Getting into Escape from Tarkov, why that initial hurdle seems so challenging

Image via Battlestate Games
Image via Battlestate Games

Gaming exists on a spectrum between those games which are easiest to pick up and play, and those hardcore titles which require hours of practice and dedication just to get to work. Escape from Tarkov resides strongly at the hardcore end of the spectrum.

Hardcore gaming is a niche that is often difficult to do right as it can be nigh impossible to craft a game that is both incredibly difficult to control and yet fun to play. Escape from Tarkov is one of the most overwhelming experiences of the lot, and yet it balances everything in a way that makes it strangely fun.

Why games like Escape from Tarkov tend to turn away players

Nobody likes to play a game that is difficult to control. There’s simply no way around it, playing a game requires that players have the ability to turn their intent into actions in game, and the harder the controls are, the more difficult that process is. This is called “playing with intentionality,” and it’s often the bare minimum of skill required to enjoy a game.

When players can’t turn their intent into the actions they want, they are disconnected from the game and left guessing what went wrong. Usually this leads to the player correcting the issue and moving on, but if a game is especially difficult then its own controls can become a barrier to playing with intentionality.

This is why controls tend to get streamlined across genres, and why experienced players can sometimes pick up a game they’ve never tried and already know the basic controls from the start.

For Escape from Tarkov, even the most experienced gamer will likely struggle to learn the game’s controls at first. This is a common trend with these kind of high-precision hardcore games, I can’t count the number of friends who cited ARMA’s controls as the reason they couldn’t play and even I struggled to get into games like Silent Hunter III or Nauticrawl.

How Escape from Tarkov helps players push past that initial difficulty

(Image Credit: Battlestate Games)
(Image Credit: Battlestate Games)

Getting past the initial shock of Escape from Tarkov requires some effort on behalf of the player, but Escape from Tarkov does at least have some tricks to help players out. While the game gives players more control than the average vehicle, a lot of the controls have a basic logic to them.

Precise control can be achieved by using just a few buttons with modifiers. Just holding down the Left Alt button can completely change how the player’s character can be moved around. This, alongside innovative use of the scroll wheel, makes it easy for players to slowly feel out how to play.

Additionally, while it can be genuinely difficult to remember every single way of controlling the player character, it’s surprisingly easy to get by with just a few broad controls. Basic movement, aiming, shooting, and reloading is enough to start playing, and much of the finer controls will be learned over time.

The most punishing part early on is that new players will mostly struggle to earn gear, but that’s something that can be learned later on once they’ve become used to the game.

Overall, the hardest part of getting into Escape from Tarkov is that it takes a dedicated person to sit down and push through the losses.

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Edited by Nikhil Vinod
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