Is Escape From Tarkov, Worth Playing?
Escape From Tarkov is an M-Rated title, and this review may contain screenshots that some readers may find offensive/disturbing.

Escape From Tarkov is a fantastic game and, without a doubt, the king of the extraction genre; however, its developers’ troubling pro-Russian views and heavy censorship are problematic.

Points of Interest.

the Lowdown
Genre: Extraction Shooter
Developer: Battlestate Games
Publisher: Battlestate Games
Price: $39.99+
Release Date: 8 December 2016
Supported Modes:

Pro-Russian Bias.

No country is perfect, and the West has done plenty of things they need to repent of, however when it comes to wrongdoing on an extreme scale, Russia is one of the world’s worst offenders, and while the actions of the leadership are not the responsibility of every Russian to carry, there is no way any reasonable person could ever cast modern-day Russia as a hero in any setting, especially while it remains in the clutches of Putin.

And yet this is exactly what BattleState Games have done, by making the Russian government-backed BEAR the good guys, while the NATO/EU-backed USEC are villains who actively engage in all manner of illegal activities, including the illegal development of weaponised viruses, a false narrative on which Russian right-wing media fantasise about on a near daily basis.

The behaviour of the Russian army in Ukraine and their inhumane treatment of civilians should be enough to convince any reasonable person that Russia will never be the “good guys” as long as Putin and his former KGB comrades are in power.

While I understand the developers may love their country, there is nothing to love about how Russia currently acts, and true patriots would fight to change their country for the better, not endorse it at its worst.

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Toxic Community.

While there are some less toxic elements of the Escape From Tarkov community and even some priests who regularly stream on Twitch and Youtube, as a general rule, the Escape From Tarkov community makes the Call of Duty community look like choir boys and part of the reason why, is because the developers do so very little to combat toxicity, with some of Escape From Tarkov’s most vocal defenders stating that such concerns were “Western issues” and that they had no problem with racism, sexism, homophobia etc.

This is evident by the number of offensive usernames in-game, with the “hard r N-word” and a wide variety of anti-LGBTQ slurs being the most common, not to mention an abundance of more “mundane” ableist and sexist usernames.

Though the developers do make some effort on the predominantly English-speaking forum to remove hate speech, the game itself appears to be a free for all, with some moderators stating that they will not moderate in-game communications and usernames as they “lack the time and functionality to do so”.

Actions speak louder than words, and the presence of racist, sexist and homophobic slurs said by Russian-speaking characters in-game, shows how the developers feel about the issue, even if they attempt to moderate such content on the official forums to appease its western audience.

is-escape-from-tarkov-worth-playing-in-2023

Forum Censorship.

The official Escape From Tarkov forums are overly moderated to the point of censorship.

Any mention of anything remotely negative about Russia, its leadership, military or the developer’s ties with Russian right-wing influencers and the military vanishes almost instantly, and the “offending user” quickly finds themself muted or banned.

Searching the forums for any mention of racism, sexism, or Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine returns zero results, with even complaints about slurs vanishing, while screenshot evidence of their former existence exists online.

It is unfortunate that such talented developers are unable (due to fear) or unwilling (due to misplaced pride in their country) to recognise that by staying silent regarding the horrific war crimes and human rights abuses committed by the Russian government, they are endorsing those same actions.

is-escape-from-tarkov-worth-playing-in-2023

The Illegal Invasion of Ukraine.

While most companies spoke out against Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, including some very brave Russian developers who had the most to lose, BattleState Games to this day has said nothing officially, despite releasing a screenshot on official channels that featured a solider in Ukrainian camouflage being “given the finger” by a player dressed in Russian camo.

From their close ties with rightwing pro-Putin influencers to their ties with the Russian military and its suppliers, it’s clear that Battlestate Games has deep pride in their country, and yet I wonder, are they truly as awful as they appear, or is this the result of fear, and their silence is not an endorsement of Putin and the Russian government, rather fear of reprisals if they did the right thing and condemned the senseless war that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of their own countryman deaths, not to mention untold suffering for the Ukrainian people.

I do not hate anyone, not even Putin, as hate only begets hate, and Jesus instructed his followers to love & forgive their enemies.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. ‘ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:43-45
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. - Matthew 6:14-15

Putin and his supporters are not repentant people. Jesus calls on his followers to forgive those who repent (repent doesn’t mean say “I am sorry”; it changes their ways, makes amends, and turns away from their past actions).

However, Putin and his supporters have not repented of anything and continue to slaughter innocents both directly and indirectly. As a result, any person or company that refuses to condemn the war must be viewed with suspicion, and that includes refusing to support any company that does not publically condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine by the armies of the Russian Federation.

Justice and forgiveness can and must co-exist, and companies that support the illegal actions of the Russian government can be brought to justice while still forgiving them for their actions and hoping they do the right thing for the right reasons and not as a response to public outcry.

