Many of you already know this game very well. However, a lot of you don’t. Being said, as a strong advocate of this game I will briefly go over some of the more basic things that a lot of you may already know.
Escape From Tarkov is a hyper realistic mil-sim FPS. The game is loosely based around a war torn and post apocalyptic Russia where three factions fight over forgotten loot that is scattered through out the area. The game is listed as an early access Beta release but I personally believe it’s still in an Alpha stage. The reason I say this is because half the game is still unlocked and some of the core skills and mechanics have not been added and the ones that are have been constantly reworked on a regular basis. Being said, let’s go ahead and talk about the new 0.8.0 patch and the things that it’s introduced, fixed, and some of the problems that its highlighted in it’s release.
The three factions in this game are BEAR, USEC, and Scavs. BEAR and USEC are your main character’s faction choice. Currently, there is no difference between the two of them. Later in development, the BEAR will have bonuses to the AK systems and be tailored to using them. The USEC will be trained in using the M4 and other guns as well to give them the benefit of using those. Scavs are another player choice, but they work differently. As a Scav player, the game sets you up with a very low end gear load out and lets you spawn late into the game to be a scavanger. This let’s you go in with a very low risk and high reward situation. If you die, the gear that you lost wasn’t yours to begin with. Being said, if you survive, you keep anything that you bring out of the raid.
There are currently 5 maps available to choose from. These maps are Factory, Customs, Woods, Shoreline, and Interchange. You can enter these raids as a solo player or have up to 4 other team members. Depending on the map you choose, there will be X amount of other players that enter the raid including AI Scavs that spawn in the map. After a few minutes into the raid, a handful of Scav players will spawn in the raid late to get their piece of the action. The drawback of going in as a squad is communication is KEY. This isn’t Call of Duty. There are no teammate indicators so knowing who your teammate is and exactly where they are is one of the most important things that determine a successful raid and a death screen saying that your team mate put a 5.56 into your head.
This game is a giant adrenaline rush of rage, excitement, and “oh shit” moments. Killing a player who is in end game gear and getting out alive with it is incredibly gratifying because you know how hard he worked and how much time and money he spent to get those items. At the time of writing this, this is by far my favorite shooter on the market and one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had playing a game.
Now that we’ve touched down on the basics of the game, let’s go ahead and look at the changes and content that 0.8 brought us.
Interchange is the newest map introduced to Battle State Game’s “Escape From Tarkov.” The map isn’t necessarily big, but due to the vertical gameplay design inside the map it feels massive. Interchange is a giant shopping complex that consists of three very big stores (Idea, Oli, and Goshan) and is intertwined by various stores that litter both sides of the hallways connecting the three of them. This map is currently a loot haven. As a team of 5, there is enough loot that you can all go in and come out with extra guns, gear, and bartering items.
Currently, there are no AI Scavs in this map and Scav Players don’t have the option to join. Being said, it can seem like an absolute snooze fest. The design, lighting, and environment elements that go into this map are absolutely phenomenal. Once Scavs are added, I believe this will be my go-to map for my normal runs. Generally when you come into this map at the time, you will encounter a few hatcheters but also a fully geared team or two. The lay out of the mall lets you make a lot of choices in the way you fight. The engagements are highly entertaining and let you be stealthy or run straight into gun fights and go loud.
Armor and Ammo Balances
Armor and ammunition changes have been a huge talking point of this map. I don’t agree with a lot of them personally, however, I realize they will be changed down the road and fine tuned. I will not go through each ammo type one by one as there are a lot of them, but we will touch base on how they work. There are various types of ammo in this game for each caliber. Each variation has a different base damage and base penetration value. The armor values work in a similar way. Each armor can block X amount of penetration and damage. It DID need to be adjusted. However, at this point in time they seriously need to reevaluate the numerical values tied to each piece of equipment. Prior to 0.8, end game Fort armor was an absolute bullet sponge that could tank 12-15 9×18 bullets before it started to really cause fatal damage to the user. This is when the ‘leg meta’ came into play where players would aim for the legs as their was no armor and it was much faster to cut down the competition that way rather than going for the skillful headshots or “mag dumping” into someone’s chest.
In 0.8, they added a face hitbox. This allows helmet wearers to still be one shot if a bullet connects to their face, ears, or the nape of their neck. I love this concept, however, it is still currently severely broken with some of the new things implemented. You can purchase an end game FAST MT helmet with a mandible or visor for roughly $2500 or 250,000 Roubles and still get one tapped by a Scav with a shotgun from 100 meters away. I understand that this new mechanic will take time to test and get right. At the moment, it is incredible broken. I do, however, have faith that BSG will get this right in time and have it where it needs to be.
It has been verified that the mandible on the FAST MT is currently broken and is not registering bullets that hit them so they just go directly through it. The face shields do their job, but the armor value on them only allow for 1 medium tier to be stopped. A high end bullet will still 1 tap the wearer if hit directly in the shield. Being this small of an advantage, the audible sound dampening and the visual impairment while wearing these are a giant hinderance and it is ultimately left up to you to decide whether it’s worth it or not.
