Content of the article: "2 Years, 1000 Hours – Thoughts"
Admin note – This is apparently a shameful repost. I tried posting this yesterday and got a message that I couldn't post with an account less than 24 hours old, so I came back to post it today, but apparently it did in fact post yesterday. Shame and dishonor on me, my family, and my cow.
Hello, Survivors of Tarkov, this is my first post on Reddit (long time lurker, yada yada).
I hit 1,000 gameplay hours in EFT this week after playing since August of 2018. It's been my primary game of choice the entire time, having spent the prior two years on ARMA 3. For anyone who wants to skim, here's the TLDR: Tarkov is a great game that's still a work in progress, and ultimately this is all just my opinion. For anyone who wants to read my thoughts having put in a significant amount of time/energy into this game, but ultimately who is probably a passionately average player, here we go.
My personal quality of play/achievements:
- 1,018 hours
- Average KDR: 4.76
- Survival Rate: 48%
- Average final level per wipe: 46-48 (I didn't make it to 40 until my 3rd wipe)
- Maxed out the hideout each iteration since its implementation.
- Reached kappa quest for the first time this wipe, historically have been gated by an unwillingness to do shooter born in heaven.
Mechanics, functionality, and cheating:
The continued improvements to this area are the low hanging fruit of the game. While it's not easy to optimize everything, this game is famously prone to bugs and issues, but while the glitches are the occasional problem, they are still often the exception to the rule for most players. There's plenty that can be said about cheaters and whatnot, but that's been done to death. I frankly don't encounter cheaters (or at least people I think are cheating) any more frequently than maybe 1/20 games, so while it's irritating to be doomed to death when it happens, it's not as prevalent as people act like it is (then again, I don't come onto a forum and bitch 19/20 raids, so it's understandable that it's more often brought up than not). Full context, the cheating problem is a reason I never go to labs, so that ratio could certainly be worse.
- Favorite – Shoreline: Shoreline is big, there's a plethora of tasks on the map, a huge variety of focal locations, and there's enough going on that you can play the entire timer out and not do everything (assuming you survive). The shoreline is prone to a "king of the hill" problem, which is that all the sweaty players charge into the resort and everyone else plays around the other zones. The one major improvement this map could use would be spreading some high-value loot around the territory (cottages, power plant, the village, etc.) There are some areas of the map that would be incredible for fights and engagements, but they're more or less neglected (i.e. the village, the swamp) because there's no good reason to be there for protracted periods of time. That all said, every playstyle and weapon can be effective in the right place on shoreline.
- Customs: This map was hugely improved by the recent expansion (opening up the lanes and the like) and remains a strong map. As it has expanded, the risk of death by 3rd party had reduced, and the high value of the crackhouse, stronghold, and newly opened factory buildings has improved the player-density.
- Interchange: This map is great assuming you can survive the first 5 minutes. The spawn locations and pathing into certain areas (entrance to IDEA and OLI) make the first 5 minutes (and the ensuing sprint for graphics cards) difficult to work out. Now you can always sit back for a few minutes or if you get an ideal spawn, beat everyone into the building, but spawning some people closer and further away from the entrances does create a significant ambush risk, and/or eliminates the point of going into the interchange at all if you're there for particular tasks (looking at you, graphics cards).
- Reserve: This map is incredible in every way except for one (we'll get there): great loot, terrific mix of AI threats and player threats, multiple mixes of building type, terrain type, and pretty much every gameplay style can be rewarded or punished based on how you want to run the map. The only major issue on this map is spawns and extracts. Some spawns are intrinsically better or worse than others, either due to proximity to high-value loot, or risk of getting shot in less than five seconds. Spawns desperately need to be pushed into areas with better hard cover, i.e. the basement of black and white bishop, AA field bunkers, and the like. Conversely, the extracts on this map are usually challenging but fair, but the implementation of D-2 has definitely increased the camping factor. While manhole was always potentially capable and a fight for the train was always a risk, D2 definitely could use an anti-camping mechanic (perhaps when the power for it is turned on there's a poison gas cloud or something that injures players in the vicinity for a few minutes before it clears out and the extract can be used; just spitballing.)
