Firefight Theory

Let's try to explore what is the core of Tarkov.

The hamsterwheel

The basic gameplay can be coarsely divided into two stages. Raid and stash. The events from one stage affect the next stage.


If we further divide the raid into its particles we have gunfighting and looting. I think the developers lately put too much focus on the looting and neglected gunfighting. But that is a post for another time.

You guess which part of the game.

Gunfighting

If asked what the most exciting part of the game is for you, what would you answer? For me, it is the gunfighting. Looting, equipping gear, all the other things are fun supporting parts, but the core is the gunbattle. If you could narrow it down to what part of the gun battle you would find the most exciting to a second, what would it be?

For me, it's when the shooting starts.


This is when the rush, or the emotional high kicks in. The excitement of the fight is influenced by the risk involved. The winner gets the gear the loser was carrying. The fear of losing your gear and the excitement of opening a walking loot chest with unknown gear. But you have to overcome the fact that the walking loot chest won't give up its contents without a fight.
For this type of excitement it is irrelevant whether you have a factory key or a kiba key or 10 keyrings. Also the weapons you carry are not relevant. (They are relevant for the outcome of the firefight, but not for the emotional rush). These are two pieces of information we will visit later in the article.



A firefights has 3 parts:

  • Start - At least one party to the fight opens fire on the other.
  • Mid - This part is active as long as both parties are engaged.
  • End - The firefight ends once one party is dead or fleeing.
Experienced (and inexperienced even more ,..,) players may notice that, firefights have often a very short or non-existing mid. Because one party is destroyed after the spotting party opens fire, or runs away.
What would be a more exciting scenario for you? A firefight with a long mid-section or one with a short mid-section? Which combat situations in your Tarkov experience do you remember as the best? For me, it was these epic gun battles that lasted for minutes.


In this video we were ambushed by two players but managed to get behind hard cover. In the battle, grenades were thrown, suppressive fire was used, and we eventually killed both enemies, with one loss on our side. The important part here is that the fight lasted for 90 seconds and both parties had time to make decisions on how to win the fight. Based on this, I will make the first assumption for the theory. Which is: The longer the mid part of the firefight is, the more exciting the raid is. That epic situation, when you are in the zone, shooting, taking cover, near misses nearly killing you.

So how do we make this part of the gunfight longer?

The length of a firefight

For that we should determine what influences the length of a fight.

  • Weapon
    • Caliber
    • Accuracy
    • Ammo
  • Armor
  • Terrain
  • Weather

 Weapon Caliber and Accuracy

The weapon caliber determines the potential of the bullet, how far it can fly, how fast it flies. Bullets with more gunpowder fly faster, lose less speed over time and are therefore more accurate. The Accuracy depends on the weapon, its barrel length, modifications. The ammo type determines the damage to the target, its armor.

Dispersion of single shots at 50 and 100 meters.

At 50 meters, a Glock 17 will hit the center of mass of a human target. However, the dispersion is wide enough to cause a miss on a head sized area. The Vityaz and AKM create very tight groups that all would hit a head sized target without failure.
At 100 meters the Glock 17 has a wider dispersion. Even a center of mass shot has the potential to completely miss a target. The Vityaz starts losing the tightness of its dispersion. The AKM dispersion remains very tight.

What we can determine from this is that a firefight with Glock 17s will last longer at 100 meters because of the dispersion. The same firefight with AKMs would end quicker.

Weapon Ammo Type


Link for 9x19 sheet
Link for 7.62x39 sheet

The potential for health and armor damage is far greater for rifle calibers like the 7.62x39 (the ammo for the AKM in the above test). At least class 4 armor is required to withstand the standard PS cartridge. The 9x19 on the other side, fails to penetrate class 3 armor. This means a firefight with 9x19 is going to last longer than a firefight with 7.62x39. Because a 7.62x39 will make quick work of the average class 3 armor vest (and the car door the target is hiding behind).


Armor 



A helmet protects ~ 35% of the wearer's head from frontal hits. In our previous accuracy test it was easy to hit the unprotected parts at 50 meters with all three weapons. However at 100 meters, the Glock 17 started to miss most shots. The conclusion  from this is: The further the distance, the more the chance of a successful headshot sinks. And inversely, a helmet's protection is increased by longer distance. But in any case, the presence of a helmet is always better than no helmet in a firefight, because 35% coverage is better than no coverage.


