When it comes to the age old question about whether Tarkov will have or will not have wipes at 1.0, I don't think we still have clarity. I know theres a lot the game is still bound to get, but it still worth talking about with the current game in mind.
In recent months Nikita has been warming up to the idea of a POE type system with one character that is permanent and one that is seasonally wiped.
On paper that looks like the perfect solution, you give the sweaties the relief they crave and the casuals the comfort of knowing their efforts aren't going to waste and they can progress at their own pace…
But is it, really? I have my doubts. To properly assess this, we need to deconstruct why are wipes deemed as necessary right now? It's a multi factor problem:
- lack of endgame – nothing else to do or give purpose in raids
- lack of progression – you're already at the top so there's nowhere to progress
- saturation of the economy – skewing the risk-reward factor of gear
Once you reach that point, the only thing left is PVP. It might seem like a desirable state that you'd want to maintain as long as possible, no? After all it's all about those firefights right? Well, not really. If that were the case we'd never have pleads for a wipe and the players dwindle away. But why? I think it's a few things.
First, the game isn't designed for pure PVP. It's designed for raiding where you go in with an objective (self imposed or not), gear up accordingly and the heart pumping PvP happens as an offshoot of you traversing the map and encountering players. It tastes so good because you have invested your time and effort into the raid, loot or gear you have on you. A potential death means something.
But later on the balance of risk and reward becomes distorted, death becomes a nuisance. Death means less and less and coming out victorious also means less and less. So you start intentionally looking for PVP, but there's too much downtime between action.
Second, this becomes an issue in the context of the entire population. If you're starting late in the wipe, you're not on the same page as everyone else. Not only are you severely outgeared, you also face people that actively look for combat while you might not always be inclined to do so. Because of lack of matchmaking, you have two people with completely different outlooks. If you start at the same time you at least have people matched in terms of wider goals – surviving, questing, looting. But if all you face are jaggernauts that rush every gunshot on the map, then it's discouraging. You're not playing the same game.
This creates the issue of "joining mid wipe" which is a different point for different people. The more experience you have the easier for you it is to join late.
Ok, let's say we opt for a Path Of Exile esque system with a permanent character and a wiped character, there's a few issues.
First, you're bound to split up the playerbase. But in what proportions? Will you have enough players to return every wipe and make it sufficiently populated? Will the permanent character encounter the same issues as above, but just delayed in time?
I guess the inferred intent is that it'll naturally become some sort of soft matchmaking system where the permanent character will be for the casuals and the wiped one for the seasoned vets? And the asterisk attached to the permanent character would be that it's easy to join into as it's less sweaty. But will it really? If let it run long enough people will eventually get proficient enough with the game to amass some serious wealth and will end up being in the same level of "unapproachableness" if you don't start at the very beginning, but perpetual?
Then you have to ask how often do you wipe the seasonal character?
The consensus seems to be at 3-4 months. But we have to remember that at the end of the day, we'll have 10-12 maps with probably many more quests that we have right now, so that means that the consumable content will be larger. If you make the wipe too short or too long, you'll discourage a lot of people for whom it's too fast or too slow.
And then we have to remember about new or returning players joining. Doesn't that leave you with a narrow window of a viable moment to start? Miss the wipe by a few days and you're already playing catch up, miss it by 2 weeks and you can basically not bother? Slowing progression is just commiting to the same sawtooth progression, and the more you stretch it out the more frustrating it'll be, while simultaneously making points of viable re-entry for new players more apar
It's all about longevity. Wipes are easy to stomach when they come with a meta-redefining patch. But when you have a feature complete game and the additions are cosmetic in nature? Then a wipe doesn't look so appealing and we cannot expect this to be a game in constant development with each major patch being wipe worthy.
There are of course ideas for themes of specific wipes, but the question is will those be enough? I don't know what these could be really. You could remove the need for questing but won't that create a situation where we need wipes sooner because you don't have quests slowing you down?
As said, there's still some features that will come into play that will hopefully change the balance, but long term there needs to be some sort of balancing act to maintain investment into all systems of the game. All I know that it's a tough nut to crack and a decisions have to be made without knowing the impact of them. Hindsight is 20/20 after all.