In a competitive streaming community predominantly inhabited by various MMOs and battle royales, Escape from Tarkov exists as the outlier. It takes elements from competitive first-person shooters and turns them into a heavy-duty military simulator intense enough to drench your keyboard in palm sweat.
The survival shooter has made a name for itself by having a tough-as-nails gameplay experience with minimal HUD and constant need to monitor your character’s health and well-being. The game began development in 2012 and continues to add updates to its closed beta, which continues to capture the attention of popular streamers. Here’s how Escape from Tarkov became the underdog multiplayer game of the streaming world without having an official release.
Before getting to Battlestate Games’ Escape from Tarkov, we have to talk about Contract Wars from the development company Absolutsoft. First released in its alpha version in 2011, Contract Wars became a widely available shooter game set in the quote-unquote “Russia-2028 universe.” The hardcore FPS includes several role-playing elements such as skill trees, contracts, achievements, and the ability to purchase new weapons from a modern firearm arsenal using gold points.
Contract Wars was available for a free download on VK.com, Kongregate, Facebook, and Miniclip up until 2018, when major browsers ended their support of the Unity3D plugin. The development team at Absolutsoft regarded Contract Wars as a learning experience and a precursor to their next game, which was to be released under the new banner of Battlestate Games.
Escape from Tarkov initially began development in 2012, around the time Contract Wars was released. Battlestate Games had a very dedicated team of developers determined to make Escape from Tarkov the most realistic military-based video game ever created. A good portion of the Battlestate Games staff was able to draw from experience, as most of them had actual experience in the military. One was even a former operator for Spetsnaz. After the release of Escape from Tarkov’s closed alpha test in 2016 followed by its closed beta in 2017, players gravitated towards the incredibly realistic gameplay Battlestate Games was able to conjure into being.
Unlike Contract Wars, Escape from Tarkov has a deep and rich story that in effect creates a more immersive setting. Tarkov is the capital city of the fictional region in Northwest Russia called Norvinsk, which has had a social breakdown due to rampant political corruption. Tarkov has become a warzone between two private military factions: the American-based company United Security and the Russian-based company BEAR.
These factions serve as the two primary options for players to choose from, each with unique weapon choices and upgrades. Sections of Tarkov are also under control by hostile locals referred to as Scavs. The Scavs show aggression to both private military factions and serve as artificially intelligent NPCs in the game.
The game modes available in Escape from Tarkov center around raid missions either involving the opposing private military faction or the Scavs. Each raid mission gives you the objective of reaching an extraction point on the map you spawned in and fighting against a faction containing other players and NPC characters.
All of the available locations in Tarkov are Factory, Customs, Shoreline, Interchange, Reserve, Woods, and The Lab. Along your journey of survival, you’ll be able to find all kinds of wonderful loot, which can be stored in a stash to either be sold in the virtual flea market or help you in future raid missions. However, if you die, you’ll lose everything you found during the raid mission. And you’ll find that dying comes easy in Escape from Tarkov.
The game emphasizes its real-world combat aspects with a descriptive health and damage system. Any damage dealt will cause the player to experience health defects specific to whatever body part was injured. Getting shot in the limbs will cause fractures and slower movement speed, damage to the stomach will cause serious dehydration and loss of energy, and a bullet to the head will cause instant death.
Players are not only expected to patch themselves up with medical supplies, but also to purify their water and ration their food supply. These survival features put Escape from Tarkov on a whole new level when compared to other notable shooter games, and streamers caught wind of this after the game’s closed beta release.
Former professional CS:GO player and big-name streaming personality Shroud helped pave the way for Escape from Tarkov’s status as a sought-after MMOFPS. By the start of 2020, Escape from Tarkov resided above Fortnite and League of Legends as one of the most-watched games on Twitch for January, all while still being in its beta phase.
The likes of Dr. Disrespect and Dr. Lupo also began to regularly play the hardcore shooter to their large respective audiences. Unfortunately, Escape from Tarkov’s status among the top games on Twitch couldn’t be sustained, as the game’s biggest streamers soon moved away from Twitch. Shroud took his talents to Mixer and Dr. Disrespect was famously banned from Twitch at the height of Escape from Tarkov’s popularity.
Although attention towards the game has dwindled as of recently, Battlestate Games still has a number of updates in development as well as an original YouTube series based on Escape from Tarkov called Raid. The YouTube series has garnered millions of views with its engaging action and tense dramatic moments. It’s even safe to say that Raid, which serves as an internet promotion for a video game, creates better quality action than most of the Hollywood blockbusters in recent years.
Battlestate Games has a lot of content on the way involving Escape from Tarkov. There are plenty of performance patches, new maps, and new live-action episodes currently in development. Soon enough, Escape from Tarkov will be released as a full game and could once again cement itself at the top of the streaming world.