Escape from Tarkov Arena follows in the footsteps of CS:GO and CoD. But why this is not a bad thing, you can find out in our preview.
One or the other of you may remember: At the beginning of the year, I dared to make an ambitious attempt to finally plunge into the depths of Escape from Tarkov. An undertaking that was crowned with success.
But the constant sneaking around and the constant fear of losing my painstakingly assembled equipment not only put my nerves to the test, but also my hair colour.
Visibly greying, I was able to play the much more action-heavy PvP offshoot Escape from Tarkov: Arena for the first time at gamescom 2023. And what can I say? Tarkov Arena has all the elements I like about Escape from Tarkov – the tactical depth, the realistic weapon handling and the complex game mechanics. But it also takes the liberty of focusing on what many of us really want: unadulterated, direct action.
What to expect in Escape from Tarkov: Arena
If you’ve never heard of Escape from Tarkov here’s a brief explanation first: EFT is the mother of the relatively new genre of extraction shooters. That is, you buy equipment and weapons with your in-game money before the game, then are thrown into a huge map full of enemy players and NPCs. Your goal: You have to bag as much loot as possible – and leave the map alive at the end.
In Tarkov Arena, on the other hand, you can expect much smaller maps, the eponymous arenas, which are designed for intensive PvP battles. In contrast to the main game, where the focus is on loot hunting, the main objective here is to eliminate your opponents as efficiently as possible.
If you want to see for yourself – you can watch gameplay from Tarkov Arena here:
The game is played in classic game modes, such as Team Deathmatch with five players on each side. This means that the rounds are usually shorter and the action is much faster. But don’t be fooled: This doesn’t mean they are any less tactical or challenging The compact arenas also require a great deal of teamwork and strategic thinking from you
During gamescom 2023, the developers had organised a small 2-against-2 tournament for attending journalists, streamers and YouTubers. My teammate and I were even able to win this one. Admittedly, my partner scored perhaps three times as many kills as I.
But I am convinced that he was only able to achieve this feat because I acted as a human shield and provided him with valuable information about the enemies’ positions. That’s how teamwork works!
(During the tournament, the other players can watch from a balcony.)
Beginner-friendly without compromises
One of my biggest criticisms of Escape from Tarkov has always been the high barrier to entry for newcomers. The so-called Gear Fear, the fear of losing valuable equipment, has kept many players (including me!) from fully engaging with the game. You know where my grey hairs come from
With Tarkov Arena, this hurdle is now largely removed You play with prefabricated loadouts that all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some have a stronger weapon with better ammunition, but no helmet or only a thin protective vest
(You buy the different loadouts with rubles you earn by playing.)
The best part is that these simplifications are in no way at the expense of realism The realistic shooter mechanics that made Escape from Tarkov a hit remain completely intact. From the ballistics of the weapons to the movement – everything feels just as real as in the main game. This allows new players to get to grips with these basics more quickly without being overwhelmed by the complexity.
For Tarkov creator Nikita Buyanov, this also makes the game accessible to mere mortals because you won’t be spending hours collecting money and equipment:
First of all, it’s very, very easy to start the game in Arena. It’s just a simple click. You just choose a game mode and your loadout. That’s it. So you don’t have to find anything, you don’t have to loot anything, you don’t have to, let’s say, adjust your equipment and so on.
You just have to make a few clicks and you’re good to go. And when you die, you won’t lose anything, like in EFT. If you die, only a few rubles will be lost for your loadout.
Don’t be afraid of CoD & Counter-Strike
While games like Call of Duty and Counter-Strike offer modes similar to Team Deathmatch, Tarkov Arena stands out for its unparalleled realism. That’s why Nikita isn’t worried about the competition in multiplayer:
This hardcorniness – that is, the realistic ballistics, detailed weapon handling and complex game mechanics – makes Tarkov Arena a unique experience. Nikita’s confidence is therefore well founded: Tarkov Arena has the potential to carve out its very own niche in the crowded multiplayer shooter market by combining the best elements from different games, lowering the frustration level while maintaining its own distinctive identity.
Escape from Tarkov Arena is set to launch into beta in autumn 2023, with the game priced at €37. If you can already call the most expensive version of Escape from Tarkov, the Edge of Darkness Edition, your own, you will get Arena for free on release.
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