Terrain

In this subsection we examine what type of terrain supports longer firefights. In previous sections we determined that long distance makes accurate fire more difficult and increases the survivability of targets. All maps except factory offer some areas for long distance fighting. Woods being arguably the one with the longest sight lines, where 500 meter battles are possible. So if we assume long firefights are more fun, then woods should be the most fun map. Makes sense?

It appears not. Looking at the lobbies of different maps, Woods seems to be the least popular map, and Factory the most popular. What is wrong here?


Woods


Up close, under the right lighting conditions, Woods is a beautiful map. Trees, grass, sunlight piercing throug trees.


Various types of grass and flowers create a wonderful scenery. However certain things ruin it.


This is what ruins Woods. The spawn areas are infested with bushes and low hanging trees. This cuts the sightlines down to 30 meters on average and offers no cover, only visual concealment. It appears this is a bad habit the level designers at BSG developed. They overdecorate spawn areas with bushes, assuming reduced sight lines protect people from spawncamping. But the opposite is the case. The chance for spotting enemies at a distance so a long(er) range firefight can develop from the situation is removed. Instead everyone is forced into a 30 meter visibility battle royale that ends in very quick, panicked full auto deathmatches because the second a target is spotted, it happens at very close range and with no hard cover. This cuts out the mid part of the firefight and it is decided within a second. And this is the most frustrating part of EFT. Gun battles being over in seconds and all of this happening very shortly after spawning in.

So how to fix it?

Remove most of the bushes in spawn areas, and add HARD COVER. Solid objects, just like long distance, increase the survivability of a firefight and increase its duration. There should be more ruins, rocks, car wrecks, fallen trees.

Other maps suffer from the same issue. Shoreline is immensely fun near the water, where there is, guess what, long sight lines and hard cover.

Long sight lines and almost no bushes, just hard cover.

The largest part of shoreline however is just bushes that cut the sightlines and at the same time provide no cover.




The worst area for spawns in Interchange. No hard cover, just bushes.




Factory and Interchange however are the most popular maps. Factory entirely consists of hard cover, no bushes. My theory is that it is so popular because if offers you a fair firefight, right from the start, because of all the cover possibilities. No bad luck situations where you stumble through bushes only to bump into an enemy with a fully automatic AK74.
The level designers too readily use bushes and random vegetation as filler material to spruce up empty areas. In spawn areas this has disastrous consequences.


Interchange still has a lot of spawn violence, but I would state that I am having more fun in spawn gun battles in this map, because I get hard cover and distance, which lengthens the gunfight.

Example of a great spawn location. Hard cover everywhere and no vegetation.

Weather

The game looks great as long as it is not raining. But it rains all the time, and the weather system savagely overexagerrates fog. Just like bushes, fog removes the possibility for a long range firefight, forcing players into a close range deathmatch. Combine that with the poor cover on a map like shoreline or woods, then you get your answer why people avoid these maps.

Possibility for epic gun battle sucked out by fog.

 Rain fog showing in the interior.


Beautiful scenery, ruined by a belt of spawn-destroying bushes and low visibility fog.

From this we can determine, that less fog allows for better visibility and therefore spotting of targets at a distance, leading to longer firefights.


Interchange-specific issues

The ambient lighting inside the building has to be lighter.

This is how a similar structure is illuminated in real life:


The ambient lighting (bounced lighting) from the atrium floods the place in light in real life.




 South-East Spawn Interchange

South-East Spawn area on Interchange

A special example of the bush problem is this spawn area. It is filled with bushes, and most players camp in the bushes and whoever dares to approach the building first gets shot at. If the area had fewer bushes and more hard cover, there would be a gunfight instead of a spawncamp ambush.


Prediction 

I would like to predict that for all future maps, the popularity of a map will directly be related to how bushy the spawn areas are. If they have spawn areas that provide hard cover and long sight lines they will be the most popular.



The Economics of a firefight

Going back to the accuracy comparison from the top of the article, imagine a firefight in the parking lot of Interchange. Imagine the situation once with submachineguns and once with assault rifles.

