Hang-ups & Reserves
In a gaming age that has been dominated recently by a combination of DayZ and PUBG clones it’s easy to initially dismiss EFT as a run of the mill FPS game that takes elements of both game styles in an attempt to cash-in on current trends in a lazy attempt to meld popular features and gaming mechanics. When you also add into the mix that this is yet another pre-release/open development/early access game, it’s by a smaller Russian development team, it’s not on Steam (yet!) and it costs anywhere between £45 to £150 depending upon the version you buy, you’d be forgiven for thinking “fuck it. I’ll not bother”.
If I’m being honest that was initial reaction, especially as I hadn’t fully comprehended the depth and scope of this title . I had subconsciously decided that EFT was probably just another pre-release title that would end up being a flash-in-the-pan game where enthusiasm and support would fizzle out of long before any sort of stable final version arrived. I think what led me to this conclusion was that I had three major hang-ups on this title;
- The price (£45+ for an early access game with a no refund policy!)
- It wasn’t available on Steam
- at the risk of sounding a bit like a bigot, it being a Russian game. I know that last one sounds terrible, but I do like all the consumer rights assurances the EU gives me!
Other areas of concern I heard & read from players are the fact the graphics look “worse” than similar games, there’s loads of bugs, many game elements are still missing or still to be introduced, there are performance issues, the game isn’t a true “open world” as the map is divided up into smaller playable sections, the maps aren’t as big as they seem, matches are much smaller (in terms of players) than we’ve been used to in similar titles and of course, the game is fucking brutal – so you often end up with no gear, being constantly raped by much better geared players!
After keeping tabs on it for over six months, it’s been like an itch I couldn’t scratch which has driven me to seek out more about it and ultimately buy it myself. I’ve been pleasantly surprised as I’ve watched this game not only provide regular updates and constant blogs and updates from the development team, but also its popularity has also grown among the loyal player base. The loyal player base is a hint in itself of the quality of the project – these guys are in this thing for the long haul because the taste they’ve had has been so sweet!
Looking beyond that into the development history and roadmap may also elevate some of the concerns too. The closed Beta state that the game is currently in, commenced way back in July 2017 and is almost ready to be concluded. This phase has largely been about game mechanics balancing, stress testing, introducing more content and bug fixing. Prior to that the game had a closed Alpha state that started way back in Summer 2016, which again gives you a rough idea of the sort of timescales each phase of development, so in terms of product quality and commitment, I personally am quite reassured by Battlestate’s track record with Tarkov. They also gain some kudos for their commitment to ‘Contract Wars’, a browser based Free-To-Play title released in 2011 that’s still active, again giving us some reassurance on their credentials.
The price of the title is admittedly very steep for a PC game that isn’t even in full release state – and I suspect this is part of the reason it’s not been put forward to be green-lit by Steam. First of all Steam is rumoured to take up to 30% of a games revue for distribution and may even have strict pricing regulations and guidelines, especially for pre-release titles which Tarkov is likely to remain for the next 12 months at least, which would mean Battlestate losing 30% of their basic game price, which would also be reduced. It may also have meant they couldn’t provide their edition hierarchy releases too, again further reducing their revenue. Add into the mix Steams (in)famous recommendations system whereby in it’s present state it would surely get a panning from the mong brigade who’d pan the game for being in a condition anything less than 110% and you can totally understand why they would be avoiding Steam at the moment.
You could argue that they could negate this a little by simply by holding off on the pricier editions of the game and adhering to a stricter and more modest pricing structure sure, but again they don’t do this for free and are ultimately I this project for it being a successful, profitable venture. Also the pricing is comparable with console games, of which Tarkov is ultimately also destined, as is evident by the map sizes and player match conditions. That and the fact it’s been confirmed by the devs! That aside, there are some practices the Devs could be frowned upon in relation to selling the game – the price on the website is shown Ex-VAT, so for us Brits that’s an extra 20% on top of what you see and then they hit you with all their seller charges too which, depending upon your method of payment, can be more than £4! Shame on you Battlestate!
For me, personally though, I weighed all this up and thought it was more than worth the gamble to jump in and buy the basic version of the game – and I’m so glad I did! My only regret being I didn’t jump in the game earlier or capitalise on one of the sale events to save a few quid. Immediately upon playing this game the ambition, depth and quality is evident. This is something that’s only been reinforced in my mind after a couple of weeks solid playing too!
This is also echoed by other players. For me, this is a game that has reignited my passion for PC gaming and online FPS games. As an older gamer I’ve watched game titles come and go and even as a gamin community we’ve supported many titles – I can’t think of many that have genuinely had me this excited and enthusiastic about them. Nor can I remember as many games making me as keen to jump on my PC as often as I could in the hope of polishing off tasks, attempting various quests, chipping away at objectives an generally pushing onward with progression. A good part of this game is its ability to offer some kind of incentive for most people and a reward for the time invested in the title – even in dying there’s experience and skills to be taken. The game’s attempts to recognise this and add value to it is something I have found refreshing and appreciated (as I’m shit!)
Graphically I can see a noticeable quality difference between EFT and say the recent release of SCUM. Obviously they both use different engines which may affect this but as EFT uses unity I think people naturally draw comparisons to other titles on the same engine that have done a good job of polishing the in-game environment, such as Rust or Assassins Creed: Identity. However, I personally find EFT’s graphics more than acceptable, in fact quite beautiful (in-game conditions permitting). For those who feel this is an essential part of the gameplay experience, it’s fair to say that there’s still a lot of optimization to be done though and I’d expect this as part of a polishing update much further down the line
There are indeed lots of bugs as it’s still very much a game in development (hence the big orange warning banner when you load up the game!). To be honest though, in my experience there’s very few major game breaking bugs that spoil game play. For the most part, the game is perfectly playable and worst I’ve experienced are the door bug that allows players to exploit synchronising issues of open/closed doors and kill players from apparently closed doorways, which I believe was fixed in the recent 0.10 patch!
Don’t get me wrong, this game is far from perfect and there are still plenty of ‘Work In Progress’ areas, but for a game still being developed, its surprisingly stable and playable!
The next part of this article will look at the game’s current features and modes of play in a bit more depth and will discuss its history and anticipated content!