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Escape From Tarkov is incredibly laggy, and its developers are working to fix it

A fix is scheduled for some time in the next few weeks

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Many hardcore first-person shooter fans and fans of the burgeoning battle royale genre have jumped on the Escape From Tarkov bandwagon. The milsim-style survival shooter, currently in closed beta, is the perfect antidote for when you need a break from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. However, the game is notoriously laggy.

Recently, one YouTuber performed a battery of network tests on the game only to find that the amount of lag in the game was literally off the charts he’d been using to track similar games for the last few years.

A chart including data for PUBG, Fortnite and Rainbow 6: Siege among others. Escape From Tarkov is literally off the charts.
A sample of network lag, as experienced by YouTuber Battle(non)sense. It’s not intended to be a scorecard or a ranking, but merely point-in-time examples as he has observed them.

Battle(non)sense’s testing found that even when two players were on relatively fast connections (around 19 millisecond pings) and each playing the game close to its maximum display rate of 120 frames per second, each player is prone to experiencing delays around 200 milliseconds on average. Spikes ranged from 451 milliseconds all the way up to 941 milliseconds.

What’s that mean in gameplay terms? You could be shot dead while behind cover, killed by an enemy you are unable to even see. That’s a particularly damning issue for Escape From Tarkov because of its high-stakes in-game economy.

Everything that a player takes into a match with them can be stolen after they die, even if it’s insured. Losing a powerful weapon or a rare piece of gear can set players back, requiring them to purchase replacement equipment from vendors that may not even have comparable items in stock.

“I was simply shocked by how bad the network delays are between two players,” said Battle(non)sense. He also provides an excellent breakdown of how netcode works, and how he performs his analysis, which you can watch here.

A tremendous delay between a player moving and another player perceiving that movement.
Two computers performing tests for Battle(non)sense. On the left you see the player initiating the movement, and on the right another player observing that movement.

Polygon reached out to the developers to get their impression of this analysis. Battlestate Games said that, while the severe lag that was demonstrated is outside the norm, Escape From Tarkov is still in serious need of an update. Players can expect to see those changes being made with a series of patches and updates coming over the next few weeks.

“Just to make it perfectly clear for everyone,” a Battlestate representative told Polygon via email, “we’ve been working on network improvements for a quite a while now, continuously and meticulously. Almost every patch contains some network adjustments or network error fixes. We are aware of all major problems, and right now it’s the most toilsome part of the EFT development.

“The complexity of the project has, over time, developed a negative impact on the network infrastructure, and now it demands regular redesign and maintenance. [...] We shall also improve the matchmaker by increasing its precision, and add new servers around the world to reduce players’ ping.”

The game itself, Battlestate explained, is still in active development. The goal is to make improvements before it enters open beta and that it is throwing more resources at the problem.

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