After promising free DLC forever to some players, Escape from Tarkov locks a new PvE mode behind $250 edition

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The creators of Escape from Tarkov may be looking for their own escape at the moment, after enraging the extraction shooter’s community with a new top-tier edition of the game that’s come under fire for its extortionate cost, “pay-to-win” offerings and for U-turning on the promise of free DLC for buyers of a previous bundle.

Let’s break down this mess. Escape from Tarkov’s previous top offering was the Edge of Darkness edition, a $150 bundle that offered the game alongside extra in-game equipment and resources and some other gubbins. More importantly, the Edge of Darkness set promised “free access to all subsequent DLCs” released for the game in the future, calling it a “season pass”.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? Well, a lot of players thought so too, coughing up the 150 big ones to grab what appeared to be every bit of future DLC, forever, for free.

It seems that maybe the good deal was a little too good to be true, as developers Battlestate Games recently pulled the Edge of Darkness bundle from sale and replaced it with a new maximum offering, the Unheard Edition. Now priced at $250, the bundle includes a load of bonus in-game content such as expanded PMC pockets, more Flea Market slots, a unique weapon, a larger stash size and – crucially – access to a new PvE co-op mode.

That PvE mode, according to Battlestate, is exclusive to those who buy the Unheard Edition. If you own the Edge of Darkness edition, it’s $100 to upgrade. Which certainly seems at odds with the promise of getting every bit of DLC for free, doesn’t it?

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A lot of players also feel that way, heading to the game’s Discord server and subreddit to voice their anger at having to pay for access to a new mode that they believe should fall under that promise of ‘free DLC forever’.

Image credit: Battlestate Games

On behalf of Battlestate, their lead community manager rejected the idea that the mode was DLC in a series of Discord posts (via Forbes), arguing that a new mode doesn’t qualify as ‘downloadable content’.

“Just because you all want it to become a DLC it wouldn’t mean it is one,” wrote appl3z0r. “It’s [sic] featured game mode for the new edition of the game.”

Meanwhile, the official Tarkov X account confirmed that ”PvE mode is a unique feature which is available only for the owners of The Unheard Edition”, adding – somewhat optimistically, it must be said – “We will keep you updated on new features exclusive for EOD owners”. They earned themselves a community note linking to the definition of “DLC” as a result.

Mind you, whether the co-op mode counts as DLC is only part of the uproar over the Unheard Edition, with players also raising accusations that the unique items and other benefits – including more space to store equipment in their stash, increased starting levels for characters and an item that stops Scavs from shooting first once the player has over six Fence reputation – are examples of giving those who can afford the edition a “pay-to-win” head start.

Since the initial backlash, Battlestate have tried to quell the community outrage by adding extra bonus items and effects to the Edge of Darkness edition, including six months of free offline access to the PvE mode. You can imagine how that’s gone down, after what many see as the broken promise of free access to everything forever.

That’s where things sit for now, with Battlestate seemingly holding firm to their insistence that the edition-exclusive PvE mode isn’t DLC, and a large number of players arguing that it is – and extremely pissed off as a result. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton – let’s see if it pays off.

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