Let's not lose the magic

I can tell you a story about cs. Have a moment?

Back in 1999 on June 10th, I was one of the first 30 people who were not devs to ever play cs. It was cs_mansion, the buy menu did not work and I had a glock. Back then, CS was the EFT of its time. It had superior weapon animation, realistic recoil and realistic weapon characteristics like real magazine sizes. Most other fps games still tried to clone quake or duke3d. And supposed "tactical" games revered today for their "realism" like the tom clancy earliest rainbow six games, were muppet shows compared to CS. They did not have first person weapon models, reload animations, or solid mp gameplay.

CS had all of that. Let me tell you how magical it was:

  • For the first few versions, the losing team would get NO cash. So after a losing streak, of a few rounds, the losing team had to setup elaborate ambushes with pistols trying to lure enemy players so they can acquire an automatic weapon. There was this sense of awe when you finally worked your way out of pistols to get an m4. And the weapon prices were much different, rifles cost I think 4-5k, and the sniper rifles and m249 cost 10k. The weapons you had and what the enemy carried was a real concern every round.

  • There was no cs_dust yet. Most maps had very tight chokepoints with no alternative routes. One map, cs_facility had one doorway that was such a chokepoint, both teams would spend 5 minutes trying to get through it, with both sides stacking on each side. Rounds lasted much longer back then.

  • And the most important thing: Characters from both teams looked almost exactly the same. From a distance, the only distinguishing part of the body to tell them apart was that terrorists had short sleeves. And that was intended. The developers literally said that in the readme file. Intended. The confusion of having to ID your target before shooting.

It was only in 2001 when the game got "normalized" into what it is today:

  • Maps became "fluid" and "balanced" arenas suitable for e-sports, no hard chokepoints, time limits got shorter.

  • Weapon price range was compressed to what it is now. Any weapon was affordable after 1-3 rounds and the losing team had no more disadvantage for losing. And everyone uses ak and m4. 

And this tragedy is repeating itself right now. With EFT:

  • Ammo is now a free-floating balancing tool that is completely detached from realism. A 5.45 PS round (steel core, military grade ammo) only gets 22 pen. The 9x21 armor piercing rounds  get 28-30. A pistol round, less than half the velocity and kinetic energy. The .366 EKO round gets 25. The only reason I can see is that the developers are trying to buff the weapon systems to make people use them more. That should never happen in EFT. Distorting the inherent properties of a weapon to balance the fact no one uses it.

  • The next problem connected to is the cascade of dumb decisions. Take a look:
    • An AK-74N costs 35k.
    • No one buys A 209 (.366) for almost the same price because why use a hunting weapon with 60% of the muzzle velocity of an AK-74N when the latter can kill anyone at any distance. The same is for SMGS and shotguns. They are not effective compared to the AK-74N.
    • So the developers wonder "what to do to make these guns better?"
    • Now the bad ideas come in from streamers and casual players.
      • Make these weapons cheaper!
      • Buff the ammo!
      • Nerf the armor!
    • Now the devs lower prices for smgs and shotguns to 20k.
    • Suddenly no one uses pistols anymore. Players start demanding cheaper pistol prices because why use a pistol when you can get an smg for 20k?
    • At this point the gear price range gets compressed so hard that the choice between shotgun, smg, pistol becomes a blur. And the weight that keeps it in place, is the retarded 35k price tag for an AK-74N.
    • And to top it off, the developers now made scav mode available every 10 minutes.
    • A player can by just walking out with the gear he spawns with, get 20k. If he picks up random items on the way out its 40k. That is just walking to exit without risk or any effort.
    • This translates into a 150k cash ticket per hour.
    • The need to ever be pressed to use anything below an AK-74N is removed from the game. This instantly killed off 75% of all weapons in the game.

Do you see how a super versatile weapon that is too cheap can trigger balance problems in the game that are then fixed in the most terrible way possible, by free floating weapon performance? They warped the realism out of the ammo to make weapons more attrractive that no one would use because other weapons are the same price.

Imagine you want to chase a raccoon out of your house, a friend tells you raccoons don't like the smell of gasoline. So you douse the entire house in gasoline. But you are also smoek cigarettes and so you burn down the house and sucessfully chase out the raccoon, but then you remember that the raccoon is not a raccoon but your pet cat and you just burned your house down trying to chase it out. That is how silly the current ammo balancing is.

What is the purpose of that? To test? Test what? EFT should provide maximum possible realism. Not throw bad ideas at the wall and see what sticks (=reddit complaining less). In what world is making a .366 penetrate better than a 5.45 PS a test for anything? It's like testing laser and plasma weapons (in the 40 watt range) on whether they would fit into EFT. They would not. No need to test it.

And here is what is extra tragic: The devs have access to world famous russian weapon manufacturers, the literal factories that designed weapons like the AS VAL and yet they let reddit and streamers influence their decisions about how ammo should perform? Ammo performance should be a black box, set-in-stone, modeled after realism as hard as possible and then never changed, no matter how much casual muppets demand buffs because they used their 6B43 as a battering ram on factory office tunnel and lost. There is no space for complaints or suggestions. BSG should know better. There is few places in the world like the factories they visit that provide them with more realistic data.

