With explosive gameplay, competitive engagements, and memorable proximity chat interactions, Escape from Tarkov Arena is finally here. After twenty hours on Arena, the title has left me with a positive impression.
I've been awaiting Escape from Tarkov Arena since June 3, 2022, when Battlestate Games announced the upcoming extension to the already popular Escape from Tarkov. Being such an anticipated release; here are our thoughts and opinions on EFT Arena.
EFT Arena Review: Presets
Escape from Tarkov Arena has eradicated customization and personalization, opting instead for pre-made "presets" to use in the Arena game mode. After each player selects their preset for the match, they are "locked in" to that preset until the conclusion of the game.
Despire players generally rejecting Arena's preset system, I think Battlestate doesn't have much choice if they aim to venture down the esports route, which is their primary objective. Presets disable players from using their experience to build overpowered weapons that will likely have incredible constraints over other players.
But the preset system is somewhat flawed due to the lack of customization. Escape from Tarkov has risen to greatness because of the customization Battlestate provides. But this time around, they've decided to place their interests first (esports ambitions) over the hearts and minds of those who want customization within Arena.
But Battlestate Games needs presets to build a controlled combat environment, ideal for FPS esports. Ultimately, I believe the hearts of general players should've been considered, allowing some level of customization.
EFT Arena Review: Gameplay and Movement
The original Escape from Tarkov and Arena provide a different feel in gameplay; Arena movement feels heavier and less agile. Though it's somewhat offputting at first, the Arena movement still feels consistent and satisfying.
The original EFT provides players with a loose movement experience, making it easier to control the character and allowing combat to last longer. Arena doesn't provide this agile experience, with combat feeling more like duels; either you or the enemy dies after the first shots within moments of spotting each other. It's different, but still enjoyable.
Arena's gunplay provides a riveting experience. Players can finally embrace consistent Tarkov battles without worrying about lost gear. Explosions, lost limbs, adrenalin rushes, and near-death experiences fuel the Arena battlegrounds.
Arena is supposed to be competitive, more so than the main title, but I've noticed players are using the mode for a more relaxed Tarkov experience. There's no gear fear and creeping around, Arena doesn't have chads or rats — we're all equals here.
EFT Arena Review: Ranking and Progression
Ranking and progression within Escape from Tarkov Arena are divided into two separate entities; preset progression and player level. Players simultaneously progress through the different presets and player ranks, offering a play-to-win overtone.
Ranking up your player level allows you to obtain a different skill group, and this sense of competition and objective is exactly what Arena needs. Personally, I love the competition that comes with trying to rank up. It's a nice change from the main title where money is the main focus rather than rank.
Progressing through different weapon presets allows you to unlock and obtain more overpowered and optimized weapon/armor classes, ultimately helping to gain a higher rank and in-game advantage. However, preset progression is a grind. Often it can take 5+ gameplay hours before gaining a new preset.
Both weapon and rank progression directly stems from a player's win/loss ratio within Arena. Players lose their rank progression if they lose a match; preset progression is significantly lowered after a loss and little XP is gained. Though it will never be lost, it still feels somewhat stupid. Why is my preset progression affected by my win/loss ratio?
EFT Arena Review: Improvements
Considering Escape from Tarkov Arena is still fresh, players should maintain patience —though, the preset progression needs to be changed immediately. Spending hours upon hours trying to progress to the next preset becomes mundane and boring, and I find myself heading back on the main title just to feel enjoyment again.
There are a few mistakes that need to be changed, such as audio issues. The in-game commentator, for example, needs an audio option to disable his speech. It becomes overbearing to endure, along with the in-game sirens/horns to signify a match's start or finish; some players just want to play and listen to music without irritating noises.
The pre-match initiation is also stressful and lacks automation, players are required to hit "ready" twice before entering a match, and if one player doesn't select "ready" the match is canceled. Bugs have also been found, trapping players inside an infinite "ready" cycle. Battlestate needs to change the menu UI to improve/prevent these bugs and issues.
Fortunately, some fixes have already been initiated towards audio, lowering the sound of the overbearing commentator. Vaulting has also been added to the game, somewhat speeding up movement times and agility, and improving the overall "feel."
EFT Arena Review: Verdict 4/5
Despite the bugs, audio, and progression issues, Escape from Tarkov Arena has maintained its strong identity of being one of the best PC FPS shooters. I love the combat, community, and general alternative experiences Arena provides from the main game.
Arena is exactly how I expected it to be: solidly enjoyable and a worthy alternative to main Tarkov. Personally, I think it's worth your time.
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