BSG is modernizing the Escape From Tarkov server infrastructure
What does this mean? Are these software changes or hardware changes? Will this drastically improve server performance? Will the servers be able to handle more concurrent users? Will this have any impact on the day to day gameplay?
So many questions, but we're just going to have to wait and see.
VOIP in Tarkov so far
The addition of VOIP to Escape From Tarkov has been an incredible change. I knew it was going to be a big deal, but it's been so much more than I would have predicted. There have been so many interactions that could have never happened before, and the amount of laughs from this one feature are countless.
I'm not sure if you've watched a bunch of clips on YouTube showing some of the amazing interactions that people have had, but I would definitely recommend it. I have personally had quite a few priceless interactions and shaky alliances while Scav'ing that have completely changed the game.
You can try to trade with other Scavs to find some of the items that you are struggling with. You can partner up as a PMC with a Scav to use the PMC/Scav extracts. You can even try to beg for your life when you're insanely out geared and out matched. "I'm just trying to grab this pocket watch sir... I just want to grab it and leave." That's an actual VOIP communication that I heard from someone, and I let them grab it and go! That's just not something we used to be able to do.
Using VOIP to gain a tactical advantage while on a Scav by partnering up with other Scavs to chase down PMCs is also insanely helpful, and was definitely much more difficult before VOIP was added.
Even if you aren't going to talk on VOIP, I would definitely recommend making sure that it is turned on in your settings. If someone else is talking near you, you'll be able to hear them and use that information to your advantage. Hunt them down, or avoid them completely, knowing where they are and what they're saying can help you with either one of those options.
You definitely can't always trust what you're hearing though, as I'm sure you already know. Just because someone says they won't kill you, that doesn't stop them from lining up the perfect shot on your eyeball and putting you down. Stay skeptical and stay safe out there!
Login queue and server issues
There have definitely been a lot of issues in Escape From Tarkov lately, and dealing with login queues can be a real drag. It's a particular type of pain when you have to close the game to fix a problem or EFT crashes, and then you're stuck in a queue of 90,000 people.
That being said, these issues are definitely temporary. According to BSG, they have been trying to cope with a massive influx in users, and DDoS attacks at the same time. How has it gone? Well, it could definitely be better, but it could also be much worse. For the most part, the game has actually been playable the vast majority of the time. Also according to BSG, the current infrastructure should be able to handle the current load and much more, but they are trying to track down a problem that is causing this to not be the case.
This big wave of additional people will slow down and get back to something more manageable now that drops are done. This means that there are less massive streams as well, which will also contribute to the numbers getting back to normal(ish).
The functionality of the login queue will definitely stay around even after the dust has settled from this huge influx in players, but the massive wait times and queue numbers will definitely start to drop, and so will the performance issues in game and with inventory management. We are already seeing this happen now that drops have ended, and it should continue to improve over the next month or so.
How could we make the queue system better for the future?
I do have one suggestion for the developers that I think would improve the authentication queuing system. I believe that players should have a grace period to re-login if they get kicked out of the game or have to close the game because of a bug. BSG has already stated that they removed the ability to skip the queue if you were previously in the game (recently) because it was causing massive spikes when large numbers of people would get kicked. They would reauthenticate and skip the queue entirely and the servers could not handle the sudden increase in load. I think there is a better solution though.
Instead of skipping the queue completely, have them skip to the front of the line. This could be done by adding them to the front of the queue, but the best way that I can think of is to have a re-authentication queue that gets checked before the main queue. This would eliminate the most obnoxious part of the queue system, and would be a huge improvement during giant spikes in the user base.
My thoughts on Scav Karma so far
Overall, it has been an awesome improvement. Seeing player Scavs work together to go after a rogue player Scav or PMC have been some of the coolest interactions that I have seen in Escape From Tarkov to this day. Having a reason for a PMC and a Scav to work together and use the PMC/Scav extracts has been really neat as well with a big side of mistrust and betrayal.
I really like the fact that it is meant to be very difficult to raise your Scav karma as it makes losing it a huge deal, although I do think the karma punishments can be a little too steep in certain circumstances which I will get into shortly (Santa why!?). However, the idea that it should be pretty punishing seems like the right one to me. If the punishments weren't too severe for betraying your fellow Scavs and you could get the karma back easily, people would mostly ignore the system and revert back to killing everything they see.
I think we will see even more interesting reputation changes in the future with the different factions being introduced (like the Rogues on Lighthouse). I think it's going to make for some very interesting gameplay and interactions plus some new and interesting tactics.
The one thing that concerns me as Escape From Tarkov moves more toward that reality is that I already suck at identifying if someone is a Scav or a PMC. I also suck at determining if the Scav that I'm looking at is a normal Scav, a Scav Boss guard, or a Raider. How am I going to be able to determine (super quickly) which faction this given NPC is part of and if I should shoot it or not?! I have a bad feeling about my future reputation numbers.
I know there are ways to tell these things already. I'm just terrible at it! The Scav or PMC dilemma comes up constantly when I'm on my Scav, and I have been murdered by many PMCs when I would have had a free shot if I had known that they weren't a Scav to begin with. I have had a similar issue with Scav Boss guards or Raiders on Reserve that has cost me some significant karma as well.
