Why 2024 is the time to start playing Escape from Tarkov

Why 2024 is the time to start playing Escape from Tarkov
Images via Battlestate Games

Written by 

Harry Boulton

Published 

25th Jan 2024 11:56

There's absolutely no denying that Escape from Tarkov is an incredibly difficult game to get into. From the moment you boot up the game it's like a maze with no answers: What bullets do I use? What's the difference between PMC and Scav? How do I complete this task?

That's before you even get into a raid too, and you're suddenly left wondering what on Earth ZB-012 is and where to find it, alongside the sudden painful realisation that every single item you carry is lost upon death.

However, once you get over that incredibly steep initial hurdle, you'll find that Escape from Tarkov is one of the most consistently enthralling games out there, and there's genuinely been no better time to dive in headfirst than in 2024 with patch 0.14.

There's no game quite like Tarkov

Extraction shooters have become more popular in recent years alongside the rise of Escape from Tarkov, to the point where there was a Call of Duty adaptation of the genre in the form of DMZ.

For me, however, there just fundamentally is no game like Escape from Tarkov out there, and that's more often than not down to how relentlessly punishing and obtuse it can be. The crux of an extraction shooter as opposed to its battle royale siblings is not to necessarily 'win', but instead to simply survive.

Loading into a raid, picking up a single item, and managing to successfully extract is - in theory - more of a win than killing 5 PMCs and eventually dying, as it's only the former scenario where you actually come out with anything.

Image of a lootable truck on Ground Zero in Escape from Tarkov
Click to enlarge

Thankfully though, there's so much depth and enjoyment to be found in the game outside of combat that the simple act of staying alive is consistently enthralling.

Your overarching loop consists of finding items in a raid to sell so that you can buy more (and often better) gear, which you then use to head back into raid and contest areas for higher-value loot. Combat is almost a byproduct of this, in that you'll often run into other players who are also looking for the best items, and it's imperative that you have good enough gear to outwit them yourself. This means that every single area you loot could have something big, and every battle you fight has added weight, as it could lead to better gear or keep you alive long enough to escape yourself.

Despite playing the game for hundreds of hours myself, I can so vividly remember many of my greatest raids and kills, because each moment you achieve in-game means so much more.

One raid a few wipes back had me heading to the highly-contested Resort on the Shoreline map with just a shotgun in hand as I looked to complete a quest. What I was quickly greeted with though was a player with gear that far surpassed my own sprinting up the stairs next to me.

I quickly whipped around and unleashed as many shells of Flechette as I could, and after the chaos I was left with a heavily damaged body yet a dead player in front of me that had some very expensive gear.

I've got to get out now, I thought to myself, yet it was dark outside and the gear was weighing me down significantly. Of course, I found another player along the way - but the rain and darkness let me get the jump and eventually the kill.

Shortly after I reached the nearest extract and breathed the biggest sigh of relief. I could (and probably should) have just died in the Resort and been sent back to the menu with nothing to show, but instead, I was left with an experience that I still remember vividly to this day, among many other of my favourite raids.

Image of the snow on Customs in Escape from Tarkov
Click to enlarge

Regaining control

What is it about Escape from Tarkov now, though, that makes it so appealing to anyone who might have bounced off or never tried it before? One of the biggest enhancements with the most recent wipe is the significant recoil adjustment that saw nearly every gun across the board become much easier to handle.

One of the biggest turn-offs for new players in Tarkov historically has been the incredibly strong first shot recoil that left most guns challenging on single fire and near unusable in fully automatic.

Now, however, the recoil performs much more in line with other FPS titles out there - albeit with its own quirks and difficulties. This makes the learning period much more manageable for a new player and is much better for the enjoyment of the game as a whole.

SMGs are now practically laser beams with zero recoil, and many of the best guns across the assault rifle category are much easier to handle when spraying down an enemy.

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Holes in the armour

Another key factor supporting this that arrived in patch 0.14 is the armour rework that completely changed how body protection functions. While this, like most things in Tarkov, is complicated if you want to dive into it fully, it largely means that a much wider range of bullets are effective against even the best armour in the game.

Image of the PP-19-01 in Escape from Tarkov
Click to enlarge

Previous wipes would see around 80% of the available rounds become redundant after the first week or two, as higher classes of armour became ubiquitous leaving only the best ammo able to penetrate it.

While most of the ammo itself hasn't changed, this new armour system gives each area of a player's armour a unique hitbox with its own individual armour class, leaving many at a much lower class and easier to deal with when using worse ammo.

This is vitally important for new players, as it means that you'll almost always be able to put up a fight against even the most geared of players, dealing out fewer scenarios where you feel like you couldn't do anything and providing more memories like my own on Shoreline.

Venturing into the streets

Capping off an abundance of player-friendly changes is a first for Escape from Tarkov - a map entirely dedicated to low-level users. The new map Ground Zero currently has a level cap of 20, meaning that it's a perfect learning space for anyone who hasn't played Tarkov before or simply needs some practice.

It's relatively small with a straightforward layout, and it even has clear directions to each of its major buildings which makes both questing and finding your extract simpler than ever before.

Many of the game's introductory quests are now found within this map, so you can get to grips with the rather obtuse tasks that you might not always know how to complete in a more friendly space.

Image of Ground Zero with the SCAR-L equipped in Escape from Tarkov
Click to enlarge

Furthermore, the map also has a higher player count than you'd typically expect from an area this size, leading to a higher chance of PvP encounters that let you dive into the action and hone your skills. 

While there is an argument that throwing players into combat isn't always the best idea, and the map does have some tricks of its own up its sleeve, I don't think there's been a better space in Tarkov to jump into as a newbie than Ground Zero - making it an excellent addition to the game's already fantastic collection of maps.

It's inevitable that you will struggle when you first dive into any of Escape of Tarkov's vast and complicated systems, but there really has never been a better time to try - and with a swathe of our very own guides and tips to help you out on our dedicated homepage, you'd be silly to not at least give it a go.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.