If there is one universal truth in the world of gaming, it’s that there has been no shortage of post-apocalyptic exploratory shooters in the past ten or so years. From Bethesda’s reboot of the Fallout series, to Ukrainian studio GSC Game World’s grim S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, to Polish studio Techland’s Dying Light, to id Software’s Australian wasteland brawl Rage, and to the critically-acclaimed Metro series by Ukrainian developer 4A Studios (with the game itself being based off a Russian novel), it’s no secret that mankind’s gritty demise is a popular subject in the world of gaming. Not to mention that it seems to be a popular subject with Central and Eastern European studios, who often produce lavishly detailed renditions of our self-created disaster landscapes, replete with deep combat engines and crafting systems. Our standards for the genre have also grown, with the aforementioned studios pushing the limits of just what gamers can do in the wake of nuclear calamity.
Russian studio Battlestate Games, however, aims to push those limits further than ever before with their upcoming FPS/MMO hybrid Escape From Tarkov. Initially announced earlier this month, Battlestate Games released an impressive trailer for the game yesterday that shows off the game’s intense team-based firefights and robust weapon modification systems. You can check it out by watching the video below:
Set in the fictional Russian city of Tarkov, Escape From Tarkov immerses players in the middle of an anarchic conflict between two private military companies, which act as a traditional MMO’s factions. Players choose to join one of these companies, and then set off to do battle with their enemy, discover Tarkov’s secrets, and figure out just why Tarkov is sealed off from the rest of the world by UN and Russian military forces. The Tarkov team described the game’s setting as such:
Tarkov is the fictional financial and industrial capital of Northern Russia, set in the present time of an alternate history. Due to certain events, caused by illegal activities of Terra Group transnational corporation, a conflict emerges between two private military companies, and in the wake of this conflict, the destabilization of the region escalates for no apparent reason. The player’s character becomes entangled in the knot of incomprehensible events in downtown Tarkov, and has to find the way out before the imminent downfall. The city is crawling with local raiders, employees of hostile PMC, peacekeepers and a host of shady characters of unclear loyalties pursuing unknown goals. Everything about Tarkov events is deeply realistic, there was no mysterious cataclysm or alien invasion. We intend to create a world on the brink of civilization’s collapse due to human factors as a background story for Russia 2028 universe. The events that take place in Escape From Tarkov shall lead to war that will throw society into the neo-feudalism. The player’s character is at the center of these events, whose greatest interest, aside escaping from Tarkov, is to figure out what is happening not only in the city, but in the outside world as well.
In an interview posted on Russian website MMO13, Battlestate stated that “there will be no servers in their common sense, only Raid game sessions and a free roam server with separate settings.” Players can either adventure solo or band together to complete quests and participate both in PvE (player vs. Environment, or AI) and PvP (player vs. player) combat. Escape From Tarkov abides by traditional MMO elements, like “quests, PvP/PvE raids, strong storytelling component, [and a] detailed inventory and cache management and economic system.” It also eschews traditional MMO combat elements by delivering a realistic ballistics system for its guns, as well as real-time combat instead of turn-based combat. The Tarkov team summed up the gameplay experience as “partly [resembling] Destiny and [the] yet to be released The Division, but with a bias for realism and hardcore.”
Escape From Tarkov’s main game mode will be based on completing main scenarios called Raids, which take place in a variety of locales from suburbs to chemical plants and will eventually lead to the player’s escape from the Tarkov hotzone. 64 players can participate in a Raid at a time. During a Raid, players will procure loot and experience points, which can be spent on a complex skill system. Players can enter Raids alone or with a group. The game’s world is not persistent, either; according to the Tarkov team, Raids “will feature the daytime and weather changes and various random events, like mortar strikes or invasions of local looters, The Savages.” Once opened, Raids can be revisited as many times as players would like. They can also be explored solo, without interference from other players, in a mode called Free Roam.
Each of these Raids will unveil more about Tarkov’s dark past. The Tarkov team promised that they “will gradually present [the game’s story] in the quests in the form of info-carrying items, conversations and cinematics,” with many items prompting players to solve riddles that will uncover pieces of backstory when solved.
The aforementioned skill system features “over 150 skills with unique abilities split into 4 categories – physical, mental, combat and practical – which cover all aspects of character development.” Players must maintain these skills by investing experience points in them. If neglected for too long, skills will begin to fade. When a player chooses a private military company (PMC) at the start of the game, they will be given a starter kit of weapons and supplies. As the player progresses throughout the game, their physical and moral actions will determine how their avatar will be classified over time.
On the subject of weapons, players will acquire new firearms as they explore Tarkov. Building an arsenal is intended to be difficult, as players will also have to manage their survival supplies like food, medicine, and currency. Players can trade loot for other desired loot both with NPCs and with players. The guns themselves are intended to operate as remarkably lifelike recreations:
All weapons featured in the game are absolutely real and have truly lifelike physical properties. They get misaligned, jam and malfunction in all sorts of ways. We guarantee you hadn’t seen anything like this before. As for nonexistent exotic guns like railguns and stuff, we’re not going to introduce any. Realism all the way.
Survival in Tarkov is intended to be “exciting and lifelike,” as the player will have to not only fend off other players, but also disease, radiation poisoning, and starvation. Banding together with other players will be crucial to complete high-level Raids, but players can also betray each other at any point for loot. As described by the Tarkov team,
When you die in the raid, you lose all equipment, except for the money in the secure containers [which are organized outside of raids and act as a private stash for each player]. First, by playing with partners you get to upgrade you skills together (in a hivemind manner). Second, you can communicate with them either via preset radio commands (loot found, enemy spotted, get the door, exit found etc) or your own voice on the microphone. Some of the scenarios specifically require teamplay, as some of the actions will need at least two persons to perform. Third, more guns (especially tactically advantageous ones) can make that very difference that will get you through scenario alive. And finally, more hands mean more loot!
Players will also be able to form traditional MMO guilds, as well as form trade guilds that specialize in exchanging goods in the Tarkov wastelands.
As mentioned before, players will be able to not only kill enemy PMC members, but also their own teammates, for loot. This is discouraged for the most part, however, since a karma system will affect the player in ways that were not discussed in the interview. For players itching to sate their PvP hunger, a team deathmatch mode is also available so players can hone their skills. No word was mentioned on whether there will be traditional ranking ladders for the PvP mode.
The Tarkov team concluded their interview by stating that there is still plenty of work to be done. In terms of features, “it is about 70% ready. Contentwise, it’s only about 30%.” The team plans to launch a closed beta in Q1 2016, with an early access/open beta following soon after. Those interested can sign up on the game’s official website.
Escape From Tarkov is slated to release in Q2 2016 for both Windows and Mac operating systems.