To be clear, I'm not saying that this is a problem with the game. I think it is definitely a problem on my end, and I just need to get better at quickly identifying these things. I just haven't figured out how to get better at it yet. Voice lines can be super helpful for this, but that only helps in certain scenarios.
Are some punishments too severe?
I think that some of them definitely are. The Scav boss and guard karma loss is really intense, and it scales WAY up when your reputation is close to maxed out. I understand why this is the case, because the boss and his guards are friendly to you at that point. So what's to stop you from walking up and chucking a grenade to kill the boss and the guards and make a fortune without much risk? Obviously that's an issue and the punishment should be more severe in that case, but its current state seems a little over the top. If you accidentally kill them at max karma, you will be in the negatives, and possibly at the furthest negative you can get, which doesn't seem to be something you can recover from.
I also thought that EFT's holiday event with Santa was a great idea, but the karma punishment for killing Santa was brutal. I understand why on that one for sure, but I know that I personally killed Santa once without having any idea that it was him, and the reputation loss was pretty devastating. In my defense, I only shot him once as he was super hurt already and it was during a night raid and I could not tell that it was him at all. I really wish he would have had special voice lines or a jingling or something while he was moving to indicate that it was him.
Why should I care about Scav karma at all?
There are plenty of benefits to having your Scav karma as high as possible. The higher the karma, the lower the Scav timer. This means you can do more Scav runs and the other benefits make the Scav runs more enticing. A higher Scav karma will usually result in better loadouts on your Scav as well. You may end up with more meds, better weapons, more armor, etc. You'll also spawn in with backpacks and extra ammo more often and have a better chance to spawn with higher tier loot. The Scav boss and their guards will also be friendly to you which can allow you to help defend them against players and then loot said players. You also have a better chance of having AI Scavs listen to your commands and possibly follow you around if you ask them to. Once you're at max Scav karma, another tab opens on Fence that will allow you to buy uninsured items that were lost in raids at pretty decent prices. This can be a nice perk, but I don't personally believe that this tab is really that big of a deal. You may find something you're looking for on this tab from time to time, but the other benefits seem to be much more helpful.
There are also some nasty side effects of having a bad Scav karma rating. Your Scav timer will be much longer. This stops you from running Scavs as often and can also drastically limit how much Scav karma you can earn over time making it even more difficult to recover from a low Scav karma rating. You'll get much worse loadouts a lot of the time. You probably won't have meds, or armor, or a backpack, or a decent weapon. You most likely won't spawn with rare loot. If your karma is low enough, all of the Scavs will be hostile when you spawn, thus making it nearly impossible to gain karma as you're going to be fighting off Scavs constantly.
It's probably pretty clear from all that information that having a higher Scav karma can be very beneficial. I would definitely recommend doing your best to gain as much as you can, and at the very least, try to lose as little as possible and out of the negatives.
Sound glitches galore this wipe?
There have been a ton of sound glitches this wipe. It's actually been significantly better than it was at the beginning of the wipe, but it's still happening all the time.
Most of the time it's the beginning of the sound that seems to be at maximum volume even though it's super far away. It can be super jarring and very confusing. At the beginning of the wipe, it was like I was playing a jump scare simulator.
Judging distance and even identifying what I'm hearing has been much harder this wipe than previous ones, and the sounds when two people are on different floors in a building seem worse than they've ever been.
I know this sounds like a bunch of complaining, but I thought it was just me at first. I figure I should post this so that people that read it know that it's not just on their end.
Hopefully, at least some of these sound bugs will be squashed sooner rather than later. Until then, a few jump scares here and there aren't the end of the world.
A few new extracts on Shoreline
If you haven't seen them yet, there are two new extracts on Shoreline that are a super convenient addition. Only having one main extract on each side of the map was pretty brutal, and adding one more on each side is a very welcome change.
The Path to Lighthouse extract seems to be available at all times even if you spawn right near it, which is an interesting decision. I have definitely used it a few times when I spawned in the general area and ended up getting into a couple fights early on. I'm not sure if BSG will keep it this way, but it is pretty nice to not be forced to cross at one of the choke-points and still be able to extract.
It is located behind the swamp where there used to be a wall, and the area that counts as Path to Lighthouse is actually extremely expansive. You can exit anywhere from up on the hill / rocks to way down near the little fence with a cabin behind it.
The other new one is down the road from Road to Customs and is accessible via the bridge on the road. This seems like it should help with extract camping frequency on both Tunnel and Road to Customs.
I am very curious if they will end up keeping Path to Lighthouse open all the time because it does change up the dynamic of forcing players to traverse the map and pass through given lanes.
Don't forget about the sorting table
Inventory management is a major part of Escape From Tarkov, and can be a tough nut to crack. It's even more of an issue towards the beginning of the wipe before you have access to the flea market and before you have a bunch of cases to help organize.
The sorting table can be super helpful if you're dealing with a mostly full inventory. You can move things over to the sorting table to give you some room to organize your inventory. It's a small thing, but it can be super helpful in certain circumstances.