Gunfights in this game feel so different compared to other multiplayer FPS games like Rainbow 6, COD, Battlefield, etc. Of course, in those games the TTK is generally designed to be consistent and fall within a certain range no matter what; players in those games aren't wearing different armor and using different ammo that drastically affects the outcome of gunfights. So comparing this isn't very apples-to-apples, but I think there are some takeaways that we can try to glean from looking at things this way.
In most other multiplayer FPS games, the player has 1 health bar of 100 HP, and each bullet that hits them will always decrease that HP bar. Leg or limb shots often have a flat multiplier applied that decreases the damage of the bullet by x% (this varies or course, but can be around the 60-70% range). But generally in these games, the difference between shooting someone only in the legs and only in the chest is maybe 2-3 more bullets before they die whereas Tarkov is more like 8-12. (Now, I'm not suggesting that Tarkov should be something like this, I actually really like how healing individual limbs works in this game.) But this sort of system provides some consistency in gunfights; if you shoot an enemy with X gun, you can generally expect them to die within Y timeframe.
In Tarkov, each limb has it's own HP bar but the only ones that really matter in the majority of gunfights are the chest and head, as getting one of those to 0 is the way to actually kill someone. Although, it is possible to leg-meta someone to death, I'll really just be talking about normal, center-mass aim with meta(ish) ammo which is what 90% of fights in this game consist of.
I think the issue with the system as it is, is that hitting the arm or leg (and sometimes the stomach) offers almost no value whatsoever unless you hit only that one body part. Hitting the arm with any normal bullet (like BS for example) won't damage the head or chest, and hitting a blacked out arm with BS only does 3 (!!!) damage to the head and 5 (!!!) damage to the chest. If you shoot at an enemy and hit the arm, they're still at 85/85 chest – if you then proceed to hit only their chest it's almost as if your first shot didn't even count. This makes it so gunfights feel super inconsistent – players can tank 2 arm shots to each arm and leg and stomach and it won't really impact their vitals whatsoever. Even if you are going for leg meta and try to just hit their right leg, your bullet that hits the left leg is a wasted bullet – you might as well have missed entirely. This causes the TTK to feel like it fluctuates quite wildly even while using the same ammo against the same class of armor, killing someone could take 2 bullets or 10 depending on how and where you hit them.
Now obviously, hitting the head/chest should be more deadly! I agree with that. I come from Rainbow 6 where a headshot is a 1-hit kill no matter what. But in that game, the gunplay is tighter and cleaner and the recoil is more predictable; headshots happen on accident much less frequently than Tarkov as a result (a good player probably sits around a 35-45% headshot ratio). I think the difference here is that spraying at player center mass in R6 is a consistent 3-5 bullets to kill, but Tarkov can be anywhere from 2-10 if you happen to mix in a few stomach and arm shots. This is exacerbated by the % chance to pen interaction between ammo and armor – you can sometimes just get lucky or unlucky. It feels like a lot of fights are spray-and-pray fests with the winner being whoever happened to have their recoil jump to the other person's face.
There are 2 options to relieve this issue IMO:
- Make the separate HP bars feel a bit more connected, maybe by introducing more damage sharing between them when limbs aren't blacked out. I do find it hard to believe that a person could be at 2/85 chest HP, then be shot in each leg, each arm, and the stomach and still be able to stand up and return fire – let alone even still be alive.
- Make shots on blacked out limbs redirect a larger percentage of damage to the head/chest. Logically, why would the 3rd shot to your right leg damage your vitals in the same way it damages your left arm? Maybe damage multipliers can be introduced for this purpose?
I'm honestly not well-versed in how realistic the current system is compared to these changes; I, like most people, never been shot with a gun.
The effect of this might be that TTK goes down by quite a bit. If that is not desirable, then more work could be done on damage values. However, I think that the goal first should be to make the TTK somewhat consistent. I generally think that the damage modelling in this game was a bit over-scienced and doesn't quite feel natural.