In classic Escape From Tarkov fashion, developers Battlestate Games spent two weeks teasing a wipe on June 30, only to deliver a wipe the day early. Great news for players. Not such great news for me, who wrote this column on Monday (June 27) and had to revisit it post-update when I’d honestly rather just be playing the new wipe which sees Escape From Tarkov at its very best.
- READ MORE: The art of storytelling: How 20 years spent making narrative games led Caroline Marchal to ‘As Dusk Falls’
Of course, making something that should be fun, miserable is Escape From Tarkov’s modus operandi, so I shouldn’t be surprised that even in the game’s best moments, it’s still finding a way to kick me in the shins.
But it’s hard to be angry. The wipe – when every player loses their character, quest progression and all of their accumulated gear – is the best time to play Tarkov, and it’s an event spoken of in hushed tones across thousands of Discords by players as each fresh wipe passes the four month mark, when firefights become a collection of dull scraps between heavily geared chads shooting at each other with top tier weaponry and armour piercing rounds.
Because everyone is set back to the start at once, each wipe is a time of joy as people learn to stop worrying and embrace fighting with busted weapons and garbage armour, trying to complete the same old quests and get hold of just about anything that might give you the edge over your competition.
This might sound weird: in other MMOs like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV or New World the idea of giving up all of your progress is anathema. Here though, a fresh start is a gift to both the hardened Tarkov players that are still plugging away each night, and the newcomers that have picked up the game between wipes and are – well – bored of being shot by well geared players with thermal sights and no real aim beyond ruining your day.
For the hardened players, it’s because Tarkov with a ton of gear is fucking boring. Death becomes meaningless when you can get another set of top tier gear off the shelf and wade back into combat. Worse, the joy of getting to loot one of the game’s rare boss scavs or even another player is diluted by the fact that anything you loot is probably just going to get flogged off to a vendor anyway, as you desperately try to keep track of both your spiralling ammo costs and sprawling stash. It’s all pointless too, all of that top tier armour will do nothing to protect you because enemies running the best ammo in the game will be able to put you down as if you were running nothing at all, making the whole exercise futile.
Which probably explains why I haven’t been feeling the Tarkov itch quite the same way the past few weeks – especially so when a disastrous end of wipe event that makes you drop dead in seven minutes without a particular injector earlier this week had my group of Tarkov disciples abandon the game wholesale with a variety of swearwords.
But that’s all forgotten now. I’m already glancing furtively at the clock to see when I can get away from the office to scurry around Tarkov’s collection of beautifully decrepit eastern European battlegrounds in hunt of a grenade, helmet or even a bottle of drain cleaner. Tarkov is always a survival game, but nowhere is this more obvious than in those early post-wipe days.
With each fresh start bringing a collection of new cosmetics, weapons and even game mechanics into play, it’s also a nice chance to try something new. Perhaps this will finally be the wipe where I start as I mean to go on, practising with the notoriously tricky Mosin. Or maybe I’ll stick with what I know and – as per usual – get my hands on a PPSH and a drum mag, charging around the map giggling as I try to take my enemies wares with a hail of shitty ammo.
For the next two weeks, that’s going to be a valid way to play and I’m intending to enjoy every second of it. Perhaps I’ll see you out there? Don’t be scared, right now the brutal city of Tarkov is the glittering land of opportunity.
Escape From Tarkov’s 0.12.12.30 patch (and the wipe) is live now.