Here is a few examples of things ruined by devs listening to reddit:

  • Weapon pointing away from enemy if they get too close. A realistic feature, which made weapon length and efforts to shorten it a tactical consideration. Removed by streamer and reddit whining.
  • Armor doing its job and protecting from ammo it was designed to block - Removed by reddit complaints, and/or forced devs to make armor piercing ammo too available. Hey why adapt to the reality of some other player outgunning you when you can whine on reddit or get a streamer to do it. (count the "can we get x item at trader level x?" topics on reddit).

The game is on a cascading slope towards casual, because for many EFT players, this is their first hardcore fps game, so instead of them adapting slowly to the fun of hardcore, they try to water it down as much as possible by demanding hard edges to be removed.

Don't allow it to happen BSG. You don't have to, no one will leave EFT because something is too hard. Hard difficulty is not a weird "masochistic" thing among players. It is about complexity and depth. The more games you played,  the more depth you will need to stay engaged. It is a one way street. And only hard realism can provide that. Because realism offers the advantages of having balance fall into place automatically. The depth comes from the realism and does not have to be artificially created.
When using a gun, you have to consider  ammo, magazines, jamming, maintenance, attachments, cover, penetration. These are all concepts already present in reality. This is not masochistic, it is a big range of complex decisions being thrown at the player to keep him engaged. That's what it is about. It's not the level ups, the finding of loot, the full stash.
But casual players who come from simpler games try to soften any hard edge out of the game if it gets in their way of fullfilling their craving for picking up items. So a scav killing them 30 meters from the exit will be whined about until the scav is a defenseless loot cow standing around to get shot and looted. Whoopsie that already is the case.

Le's get back to the beginning of the article. CS had that magic of complex decisions to make. It was not fair. If you lost a few rounds, you had to figure out a serious plan on how to fight players with superior weapons. You see the connection to EFT here? There has to be situations beyond one hour after a wipe, where seriously under-equipped players (makarov) have to figure out how to defeat much better equipped enemies, or at least get away from them. This is currently not the case anymore. That 150k free cash ticket made possible by 10 minute scavs made sure of it. It's like a match of CS where the loosing team is guaranteed an M4 no matter how bad they suck. And yes, EFT should punish failing.
It should be hard when you dont play well or when you plain get unlucky. Because if that is not hard, then there is no victory in acquiring good gear. Players should fear the bottom of the gear hierarchy. But that does not mean it's not fun. If you are so poor you can only field a makarov that might jam with half a magazine and you bump into players with automatic rifles, then relish in the fight, in the opportunity, in the excitement of the fight. Because if you get out alive and or kill them, the victory is much greater. All these "OP" fears of strong enemies come from MMO games. But in EFT, even the strongest of enemies can get one shotted. But the odds are stacked against you, because he paid a lot of cash for that edge. If you encounter someone who carries 400k worth of gear and you came in with a grach, then you have no right to complain. If you want to be the hero low gear guy that one shotted a geared player then you have to accept the shame and fail of getting run over by that 400k freight train if your attack fails.

Closing Words

And think of the gear curve. If you are stuck with a makarov on day 500 after a wipe because you had a few bad situations (and a serious IOTV + Zesh habit) then don't see it as a loss or lack of content. See it as the opportunity to experience the full range of gameplay the game has to offer. Because if everyone has so much cash that the weakest gun you will encounter is an AK-74N, then you are locked out of most of the game's content. Everyone is.


  1. give a scav super armour and a chug jug Xd

  2. Unfortunately for you the simple reason you're not going to get your neckbearded hardcore fantasies where you rein supreme with your M4 and fort over makarov puppies is money.
    Unless you are going to finance the development of the game devs need to try to balance their and your dream of hardcore shooter with peoples willingness to pay for the game.

    1. This game is marketed as a hardcore milsim shooter with survival elements. People come to this game because it is marketed that way, and as a result people should expect that from the game. If people come to the game expecting a "harder PUBG" then they came in with an incorrect vision. The reason that this game has gained so much popularity is because it is unique and it is very clear that the devs put a lot of care into it. Watering it down just because casuals coming to a hardcore game for the first time complain is not the solution to this game making money (or at least the one that they should take if they truly do care about their original vision of this game). Putting the same amount of care and work into this game as they have and fulfilling the vision that they set out to do with this game will allow this game to make money. Good and unique games make money because they are good and unique, not because they appeal to the masses.

    2. Amen to that Brother. Demon's Souls was a commercial failure upon release but because of its hardcore nature attracted a loyal fanbase that allowed it to bloom into a successful franchise. Sekiro is incredibly difficult for most casual players but still managed to sell incredibly well because the devs continued to stick to their game design.

      There is no need to appeal to the casual market full of people who sit on the toilet playing candy crush. If they are marketing Tarkov as a realistic shooter then they should stick to the realism instead of trying to balance it around reddit and streamer complaints.

      Tarkov is in a state where regular fucking scavs can spawn with repeating rifles that can punch right through fort armor. That shit should be something that you earn as a PMC.


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