Escape from Tarkov coming to us from Battlestate Games has captivated many folks looking for a realistic survival shooter. Set in the fictional Russian city of Tarkov, the game pits an international corporation against the host nation. We had an opportunity to speak with Project Lead Nikita Buyanov about EoT to learn more.
MMORPG: We've been covering Escape from Tarkov for a while, but can you give us an overview of the story behind the game?
Nikita Buyanov: The story is set in the present time in the alternative universe, in a fictional large and modern Russian city. In this city, the interests of a powerful international corporation collided with interests of the Russian government. To avoid direct confrontation and effectively cut the deeply rooted corrupt ties of the local authorities to the corporation, the government has established and deployed a private military company for investigation and counteraction against the corporation’s activities. The corporation, however, also had a private military company employed as a security service subcontractor, and the armed encounters between these two PMCs have eventually deteriorated the conflict to a whole new level, leading to a full-scale blockade of the disputed city by the forces of UN peacekeepers and Russian interior troops. The blockade has affected not only the fighting PMC operatives who lost any contact with their command, but part of the remaining local population as well, all of them now having to survive alongside each other. This is where the story begins to unfold, starting with what seems to be a mere survival and gradually introducing more and more details. As former enemies are becoming friends, city siege is worsening with bombardments of unknown origin, and the whole world is balancing on the verge of global crisis, the parts of puzzle start to come together.
MMORPG: What will the gameplay loop be like in Tarkov? How will players spend their time?
NK: Although we are going to include several game modes, the main game mode will be story mode with Raids. However, once the player has completed the Raids, they can be returned to again and again - performing jobs, putting together parts of accidentally discovered quests (which will be numerous enough to drag you across the game way more than once), honing skills and leveling up, looting, search for secrets, trying new tactics and so on.
MMORPG: Are there "safe spots" for downtime, relaxing, or is it constantly a fight overlooking your shoulder?
NK: Outside the gameplay itself, in the menu, it is completely safe. Players can manage their inventory, interact with traders and each other, heal and take some time to think. However, inside the game, whatever the location is or however peaceful it may look, there are no absolutely safe places and there will be no such thing as chilling in a specially designated safe area knowing you just can’t be touched. Of course, players can create an illusion of security for themselves by covering each other and guarding some quiet corner to let their partners adjust - but not more than that.
MMORPG: One of the hallmarks of an excellent MMORPG is character development. As a shooter MMORPG, how does Tarkov accomplish this? How do skills come into play, for example?
NK: The skill upgrade system we settled on closely resembles that of the Elder Scrolls series - by repeating a certain action many times, you gradually get better at it. Every action you perform is rewarded with experience, falling into one of the five categories: exploration, combat, searching for loot, medicine and repair. Depending on the type of experience you have accumulated over the raid, you receive the levels that give access to new opportunities, from traders and in the game in general. Also, though only as a test feature for now, we are going to give one free skill point on level up, which will allow to upgrade one skill without repetition. Moreover, in our system, skills that have not been practiced for too long, can start to fade out. Your character won’t forget them completely, and a certain once-attained level will always remain, but they won’t be as sharp as they used to be on the top. Needless to say, since we aim for the realism, we do not have any upgradable skills that affect the combat mechanics (for instance, superhuman precision or wall-busting pistol rounds), and chances to survive in combat are, if not exactly even, still very much independent from level. Rather, they depend on player’s own tactical thinking, combat experience, and other purely natural reasons we don’t want to interfere with. Skill upgrades mostly influence speed and dexterity of searching, exploration, out-of-combat weapon handling and other cases like that.
MMORPG: Speaking of loot and customization, can you talk about the guns, armors, and other equipment?
NK: This is a rather extensive question that can only be barely touched here; generally speaking, we are going to feature a most detailed level of customization to date, both for characters and weapons. Hundreds of equipment items, weapon parts, functional mods, clothing and protection articles - every single one having a really existing prototype, with its own unique purpose and characteristics. Even the most commonplace tactical glasses will protect your eyes from concrete chips, sparks and tree branches flying in your face.
MMORPG: It sounds like Tarkov is firmly planted in realism. Is there any sort of fantasy or Sci Fi element to EfT?
NK: Nothing at all, realism all the way.
MMORPG: How about the economy? What can players craft and trade? How does it work and why would you need the funds?
NK: The basic principle of our economic system is also inspired by reality - all the processes going on inside the game influence the market. The most essential element of it is the barter exchange - the most natural type of deal in the wartime economic conditions. However, there will also be AI traders, who will sell items for cash as well. Players will get to know these traders one by one as they progress through the game - and every one of them will have his own unique personality, services, and range of goods. Moreover, upon meeting certain condition, players can become traders as well. There will be no crafting as we remember it from other RPGs, guns from sticks and lead pipe type. We only intend to introduce production - when player can bring materials to a certain shop, and after some time they will produce a new artisan item from them. Players themselves can only invent their own new weapon configurations - but then again, only within limits of what is possible in the real world.
MMORPG: What about the PVE side of things? It seems the PVP MMO shooter is a dime a dozen these days. What sort of gameplay is there for fans of PVE? Can these players avoid PVP?
NK: The PvE component is presented with local marauder gangs called Scavs - they live off the loot they collect and therefore are you direct obstacle on the way of game progression. Scavs can be player-controlled as well, but majority of them are still AI. As for avoiding PvP completely, it is virtually impossible. You could try to figure out the location or time where your chances of meeting other players will be minimal, but not zero altogether.