- Factory: It's a glorious bloodbath.
- Worst – Woods: Woods is a big wide open map with almost nothing to do, 90% of attention sucked into the lumbermill, and the worst possible risk-reward ratio for going to the map. While a sniper-focused map is fine and Shturman is a dick-punch of a scav boss (dat SVD double-tap doe), this map just doesn't have enough going on to make it worth playing unless you have a specific task to complete.
- Special Mention – Labs: Labs is a great map, and gating it with cards certainly helped fix the pistol-raider-extract problem that came about in its first wipe, but the concentration of highest value loot and sweatiest players makes it too tempting for cheaters. Because of the cheater issue the risk-reward of playing it is intensely broken, but it would otherwise be well balanced. I don't know if something like a scav-timer for labs would help fix that issue, or enabling scav play to reduce the potential risk, but for the average player labs is absolute suicide (through no fault of their own). You can certainly get lucky going in and have no cheaters, but it's practically unusable at this time.
Tasks could universally use an update. They're tweaked regularly in terms of count and conditions (FiR, number of kills, switching from AVS/tan beanie to just kills, etc.) but a lot of them are overconcentrated. There is no reason not to spread the 3-4 "kill scavs on customs" quests out across different maps. FiR conditions are fine for many of the tasks, but some become enormously difficult hurdles (graphics cards) without using the hideout to get around them. None of the tasks are impossibly difficult to accomplish with time/effort/diligence, but some functionally gate other elements off (getting sniper skill to level 6 manually to then buy mentor to complete psycho sniper, shooter born in heaven, perimeter security, etc.) Again, no task is singularly impossible (I actually think THE GUIDE is incredibly easy if you do factory first, then survive labs, and from there it's relatively smooth sailing), but the overall difficulty/tempo is fine. One key mechanic we could use is "Squad Credit" for kills. Doing missions like "Polikhim Hobo" with a squad is functionally boring because if I'm ahead of my teammate who needs that quest done and I see a scav on customs, I have to go "hey there's a scav at 12, get up here and dump him before he sees us or I'll have to kill him" and I'm essentially running the world's most inconsistent and frustrating escort quest. We could just use more diversity in tasks. Examples:
- Put more tasks on reserve (mechanic seriously doesn't want some sort of plant on the reserve dome or any high grade military parts?)
- Basic "kill X" task on every map
- Basic "plant/hide X" task on every map
- Generally: We have enough new gear for now. Don't get me wrong, I love new guns/gear/etc., but we have enough ways to kill each other for the moment. More focus on map development/mechanics/functionality. We can always put more guns in later.
- Ammo: The purchase limitations to top tier ammo are an okay way to reduce supply, but the game needs to severely restrict the top tier stuff, i.e. complex/expensive crafting, looting in game, etc. Past the first month in the game, the ammo dichotomy is effectively 100% pen laserbeams and bb guns. The recent addition of high-pen ammo with high recoil/low accuracy is an interesting experiment in solving the balance issue (.366 AP), and I look forward to more of this type of work.
- Armor: Armor has gone back and forth from tanky to paper-thin, but right now it's leaning on the paper-thin area. The expensiveness of armor should be functionally proportional to the likelihood that it will encounter and stop ammo. For example, right now Class 3/4 *should* be somewhat effective against the bulk of encountered ammo, but because of high tier supply it more or less gets shredded by every PMC running M855A1 or better (which is the majority). Something like a slick or class 5 should be almost indestructible, but it should also be extraordinarily expensive/valuable.
