I normally don’t call for a game’s failing. I think it’s a failure for all of the gaming industry when a game, especially one that’s relatively popular, dies. I want every game, no matter what I think of it, to succeed, as long as it isn’t actively harming the industry or its playerbase as a whole.

Escape from Tarkov is truly pushing it nowadays though.

The game was already an extremely ambitious project, precariously toeing the line between realism, simulation, and video game. It’s the Assetto Corsa of FPS games, the Civilization of Simulators, and the No Man’s Sky of looter games, all wrapped into one incredibly big, yet delicate and fragile package. The more you play it, the more that analogy makes sense, and the less the actual game makes sense.

Tarkov is an absolutely wonderful game. It’s the most immersive game I’ve ever played. It has the perfect amount of tension in fights, an incredibly deep gun selection and progression system, near perfect map variety, and some of the best gunplay I’ve seen in any shooter. This isn’t to say there aren’t problems within said things.

If you’ve seen any of my pieces on Tarkov before, you know I’ve gone on and on about how fights actually play out, especially when bugs or desync happens. The gun selection gets shallow very quickly when the wipe gets old, and that’s a symptom of wipes simply being too long. The map variety becomes tedious and stale when you’re shoehorned into doing tasks that don’t interact with a lot of the map in ways that are interesting, and the progression system, while much better than before, is still super annoying with how it forces you into incredibly mundane things with little tangible reward.

Again, it isn’t the individual problems that creates the whole, it’s the culmination of said problems not being dealt with for years.

The big crux of this is that we’ve seen this happen before, almost to a T, in the history of popular gaming.

When PUBG released, it was one of the most popular games of all time, by a long shot. It was the biggest battle royale title to date, and it was marred with issues that just didn’t get fixed. You couldn’t vault over things, gunplay was very not clean, and the multitude of bugs and lack of major updates kept the game from truly reaching its full potential in a reasonable amount of time. I remember saying the same thing then as I’m saying now: If they don’t get their act together and clean it up, someone else will release something better.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Not too long after, a little game called Apex Legends released. It was very much out of nowhere, too. A large majority of people only knew about it through a Twitch stream or through a news piece saying that multiple people were testing a new IP that was a battle royale game, and only the day before. When it did release, it erupted in popularity, and quickly became the number one battle royale for quite a long time.

It was very polished, had ridiculously good gunplay, and performed seemingly well for most players. You got into and out of games very quickly, and there was so much cosmetic attraction that players would always have something to go for. The best part was that it was completely free to play. This was a big deal in a market where free to play shooters in general were lacking.

I have a firm belief that if Escape from Tarkov doesn’t get its act together, someone else will take the reins, seemingly out of nowhere, and have a firm grasp on the genre that Tarkov wants to take. Gamers can only hold out for changes for so long before just moving on. If another competitor comes out with something that’s even half as deep, but is twice as polished, that’s more than enough.

Remember, it’s much less about whether Tarkov is a good game or not (because it really is). It’s much more of a matter of feeling like the game is worth the hassle or not. I personally have faith that Tarkov will be much more than fine. Lighthouse should be finishing up this year, with Streets of Tarkov part one being released by the end of the year. The game has made great strides in making the beginning experience much less annoying, with things like the first few tasks being done on any map, as opposed to just Customs.

The cheater problem seems to have been drastically reduced as well, which is always a great thing. I just don’t know if it’ll be enough for players. The game is already punishing as is, and when you lose tangible progress for things outside of your control, it’s not a great feeling.

I don’t know what the next major update will do for most players, but I’m hoping that it doesn’t go the route of PUBG and wait too long. I know, game development is very very hard, especially on a game as ambitious as this.

But god damnit, if I die to desync one more time…

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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