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No, Escape From Tarkov won't add female playable characters

After a year-ish of steadily growing a fanbase, serious Russian scavenging sim-o-shooter Escape From Tarkov recently exploded in popularity thanks in part to promotion from some big Twitch streamers. The torrent of new interested people have come bearing wishes and questions, including wondering if the developers will add playable female characters. No, Battlestate Games say, they won’t. There’s your answer. It seems they don’t consider female player characters sufficiently worth investing resources in. Ah well. They did also offer the patently daft idea that ladies wouldn’t fit with the “lore” but mate come on.

Battlestate Games addressed the question of a female player character option on Monday after internauts seeking an answer found a dodgy one in an interview from 2016. Back then, Battlestate’s Pavel Dyatlov told Wccftech they had considered playable warlasses “but we came to the conclusion that women are not allowed to be in the war.” When the interviewer pushed back that women are in the military, Dyatlov gave the remarkable answer:

“I can agree with you and we discussed it for a very long time, but we came to the conclusion that women can’t handle that amount of stress. There’s only place for hardened men in this place.”

With that daftness circulating again and drawing ridicule, Battlestate addressed the interview on Monday in a tweet. “The answers were done by one, not a key BSG employee which probably were misinterpreted and as a result didn’t reflect the official position of the company, that we always respected women in wars and military women,” they said.

That is a weaselly response, trying to deflect with accusations of misinterpretation and claiming the problem was that they’d disrespected women in the military. Battlestate added that “the employee was reprimanded and properly instructed” and said they are “sorry for caused confusion.” They still don’t plan to add female characters, mind, and they’re not entirely done using daft fictional justification for their decision.

Battlestate followed-up with tweets saying while they have some female NPCs, “there will be no playable female characters because of game lore and more importantly – the huge amount of work needed with animations, gear fitting etc.”

So they don’t think it’s worth allocating any of their limited resources to this task, basically. It’s not a priority. I wish it were otherwise, but hey ho. I’m more forgiving of that when it’s a small studio rather than Ubisoft, who had nine studios and hundreds of people working on Assassin’s Creed Unity yet said they couldn’t add women. It’s still a shame, particularly with Tarkov drawing interest from a whole load of new people.

It’s also unfortunate that Battlestate muddied the waters by trying that “lore” nonsense again. As Samuel Johnson said, lore is the last refuge of the scoundrel. The game’s story is a paper-thin excuse for heavily-armed players to pick through ruins for loot, shoot and rob each other, then escape. It doesn’t matter. This is like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds getting self-serious delusions that it’s a grim and gritty world built on cutting Cold War history rather than a big silly playground for idiots to lark about with stunts and banter. They could change the lore to allow women fighters with a click of their fingers.

Escape From Tarkov is still in closed beta, though they’re selling beta access as part of pre-ordering for €35. It’s basically early access under another name. When we sent our Matt into Tarkov in January 2019, he came out declaring it “brutal, stressful and exhausting” – but he felt no lasting purpose or draw. Still no firm word on when the finished game will launch.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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