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How CoD Warzone's DMZ Mode Compares to Escape From Tarkov

ScreenRant logo ScreenRant 12/1/2022 Jack Helsdown
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By focusing on slow, tactical gameplay and introducing PvE elements and permanent character progression to the Warzone 2 formula, DMZ has rightfully drawn comparisons to Escape From Tarkov, the hardcore survival shooter which is currently only available on PC. It seems as if Infinity Ward has taken inspiration from Tarkov in DMZ, as the mode borrows some of the former game's mechanics and terminology, but they remain incredibly different games, especially in how punishingly they treat the player.

Tarkov arrived in the gaming landscape during the battle royale boom, and quickly set itself apart from competitors like PUBG or Fortnite by incorporating rogue-like elements. Instead of each new game being a fresh start, preparing efficient loadouts in Tarkov in-between matches becomes paramount, as players are able to keep what they extract with - and permanently lose anything they don't. There are also many additional features and gameplay aspects in Tarkov, which unfortunately can be intimidating for new players. Warzone DMZ, on the other hand, comes with the potential to be more accessible, at the expense of depth and tension.

Related: Warzone 2 Needs To Avoid Its Predecessor's Biggest Mistake

Warzone 2's DMZ Is More Immediately Gratifying Than Tarkov

A single match of Warzone DMZ can take up to around thirty minutes, with the player dropped into Al Mazrah at a semi-random spot and tasked with extracting as much gear as possible before the timer runs out. There is a small radiation zone on the map where players can find DMZ’s mini-boss, the Chemist. Once the timer runs out, this zone will slowly expand until it covers the entire map. Along the way, the pace is frantic; players usually spawn around AI enemies, and there is almost always a mission or stronghold in the immediate vicinity that can be used to acquire more gear.

In contrast, a match (or Raid) in Tarkov can feel completely directionless for new players, especially because there is no in-game map or markers to help with navigation. Players are forced to use their intuition and their knowledge of the map to find a way forward, although the divergent gameplay encourages experimentation and trial-and-error. While Warzone DMZ provides tools like UAV towers to improve the player’s chances, such opportunities are few and far between in Tarkov, which doesn’t hold the player’s hand or allow them to rest on their laurels. Taking it slow in Tarkov is likely the best way to survive in the early hours.

Tarkov's Extractions Encourage Experimentation

Once the loot has been acquired, the hard part is getting it out of the game safely in both Warzone DMZ and Tarkov, which have similar extraction mechanics. From the beginning of a DMZ match, players can see three extraction points on the Tac-Map, where they are able to call a (noisy and attention-grabbing) transport chopper to take them away. This allows DMZ players to think ahead and plan efficiently straight away; for example, mapping a route through Warzone's Al Mazrah map and its looting opportunities, safe in the knowledge of exactly where they will be able to extract.

Related: Warzone 2 Proximity Chat Is Actually Genius, But There's One Problem

Things are much more complicated in Tarkov, where players are given a list of extraction points that may or may not be available from game start, and the only way to find out is by approaching them. Although incredibly punishing, Tarkov’s extraction system is designed to force players to think on the fly, and to create organic, meaningful tension. Since the player is always aware that their loot is vulnerable until they have extracted, the art of dealing with a closed extraction is a skill essential for new Tarkov players to learn, and adds to the drama which makes people so excited about the game.

Warzone DMZ's Inventory Barely Matters

Inventory management and awareness is also an essential aspect of Escape From Tarkov which is somewhat replicated in Warzone's DMZ mode. However, the hardcore nature of Tarkov is apparent as soon as the player’s inventory is opened, as the game asks players to horde a multitude of different items in their stash between games. Warzone DMZ is comparatively less overwhelming, with there being a lot less for players to have to worry about in and out of matches. Gear like weapons and armor or resources like Tarkov's spare metal parts are just some examples, and each one plays a specific, important role both in and out of raids. Tarkov asks a lot from players by forcing them to become familiar with all these systems and learning about each item will probably require new users to consult third-party guides.

In direct contrast, Warzone DMZ’s inventory system is relatively simple and uses many of the same mechanics as the main battle royale mode. There are three backpack sizes that players can find to increase inventory space, and classic Call of Duty inventory slots - a tactical grenade slot, a lethal slot, two weapons, etc. - which work as loadouts in Warzone 2 and Call of Duty always have.

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This is much more intuitive and player-friendly, allowing most to get to grips with DMZ’s inventory management quickly, but it does mean that some aspects borrowed from Tarkov become redundant; for example, “insuring” a weapon, guaranteeing it will return if a player loses it, has very little impact in DMZ since insured weapons share progression with weapon levels in Warzone and only refresh after two hours (as opposed to Tarkov’s 24-48 hour refresh on insured items).

Tarkov's Progression Makes It Worthwhile

Finally, it’s important to recognize what makes Tarkov special to so many players; slowly building up resources, character levels and gear between raids. Tarkov contains many mechanics which contribute to the player’s feeling of progression; a big example is the Hideout, which can generate resources for the player out-of-match, but only if the player collects enough resources in-match to upgrade them sufficiently. Escape From Tarkov's semi-regular server wipes only contribute to this feeling of accomplishment, as they encourage players to progress as far as they can on each reset.

At the moment, Warzone DMZ’s weakest aspect is its lack of meaningful progression. Out-of-match, the player has access to ten slots for “contraband” (weapons looted or stolen from enemies), while gas masks, armor, and backpacks also carry over. Grenades and abilities are permanently unlocked once they have been extracted, and weapons share progression with Warzone proper, meaning they can be modified if they’re at the appropriate level. Because of this, there’s nothing the player is permanently working toward, making the whole experience feel slightly pointless.

Warzone DMZ has received a mixed response from players so far, although things could easily change. Activision could improve on several of DMZ’s mechanics - especially its overall progression - to make it a truly special experience. Escape From Tarkov facilitates divergent, experimental gameplay, but its uncompromising attitude means it will take new players a long time to become comfortable with its mechanics. Once it’s finalized, Warzone 2's DMZ mode could be an accessible and fun alternative for those looking for a bit more bite to their battle royale experience.

More: Warzone 2’s Unhinged Playlist Explained

Editor’s Note: A lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges the company has engaged in abuse, discrimination, and retaliation against its female employees. Activision Blizzard has denied the allegations. The full details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit (content warning: rape, suicide, abuse, harassment) are being updated as new information becomes available.


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