Why Escape from Tarkov is a hardcore vibe and realism game

6 min readOct 26, 2021


Escape from Tarkov is a challenging game. It is complicated to learn how to play it. Many of the mechanics are very complex and obscure — mainly because no one explains them. This is the minus of the game — and a huge plus. In this post, we look at why Escape from Tarkov is a hardcore vibe and realism game.

Take a look at other shooters in recent years, as well as the industry in general. The developers are moving towards making the player’s experience more convenient and the entry threshold lower. Only niche stories like harsh simulators remain faithful to the “learn or roll” approach. Escape from Tarkov is one of them.

In most games, your success and progress is inevitable consequence. How to earn the maximum level in MMORPG? Play a lot. Someday you will get ready. How to learn how to shoot Call of Duty and Battlefield? Play a lot: the cards will be known, the timing of the weapon and the recoil control will become familiar after a while by themselves. Any such game boils down to whether you are willing to spend so much time on it to achieve the desired result, which is inevitable.

Escape from Tarkov is an entirely different story. The game initially sets you a task in the spirit of an impenetrable wall or a heavy stone. No one will compensate you for the lost resources. Nobody will give you an accessible mode. MMR will not balance you with the same inept players in terms of skill level or another analog — everyone plays in the same sandbox, no exceptions. If you died in a raid and did not have time to do something meaningful, you will practically not be given experience.

It is impossible to casually relax in the evening after work in Escape from Tarkov. You are in a virtual war. It is your task to find an easy and optimal way to survive here to have Escape from Tarkov money and progress. And yes, the game design is arranged in such a way that you can lose everything at all and not advance a single step in your progress — if you do not study and try to play as it should.

Raid on a boss is not a weekend gathering with friends in the role of pumped-up characters. This is a casino where the bet is the best gear you could get for the job and your skills. And in case of defeat, you will not only get nothing but also lose. Can’t shoot? Learn. Don’t know the map? Go offline and remember it. Watching the guide on YouTube will not help you in any way until you put in the effort yourself.

In Escape from Tarkov, death is your failure, not one of the steps on the long road to success when you magically stop dying. And every successful raid is a consequence of your knowledge, skills, and, of course, luck.

Because of this approach, each raid is an entire military operation with huge stakes, always exciting and unique. Every piece of loot is a reward. Each kill of a player is an achievement. When you find a way to raise money safely or emerge victorious from a tough battle, you feel absolute euphoria.

Recently, we have all got used to expensive games with high-quality graphics and “correct” principles. They are widely advertised everywhere, but we have been spoiled so much with these stereotyped scenarios in recent years that it is already difficult to surprise the average player with something.

With Escape From Tarkov, it’s an entirely different matter. The game does not try to please the player and constantly lovingly encourages him. High stakes give high rewards. It works in a completely different way — it makes you suffer, after which the pleasure of victory only intensifies.

This is not an easy game. The entry threshold is relatively high. You have to study the locations for a long time, understand the mechanic’s work and get used to the character’s behavior. But the more you dive, the more you want to keep going, especially after you get through your first successful raid.

Another feature that sets Escape from Tarkov apart from other multiplayer shooters is its seriousness. The game tries not to slip into a clownery with colorful skins and “war is fun.” The developers maintain the atmosphere of a harsh war zone, cut off from the rest of the world.

Design, atmosphere, real-life weapons, level design close to reality, and simulation mechanics like the same in-depth healing process and the loss of all equipment at death work for this. Thanks to all this, you tremble for your PMC, as for your own life, and immerse yourself in the game, as if in virtual reality from science fiction films.

In many ways, the atmosphere of Escape from Tarkov is helped by the beautiful soundtrack, written by the head of the studio Nikita “Geneburn” Buyanov. Let the compositions play only in trailers and menus. They perfectly tune in the right way.

Of course, it’s worth saying that Escape from Tarkov is not as severe as possible. There is a place for humor and outright tomfoolery: the game is littered with Easter eggs, memes, and funny nonsense. For example, you can wear a beanie with a pompom or a fake mustache as equipment. Yes, what to talk about when the game has the boss brothers Kill and Tagill — it is challenging to take this with a severe face, especially for Russian players.

In this video, you can watch much Escape from Tarkov Easter eggs: donate currency from Contract Wars as a jewel, ubiquitous toilets at Customs, and other funny winks from developers.

But for all the nonsense, Escape from Tarkov strikes a good balance between seriousness and fun, with a strong focus on the former. Humor is more likely to diversify what is happening and add a little contrast to the general atmosphere of hopelessness and decline.

The most favorite topic of discussion around Escape from Tarkov is how realistic this game is. It is the most realistic shooter on the market, and in its attention to one or another detail, plugs all possible competitors into the belt. But in fact, it is more of a simulative: harsh realism here coexists with many conventions for the players’ convenience.

On the one hand, we have realistic shooting, which has no analogs — both in terms of audio design and recoil, flatness, impact from a hit, and so on. There are complex healing mechanics, overload, different types of ammunition and armor, the effect of the material on the protection and repair of this armor, terrain orientation, friendly fire, and so on. On the other hand, there are game conventions.

For example, a PMC operator may ignore broken legs under pain medication. And we are not talking about great serums or at least a hefty dose of morphine, but, for example, petroleum jelly. Or Analgin tablets. Or the Vietnamese “Star,” anointing it under the lip. It’s just that in the CIS, “Star” is a meme, so this is how things are in the game.

Related: Escape from Tarkov: The complete guide to plot mission and problem.

And this list can be continued for a long time: the splint does not fix the limb but heals the fracture with magic. Trained fighters die in half a day without food and water, get tired of running a couple of meters, do not know how to control the recoil of weapons without pumping, and sometimes they cannot jump over a low fence.

Someone will say that this is a minus, and the realism of the game is feigned. But it’s a matter of balancing the desire to make it “like in life” and the video game experience. Because if Escape from Tarkov were realistic, any of your battles would end after the first bullet missed. You were shot in the leg — and that’s it, you are incapable of fighting. Someone has to drag you out from under the fire and bring you to the infirmary, where you will lie for a week or even a month. It would be the most uninteresting video game in history but very realistic.

As a result, no, Escape from Tarkov is unrealistic. Like no video game. But it is very simulative: complex mechanics add depth to it and set it apart from the competition. Except for frankly flawed game design decisions, BattleState Games strikes an outstanding balance between believability and convention.