With 0.8’s adjustments of the ammo and value changes, I believe they completely need to be reworked. There was something wrong prior to the patch and I applaud BSG for listening to the community and trying to fix it. However, instead of fixing the base for one of the two things, they switched both. They greatly increased the base damage and penetration values of almost all ammunition and reduced the armor value of all pieces in the game. This can make it feel like you’re cannon fodder while wearing a paper mache gear load out similar to the ones you’d find at a local LARP event. In time, I know that they will fix this. It’s just hard to justify spending 400,000+ Roubles at the moment for a FAST and Fort armor due to the disadvantages that come with it for speed, sight, and sound.
Hatchets. Hatcheters. Scum of the Earth. Little bastard children of the Russian Scav Gods. Wiggling little back stabbing sons of bitches who you trust once and then they sink their god damn hatchet into the back of your neck when you murder a Scav and save their life because the greedy little shitbags know no moral values and have zero respect. Okay, I’m done. But, seriously… some of these nuisances have been brought to a halt due to recent changes in the way that hatchets work.
Hatcheting has been a viable option to run in this game. Basically, you go into a game with zero loot on your body whatsoever and you’re armed with nothing more than a hatchet. Zero risk, huge rewards. It used to actually be LESS of an issue pre 0.8 due to the fact there was no face hitbox. Prior to 0.8, fully kitted players would laugh at hatcheters. They were the little brothers or sisters that we would make fun of as teenagers that would hit us and scream and cry because they couldn’t hurt us regardless of how hard they tried. At the beginning of 0.8, those hatcheters were terrifying. Even if you were in full armor and a helmet, they could jump out of a corner and hit you in the face and immediately bring the rage filled death screen recap that all players have become very familiar with. Luckily, hatchet reach and damage has been reworked. Are they still effective? Yes. Are you going to be able to run up and one shot someone and get their gear and run off to the extraction and store it in your stash before they even have an idea of what happened to them? No.
The reach and damage of hatchets has been drastically reduced. It will now take a lot of skill, smarts, and wit to kill a fully kitted player with a hatchet. It is still doable, however. Most players were blind to the fact that there is actually two different animations to attacking with a knife or a hatchet. LMB is your standard “swing” or “slash.” However, if you click RMB while close to an enemy, your character will actually do a punching motion. While the reach of this attack is much less, the damage is increased by 40%. A base LMB attack does 25 damage while a base RMB attack does 35. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re sinking that into someone’s face with two quick and successive hits at close range it makes a huge difference.
Guns, Armors, Backpacks, Tactical Rigs, and Helmets!
New guns, armors, and helmets have been added! By the time a wipe comes to a close, we generally all get pretty tired of the weapons that we have been using. 0.8 has brought us many new toys that we can play with. The new AK variant series of assault rifles, M1A, 870, and a new fully automatic pistol have all been added for us to use in raids. In addition, there has been new armors, backpacks, and helmets added as well. I won’t touch down on each of these, as there are a lot of them. However, I will state that they added these items to “fill up” the void areas of armor and helmet levels in game. Previously, we didn’t have options for all armor levels (1-6) for helmets and armor. Now, we have a lot more to choose from.
The new AK 100 series variants are a very welcomed addition to the game. These guns give you a new way to fully kit out an AK and also offer the gun in both 5.56 and 7.62 calibers. The M1A has turned into a armor shredding monster that rewards accuracy with it’s 20 round magazines. With the new reloading mechanics, the Stechkin Automatic Pistol (APS) is a very viable sidearm to use in raids when in a long fight and the bullets in your clips are diminishing fast. The 870 is an addition that a lot of people were looking forward to. A very ergonomic friendly shotgun with the ability to clear rooms quickly.
Ragman is a new vendor to Tarkov. Want to give your character some personal flair? Have an idiot team mate who constantly shoots you because he doesn’t realize it’s you and can’t listen to comms? This is the place to go. In standard Scav Tarkov fashion, make the idiots wear baseball caps. Baseball caps signify that you’re a very bad player so other players will avoid shooting you and let you play because they know you’re gonna be dead in 30 seconds anyways. Also, your team mates will realize “hey, it’s that idiot team mate of ours that doesn’t wanna wear a helmet so he has a hat on.” (You know who you are, but I won’t say names. (Atpot) (I can do brackets, too, Selzzek.) (BRACKETS!))))
Ragman is also the new go-to vendor to get your armor, helmets, and backpacks. The prices have gone waaaaaaaaaay up. I already touched down on how I feel about the way armor and helmets have worked in this patch, so I won’t say more on that. However, this is now the place to go to get your load out for your upcoming raids. Not much can be said about Ragman. The only thing I would change about him is his Royalty tier level needed. Currently, it sits at level 40. It takes a LONG time to get to level 40 in this game. Personally, I would have liked to see this number around 35.
