OpinionVideo Games

Now is The Best and Worst Time to Start Playing Escape from Tarkov

Image via BattleState Games.

Escape from Tarkov is notoriously difficult to get into. Not only is the game incredibly complex — and even more difficult — but there are almost infinite ways to die and learn almost nothing about what you could have done better. Worse, the game regularly goes through full progress resets called “wipes,” putting everyone on a level playing field for about a day before veterans get everything they need to dominate again. That would be the case we find ourselves in now, as a wipe usually takes place around June or July, with a constant stream of in-game, economy-ruining events heralding its coming. That hasn’t happened yet, which makes now both the best and worst time to start playing Escape from Tarkov, whether you’ve played FPS games for years or are new to the keyboard and mouse.

Why Now Is the Best Time to Start Playing Escape from Tarkov

One of the most important advantages to an extra long wipe (a rarity for Tarkov) is that interest in the game tends to die down as more and more players complete their quests, build up an unbreakable bank, and eventually leave, having little else to do in the game. The lower population means you’ll have a better chance of getting into a raid with fewer enemy players, giving you more freedom and relative safety to learn, explore, and progress.

With no indicators that a wipe is coming soon, you can also take much more time to get up to speed with the various out-of-combat mechanics like the Hideout, Flea Market, weapon buildmaking, and more. You can also get a feel for how Tarkov’s various events work, not only what they ask of you but also where they take place and what maps and areas you need to avoid to run into as few mega chads as possible.

Why Now is The Best and Worst Time to Start Playing Escape from Tarkov - Fewer Mega Chads. A player character is silhouetted against an orange sunset.

Image via BattleState Games.

In short, your greatest asset to coming into a late-wipe situation with no actual wipe in sight is time. No one in the community is sure when wipe will happen, but the indications point to a more distant reset than we’ve seen previously. And though that’s not ideal for veterans, as a newcomer, you have several college courses’ worth of knowledge and experience to gain. Also, having the luxury to learn most of it at your own pace — and with less of a threat from those with Tarkov grad degrees — will make your future experience when wipe does come all the better.

Why Now Is the Worst Time to Start Playing Escape from Tarkov

Tarkov’s problem is not that it isn’t fun. Even for a newbie for whom every shadow could mean death, the process of learning, exploring, and growing as a player is unlike almost anything else in gaming. The problem, or indeed problems, are that the game only infrequently functions as it should. 

The number of bugs present are almost too many to name, and none are the “funny haha” bugs you might find in a Bethesda game. We’re talking game-breaking, match-ruining, experience-tarnishing horrors. Invisible players with no consistency as to which players go invisible in a round. Massive hit detection and netcode issues. A sound system that gives incomplete or straight bad information or just flat out doesn’t work. Oh, and did I mention the random disconnects that will simply cost you your character and their loot? There are performance problems as well, with only the beefiest rigs able to handle the new Streets of Tarkov map at anything approaching a baseline 60 frames per second.

That’s not even talking about when you find another player, which will happen no matter how hard you try to avoid them. They’re highly  likely to be a grizzled veteran with the best weapons, armor, ammo, and gear. They’ll also probably know where you’re coming from, thanks to lots of experience, map knowledge, and a great gaming chair/headset.

There’s also the threat of hackers, though how big of a threat cheaters pose depends on what time you play and what server region you’re on. I’m on the east coast, and while I’ve had some suspicious deaths, I’ve rarely felt that they were unfair — provided I see my killer to begin with. 

All that said, with the 0.13.1 update, things are starting to look up. The community is hopeful that Tarkov updating to Unity 2021 will offer bigger benefits than it breaks the game. However, no one has any illusions that a massive engine upgrade won’t cause teething issues. 

I think now is a great time to start playing Escape from Tarkov, and I see new players in my raids all the time. Without the benefit of hindsight and experience from previous wipes, this relatively low point in the game’s lifecycle can be a jumping point for what we can only hope are positives from here on out.

About the author

John Schutt
John Schutt has spent more than a decade writing about video games in various capacities and wonders constantly why no one has yet stopped him. You can follow him on Twitter @Terrible_Xiant, though he doesn't do much there.