- Guns: The current meta is a competition between recoil and ergo, and recoil is winning hands down. Recoil got a 30% penalty a few wipes ago and it might be worth implementing another time. Functionally (and speaking as a military veteran), full auto should only be practical in extremely close quarters and/or with the use of low caliber ammunition (9mm and below). ADS full auto should be functionally useless with higher caliber weapons unless the barrel is almost touching the enemy or you're in the prone supported firing position. At the same time, recoil control is (realistically) a combination of weapon weight ratio to the size of bullet and strength/experience of the user. Attachments that improve recoil control should likely come at a penalty to ergonomics and attachments enhancing ergonomics should probably have a penalty or a negligible relationship to recoil control (thus creating a reasonable relationship between ammo caliber, speed of use for the weapon
, and controllability of the weapon system). Full auto recoil should also heavily be effected by firing stance (unusable standing up, very practical in prone).
- Grenades: Grenades are fine at this time, but they need QOL improvements (100% consistency of explosion noises and visual effects, clearing broken windows instead of invisibly getting stuck, etc.) We could certainly use more utility grenades (traditional western smoke grenades, flares, smoke rounds for the GL, star clusters for night use, etc.)
- Attachments and Accessories: There are a plethora of kick-ass attachments in this game, but not all function reasonably.
- The IR flashlight should not create an enhancement to accuracy, and the IR laser should actually work with night vision.
- Specific to the issue of thermals and night vision: They should be expensive, rare, and very valuable. Night vision is literally one of the developed world's greatest tactical advantages against lower-tech opponents. At the same time, Tarkov is a game that looks fucking cool when you have people using flashlights in dark places. Night vision should ultimately be an enormous advantage when you have it, and the play-style and meta of night raids could be enormously improved by the greater use and requirement of tactical lights and tracers. Just to cap off the use of night vision: IR strobes would be a terrific PID-assist for night raids.
- Suppressors are incredibly OP. Not because of PVP but because of overall map environment. Early in a wipe you can hear gunfire all over the place and approach or avoid those fights as your raid plan dictates. In late wipe, 95% of players are running suppressed, and unless a round inadvertently passes near enough to you to cause the sonic-crack, you feel like you're on an empty map unless you spot another player or someone ambushes you. Suppressors should be rarer/more valuable for the ability to reduce the likelihood of PMC engagements (it's real functional advantage) and it should be the functional norm that people are running un-suppressed, which creates a greater risk/reward value to the choice to run that expensive suppressor for those that do, and otherwise increases the necessity to win your fight, loot, and scoot, or to break engagements to avoid getting 3rd partied. After all, tarkov is a game that rewards survival, and our desire to get into fights should reflect the odds of that choice.
- Tactical Clothing: USEC get tacti-cool gear which is fine, but we don't need 3 flavors of blue/grey pants in a row. Bears get a variety of incredibly practical/useful camouflage, and the bias here is incredibly flagrant. USEC needs better real camouflage, bears could use a few more tacti-cool choices.
New Player Curve:
Tarkov is and has always been a very difficult game to get into and learn to be effective in, and while this shouldn't change, the ratio of new-player-mid-wipe difficulty to existing-player-mid-wipe advantage is far too skewed. Players below a certain level or with less than a certain amount of game time should be sorted into raids or servers with a similar peer group to give them a better survival chance and opportunity to explore maps, gain map and mechanic knowledge, and avoid getting curb-stomped by a sweatlord. This would give those players an opportunity to understand the game before being turned off by the absolute rape and pillage that veteran players perform on them. And yes, gear is an advantage, whether you're experienced or not. If I can wipe the deck with a five-man of sub-level-10 newbies at big red simply because their PS and T rounds can't even scratch my AACPC and Altyn, my experience advantage is negligible in light of the idea that they probably couldn't kill me in the first place (without an incredibly lucky grenade or leg meta, which they probably don't know about and haven't mastered). Alternatively, I can still wipe the same five-man using an SKS and no armor, but at least there they had a fighting chance.
