It took a little over three years but Escape from Tarkov (EFT) has risen to the top of Twitch charts in-part due to a drop campaign that began at the start of the week. Created by Russian-based developer, BattleState Games, back in 2016, EFT has surpassed evergreen titles/categories such as League of Legends, Fortnite, Just Chatting, and CSGO to hold down the number one viewership spot on the streaming platform. Top personalities such as Dr.Disrespect, Timthetatman, CohhCarnage, and others have flocked to the game to get a piece of the action and try out something new while "veteran" EFT players, Shroud and Dr.Lupo, have been playing since the early days.
If you're curious why a game you never heard of is the talk of the gaming community or if the game is for you, we'll lay out the facts below to fill you in.
When did it come out?
Escape from Tarkov wasn't born yesterday. In fact, the game entered a closed Alpha period back in August of 2016 with the extended Alpha releasing shortly after Christmas of that year. The official closed Beta kicked off in July of the following year and that's where the game remains today.
What type of game is it? A Call of Duty clone of a battle royale?
According to EFT's official Wikipedia page, the game can be described as, "A hardcore and realistic online FPS with RPG, survival and MMO elements. Often referred to as a "combat simulator" due to the in-depth nature of the weapon, realistic ballistic gear and health systems."
What do you do in the game? What's the point?
You have a main character called a "PMC". You gear up your PMC prior to a raid from your character screen with weapons, ammo, meds, helmet, armor, tactical vests, other gear and a backpack. You choose one of the current seven locations on the map and enter a "raid" with your character. Every raid is instance-based and timed, so no two raids are the same.
Each map has hostile AI that roam around ranging from basic grunts called "Scavs", to tougher AI called "Raiders", to "Boss Scavs." You spawn with anywhere from 5-13 other player-controlled PMCs on the map at the beginning of a raid, which can last anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour.
One of the objectives is to find loot that's on the map -- ranging from common to rare items that are locked behind doors that require keys. You also have quests to complete from the merchants. Additionally, you also fight the other PMCs, Scavs and player-controlled Scavs. If you kill someone, you can take their gear that they came in with. In order to finish a raid, you have to find one of the extraction points on the map and extract there. If you make it out, you get to keep all the gear and loot you found during the raid. The catch is that if you die in a raid, you lose (almost) all of the gear you came in with minus whatever was in your secured container. You don't lose the character, but he'll be heavily wounded; so you'll have to heal your PMC again before going into the next raid.
Players also have a secondary character where you can play as one of these grunt Scavs. The Scav has a random loadout each time you pick them. While all PMCs spawn at the start of the raid, player-Scavs can spawn at any time as long as there is at least one PMC left on the map. So in essence, you could have up to 20 players (both PMCs and Scavs) on the larger maps at one time. The benefit of playing as a Scav is that if you extract, you can transfer any gear and items found during the raid to your main PMC character. Players can modify weapons using one of the most robust weapon modification systems in the gaming universe. There is also an in-depth inventory system; multiple merchants who sell items and offer quests; a player-driven economy called the "Flea Market"; and a base-building aspect called "The Hideout" which you can upgrade in return for things like quicker off-raid health regeneration, ability to craft various things and increase your stash size.
From time to time, a "wipe" will take place in-game that resets all players back to the beginning, leaving the same starting gear available for everyone. This occurs a few times a year.
Why is it popular now?
In a partnership with Twitch, a drop-campaign began on 12/29 and is running through 1/5 which offers in-game items just for watching streams that have drops enabled. Items rarity ranges from common to rare.
Where can I buy it? Is it free?
The game can be purchased through escapefromtarkov.com and has four editions ($45, $75, $100, $140) with each of the non-base versions having more starting gear available. All editions are currently 25% off.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.