must decide whether they’ve obtained enough loot, or if they want to stick around longer and plunder more. I’ve been on a few raids where I came up on some pretty good weapons and equipment and really had to think if I was being too greedy. Do I stay and grab more stuff and risk getting killed in the process, or get to the evacuation point and store away what I’ve gained?

Speaking of storage, Escape From Tarkov features a very interesting inventory system. Each player has a locker which stores the majority of his items, and also his own personal inventory. The storage locker is untouchable to other players—but whatever each mercenary takes out with himself on raids can be lost. Therefore, deciding what to take on raids can have some serious implications—should you bring heavy armor and big guns, or pack lighter and be more nimble as a result? Personally, I’ve found that teaming up with friends works best, as you can discuss whom will take which roles within your squad, and hopefully complement one another effectively.


The combat mechanics are extremely well thought out in Escape From Tarkov. Not only is the movement more realistic (not spastically fast like a Call of Duty title), but the game features a very realistic ballistics system. I also really loved the injury system. If you fall from a certain height for instance, you may strain or break a leg. Get shot in one of your arms and see it rendered useless until you can apply some meds to it.

Escape From Tarkov’s visuals are also well done. God rays stream through the trees during the day, while industrial areas look suitably drab and dreary. All around, the textures are extremely detailed, and you can tell that the devs did indeed using a new photo-scanning technology in order to create environments that are as true to life as possible.


Although it’s still only in Alpha, Escape From Tarkov is a phenomenal game that combines several genres in order to create one seamless and fluid, realistic FPS experience. If you’ve been looking for a gritty and unique shooter, this just may be the ticket.

SCORE: 91%

Escape From Tarkov offers some stunning visuals that suit its war-torn theme. However, you have to have a fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:


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