Everyone plays Tarkov in a different way and with a different definition of what makes it fun for them, but personally having reached Kappa, I'm officially bored. I didn't know it while I always had a handful of tasks to do post-40 in every other wipe of the past two years, but now with every task done and tens of millions of rubles at my disposal, I find myself enjoying scav runs more than PMC runs. The risk-reward of running fully decked is too skewed because of the aforementioned ammo/armor balance issues, and lacking tasks to accomplish reduces my gameplay enjoyment. Suicidal and painful as hunting Sanitar or planting the SV-98/Flashdrive/Roler in "Bullshit" is, having objectives makes raids infinitely more interesting and meaningful. At this stage of the wipe, I'm only playing to support new players in learning, doing squad runs with friends to support them on their tasks, or running a meme kit (PPSH, brain bucket, commando rig, and hunting Gluhar on Reserve like I'm a WW2 Russian infantryman is the current vogue). I have no compellingly fun reason to do solo play outside of those reasons (and yes, that's just me, some people love this stage and that's okay). At this point of the wipe, sans those friends to help, I'm now just playing other games and waiting for the next wipe.
Ad-hoc and random thoughts:
- We need some version of patroling scavs on each map. Knowing the "spawn areas" of scavs on each map means that the only threat is PMCs if you know where to travel. Just to enhance the spontaneity of raids, having 1-2 packs of a few scavs roaming around each map (regular or raider) would increase the variability/fun of the game.
- Scav Bosses are reasonably balanced all things considered, but the laserbeam powers of Shturman and Killa each should be revisited. I'd suggest a deliberate miss on the first shot for Shturman (just enough to tell you it's on), and Killa should be running BP/BT, just enough so that the current spray of 7N39 isn't an insta-gib if he laserbeams you while you're wearing top-tier gear.
- The Collector/Kappa items should have a reasonable and regular spawn reliability in some way/shape/form. Some items are found over and over again (lupos beans, the book, mustaches) and others are functionally nowhere to be found (Pestily Mask, Shroud Mask). Heck, even removing FiR requirement from these could still be doable, by simply creating an extremely expensive flea market for the items (I'd rather melt 5 million rubles on a pestily mask than pray a scav will have one in minute 44 of woods at night).
- Add Radar, powerplant, swamp, and village to Sanitar's spawn areas, and make it more likely that Reshala & Co will spawn at the crackhouse or Stronghold.
- A couple extra voicelines would be useful, specifically: "Friendly friendly!" as a "I'm on your team/I don't want to fight/I'm here to help" type line, and a couple mixed russian/english lines between s to attempt communication to those who don't speak Russian or English (real soldiers learn key phrases, there's no reason USEC wouldn't know some Russian and Bears wouldn't know some English). Also, that guy who posted Texan-Style USEC for the next voice should absolutely be used, it was dope.
- The 40GL isn't worth it as a weapon system (which is fine, that's the meta of all top tier gear right now anyway), but it would be great if there was a greater proliferation of smoke/star cluster/etc. options for it.
- Future daily tasks or random event tasks will be a great addition to this game (defend Radar for five minutes to secure an info download, kill the gang of scavs at Pier, etc.)
- Offline co-op mode on a regular basis. PVP is fun/fine, but for me this game is at its best when I'm in a squad, desperately trying to kill Gluhar or Reshala's guys in close quarters. The opportunity to get a horde level of scavs on a map and fight across it in a five man will be a joy.
- One day, post-Tarkov's glory days, I hope BSG will refine and license their IP on Tarkov's infantry mechanics. My dream game is something akin to ARMA or Squad but using Tarkov's individual play mechanics for the infantry (ammo management, movement mechanics, health/injury/healing, etc.)
This has been my Ted Talk, I hope you enjoyed it.
P.S. to any BSG employee or streamer who knows how to get in touch with BSG- I wrote a D&D-style tabletop version of Tarkov about a year ago and could never get in touch with BSG to send them a copy. If anyone has that hookup, please share!
Evidence of stats:
- 1000 Hours, 2 Years – Thoughts
- If you are having a hard time in Tarkov…
- Don’t balance the game around the top 1%.
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