If BattleState Games are truly afraid, I pray they find the courage to do what is right and sincerely try to bear the fruits of repentance by becoming avid supporters of Ukraine. If the alternative is true and they support Russia’s evil actions, then I sincerely pray they repent of their sins.

is-escape-from-tarkov-worth-playing-in-2023

It’s the Market Leader.

While Escape From Tarkov is not the first extraction shooter, nor the only popular title in the genre, it is without a double the largest and most influential title in the genre, and honestly, not recommending it is very difficult, as while there are many other excellent titles such as Call of Duty DMZ, and Hunt: Showdown, they server a different demographic that, Escape From Tarkov, with its focus on realism and brutal difficulty making it stand out in a genre that is dominated by either fantastical or causal friendly titles.

Difficult, yet Approachable.

While Escape From Tarkov is one of the most difficult FPS to master, and new players will quickly find themselves losing their hard-earned (or purchased) gear, the ability to conduct Scav runs (entering a map as a random character with a random assortment of weapons) or as a naked run (entering the map with only a sidearm or melee weapon), gives new players a chance to explore each map, and if they are lucky leave with a few weapons and ammo clips, which in turn helps to better prepare them to take on the world as a fully geared player once they know enough about each location.

is-escape-from-tarkov-worth-playing-in-2023

Lack of Diversity.

Escape From Tarkov is one of the least diverse games on the market, with the character creator essentially consisting of various white male faces and the developers have shown little interest in changing that, with an employee (Pavel Dyatlov) stating that they wouldn’t be adding female characters as “Battlestate came to the conclusion that women are not allowed to be in the war as a woman can’t handle that amount of stress.”

Battlestate Games, however, later walked back this statement, saying that while they would not be adding female characters for mechanical reasons, it was not for the reason stated by the developer, who they dismissed as “not being a major part of the team” and confirmed that he had been reprimanded for his previous statement.

Distribution.

Escape From Tarkov is one of just a few modern PC games that are not available on any major storefront and can only be purchased directly from the developer’s website, making the fact that it is the largest and most active game in the extraction genre all the more impressive.

is-escape-from-tarkov-worth-playing-in-2023

Slow Development Cycle.

Despite being available as an early access product since 2016, Escape From Tarkov has not reached a level where the developers feel that it is ready for launch, despite offering far more content than most fully released titles and being far more polished than many AAA titles are at release.

Visuals and Performance.

Escape From Tarkov looks fantastic and runs very well on a wide array of hardware, indicating that a focus on quality and performance is a big part of why Escape From Tarkov has remained in “alpha/beta” for seven years and while a public launch is on the cards, as of August 2023, the developers feel they cannot yet commit to a launch date for version 1.0.

As of 2023, Escape From Tarkov is one of the best-looking Unity engine games, and if not for the controversy surrounding the developer, it could easily become the standard that Unity developers aspire to.

is-escape-from-tarkov-worth-playing-in-2023

Escape From Tarkov FAQ

Escape From Tarkov is a extraction shooter video game developed and published by Battlestate Games, it was released on 8 December 2016 and retails for $39.99+.

Platform Availability.

Escape From Tarkov is available exclusively on PC.

Is Escape From Tarkov Dead?

While we do not know exactly how many people play Escape From Tarkov in 2023, many in the community feel that its previously impressive growth has been badly hindered by the developers support for Russia, with many claiming that Escape From Tarkov had lost, much of the momentum gained in 2020-2021.

That being said, Escape From Tarkov is still pulling in very impressive Twitch numbers, and the community is growing, despite the poor PR caused by the developer’s refusal to condemn Russia’s Illegal Invasion of Ukraine.

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

  • PC - Mouse and Keyboard.

Is There Any Mature Content?

Escape From Tarkov is unrated and contains the following:

  • Bad Language
  • Drug Use
  • Gore
  • Sexual Content
  • Violence

Final Verdict.

Escape From Tarkov is an excellent game, and for players who are looking for the very best the extraction genre has to offer, there are very few games that equal Escape From Tarkov, and as of yet none that surpass it.

That being said, the developer’s pro-Russian and borderline anti-western views are problematic, and I suggest potential buyers consider how they feel about supporting a company that refuses to condemn Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine or even make a weak statement condemning war and civilian casualties in general, which was the path chosen by many Russian developers who wished to condemn the war, without risking reprisals from Moscow.

In short, I like Escape From Tarkov for what it is. Still, I wouldn’t have purchased it in 2016 if I knew what I know now about the developer’s apparent anti-western bias and censorship of difficult subjects. As a result, I cannot recommend it until the developers make a statement condemning the illegal invasion of Ukraine and the multitude of war crimes perpetrated by the Russian army against the Ukrainian people.

Is Escape From Tarkov Worth Playing In 2024?

8
Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Escape From Tarkov" a rating of 8/10, indicating that it is a good game, that is well worth playing, and while it may have a few shortcomings, the average gamer will enjoy it.

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