In the SMG scenario

  • Long distance shots occasionally miss, leading to harrowing close calls.
  • Average armor (class 2 and 3)does not offer full protection but protects the wearer from instant kills.

In the AK74 scenario

  • All hits on target will hit. If the ironsight is on the center of mass, the target will be dead with 2 hits.
  • Accuracy loss at a distance is almost nothing.
  • Only the very best helmets will offer protection from bullets.

Which of these scenarios create the better or longer firefight? For me it's the SMG.

However the pricing structure of weapons appears to intentionally prevent this from happening. An Ak74 costs 29k. With this weapon, anything can be killed at any distance. The ammo is cheap, and armor piercing ammo is absolutely everywhere to be found as loot. Full auto and semi auto killing power, with the capability of 2 consecutive headshot on a 100 meter target, ammo that chops through almost every armor. All of that for 29k. That is the money you get from 2 average level player dogtags or from selling the loot from one scav. All the killing power you need for any situation, always available for everyone.



This creates 1 or 2 shot firefights unless the target is beyond 300 meters, but that is beyond visible range with the current rain and fog settings. This also led to SMGS being completely ignored by players. The recent price drop to 20k for smgs will not change that. Most players will happily pay 10k extra for a weapon that can chop through everything at any distance compared to a weapon that barely can get through basic body armor. And on top of that, pistols got squeezed out of the game completely with the recent price change. Of course because everyone on reddit said a glock must be cheaper than an AKSU74. But some weapons must remain expensive, because the game needs to have some luxury items to look forward too. But with a glock costing nearly the same as a grach or p226, these 2 pistols are removed from the game. Who will pick a grach with NO modding parts over a glock with 70+ modding parts?

What the game needs is a price increase for assault rifles and their ammo. All rifle calibers should get a flat 30k price bump. This would put them out of reach for use for every raid and turn them into a luxury to look forward to. The ammo should get a 3x price increase, because it is currently NO concern to any player. Because it is cheap and the better ammo types litter Interchange map. It is not that smgs are useless, it is that assault rifles are too available. And this directly affects the core of the gunfights. Imagine how much fun the game is after a wipe, everyone running grach pistols and shotguns and paca. Trying to improvise in combat. All of it is sucked out because of cheap rifles. Rifles are too efficient at quickly ending a firefight to be this common all the time. The killing power of rifles compared to smgs should be reflected with a wide price gap, not a small inconvenience of 10k.


Closing words


Putting all of this together, the core of the game will always be the gunfights. Once you unlock all the traders, do all the quests and collect all the items you will realize that there is no purpose to go into a raid beyond looking for a gunfight. This is why the game should support situations where players (if they play smart) are rewarded with the best loot of it all: An exciting battle. That is the core that has to work. All the factory keys or kiba keys don't matter. Whether you have a Grach or an M1A, you will have fun if you end up in a minutes long battle. Even losing is not that bad, as long as the battle was fulfilling in a way that it allowed you to interact with your enemy. I hope the developers prioritize features that directly feed into the combat, like weapon jamming over esoteric things like quests or karma. Because the game currently burns out quickly after a few weeks after a patch since there is only so many new items to chase and unlock. And the "gear curve" goes from pistol to assault rifle two days after a patch.

The next time you are about to fire the first shot in a gun battle in EFT, appreciate the moment, it is fleeting and you might realize that is the reason EFT exists, beyond all the loot and collecting and stats.

Kommentare

  1. Well spoken. I agree with all the stated points especially about how rifle-caliber weapons are too cheap.

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    1. Rifles are too available and combined with the close encounters it finishes fights too fast.

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  2. Well explained and expressed especially with the amount of data that backs up your stance. I agree with everything that was stated especially how rifle-caliber weapons need to be increased along with their ammunition.

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  3. To be fair, that firefight you shown only lasted that long because both sides played extremely passively. Nobody tried to flank and you let RNG decide who won.

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    1. It was a chance encounter and both sides were too scared to make an agressive move.

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  4. They could balance it by introducing a SMG in 10mm, or getting people to see SMGs as weapons that you can dump a magazine without much recoil.

    I think it's odd that legal semi-auto rifles are only so much cheaper then fully automatic rifles. Here in the US, a full auto AK is like 5 grand if you are lucky. A semi-auto is like 700 dollars.

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