Escape from Tarkov has exploded in popularity over the last few years, becoming one of the top hardcore looter shooter experiences out there. However, with recent controversies surrounding the state of the game and community management, many faithful Tarkov players find themselves looking for viable alternatives that can scratch a similar itch.
Occasionally, I find myself feeling exhausted from playing Tarkov. To switch things up, I've explored some alternative games 🔗 and have tried some other options.
In this post, I explore some of the top options currently on the market for Tarkov alternatives, as well as a few upcoming games that aim to compete directly with Escape from Tarkov’s unique raid gameplay. To qualify as a true alternative, the core gameplay needs to focus on high risk versus high reward, where you risk equipment and loot during intense raids in order to extract with better gear to progress your character. It’s a brutal cycle, but one that Tarkov executes expertly.
When it comes to current games that can legitimately serve as an alternative to Tarkov’s tactical raids, Hunt: Showdown leads the pack. The 19th century setting provides black powder rifles and crossbows instead of modern assault weapons, while still capturing tense PvPvE showdowns in the bayou.
Melee combat is more prevalent in Hunt compared to Tarkov thanks to weapons like swords and axes. And while I’m not a huge fan of Hunt’s dark sight tracking system revealing player locations at the end of a match, it undoubtedly provides interesting risk calculation as you try to escape. Overall, Hunt: Showdown is likely the closest thing currently available to Escape from Tarkov in terms of the core extract-based raid experience...it just happens to take place 120 years in the past!
Similarly, the newly launched Marauders has potential with its looter shooter layout focused on navigating ships and completing objectives. But again, the subtle enjoyment and fun factor faded quickly for me. The gunplay, which should seem crisp given the developers’ experience on Hell Let Loose, feels oddly flat.
As it stands today, Marauders doesn’t offer enough differentiation from titles like The Cycle to warrant playing both. The raid structure needs more time in the oven.
One more up-and-comer to have on your radar is Gray Zone Warfare, expected to launch at some point in 2024. It sounds like it aims to capture the hardcore tactical FPS experience that Tarkov nails so well.
Here's an excerpt from the development team:
Following a mysterious event that took place on an island in Southeast Asia, the entire area has been put under international quarantine. With almost all the civilian population evacuated by the United Nations, three PMCs are tasked by their enigmatic clients to explore the region, uncover its secrets, and bring back anything of value.
It focuses heavily on realistic weapon behavior and customization, along with ballistic modeling for intense firefights where every shot counts. Much like Escape from Tarkov, the stakes will be high as you risk equipment and progress with each raid into the mysterious island location.
While details are still sparse, the promise of "embracing the challenges of a true tactical FPS" suggests Gray Zone Warfare could provide stiff competition to Tarkov when it emerges from the development fog in 2024.
Shifting gears to upcoming Tarkov alternatives in development, Dead Drop is one I currently have my eye on. It remains in early access, but backers can play now and progress will carry over at launch. So far, the emphasis seems to be moreso on quick PvP rather than complex survival systems. An Arena mode is also planned, which could compete directly with Tarkov when it emerges from testing. However, no release date is set.
For VR enthusiasts, Ghosts of Tabor brings much of Tarkov’s DNA into the virtual world. Still in early development and likely at least a year from release, it shows promise as a VR-native take on hardcore extraction shooter raids. My one concern is that catering solely to the VR crowd may hamper widespread adoption. But for those already enjoying their Oculus or Vive, Tabor could become a new favorite.
An alternative option for players burned out on Tarkov is to look back at the single player franchise that originally inspired it: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. With its realistic FPS survival roots combined with supernatural occurrences, the series provided a blueprint for Battlestate Games to iterate upon with Escape from Tarkov.
Additionally, Road to Vostok is an upcoming story-focused title that similarly seeks to capture the tense FPS survival and progression elements that make Tarkov so engrossing, just for lone players instead of squads. It offers another single player outlet to hold you over until you’re ready for more hardcore multiplayer action.
As it stands today, no game has managed to completely dethrone Escape from Tarkov as the pinnacle of high stakes raid shooters. Hunt: Showdown likely gets closest given its current state. However, forthcoming titles like Gray Zone Warfare show promise once they get further along development and introduce more features.
For now, the best bet is likely trying Hunt for that risky PvPvE fix, while keeping tabs on future Arena mode. And if you need a solo escape from the punch-to-the-gut misery Tarkov can sometimes induce, retreat to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. realm.
But despite controversy and frustration with Escape from Tarkov in recent times, most players will likely come crawling back for their punishment sooner or later, myself included. Its ruthless brand of tactical looting dissolution simply hasn’t been replicated completely thus far. The search continues...Will you be the one to finally escape Tarkov for good?