Mag dumping is no longer the meta. Generally, you load up with two 60 round mags for your gun of choice and don’t stop shooting until the gun goes click. Once you’re empty, while your character was in animation of reloading, you’d swap to your inventory and drag a stack of ammo into your empty mag and exit and continue. With this patch, the meta has changed. In this patch, they introduced a time-based reloading mechanic. Being said, this will reward the skilled and patient players who take their time to line up their shots. You now have to decide whether you have to unload as many bullets as fast as possible or take the time to make sure they are all landing. Inventory size is precious in this game, and allocating 4 extra slots to more filled magazines can be incredibly beneficial or incredibly hinder you depending on what you find in a raid.
I love this change. I love the things they implemented for it. Some people are very salty about this change because as I said, it changed the meta of the game. I’m sure as the game progresses more changes will be put in place to speed up this action. However, I am incredibly happy with where this is at currently.
Some of the skills have been changed in 0.8. The Strength skill was incredibly broken and easily exploitable. Luckily, BSG addressed this by doing a hotfix to wipe everyone back to 0 and change the way strength is obtained. Endurance also took a huge hit in how fast you level it up. Currently, I am sitting at level 38 in game and my endurance is hovering at around 15. Prior to this patch, at this level I would have easily been at level 30 by now. I enjoy knowing it’s going to take more time to level up your character’s soft skills for end game. The benefits of a skill at the max level of 51 are incredibly strong and it should take a long time to get them. In addition to reworking the skills, they are also more important than ever as they have greatly reduced recoil in game with all guns. Skills will level up by performing actions and will decrease over time if you ignore doing them. This aspect of the game is something we’ve never seen in an FPS before so we have to understand that it will take time to get all of these things correct.
Scavs have seemed to get a lot smarter. You still find the ones out in the world that are related to Maniac Shogun, though. You know the ones… Walking into walls… A fifth limb due to multiple generations of incest in the family. I’ve provided a clip to show you what exactly I’m referencing.
Scavs now seem to react differently. They’ll search for cover more quickly, lay down and go prone, and be a little bit more stealthy around the map. There’s also the Terminator/Rambo Scavs you’ll occasionally encounter. I do like these changes that they made to the Scavs. However, the fact that a Scav with an MP153 can target an unarmored limb from 100 meters away is a bit unrealistic. There are changes that need to be made here, but they have made the Scavs much more dangerous this wipe.
They removed the “legs” of your character from the Scavs view. This means that “half mass” for your character is now your sternum. With the new hitbox for the face and the increased damage on shotguns a Scav with a shotgun at 50 meters away will aim for your sternum and there is a very good chance one of the buckshot will hit you in the face and immediately “one tap” you. Going forward, I hope they balance this further. I am glad that the Scavs are more intimidating now rather than just a standing target that you can easily kill with a single bullet to the head.
With the introduction of new traders comes new quests. Surprisingly, the newest vendor doesn’t have any quests. Mechanic, however, received a lot of them. These quests range from the common loot and turn in to modifying guns that meet certain requirements. There isn’t too much to comment on here. Complete the quests to gain reputation with the vendor and further your ability to buy new and better gear. Some of the quests are a bit repetitive and some of the items can really stifle your stash size if you have anything less than the Edge of Darkness edition. However, these things need to be in the game for to keep it balanced when it comes to upgrading your vendors and gaining access to higher tiered and end game items.
Netcode, Optimization, and Tickrate
Oh, boy. Netcode and tickrate talk, boys. Prior to 0.8 there was a lot of controversy to these two things. With 0.8, they have greatly improved on these two issues. There NEEDS to be further improvements to both of these. For those who know me, they know I don’t get mad at video games. I never yell, I never get angry, and I always try to have fun when I’m playing.
Saying this, there has been multiple times I have thrown together short phrases, sentences, paragraphs… hell, even an essays worth of curse words strung together regarding my feelings about being shot while I’m behind cover while I’m standing out in the open on the other player’s screen. It has been shown that the netcode issues have been greatly improved by as much as 75%.
The tickrate is still abysmal at times. You can peek, shoot four times, hit the enemy with all shots, and then get back into cover and you’ll hear him fire 3-4 more shots before succumbing to the fatal shots you just placed into him. With 0.8, they have improved things drastically. There still needs to be more done, though.
Optimization has taken a giant leap in the right direction. Where we used to get drops to 20-30 fps before, we are currently holding at 40+ now. This plays a HUGE role in the game due to the fact that damage and RPM was tied to FPS on client side.
0.8 comes with a lot of highs and lows. There are many things here that I haven’t touched down and some of the really important things that I have. There are problems that still haven’t been adressed that need to be immediately. At the end of the day, you have to remember this is an early access game that is still under heavy development with new ideas and changes brought to the table everyday.
Games like this don’t come around often. These types of mechanics can both be ground breaking and game breaking in these games. Tarkov is like no other FPS that I have played before and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a thrilling FPS game. This game has come a long way and has an even longer way to go.
This patch has been the best thing that has ever happened to Tarkov in the time that I’ve played it. In a title with such ambitious goals and in early development, you have to understand that you will encounter bugs and issues through out the game. I do highly recommend this game. I love what they are doing. I love the direction they are going with it, but be cautious about going into this game with high expectations.
If you want to check out more Escape From Tarkov and read even more about the game or purchase the game and try it for yourself, head on over to www.escapefromtarkov.com