Alright, let’s be honest. DMZ is not Escape from Tarkov.

I was definitely under the impression that it would try to at least replicate the renowned extraction shooter. I’ve been playing quite a bit of it since it was released last Wednesday. It is a ridiculously fun game, and the amount of sheer content within a match is staggering. I was nearly overwhelmed with just how many objectives, points of interest, and random events there were. It’s very action packed, full of things to do, and has plenty of tension.

But Escape from Tarkov, it is not.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think we were just mistaken with our expectations, and for good reason. Tarkov has some horrendous problems that make me wonder how people actually continue to deal with its nonsense. The desync is awful, the bosses don’t feel like bosses at all—just a split second, “kill or be killed” scenario with barely any tactics at all, and in the worst cases, relegate you to cheese-or-die tactics. The exorbitant amount of bloat going on with items and gear, and perhaps worst of all, the mechanics that are specifically in place to just make things annoying. Not difficult or challenging, but annoying.

Which brings me to the first thing that Escape from Tarkov can learn from DMZ: Making mechanics make sense.

I’m sorry, but if your game has a core mechanic that you will never figure out unless a wiki is involved, it’s a bad mechanic. Complexity of ammo is very good, complexity of guns and attachments is great, but if the game is telling me everything about what they do, except the things most important to combat, then why tell me anything at all? I’m not saying they need to give me exact flesh/penetration numbers, but even something vague will go a long way, akin to the heat rate of weapons and how ammo affects it, which is already in the game.

Next, the amount of active and/or spontaneous objectives would liven up a ton of maps. We all have complained about Shoreline and how there’s nothing to do in places that aren’t the pier or resort, but what if there was a dynamic event that pops up where rogues fly in and guard a stash, and taking them all out gives you a ton of loot? What if a group of cultists pop up in Interchange and hunt the scav boss Killa, and you get to either jump in and cause mayhem, or wait in the shadows and pick up the scraps of whomever survived?

Even better, what if the AI was in greater quantity, and behaved better? Having super scavs snipe you from 100m with a shotgun behind a car is just not fun. Scav bosses 180 no scoping you from a keyhole behind a door is not fun. Birdeye, the sniper rogue boss, killing you from quite literally 1000m away, without making a sound, is not fun. Make the bosses actually interesting. Make them use tactics.

When I run into a boss in DMZ, I’m way more interested in actually trying to fight it, than any boss in Escape from Tarkov. Usually there’s a ton of AI around, defending the point or pushing towards my position. The boss itself could be a gadget wielding nightmare, a massive tank, or have some other quirk that makes it incredibly interesting. Both the points leading up to the boss, and the boss itself, should be fun, and Tarkov simply doesn’t do that.

Lastly, and most importantly: please, for the love of god, improve the netcode. I’ve complained about it more times than I could count, but even if the game stayed exactly the same as it is now, having good netcode and minimizing desync would make the game way more enjoyable than any of my previous suggestions combined. The gunplay in DMZ feels great because I know my shots are going to land where I aim, and I know I’m not going to be swung on and lose to a player I didn’t see because peeker’s advantage in the multiple seconds in Tarkov.

And that’s about it. DMZ is an incredibly fun game and I’ll definitely play it more and more, even with its problems. I want both games to succeed, and I don’t even think they’re necessarily competing with each other. But it’s about time Tarkov stepped its game up, because as I’ve said before, if they don’t, someone else will.

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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