If you’re anything of a gamer – particularly a PC gamer – you’ll have heard of a game called Escape from Tarkov. It’s an action-RPG FPS ‘Milsim’ title that first emerged in 2017, gaining somewhat steadily in popularity over the next few years. However, since the tail end of 2021, Escape from Tarkov has exploded in terms of overall player count, streaming figures, and market value. Today, I’m here to offer a little insight into this rapid growth and answer the question, why is Escape from Tarkov popular?
While I’m not the most experienced Tarkov player, I’ve been pulled head-over-heels onto the platform, just like many other thousands of gamers have been. Since it first launched almost four years ago, there has been a mystical aura surrounding Tarkov. It has gained a reputation for being one of the most challenging titles to ever grace the world of gaming, but how much truth is really behind that claim?
Let’s explore, and more importantly, help you answer another question – is Escape from Tarkov worth buying?
What is Escape from Tarkov?
Firstly, let’s outline exactly what Tarkov is. There’s a little complexity surrounding the game that has led to some wondering if Escape from Tarkov is legit.
EFT is developed and maintained by a Russian company called Battlestate Games. This company doesn’t use any third-party launchers to manage Tarkov, instead opting for a proprietary, built-for-purpose launcher. Furthermore, you can only buy Escape from Tarkov from the Battlestate Games website, and it’s in a ‘permanent’ state of beta, meaning you’re pre-ordering rather than buying.
It sounds strange, but it’s totally legitimate.
What you’re buying into is an intense, challenging, and complex experience that requires equal part reflexes, tactical thinking, and awareness. This is marketed as a hardcore survival game, with players assuming the role of military-style characters and entering a range of small, sandbox environments. Once in these environments, it’s kill-or-be-killed, with players needing to loot to earn money, to fight to survive, and to manage health, energy, and equipment mechanics.
That’s a very basic explanation of what Tarkov is – there’s a vast and broad learning curve for the game, which is, at its core, deeply realistic and unforgiving. For instance, you can enter ‘a raid’, loot and shoot for half an hour, and then get shot once as you’re trying to ‘extract’ – which is a necessary mechanic in order to win a game. At that point, you could lose absolutely everything you’ve a) brought into the game, and b) found in the game.
It’s a tough world out there.
Why is Escape from Tarkov Popular?
Firstly, it’s important to highlight that there’s something of a gambling aspect in Escape from Tarkov. There’s no real way of knowing what you’ll find in a raid, what your rewards will be, or what kind of situations you’ll find yourself in. When a combat scenario can be hinged on a single bullet, every single scrap becomes an intense battle for survival. When you open a crate or a box, or when you unlock a door, you have no way of knowing what’s behind it – it can be exhilarating.
That aspect is hugely appealing to the modern gamer. It’s a far cry from esports betting, but the rush you get from completing a high-value raid is unbeatable. Furthermore, the human species is inherently competitive, and there’s a huge PVP aspect to Escape from Tarkov. When you win that all-important, nail-biting fight, the burst of adrenaline can be monumental. It feels like you have something to lose – which you do. It’s a feeling that you don’t get in traditional multiplayer shooters.
Finally, there’s the fact that Escape from Tarkov is, at its core, a great game. Even four years later, the developers are constantly pumping in updates, fresh content, and unlocking new maps and areas for players to explore. While it can sometimes feel a little rough around the edges, it looks brilliant, performs well, and doesn’t feel all that repetitive, despite the model. It also has a great and expanding community behind it, which answers the question, is Escape from Tarkov growing?
With each passing day, the game becomes more popular, with top-tier content creators like DrLupo and DrDisrespect getting involved. In December of 2021, Tarkov peaked at 476k concurrent viewers on Twitch, a figure that only a handful of titles have achieved. It’s getting better, it’s worth buying, and it’s only becoming more popular.